question_mark_4ed7c0d8df8a6[1]By Ken St. Andre

I’ve been a bad blogger. I haven’t written anything for this blog since January 15, and here it the last day of March. My sponsor, GMS Magazine, tried to jog me into action a month ago, and it almost worked, but I got busy or lazy or both. It isn’t hard for me to get lazy–I was born that way. And I was working like crazy on Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls in January and February. I’m still working like crazy on that game, but I could have found time to say something about other games I’ve played or liked.

Saturday, March 30, 2013 was International Tabletop Day. I did get out and do some gaming, and I got to play two of my favourite games–variants of them, at least.

catan[1]I thought it might be fun to list my favorite tabletop games. This listing is not in order–on any given day I might prefer one game to an other, but in general, I would sit down with people to play any of these games at any time.

Settlers of Catan (and its variants)

Star-Trek-Catan[1]My biggest problem with Catan is they have shrunk it down and made it too small and constricted.  I want a board twice this size.  One of the better variants is Star Trek Catan which I played and should have won yesterday, but I made an error at the end and took a Star Trek officer who couldn’t help me at all.  Some day I’m going to get two or three copies of the game, mush them all together into one huge gameboard, play to something like 20 points instead of 10, and set up some quick combat rules for conquering the galaxy.

Ticket to Ride (and its variants)

tt_asia_box[1]This railroad-building game has the almost perfect play mechanic–only 3 things to do: draw, build, or choose destinations.  The scoring track around the outside of the board makes you feel like you’re in a race.  There is a fair amount of luck involved, but good strategy is what makes winning possible.

Ticket has several different variants. My favourite is the one for Asia.

Each variant has one or two things that make it different from the others.  It isn’t just a different map. The game designers have really done a great job with this series.

This is the version that I won yesterday. My strategy was to build across the top and down into China and Japan.

LOTR-RiskTrilogyEd-Board1Risk! (and its variants)

When  you get right down to it, wargaming is all about conquering the world.  This is the version of Risk that I have, and I don’t get to play it nearly often enough.  I love adding a fantastic flavor to my wargaming.

Forget about the Ring. It’s Elves vs. Orcs vs. Men vs. Dwarves in a winner take all battle for world domination.

Judge Dredd

JudgeDredd[1]Way back in 1983 I got lucky and visited England and France for a couple of weeks, attending Games Day in London.  A friend got me into a game of Judge Dread (yes, I already knew about the comic), and I enjoyed it so much that I made a point of getting a copy of the game for myself.  I played it again a couple months ago.  The fun of the game is is the brilliant satire of popular culture and the modern world.  It’s also colorful and fairly fast to play.

My version of the game was printed in 1982.

A quick internet search will show you that there are a lot of different Judge Dredd games available now–many of them computerized versions.  I suspect that the brutal humor of the game carries it and makes it a blast to play no matter what version you’re using, but I’ve only played the old original from the 80s.

Munchkincover[1]Munchkin (and its variants)

Steve Jackson Games is one of the three greatest game publishers in America.  Munchkin is basically a card game but you do need a fair amount of table to spread it out on.  With variants available to take advantage of different aspects of popular culture (Cthulhu, Conan, Munchkin Bites (Goth version), Munchkin Apocalypse, Booty (pirates), Star Munchkin and more), Steve Jackson has mastered the formula of finding a good thing, and then do it again and again and again. (Just like Catan, and Ticket to Ride, and Risk, and others).

Multiplayer, non-collectible, card game with fighting strength based on power conferred by various cards.  It has both humour and a relentless cutthroat dynamic that keeps every game fresh and fun.

I was going to keep today’s blog to five games, but I think I’ll mention one more.  I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a game with some trolls in it, so here’s my favourite trollish board game.

Trollhallagame[1]Trollhalla

Remember! Plunder first, then burn!

I admit I do have a weakness for games where you get to be the monster.

The world is full of wonderful games to play.  Heck, I was inventing another one last night.  If you have played any of these games, why not leave a comment, and tell the world how you liked it?

–end