10 classic boardgames that should be replaced (p2)
This article is part two of two and continues from here.
Chess is a great game. Millions of people, from all walks of life and from all over the world, play it every day. If you play chess well, people respect you, and when you say things like "en passant" or "fianchetto", people automatically assume that you're smarter than you really are. That said: chess is also nearly two thousand years old. Two. Thousand. Years. There are newer games out there that are just as good, if not better. Trust me.
If you want a tight two-player abstract strategy, try Onitama, a game which simulates a kungfu duel between two grandmasters of the art. The components are gorgeous, the strategy deep, and - with moves named after Tiger, Rabbit, Fox and Ox - the theme is surprisingly good for a game so very abstract.
If you want a game that explores abstract strategy in 3D, try Santorini. Aside from being one of the most gorgeous abstract boardgames out there, Santorini also introduces an intriguing third dimension by allowing your pieces to build, and climb, the white-and-blue houses that the eponymous city is so famous for.
So, you want to solve mysteries? Be a proper Sherlock Holmes, walk in the footsteps of a CSI investigator? Cluedo is definitely not the game for you then. Despite having a solid core concept, the fiddly roll-and-move mechanics means that this classic manages to pack 20 minutes of fun into two hours of gaming.
If you like deduction and mystery, try Mystery of the Abbey. Although it has a few antiquated design elements (I'm looking at you, Bibliotheca cards), it's essentially an upgraded version of Cluedo with some actual deductive logic thrown into the mix. Did the fat Franciscan Novice do it, or was it the skinny Templar Brother who dealt the killing blow?
If you want to prove that you are smarter than Sherlock Holmes, try Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. This is a great game if you really enjoy murder mysteries, not only because it's named after fiction's most famous detective, but also because it does not hold your hand when it comes to any of the cases. Every case is fiendishly difficult and devilishly clever, and you'll likely have hours of fun with just the base set alone.
If you want to flex your deductive reasoning muscles, try Alchemists, where each player takes on the role of an alchemist bent on figuring out the metaphysical properties of certain reagents. To do this, you must not only conduct all manner of experiments (testing them either on yourself, your witless intern or some hapless adventurers), but must also manage your money, stock of reagents, your thesis deadlines and more. If there's a game that better recreates the experience of postgraduate studies, I don't want to play it.
Also known as "Drawing Charades" or, if you were born in the 80s like me, Win Lose or Draw, Pictionary is a game where participants are forced to communicate through nothing more than their terrible drawing skills and grunts of frustration. It's all great fun... for about ten minutes, after which people tend to run out of new and shocking ways to draw oversized penises.
If you're looking for something does not require artistic talent, try Concept. Like Pictionary, the main object of the game is to try and convey a word or phrase to your teammates without speaking. Unlike Pictionary, however, you don't draw anything; instead, you're limited to placing tokens on a board full of symbols that represent various, well, concepts. This is a great replacement if you're constantly frustrated by your inability to draw anything more complex than a stick figure.
If you want to actually draw stuff and be creative, try A Fake Artist Goes to New York, also known as "Ese Geijutsuka New York e Iku (エセ芸術家ニューヨークへ行く)" in its original Japanese title. Players are each given something to draw and, as the canvas goes around the table, each player gets to make one unbroken stroke on it. But there's a catch: one player is actually a Fake Artist who doesn't know what they're drawing! If the Fake Artist escapes detection after a certain number of rounds, she wins, but if the rest of the group manage to find the Fake Artist, then they win.
If you want Pictionary crossed with Telephone, consider Telestrations, a game where everyone gets to be both the artist and the guesser at the same time. Like Telephone, the game is funniest when things go horribly wrong, but it's also always impressive when a word somehow manages to survive four rounds of horrible mangling. Also, because everyone is always drawing and guessing, Telestrations keeps everyone involved in the game at all times, thus ensuring that nobody - no matter how shy - is ever left out of the fun.
Uno is one of those games that I both love and hate in equal measure. I love Uno because it was one of my first introductions to how much fun you could pack into a small pack of cards, and I have many fond memories of playing that game through long nights spent in hotel rooms with nothing better to do. However, I also hate Uno because it's a game that pretty much plays itself. Oh, someone played Draw Four? Guess you're drawing four cards then. Oh, you have no red cards in your hand? Guess you're skipping your turn then. You make little to no decisions in a game of Uno, and the winner might as well be decided through a coin toss at the beginning of the game.
If you want something you can play with a poker deck, I strongly recommend Hearts, a classic trick-taking game for four. Although this game is as old as the hills, it is one of the few games with a perfect balance between skill and luck that still remains simple to teach and fast to play. Being a card game, there is of course always going to be an element of luck involved, but in Hearts, the better player will still almost always win in the long run because player skill - at reading your opponents, at reading the board, and at understanding the odds - matters.
If you want a deep strategic card game, give Android: Netrunner - or any of Fantasy Flight Games' many other Living Card Games (LCGs) - a shot. An evolution of the collectable card game (CCG) model popularised by Magic the Gathering, LCGs give you all the depth and complexity of a CCG at a fraction of the cost. Fair warning, though: this is an extremely nerdy activity that should only be attempted by level 3+ geeks. Entry-level geeks, stay well away (and try the other games I recommend here) until you have more experience under your belt.
A simple game that can be played with nothing more than pencils and two pieces of paper, Battleship is a fun enough activity when you have nothing better to do, but as a game? It's absolutely terrible, since most of the game revolves around luck. Oh, sure, there's a modicum of strategy in how you place your ships and where you start your guesses, but that's pretty much where the entire game begins and ends.
If you like the theme of naval combat, definitely try Captain Sonar, a team-based game where six to eight players sit around a table and pretend to captain two submarines desperately hunting each other. You have radio operators who monitor the enemy ship's movements, captains that decide where to go, ship technicians that fix the ship as everything slowly goes to hell... What I'm trying to say is that this game is amazing, and you should definitely check it out.
If you want something that combines strategy with guesswork, try Cash 'n Guns, a party game that will see you and your friends point hilariously large foam guns at each other while simultaneously wheeling and dealing with one another. Do you put your gun down and walk away in case you get shot, or do you stick to your guns and hope that your friends are bluffing, and that their guns are not actually loaded? It's the Prisoner's Dilemma all over again, except this time there's multiple prisoners, multiple ways to split the pot, and multiple ways to betray your friends.