I’m not sure what it is about board games, but ever since I got into the hobby about 3 years ago I haven’t looked back. There’s a fun, social aspect that you just can’t get from other types of gaming, and board games make even the most introverted people get involved and have fun! I’ve featured my favourite lunch time (< 1 hour) games before, so I thought I’d highlight a few of the longer games I really enjoy.
2 – 6 players, 2 hour playtime
In Eclipse, you control one of 6 human or alien races trying to stake their claim on the new, unexplored galaxy. In each turn you can take one of the movement, building, upgrading, researching, exploring, or influencing actions to build your army up to face both NPCs as well as other players to establish control over the dynamic map.
The thing I really like about Eclipse is although it can be quite complicated, with the way the components and player mats are laid out it’s really easy to keep track of your civilization’s current state – you don’t have to over-analyse anything (like Dominant Species) to figure out how well you’re doing. Although after playing it a few times there’s a few definite paths to victory (missles, anyone?), there’s a perfect balance of player interaction and randomness to keep the game interesting every time. Out of the longer games we’ve played at work Eclipse has had a full table and has been replayed the most.
3 – 6 players, 3 hour playtime
Battlestar Galactica lets you play out the drama of the TV series as one of the main characters, working together to save Galactica from Cylon attack while managing the resource crisis on board. Of course, in true BSG fasion, at least one of the players at the table is secretly a Cylon, and will be attempting to sabotage the mission from within. Work together to try to identify the treacherous player(s) and make it to Earth.
I LOVE this board game. The traitor aspect makes it really fun and engaging, and the game dynamics provide a lot of opportunity for a smart Cylon player to sneak in the odd sabotage with a reduced risk of getting caught. The crisis voting system is genius! And even if you do die or get identified as a cylon, you’re not eliminated from the game – you instead work as a cylon player, activating special actions only available to you. We play this a lot at work, mostly because I force other people to play it on a regular basis :) Also, you don’t need to know anything about the actual tv series to enjoy it – I’ve only seen the miniseries myself.
2 – 6 players, 2 hour playtime
Power Grid has players building up their own corporate power grids and providing power to the masses of Europe. It’s main mechanic is an auction system where players can bid on different power grid technologies, and then play the resource market to attempt to fuel their power plants and collect money from the citizens in their power grid.
To me Power Grid is the monopoly-killer. You still play with paper money, you still put houses on things, but with a much improved (and central) auction system as well as a easy to understand resource market it adds a lot more depth. And it only takes two hours, instead of monopoly’s 3 to 4 depending on who you’re playing with. It’s really easy to pick up for new players, and has a very light strategy component to keep recurring players interested.