Off the coast of Queensland, Australia, in warm tropical waters, you can find the amazingly colourful Great Barrier Reef. It is home to over 40 different types of sea anemones, which are home to a lot of different kinds of sea life. Clownfish use sea anemones as shelter, taking advantage of their toxin-filled stingers as protection. Yet, while these two are friends, if you touch one as a human, the resulting painful stings can make them feel more like Enemy Anemone by Daniel Newman from New Mill Industries.
Most of the earliest card games were trick-taking games played in the 800s in China. These will have felt quite different to our modern eyes. They didn't have the concept of trump cards or trump suits. There was also no bidding. Trumps were added to European card games in the 1400s, followed by bidding in the 1600s. It took another 100-200 years for familiar trick-taking games like Whist and Skat to appear. A few hundred years after that, the mechanism has now found a new lease of life in modern hobby games.
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 woodcutter and I were travelling the lands when we reached a kingdom far to the south. Its people were most distraught, because the fairies of the woods had kidnapped the most famous musician whose music made everything better. Of course, we agreed to help the people without hesitation. We ventured into the forest and peeked under every leaf and fern and beneath the shelf of every mushroom until we finally found the musician, surrounded by angry fairies. Overjoyed, they played an enchanting lullaby that made the fairies go to sleep and allowed us to escape. After reuniting the musician with the people, we were celebrated as heroes and from that moment on were both known as The Fox in the Forest Duet by Foxtrot Games from Renegade Game Studios.
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.
We all know how some games can take a while to set up. Sometimes it's because there are just a lot of components and different pieces to take out of the box and place on the table. Other times, it's because you have to sort components a certain way, after they were all mixed together in a previous play of the game. The opposite can also be true, where you have to shuffle tiles or cards, after they ended up all in order when you finished playing the game last time. In this article, I want to look at both: games that sort or shuffle themselves during play and are virtually immediately ready to play again, as well as games that expect you to shuffle or sort components before you can play them again.
Co-operative games come in all shapes in sizes, just like any game. So there should be something there for anyone, irrespective of what you're looking for, as long as you want an experience where everyone works together to win the game as a team. In this article, I look at a handful of different types of co-operative games, giving examples of games that fit into the category, so that, hopefully, you can find something that suits you.
A large number of board games are about winning and losing. Sure, for many of us, it doesn't really matter whether we win or lose, as long as we have a good time, either with friends, family or alone. In co-operative games, you play against the game itself and either you win or the game does. The same goes for solo games, of course, which are basically co-operative games, but with a single player. In this article, I want to look at the different win and loss conditions you can find in co-operative or solo games.
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.
As you can probably tell from my review of The Crew, I love trick-taking games. I grew up with them. I learned to shuffle cards when I was about six and started to play Skat with my family when I was about eight. In secondary school, I learned Doppelkopf. I didn't play them for many years after I left school and it was only when I played Vivaldi at Gaming Rules' evening during last year's Essen Spiel Messe that I rediscovered the genre. So I wanted to talk more about my fascination with these games.