Number Six on the Meeple Like Us Ten Top Best Board Games 2017 Edition!
Past the city walls lies the old coach-house. It’s seen better days. Once it would have been a welcoming sight for tired travelers, but now it looks more like a fixed fortification. Laughter doesn’t carry from its interior, and light is only dimly visible between the boards of the windows. There is no sound of merriment – at best, a cynical snigger accompanies the tales of those safe within its interior. These games don’t have jokes to share. They have war stories. When you push past the heavy doors, all conversation quietens as the boxes within eye you up. You present no threat and no real interest. They go back to their drinks. They’ve seen too much in the battle for prominence to waste their thinking on the likes of you.
Michael Picks: Tigris and Euphrates (In with a bullet at #6)
|Tigris & Euphrates (1997)
|Meeple Like Us
|Medium Heavy [3.50]
I once said that I never really got along with Reiner Knizia’s designs, and at the time it was true. I’ve come to know more of them since then, and Tigris and Euphrates is an absolute treasure. Rarely does a game manage to meld theme and mechanisms so seamlessly, perfectly abstracting the rise and fall of civilizations, agriculture and religion with only a handful of svelte, elegant rules. You can get lost within this game if you let yourself, telling hundreds of fascinating stories about the evolution and disintegration of empires. You will learn the meaning of those wise and chilling words – My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings. Look upon your works, ye mighty, and despair.
Pauline: My only real memory of this game is that in our first game you started a war that you thought you’d massively win, and ended up with a civilization in tatters. I liked that.
Michael: I on the other hand was not in love with how that happened. It’s one of the magical things about this game though. War is brutal, unpredictable and the only real winners are the ones that don’t participate. This is the only board game I know where conquest gives you a mild dose of PTSD.
Pauline: The only winning move is not to play. People say that a lot about playing games with you.
Pauline Picks: One Night Ultimate Werewolf (Stable at #6)
|One Night Ultimate Werewolf (2014)
|Meeple Like Us
|Player Count (recommended)
This is the only app enabled game that has made my list. I know lots of people don’t like digitally enabled boardgames but I think the app is something that makes One Night Ultimate Werewolf genuinely great. It’s like having your own electronic referee. Everyone gets to take part whereas in games like Ultimate Werewolf you need a moderator that doesn’t actually get to participate. The app takes away the chore of bookkeeping and instead lets everyone focus on having fun.
You don’t need the app to enjoy ONUW though and there is plenty to like in the box. I love all the different roles you get and how even being a goodie means you have an incentive to lie. The swapping of cards during the night phases means that you can’t even know within a single game if you genuinely are who you say you are. Like in real life, ONUW is all about the public you versus the secret you, and dealing with your own inner conflicts. Like some of the other games we’ve talked about already though it might be just ‘okay’ if you play it with the wrong people. That’s why you should always play it with the right people. That’s my general advice for games – always play them with the right people.
Michael: I like this one mainly as a game design example. We use it a lot in our cardboard prototyping classes as a quick, easy thing to prototype, play and iterate. It’s a remarkably pure design.
Pauline: It’s great that it’s so easy to put in front of people, although it also sometimes seems like a kind of public relationship counselling and I’m not always so keen on that.
Michael: What do you mean?
Pauline: I think that the fact we instantly accuse each other of being werewolves might make people think there’s a problem with us as a couple.
Michael: Maybe they’re right?
Pauline: They are, but for reasons neither they nor you have figured out yet.