Growing up in Germany, I started playing traditional trick-taking games like Skat or Doppelkopf from a relatively young age. I’m used to the idea of suits, trump, following suit, taking tricks, gleaning information from what cards others play and much more. Traditional trick-taking games sort of have their own language. So I love to see modern games developing this mechanism further and incorporating it into other mechanisms, creating completely new game experiences.
The Durrani Empire had just collapsed and large swathes of Central Asia had fallen into disarray. It was an ideal opportunity for the ferengi to impose their power over the region and fight out their rivalries somewhere far away from their daily politics. The foreigners were completely unaware of how the local Afghan leaders were manipulating them to their own benefit. They played their own “Great Game” with these superpowers and knew that the imperial might would not survive for long. There was never going to be a Pax Pamir: Second Edition by Cole Wehrle from Wehrlegig Games.
The Caliphate is in turmoil. The Murshid spreads its influence and whispers into the Sultan’s ear, trying to affect where they build their magnificent towns and cities. The Warlord ravages the lands, plundering and destroying everything in their way. Nothing is safe and everyone has their own goals. So as the sun sets on the deserts, mountains and fertile lands and as day turns to night, the warring factions prepare for another day and get ready to put their plans into action. For now, though, it’s the time of the Crescent Moon by Steven Mathers from Osprey Games.
It is the 11th century AD and the Vikings regularly invade our lands, while my domestic rivals try to forcefully take territory from me, without much luck. My military prowess is well known and I prove myself again and again, while also forging political alliances by strategically arranging marriages between my family members and other important houses. I even have time to rebuild the many monasteries in my realm, bringing the Church and its wealth onto my side. My name is Brian Boru: High King of Ireland by Peer Sylvester from Osprey Games.
The city-states of Venice, Florence and Genoa and their economy were doing extremely well. However, their military strength was extremely lacking not only in size, but also in experience and conviction. It was clear that strong soldiers with real battle experience were needed. So when the English soldiers returned from the Crusades, they were welcomed with open arms. Finally, the city-states would be able to extend their reach and influence, thanks to the wonderful Condottiere by Dominique Ehrhard, Duccio Vitale and Justin Kemppainen from Z-Man Games.
We were still trying to understand the special powers of the 8 elemental realms and how our dragon, wizard and warriors could take advantage of each and how we could impose our dominance over the other factions in this growing world. Each realm also had a giant monster that would wreak death and cause havoc amongst us, if we couldn’t work out how to defeat it first or control it and steer it in our favour. We didn’t have much time to build our Dwellings of Eldervale by Luke Laurie from Breaking Games.
It was quiet in the deep, dark wood. Everything was still and nothing stirred – but everyone was ready. The cats had taken up their position in every clearing, six birds were waiting patiently by their roost in one corner of the forest, the racoon had taken cover deep in the woods and the crows were biding their time in a handful of clearings of their choice. The moment was near. It was time to decide who was the best animal in the woodland, who was the Root by Cole Wehrle from Leder Games.
Around sixty million years ago on Earth, dinosaurs reigned supreme on land, but at sea, a giant struggle was still unfolding. Creatures were slowly adapting to the changes in their watery habitat and hoping to be victors in this fight for survival. The threat of a giant meteor striking the Earth was increasing all the time, so it was a race to become the Dominant Species: Marine by Chad Jensen from GMT Games.
Spice, the final frontier. These are the adventures of the Houses Atreides and Harkonnen and the Imperium their five-round mission to explore Arrakis, to seek out new territories and new Spice Blows, to boldly go where no Fremen has gone before. This is Dune: A Game of Conquest and Diplomacy by Bill Eberle, Jack Kittredge, Peter Olotka, Greg Olotka and Jack Reda from Gale Force Nine.
Yes, it’s the time of year again where I list the 5 board games that I think were the best in 2021. The games don’t necessarily have to have been published this year, but as long as I have played them in 2021, they qualify to appear on this list. Of course, as is now custom on the Tabletop Games Blog, the #1 game will receive the exclusive and prestigious Top Table Award. I know you’re already at the edge of your seat to find out who got the coveted trophy, but let me list the top 5 board games of 2021 in reverse order, to raise the excitement even further and make you wait a little bit longer.