One of my favorite fun activities is playing board games. For many years in the Before Times, I hosted a board game party on New Year’s Day because it forced me to start the year with a clean house, and getting to play board games with my friends was a reward for the cleaning. Carrot and stick all in one neat little package. It worked great until the pandemic made it impossible to have people over. I thought about restarting the tradition this year, but I had a health issue that required surgery the week before Christmas, and fuck if I felt like hosting by New Year’s . . . much less cleaning my entire house!
Another annual board gaming event that has come back after two pandemic cancellations: the convention I attended this past weekend. It was so much fun to see people I love, play awesome new games, and take home (or order) a few that I really enjoyed! My favorites were Boop, Mille Fiori, Blazon, Akropolis, and Kill Merlin. I also heard great things about Dulce, HerStory, Trekking Through History, and Gartenbau but can’t vouch for any of them personally because I didn’t get to play them.
Quick reviews of the ones I especially liked:
Boop – A deceptively simple, absofuckinglutely ADORABLE 2-player strategy game where you place kittens or cats on a bed to shift the other pieces around the board.
Mille Fiori – Great worker replacement game with well-written instructions, solid internal logic, beautifully clear artwork, and really well-balanced gameplay.
Blazon – A card drafting game based on medieval heraldry designs.
Akropolis – A tile-placement game where each player builds their own city and scores points based on how many multipliers they played and how well they followed the rules for each tile category.
Kill Merlin – A card drafting game where you have to buy ingredients and pay to learn how to cast spells to try to take down Merlin, the most powerful wizard-cat in the land . . . which is harder than you’d think because Merlin can be a real asshole! The last turn of every round is playing a card from Merlin’s deck, which is chock full of ways to screw over the players or, on occasion, throw them a helpful bone.
My Honorable Mentions:
Blood on the Clocktower – If you’re a fan of social deduction games like Werewolves and Secret Hitler, you might want to check out this very expensive but incredibly well-thought-out game. The gameplay requires a lot of setup and a moderator who likes to fuck with people’s heads, but it’s so worth it! I kind of think of it as a cross between Werewolves and D&D, with multiple scenarios to play off of. We only played the first (simplest) scenario twice and I can see how we could play that same scenario dozens of times before getting bored with it and moving on to the next one. Perfect for groups that get together regularly to play these types of games!
Phantom Ink – Mediums compete to understand the cryptic clues of their team’s spirit before the other team guesses the word the spirits are trying to communicate. Fun to play with a group of six or more, especially if the people know one another really well.
Spy Alley – Another social deduction game, but this one is structured as a card game with opportunities to make accusations.