Kyle’s #3

K: You ever felt like playing Animal Crossing, but only with cards and a lot more shenanigans?  Honestly, who knew town building could be so much fun, and have such a deep strategy pool? Play small ball with 1 die or go big with 2 dice and collect increments from the “everyone gets stuff” blue cards and “I get stuff on my turn only” green cards.  Or gather all the “Fuck you, it’s mine now” red and purple cards and let your opponents win the game for you. Or smash it all together and run a limitless possibility of ways to create the coolest, hippest, most profitable town.

D: Y’know, I never made the Animal Crossing connection but that’s oddly fitting. An AC version of Machi Koro would have been infinitely better, mechanically and thematically, than the dumpster fire of a digital board game that was Amiibo Festival. Anyway, license or no license MK is as adorable as it is addictive.

Demetri’s #2

D: A lot of games about real estate tend to be cutthroat. Chinatown, uniquely, is exactly as friendly or brutal as you want it to be. It’s entirely about negotiation, balancing when you boost each other and when you act like crabs in a bucket. Wins are earned by a combination of manipulating the game state as much as each other, and will always leave you feeling like a genius.

K: Oh man, the fight for power amongst the thin line of friendship and truces.  You’re putting money, pure vocal advantages, and making people feel like schmucks in the palm of my hand.  Sign me up.

D: You know how many restaurant empires I’ve built on a promise of “future considerations”? A lot. A looooooot.

Kyle’s #2

K: Shoutout to one of the first real strategy games I played as a kid.  I love games that allow you to play your opponent more than the pieces on your side.  Play defensive with your bombs and higher ranked soldiers to cover your flag, or go balls to the wall with an offensive front?  Or just plant bombs at random, plop your flag dead in the middle, and stand your ground? Do you stay steadfast in your strategy, or go with your gut and make a move?  The constant bluffing and “is this piece what I think it is” racks the tension, never knowing what you’re sending your troops into, until it’s too late. God this game is fun.

D: My first play of Stratego way back when was mind-shattering. So much hidden information, so many cool maneuvers and gambits. A lot of games have borrowed from this in various ways but it’s still a brilliant design that stands on its own. Been way too long since I’ve played it last, we should fix that.

Demetri’s #1

D: Magical Athlete shouldn’t work. It’s imbalanced, has dated mechanisms, is aesthetically amateurish, and a lot of the time it’s just plain stupid. And yet, by some miracle of game design, it’s better off for all of these qualities. What’s essentially a roll and move game on a linear track is elevated to a gleefully unrestrained celebration of everything that makes games fun thanks to a wildly varied cast of characters that interact in equally wild ways. It’s always a joy to play from start to finish. Magical Athlete forever.

K: All I needed was one good night of playing this game for me to realize: this game is fucking stupid.  And I fucking love it. You’re right, there’s nothing really sexy when explaining it on paper, but the amount of bullshit that can happen is hysterical.  You think you’re doing good? Too bad, not anymore, scoot it back brother. All the characters are just. Broken. But pitting multiple broken characters together just set the board on fire.  We were losing it when we played this together, and really are due to play it again soon.

Kyle’s #1

K: Forget the expansions or re-runs.  OG Risk. Whether you’re running Missions or World Domination, it’s the ultimate destination for moral destruction.  The game runs simple: build your Army and let the dice fly to beat the other Armies. But the complexities become mental when you compound all the tiny movements and decisions: do you gather your resources to faux a push to see if your enemies bite?  Do you pick at small countries to add resource cards to cash in for a major push? Do you be that guy and bury yourself in Australia?   Games may take awhile, but victories are earned.  I’ve gotten my whole house to never play this game with me again.  They don’t want none.

D: Every time someone has told me that they’re not into Risk it’s always because they got bodied at some point. Sure there’s luck, but it evens out and the best player usually wins. It’s a classic for a reason. Missions are my go to mode though, since it’s pretty hard to schedule an all-day game.

K: Yeah, missions make the most sense in terms of logistics and sanity.  But man, if you ever get to conquer the world after the half-day game of Risk: it’s otherworldly.