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    Thursday
    May212009

    The new hotness: Board Games!

    My love for Steve Jackson's Munchkin card games has been well documented on TRS.  Our regular crew of @alexalbrecht, @dannytrs, @jerrytrainor, and @zandbro still makes it a priority to find time to argue our way through those fiendishly clever games of screw your buddy as often as we can.

    But a new addiction has begun to seep its way in as well.  I've recently discovered the wonderful world of German board games!  Evidently, as we Americans have been spending our time playing "party games" like Pictionary, Cranium, and Apples to Apples (all of which I love, BTW), those crafty Germans have been utterly perfecting the classic board game.

    If, when I say "Board Games", the first thing to pop into your mind is Monopoly, Clue, or Candyland, prepare yourself for a paradigm shift.

    I give you: Settlers of Catan and Puerto Rico.

    Honestly, even games I considered more "adult" classics, like Risk and Stratego, can't hold a candle to the refinement, strategy, and pure freakin' fun of these games!  And here's the key difference: in both cases, the brilliant game designers broke down that most fundamental element of board games.  Namely, the structure wherein you take a turn, and I wait... the next person takes a turn... and I continue to wait - oh, it's someone else's turn... still nothing for me to do... thank god!  My turn! 

    No.  Here, every player is active and thinking during every moment of the game.  No matter whose turn it is, I am involved.  There is something for me to do, something that will effect my immediate circumstances.

    I cannot recommend these experiences enough.  If you know 2 or 3 other adventurous souls who are willing to give these games a try with you - who have the patience to not balk at rules which may at first seem complicated - a purchase of one or both of these games is a must.

    Now I know the seasoned board gamers among you will already have a list of other games for me to try.  Yes, I'll get there.  Rest assured, I have spent the requisite time on boardgamegeek.com investigating the best of the best.  I am only more excited that there are so many other rad experiences waiting for me.  In the meantime, I must say, from personal experience: give these two a shot!  Board Games are the new hotness!

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    Reader Comments (66)

    Have you tried Catan on XBOX Live?

    May 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwideawakewesley

    Gosh Jeff, what's the point of having such a gorgeous website if you only update every 6 months!? :P
    I love board games but never played and German ones as far as I know.

    May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSerenity

    In this day and age, getting together a group of friends that will play a board game instead of a video game is a miracle in and of itself. Keep the dream alive Jeff!

    Also, I think this website was on Barack Obama's list of most visited websites in 2009. :-D

    May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZachistall

    I've been playing Settlers for a couple of years now and I totally agree that it is awesome! Risk was always the game of choice for me and friends and some games would go on for days. Our longest Settlers to date only reaches the 6 hour mark but with the many expansion packs and other add-ons the fun never really ends.

    I recommend the 2 expansions ;Seafarers of Catan and Cities and Knights of Catan. Both of these add dimension to the game play and allow for two to four players. The expansion allows you to connect to other players via sea routes as well as by land. The game is much more robust with this added dimension.

    The 5/6 player expansions allow for more people to play. Four player games can sometimes be limiting with a large group of people. Let’s face it; it’s such a great game everyone wants to play. There are three player expansions; one for each game (Settlers of Catan, Seafarers of Catan and Cities and Knights of Catan). Each expansion requires ownership of the game or game expansions to play.

    I wish I could join in on one of your Settlers games in LA - It is so much fun to play this game with people who are REALY exited about it, Like me!

    May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJosh Knepper

    Settlers of Catan is absolutely amazing. My friends and I discovered it about two years ago and it's always a good time. I consider myself a longest wall type of guy. =)

    May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBryce D.

    Oops, I mean road. Longest road. =)

    May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBryce D.

    I ♥ board games and I wish I had a group of people to play them with. No one is interested when I ask but that could be cause I usually only want to play Monopoly. If I do ever get a chance, I will for sure try these games out. :) For now I've resorted to playing board games on the comp as no one will play with me.

    It is now my mission to convince people to try various board games with me. :)

    May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen

    Ticket to Ride is another great German style board game. It isn't as highly tactical as Puerto Rico or Catan, but it still is an amazing amount of fun.

    May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterYuri Walkiw

    The is an Italian card game similar to munchkin called Bang! It's really good and goes along with spaghetti westerns. It's really good with 5 people but it's playable with 4. The point is to guess who is against you and who is with you. Always having to pay attention during other peoples turns to see if they are really trying to kill you, or just trying to trick someone else. Really great game. By it's probably already on your list.

    May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJake Rheinfrank

    My group of friends have rediscovered the now defunct Heroclix and they've introduced it to me. [We prefer the old game and older rules] We've put many long nights into a match over the past several months. We've recently acquired about 400 pieces. Photos: http://is.gd/CaT7

    My kitchen table is no long a place to eat, but a place to game. We read comics by day and fight by night, all night. 7pm to 12 for a 400 point game

    And it's certainly a game creates tension among friends, that's my favorite aspect of it. So the games you mention intrigue me. I got people to try the ripstick with me, so this isn't a stretch.

    May 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbrian1625

    Board games have been completely off my radar for years. But seeing this makes me interested in having a go. Thanks Jeff.

    May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Olde

    These will be welcome additions to the board game stack, recently got more involved after moving away to college. It will join the likes of Apples to Apples and Jenga. Keep up the great posts!

    May 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrendan O'Neil

    LOVE SETTLERS!! This game becomes progressively more interesting (especially when you randomize the tiles). It's worth spending the half hour or so learning and knowing the rules. Gah, it gets better every time; I want to play tonight. I think I shall...

    May 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily M.

    hi,

    i'm from germany and i've been loving board games since like forever. settler of catan is an amazing game. if you like puerto rico, there is a game called 'agricola' don't know if it is released in the us.
    it has won the game of the year award in germany for best complex game.

    you also might wanne check out 'el grande'

    but nothing beats a good game of munchkin, carcassonne oder settlers of catan.

    btw is munchkin quest good? thinking of ordering it in english, since it did not yet come out in german.

    May 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterugod

    I've been enjoying introducing my kids to the staples of my youth (Candyland and Chutes and Ladders) - it's great watching them digest and actually get the rules (and then try to fiendishly break them).

    I was going through some old stuff and found my old Car Wars (Steve Jackson) games and Divine Right. Do you remember those?

    May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChuck

    You should check out Carcassonne. Great game.

    May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

    If you like Puerto Rico you should definitely give San Juan a try. Same feel and less time to complete a game.

    May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

    LOVE board games, Trival Persuit is my fav, and I beg friends to play. It doesn't hurt that I usually win! :) I'll have to check out the website and see what else is out there!

    May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan

    If you haven't tried the expansion packs for Catan you should definitely pick them up! I really like the Knights of Catan expansion which adds a few new elements to the game that are even more interactive when waiting for your turn.

    June 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

    Yes! German Games! Been playing Settlers with the Knights expansion for about a year now...love it. Have had some epic games man. When you talked about it on TRS, I left a small victory in my heart. I thought, "THIS is why i watch this show...they just get me."

    June 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterArcade Legend

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