Number Three on the Meeple Like Us Ten Top Best Board Games 2019 Edition!
You make your way into the warmth and opulence of the palace, and it’s certainly been worth the journey. Golden statues adorn silver pillars, with soft silk drapery hanging from each immaculately constructed marble wall. This is where the true Princes and Princesses of gaming are to be found, adorned in the finest garb of the most exotic fabrics. You, on the other hand, look like you don’t belong here. Your shoes are dusty and your cloak filthy. You’ve been on a long journey to get here, and the stresses show up in every stain on your ragged clothing. A few noses wrinkle in disgust. A few faces look away. A few games turn their back on you. Not to worry though. You’re on your way to see the King and the Queen. You don’t need to worry about these minor nobles. For now.
Michael Picks: Lords of Waterdeep (with the Scoundrels of Skullport Expansion – still at #3)
|Name||Lords of Waterdeep (2012)|
|Accessibility Report||Meeple Like Us|
|Complexity||Medium Light [2.47]|
|BGG Rank||57 [7.76]|
To be fair, Lords of Waterdeep making it this far on the list should genuinely trigger a doping scandal – it gets here purely on the strength of its expansion. Lords of Waterdeep by itself is a great game, but it takes Scoundrels of Skullport to turn it into something genuinely wonderful. I’m not a great lover of the theme, but that’s for the best – if they reskinned this for Game of Thrones and made it Lords of Kings Landing I’d probably never see the sun ever again. All the intrigue and conspiracy and Machiavellian plotting you could ever want is to be found in this box, and after hundreds of plays (in real life and on the excellent app) I’m still nowhere near tired of it. It’s been my #3 game for three years running, and I suspect it’ll take something spectacular happening before that changes. Not this year though. NOT TODAY SATAN.
Pauline: We haven’t played this for a couple of years, and yet here it is. How can it be that good if you never actually open the box?
Michael: It has an exceptionally robust app and I’ve played that so often that it’s basically burned into my screen. Whenever you come into the bedroom to find me on my tablet screaming ‘DON’T LOOK AT ME’, it’s because I don’t want you to know I’m playing Lords of Waterdeep yet again. I’d rather you thought I was watching pornography. That’s how much I’ve played it. By myself. Played it to completion.
Pauline: You don’t want me to realise you’d rather play with yourself than play with me, in other words.
Pauline Picks: Jaipur (Down from #2)
|Accessibility Report||Meeple Like Us|
|Complexity||Medium Light [1.50]|
|BGG Rank||127 [7.51]|
Long before Michael got obsessed with boardgames, I tried to get him into card games. If only I’d been able to convey my enthusiasm for those in a way that could set a fire going in his black little heart. If only I’d managed to get him as enthused about hearts and rummy as he gets about Concordia and Lords of Waterdeep. It would have been so much cheaper, and so much more minimalist. Buying a hundred new games would have been as simple as picking up a new pack of cards.
Jaipur reminds me of the best card games I played with my grandparents as a child, but it’s got a whole load of extra sparkle. It’s fast, it’s furious. There’s a little bit of luck, but not too much. Just like Concordia, it’s a Goldilocks game. It’s so quick. It’s so elegant. It’s surprisingly deep for such an easy, breezy game.
I think that it has things in common with the engine builders that I am so keen on because it is basically a game of minimax and I am all about optimisation. It’s all about finding the right time to make a trade – where you haven’t left it too long but also haven’t gotten jitters before the big score comes along. I’ve bought Jaipur for my mother. I’ve bought it as a wedding present. I’ve played through the app campaign on both my phone and tablet and we’re pretty far on in the project of wearing out the physical cards. I just never get tired of this game.
Having said that, there are a few factors that knocked it off of the top spot in my affections. It’s a two player only game that plays very quickly so you soon develop an understanding of how your common opponents are going to act. It can occasionally become a little samey as a result, and you need time away before you remember why you liked it so much. I’ve played it so much that the shine has come off of it, hence the slippage in the rankings. Never mind though, it’s still a rare jewel of a game.
Michael: I’ll happily play Jaipur at almost any time, but despite it being on my list two years ago it’s not something I really feel needs to make a return. I guess after two-hundred game reviews mere excellence isn’t enough any more.
Pauline: As you said earlier, we play so many games that being excellent isn’t enough to even guarantee that something will be remembered. Every year we’ve looked at at least a few games that mean others will never get any real attention from us ever again. How many great games did you get rid of in the Tabletop Scotland cull?
Michael: Every one I got rid of was great. Every single one a bargain. NO REFUNDS.