Pandemic is Z-Man Games' globe-spanning game of viral infection in which 2-4 players travel from city to city trying to prevent local outbreaks from turning into full-blown pandemics.
The game is played on a map of the Earth, with major cities connected by highways and flight paths. At the start of the game, color-coded cards keyed to the cities are drawn from the Infection Deck, indicating which metropolises have seen virus outbreaks. There are four viruses in all; the goal of the game is to cure the viruses before the planet succumbs to rampant disease.
Betrayal at the House on the Hill is a collaborative board game in which players explore an ancient house on a lonely hill, seeking to unlock its secrets ... and its horrors.
It’s a dynamic game whose map is randomly generated each game using a series of tiles representing the basement, first floor and second floor of the house, with a new tile drawn every time a player enters a new room. Players take on the role of one of several adventurers tasked with exploring this haunted house. Each adventurer is represented by a stat card representing key abilities such as speed, strength and will. Different adventurers have different strengths -- the preacher is strong in will but weak in physical abilities, while the boy explorer has a high speed, but low willpower.
The Xbox Live version of Ticket to Ride is a faithful port of the popular board game, recreating the train-themed game on Microsoft's game console. The game board features a map of the continental United States with its major cities connected by different colored train routes.
The game began like most: frenzied trading for resources, roads hastily built toward valued cashes, towns and cities rising to dominate the forests and plains around them.
And the barbarians attacked, razing all but one city and sending the island of Catan to a post-apocalyptic Stone Age it would take years (or a half-dozen turns or so) to recover from. Eventually the mighty herds of evolved sheep rose up and founded a new empire of Sheeple, caring deep within in their wood-obsessed minds a healthy respect for the barbarians looming over the horizon.
Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers is a tile-based board game in which players assume the roles of hunters and gatherers attempting to glean resources from a prehistoric landscape. It's a great game for geeks, but it's even better for families.
The game uses a mechanic similar to the original Carcassonne game. The game "board" consists of 79 random land tiles, each of which can contain up to four kinds of terrain: forest, plain, river or lake. Players randomly draw a tile and then place it on an ever-growing board, always seeking to match up like terrains (forest with forest, river with river, etc.)
Players can exploit the resources on these tiles by placing hunters (which stalk the plains for deer, mammoths and aurochs) gatherers (who collect food from forests and rivers) and huts (which are placed on rivers or lakes and gather fish from an entire river systems).
A few years ago, I reviewed Avalon Hill's then-new Risk 2210 board game for SCI-FI. Our gaming group loved it how the game took the game's core mechanic, added a great deal of complexity and strategy to it, threw in a sci-fi theme, and still managed to retain that bizarre Risk luck factor. I gave the game an A, and it's been a fixture at our table ever since. Now AH has released another Risk variant, Risk: Godstorm and once again we're gearing up for a playtest.
Settlers of Catan is one of those games you hear people talk about for years, but somehow never get around to playing. Then when you finally do play it, you wonder why you wasted all that time on sleeping when you could have been playing Settlers.
The premise of the game is simple. Two to four colonists are attempting to settle the virgin land of Catan. They use the natural resources of the island -- wood, grain, wool, bricks and iron -- to forge roads, towns and cities. Each town is worth 1 point, each city is worth 2. The first person to 10 points wins the game.
Vanished Planet is a cooperative board game in which players struggle to prevent an ever-growing, inky-black entity from enveloping the galaxy.
At the start of the game the Earth has been consumed by the entity, and has apparently been transferred to another dimension. The creature has already begun expanding beyond the Sol system, and it is only a matter of time until it envelops all of Earth's allies as well. But all is not lost -- the Earth may be gone, but she hasn't been destroyed. Her scientists have discovered a way to communicate with those remaining in our galaxy, and have come up with a plan to defeat the entity and return Earth to normal space. Now all the allies have to do is complete Earth's missions before their own worlds are consumed by the entity.
Every once in a while, our regular Friday night RPG session falls apart. It might be because of sick kids, weddings, extended business trips or just bad luck, but only a handful of our players can make it. If it's a night when the party really needed the resources of the missing players, we ditch the RPG game in favor of one of the board games in my closet. And our favorite one to date is Risk 2210.
Avalon Hill's Risk 2210 is the successor to the classic board game Risk, greatly expanded for a far future age. In this version of Risk, up to four countries have been nuked off the globe, and dozens of new ones have formed in the wake of 21st century conflicts. Armies can once again wage war for control of continents, but they can also seize sea and moon colonies.