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May 24, 2020
Your average board game tends to be a one and done experience, but there are those few special games which go the extra mile. Perhaps they have an interlocking story that pulls you through the games’ world, discovering new lore, and often new rules and mechanics, as you play. Or perhaps they have taken the Living Card Game (LCG) method of having fixed expansion packs that add new cards, mechanics, and deck construction options to the game as time goes by. You may have noticed us singing the praises of Arkham Horror the Card game for being a combination of both elements, but there are far more games in the illustrious club. Here are some of our favourite games to invest ourselves into during the lockdown.
A Game of Thrones the Card Game puts you into the steel plated sabatons of Westeros’ great houses in their constant struggles for power and influence. Of course, this is Game of Thrones so a defeated character isn’t just discarded, but dead, removed from your deck permanently. Even if you had extra cards of that character in your deck, too bad, his head got cut off, you don’t come back from that! A Game of Thrones is a heavyweight game with an emphasis on deckbuilding which can make it a little awkward to get into. But we have a solution for that, we are currently selling a bundle of the base game and a starter deck for all eight houses. Not only does this give you eight decks to try out, but once you feel comfortable you can break these decks apart to give you ~750 cards to deckbuild with. More than enough game to keep you busy for a long time!
A Legacy game is a type of campaign game that has you making permanent changes to the board. Drawing in pen, adding stickers, ripping up components and opening secret boxes. This provides a unique experience to every group who sit down to play the game. Pandemic Legacy may not have been the first Legacy game, but it certainly put them on the map. Season 1 feels a lot like the original Pandemic with a series of mini expansions added during games which slowly change it into something new. Season two follows the plot of Pandemic, assuming that the heroes failed. The remnants of humanity struggling to survive on a ruined planet after a particularly potent disease ravaged it. Whichever you choose you are in for a treat with one of my favourite games of all time!
One of the problems that people have with Legacy games is that you only get so much content, once the campaign is done the game is often left in an unplayable state, or certainly not in a state that encourages future plays with new people. Aeons End Legacy is a cooperative campaign card game in which you take a group of wet-behind-the-ear Breach Mages as they struggle to defend their home against impossible odds. Once you complete the campaign you can revisit any of the bosses you fought along the way just as you would do in the original game. Most of what is in the box is compatible with other Aeons End content too, so you can even look to adding some expansions down the line, though you may find your previously weak mages are now a little more powerful than the standard fare.
Legend of the Five Rings the Card Game is another Living Card Game. A two-player game set in a world of Samurai and political intrigue, you must use a combination of wits and might to overcome your foe, whilst being careful not to besmirch your honour! Honour is the lifeblood of the game, hard to earn, but easy to spend on tempting bonuses, should you reach zero then you must admit your shameful defeat. As you’d expect from an LCG there is a vast collection of cards adding new options as you expand your collection. There are 7 clans in all, each with their own twist on how they approach conflict. We have a wonderful deal on this game giving you the base game and the full first 2 cycles which brings you 720 new cards to expand your deckbuilding options from the base game.
Probably the lightest game on this list, but nonetheless Chronicles of Crime features both standalone missions and an ongoing campaign in which you play as police investigating a slew of crimes. What starts as a simple murder by the Thames leads to even more heinous crimes as you follow the rabbit hole to its bitter end. Chronicles of Crime is a narrative game at heart and it expects you to be discussing theories of what might have happened as you decide who to interrogate about what evidence in your limited time. If you get stuck, you can ask for help from your experts who have insight into areas such as forensics and criminal psychology. If you find yourself in love with the game then you can buy additional scenarios through the game’s app, using the games existing cards to create a kind of modular crime story set.
If the quest to destroy the One Ring can’t be referred to as an epic campaign then I don’t know what can. Journeys in Middle Earth is an app driven adventure game which has you exploring the beautiful, but dangerous, world of Middle Earth. Halfling luck and Dwarven Axes will clash with Goblin, Orc and Troll alike as you fight to keep the land safe. For those who have terrible dice luck, you’ll be happy to know that the combat is driven by drawing cards, which guarantees you a distribution of successes hidden in your deck. The app manages encounters letting there be surprises as you explore, but also giving your different ways to approach challenges that you encounter.
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a fascinating game. You play as a group of people exploring a haunted house, only to find that one member of your party was in fact the cause of the monstrous legends about the mansion and is now hunting you. With a whole booklet of encounters, you never knew what you were going to face or who to trust. The Legacy version follows a group of somewhat foolish families who keep coming back to the haunted mansion every decade or so. Events in one game will change future games, you’ll even turn the items you find into family heirlooms, best only in the hand of you, or your descendants should your next trip to the mansion not fare so well.
Pen and paper Roleplaying games have come a long way in the last couple of decades. With the release of Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition and the popularity of shows such as Critical Role they are becoming ever more mainstream. If you are looking for a fantastic way to invest yourself into a game then almost any roleplaying game is a great choice, letting you build and explore a world along with some of your closest friends. Best of all they can easily be played online over a variety of voice chat services. If you are really looking to invest yourself into the lore of the game we recommend Runequest, providing a fantasy world that isn’t afraid to be fantastical, and deadly, you can lose yourself in the background alone.
Don the spandex of Spiderman or Tony’s Mark V suit and take the fight to some of Marvel’s most infamous villains. Marvel Champions has a lot of content inside the box, letting you play up to 4 players at once as any combination of the 5 included heroes. There are also 3 villains ready to fight you, with modular mini villain expansions to increase the challenge and keep the gameplay fresh. While there is a limited amount of deckbuilding available in the base game Hero packs add not only a new Hero, but also new cards to build your favourite hero’s deck with. The Hero packs are currently hard to come by, but we are expecting a restock in the next week or two.
Arkham Horror the Card Game is the definition of a game with depth. The base game includes a three mission, re-playable campaign with some varying elements along with different potential story points as you go along. There are 5 investigators which you can play with any pair of at one time to take on the dark force abundant in the city of Arkham. Once you complete that campaign you can investigate any of the four 8-mission long campaigns which have now been released or pick up a return to pack to replay a campaign with new twists and turns. Whatever you do you will get hold of more investigators, and more cards to improve your deckbuilding options. Trust me, you’ll need all the help you can get!
These games are a great way to get deeply involved into a game, exploring both its gameplay and its story. For those who are looking at this list and thinking that they are all too short, why not check out Gloomhaven, almost certainly the board game with the most content in the box. It is currently out of stock, but we are expecting some in the next few weeks. Next time we are going to be looking at some of our favourite cooperative board games. Until then, stay safe, stay inside, wash your hands, and have fun!
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