Progress was slow, but it was very satisfying seeing the little pea seedlings grow and then, eventually, flower before finally producing pods that slowly swelled up to bursting with new peas inside. We carefully crossed different plants in the hope that they would create new varieties and over time we were able to predict the height of the plant, its flower colour, the pod colour as well as whether the peas were smooth or wrinkly based on their parentage. We were finally ready to work out each plant’s Genotype by Genius Games.
We had been growing tea for generations on our large plantation. We knew everything there was to know about the cultivation of the plants, the best time and method of harvesting the leaves and how to treat them to turn them into wonderfully aromatic tea, ready to be steeped and drunk. We even had ships waiting for our teas to take them out into the world. But for the moment, it was time to relax and enjoy a nice cup of Chai: Tea for 2 by Steeped Games.
The sky suddenly darkened above me. As I looked up, I saw the giant spaceship that was filling up more and more of my view. It towered above the skyscrapers like a huge saucer, dotted in lights and what seemed like openings. It was hard to make out, but it seemed to be bigger than downtown. Suddenly, small aircraft emerged from the spaceship’s openings and started to descend. It felt like we were suddenly living Under Falling Skies by Czech Games Edition.
As is customary at the end of a calendar year, it’s time for my top 5 board games of this, rather odd, year and for me to announce the winner of the Top Table Award 2020. Let me say that this year, I happily allowed games into the top 5 list that were published before 2020, as long as these games were new to me this year. There is a clear winner for me, not just based on the number of plays, the amount of enjoyment the game brought and the nostalgia factor that the game has for me, but because this game took a well-established genre and took it to the next step, making it more accessible to a wider range of people. However, let me not spoil it for you, but start at number 5 and work my way to the top slot.
I was ready. It seemed like an impossible task, but I was mankind’s only hope. I had to do what I could and fight my way through the ever-increasing number of machine parts, which were making the machine stronger and bring it closer to sentience. It was a matter of taking it one machine part at a time until I reached the core and was finally able to put an end to the Doom Machine by Nathan Meunier.
You were constantly tired from working endless hours day in and day out. You had very little time to think about the world and when you did, you didn’t have the words to describe what you saw and felt. However, you had used every spare moment to puzzle together scraps of clues into a bigger picture and had created new words with meanings that your heart dictated, but that were otherwise unknown. You felt that you were now so close to wrestling away the power from your oppressors and turn this world into a better place – but you knew you had to make sacrifices to build your Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia by Stonemaier Games.
If you don’t have much room for games in your house, like me, then small box games are ideal. Of course, what one person considers a small box might be a medium-sized box for someone else, but I will go with what I consider small boxes, which is really small, and list five great small box games that will cover a wide range of tastes and experiences. They’re listed in alphabetical order, so there is no favouritism here.
In a future where mankind has resolved to abandon war and replace it with virtual battles, teams of nine elite fighters selected by their nations face each other in pairs to win a precious new energy source that promises to bring the world back from the ashes. You have the opportunity to lead one of these teams out onto the 3 by 3 grid, where you take turns with your opponent and carefully occupy key positions in the hope that you win battle after battle to become a hero of the Vector Wars.
The stage is prepared: a dusty old tome in the middle, a silver dagger encrusted with rubies across the open pages marking a specific section in the ancient text, a goblet in front of the book filled with the blood of thirteen poor souls, and five candles arranged in a pentagon around the periphery of the white marble pedestal. The whole room is gloomy and the air is thick with incense. There is absolute silence as you focus your mind on the difficult ritual you’re about to perform. The stakes are high, but if you succeed you will be able to summon a greater demon, who will bestow you the nine favor [sic] you need to become The Chosen, the highest-ranking cultist in your circle. The Blessed Dark by Nathan Meunier drags you away, kicking and screaming, into a world of deck building, rolling dice and casting spells.
Rise of Tribes by Breaking Games looks like your normal area control game with the usual random terrain made out of hexagonal tiles. The game is set in ancient, prehistoric times, and you move your tribe members around the terrain, collect resources, craft tools to upgrade your tribe’s abilities and generally do things that you will have seen before in other games. However, look closer and you will see that there are at least two interesting mechanisms in this game, which make it stand head and shoulders above the rest.