In an effort to give you lovely folks an idea as to what we’re into, we’ll be doing two RfD entries about some of our favorite games. This time it’s cardboard! Let’s roll.
D: Reiner Knizia is responsible for some of the best board games out there and this is my favorite of his. Samurai boils area control down to its essence – instead of rolling for everything it’s all about positioning; you place tiles representing your forces all over Japan, controlling as much territory as possible without ever committing too hard to any one battle. Aggression tempered with patience wins games of Samurai. It’s keen as a katana and twice as sharp.
K: So, Risk but relying a bit more on the brain than the luck of the dice?
D: Sorta? You control points on the map, which translates into what are essentially 3 kinds of points, and whoever has the best score overall wins. It feels more abstract than Risk, almost chesslike as cliche as that sounds.
K: As a man who enjoys Risk and Chess, this being the weird middle ground still has my attention.
K: As a Duke, I suggest you take your coins and purchase this game. With 5 classes to possibly have and 2 spots to hold those classes, play to the strength of the cards you have hidden, or just decide to use whatever power you want if you’re confident in your bluff. Coup requires you to play your opponent, and to use any means necessary. I’ve won games telling the truth the whole way, or just straight lying to people’s faces. If you’ve got the confidence, you’ve got the power.
D: Rikki Tahta doesn’t make bad games, but Coup is his magnum opus. At this point I think it’s fair to say that it’s a modern classic. Have you played with the Inquisitor at all? She’s one of my favorites.
K: Oh man, the shenanigans you can pull with her. Being able to see your opponent’s card and either make them choose a new card or have that card knowledge in the bank. Or just play her like an Ambassador and start switching out your cards. Orrrrr do all this while not having the Inquisitor card at all because you’re a dirty liar. All is fair and deceptively effective.
D: What if you took a tactical economic euro game, ripped its mechanical guts out, and replaced them with dexterity? You get Safranito, which has you fighting for spots in the market by tossing poker chips and knocking other folks out of said spots. Having a buy-low-sell-high game powered by its bits is an odd idea on paper but an absolute blast in practice. Plus they had the foresight to drill holes in all the chips, so you’ll never debate whether someone is in bounds or not! Brilliant.
K: I’m sad this sounds non-Tabletop Simulator-able, but a little dexterity in board games can go a long way. I’m down for a physical, territorial marketing battle via poor-man’s curling.
D: Most dexterity games do feel like “poor man’s [insert source game here]”, yeah. Safranito mostly avoids that, though I won’t pretend its board is as nice as a handmade Crokinole set or anything. I’ve thought about making a dedicated wooden table for it but that’s so much work.
K: A simple, yet infinitely replayable co-op card game that puts you in the Geta of a rag-tag group of Samurai and Mercenaries that are tasked with ridding their town of the muck and evil that plagues the underbelly. Each character has a piece to the puzzle, but no puzzle is ever fully complete. Strategies will be busted, risks will be taken, and lives may be lost: but man is it something else to finally achieve a True Victory. Shoutout to my boy Quick-Ear.
D: Quick-Ear has single handedly won us games. Related, I’m not convinced that every game of Say Bye is winnable. Sometimes the game just throws bullshit at you. The thing is, I don’t care. The stories this game produces are some of the strongest I’ve seen in any co-op. At its best it feels like you’re playing a lost Kurosawa script, and at its “worst” you’re playing as an old man in a ramshackle mecha constructed from janitorial equipment just trying to get the thing done before he has to go beat up a corrupt magistrate. How can you go wrong?
D: Most sandbox games lie to you. They claim to let you play however you want, do whatever you want, win however you want, but rarely pull that goal off. Xia delivers on what I thought was impossible – a player driven sandbox that really lets you attempt, succeed, and fail at anything you set your mind to. Bounty hunting, smuggling, exploration, even just being a courier or space taxi. It’s all here, it all works, and that’s some kind of miracle.
K: This sounds fun as hell and I don’t even like anything really in the sandbox genre.
D: I don’t even like sandbox video games. That should tell you how good this is. It’s a space opera stuffed into a box and I love it.