Epic Gumdrop Ep 30: Twelve Days of Boardgames

Twelve Days of Boardgames

This episode of Epic Gumdrop in order to keep with the holiday theme we look at twelve classic boardgames that make wonderful gifts and create lasting memories of loved ones crying. Tears of joy! A round of tears of joy for everyone!

Listen above or subscribe via iTunes.

(Length: approx 43min)

Here’s our notes from the show:

Twelve Days of Boardgames

King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo (or New York)

  • 2 – 6 players
  • 30 minutes
  • Works for most age groups.
  • Roll dice! Battle opponents! That’s about all! It’s light and quick and even though it’s a battle game it’s fun for the whole family because you never feel like you’re being picked on. My whole family enjoys this one.

Pandemic

Pandemic

  • 2 – 4 players
  • 45 minutes
  • Great family game
  • Race around the world trying to play whack-a-mole with diseases springing up everywhere. While everyone is excited about the new Pandemic: Legacy, the now classic original is still a great game for new gamers. The theme is intense, the cooperative gameplay is terrific and it’s a wonderful way to bring everyone together (but not too close, you don’t want to catch a case of something).

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride

  • 2 – 5 players
  • 30 – minute gameplay
  • Who doesn’t like trains? Ticket to ride is satisfying on so many levels. Collect coloured cards! Lay little coloured trains on a simplified map of routes! Be the first to finish your routes, get more routes and score the most points overall! Plus if you get bored of the base map there are thousands, if not millions of expansions. Also, there was just a United Kingdom and Pennsylvania map pack put out, so the game is still growing. Unless the person you are buying for hates trains, hates fun and hates kittens they will enjoy this. And if they do love it, they can hone their skills on the iOS version while they’re waiting for you to return to visit.

7 Wonders

7 Wonders

  • 2 – 7 players
  • 30 minute gameplay
  • If someone already has Sushi Go! and likes that card-drafting mechanic then they will very likely enjoy doing something a little heavier than collecting food – like BUILDING A CIVILIZATION. Except this game has all the fun of building a civilization without the 12 hour gameplay. Perfect for someone who wants a little challenge but nothing that involves weight-lifting their game to the table.

Codenames

Codenames

  • 2 – 8 players
  • 15 minute gameplay
  • It’s the party game every one is talking about! And because I have kids and don’t get invited to parties or have the energy to host them I have not played it!
  • Here’s the description on BoardGameGeek:

“Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their CODENAMES.

In Codenames, two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.
Codenames: Win or lose, it’s fun to figure out the clues.”

  • If I believe everything I hear this game is the cat’s pajamas. And who doesn’t like cats, or, better, cats wearing pajamas? Seems like a fairly light game that is easy to learn and super fun to play. Could be a great festive season game and offer brief respite from festive binge drinking, overeating and overall ennui.

Love Letter

Love Letter: Any Edition

  • 2 – 4 players
  • 20 minute gameplay

“All of the eligible young men (and many of the not-so-young) seek to woo the princess of Tempest. Unfortunately, she has locked herself in the palace, and you must rely on others to take your romantic letters to her. Will yours reach her first?

“Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction, and luck for 2–4 players. Your goal is to get your love letter into Princess Annette’s hands while deflecting the letters from competing suitors. From a deck with only sixteen cards, each player starts with only one card in hand; one card is removed from play. On a turn, you draw one card, and play one card, trying to expose others and knock them from the game. Powerful cards lead to early gains, but make you a target. Rely on weaker cards for too long, however, and your letter may be tossed in the fire!”

  • This game is a great starter game, filler game or all around crowd pleaser. While it’s not the game I immediately reach for, if you’ve got a mixed a group of people this is unbelievably easy to explain in about 30 seconds. And it’s inexpensive enough that one of the thousand rethemes of this game (Batman, Adventure Time, etc etc etc) will make a great stocking stuffer or light gift.

Machi Koro

Machi Koro

  • 2 – 4 players
  • 30 minute gameplay
  • Build a city! Earn income! Build more city! Earn more income! Reach your goals first, win! That refined gameplay is what makes this a great game for all ages. The gameplay is straightforward but the method you use, the engine you build, is up to you. With little ones the base game is plenty – young ones will have fun being part of the action and will also have a chance to practice their numbers and develop their strategic thinking. Also, municipal tyranny.
  • The deluxe edition of this game includes the two expansions, Harbour expansion and Millionaire’s Row which are pretty essential to providing a richer experience. The lack of these elements in the base game originally is probably what cost it the Spiel Des Jahres award this year. That’s our guess, anyway.

Colt Express

Colt Express

  • 2 – 6 players
  • 30 – 40 minutes gameplay
  • Machi Koro lost out to this game for the 2015 Spiel Des Jahres award. We love Colt Express. It’s a light programming game (for more on that listen to episode 17, our Programming Games episode). The strategy is simple but the physicality of the train and the robbers is fantastic. While the strategy might be a lot lighter and the chaos a lot thicker than Machi Koro, you can’t go wrong with this for any age. Great as a filler game or just a general all ages game where everyone can laugh/cry. Plus cool expansions!

Arctic Scavengers refugees

Arctic Scavengers

  • 1 – 5 frostbitten players
  • 30 – 60 minutes
  • We spent a whole episode praising this game (episode 16). Go and listen to it. If you are not convinced you need to own this, then, well.

Smash Up

Smash Up

  • 2 – 4 players
  • 45 minute gameplay
  • My eight year old loves this. My wife tolerates it. I do not. The chaos here is really appealing, as is the art. If you have a high tolerance for luck based mayhem in your games, then you will probably like this one. Plus there are five billion expansions so you will never get bored of mashing cards together in improbable combinations.

Dominion

Dominion

  • 2 – 4 players
  • 30 minute gameplay
  • While a lot of gamers have burned out on Dominion, people like my mom have not. It’s a great game for non-gamers. It’s cards! It’s values on cards! It’s very intuitive and has just enough flavour that it appeals to people who are not into immersive or deeply interactive gaming experiences. Plus there are 27 gajillion expansions. Or nine. Or something. So there’s lots of game here if someone gets tired of the base game. I’ve taught Dominion to a lot of non-gamers and everyone of them has enjoyed it and wanted to play more of it, if that’s any indication.
  • Since we recorded this an iOS version launched that has people all agitated. Check it out! Or don’t!

Carcassonne

Carcassonne

  • 2 – 5 players
  • 30 – 45 minute gameplay
  • Laying tiles, placing little wooden meeples, you’re a farmer, you’re a knight, you’re a thief! What’s not to like about this? Plus no words on the tiles for little ones to have to read. The rules can be grasped in a glance and it’s the kind of game you know how to play by turn 2. And if you ever get tired of it, 987,461 expansions exist. While you’re at it, just buy a Big Box version that comes with a few expansions. You will not regret it.
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