Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Best Board Games of 10 Franchises

Board games have replaced video games in the thing that franchises tack their names onto for a cheap cash grab. Rather than making a Dark Alliance clone with Superman or a Age of Empires knock-off with Star Wars now they just make endless versions of Monopoly. However, from the bog of board game cash grabs some true gems have surfaced that not only enhance their franchise but enhance the board game scene in general to a whole new level.

Without further ado, here are some of them. 

Fair warning: Most of these are going to be "Insert Franchise Here-The Board Game", but don't let the lack of creativity in the title fool you: This is The Walking Dead. Based off the original comic of the same name, you have to find survivors, supplies and a safe place to live while the zombie hoards close in around you. There's a feeling of tension when you are facing a challenge with a zombie and have to decide weather to use a bullet to win the challenge and potentially attract a zombie Mardi Gras to you or lose a valuable ally to the hoard. 

I've argued for years that nobody wants to be Harry Potter, they just want to be in the wizarding world as a wizard... wizarding... This game puts a hairline fracture in my theory though as you get to be the titular wizard and his friends taking on the challenges from the books year by year until the ultimate confrontation with ol' Rhinoplasty himself. This is a deck building game that gets incrementally harder as you advance, making this game a must-have for board game enthusiasts and Potterheads alike. 

Based on the books (Don't worry-nudity not included) players get to take on the heads of the various lords of Westeros as they struggle for control of the Iron Throne. Playing like an advanced form of Risk, power and politics are huge roles in the turn-by-turn gameplay, keeping the victor a surprise till the very end. Remember when you play the game of thrones you win or you die. 

Making a board game based on the wacky adventures of Rick and Morty would probably be impossible, so instead you get a box where the wackiness is brought into our world through insane dares with the help of the friendly Meeseeks. The game is best played late at night with VERY good friends and under the promise that anything that happens in the Meeseeks box, stays in the Meeseeks box. I'm Mr.Meeseeks look at me! 

Fun fact: Before the movies Marvel was a massive comic book franchise populated by literally hundreds of characters and thousands of volumes. To reenact this we have Legendary, a game with literally millions of possibilities for scenarios. Choose your favorite heroes and villains from Marvel's vast catalog (Usually from having to purchase expansions), pick a scenario and off you go. Wanna recreate the Dark Phoenix Saga with the original X-Men that participated? Go for it. Wanna engineer a scenario where Kingpin is hosting a Kree invasion and Devil Dinosaur and Bucky have teamed up to stop him? Sure, why not? You can literally make whatever game you want. Literally. 

Interesting thing about board games with existing franchises: It seems that the pulling back on the characters and giving players the experience of the characters world is more fun than actually being the characters themselves and trying to have their adventures. Rebellion could have a complete makeover with different characters and pieces and it would still feel like Star Wars because the basic struggle is there. One side plays the Empire with the goal of hunting down and destroying the rebels and the other plays the rebels with the goal of hiding from the empire long enough for the galaxy to make the Empire give up. The films themselves are referenced and used as the assets but the players choices drive the game. Sick of the rebels gathering supplies from Tattooine? Use the Death Star to blow it up. There is nothing in gaming more satisfying than using the Death Star to take out a world, and I recommend it to anyone who's having a bad day. 

Of all the games on this list this one requires the most qualifying statements. DC Deck Building is the best as long as you play co-op. The base game is good mechanically. It's fun, fast paced, and easy to get into for anyone who isn't into board games BUT the DC ascetic doesn't add anything to the game.In co-op mode, where the players are trying to stop a group of villains, the game takes on its super hero identity and lets the players feel more like a group of heroes taking down a dastardly fiend (Or a group of villains taking out the Justice League if you buy my favorite expansion) and the game really takes on its shine. Pick it up if you love DC and board games but don't expect to get a happy marriage until you team up with others. Sadly, despite the qualifications, this is still the best DC board game ever made. 

Joss Whedon's magnum opus is done justice in this magnificent board game. This is another where the concept is more important than playing through the actual adventures from the TV show. Each player gets their own ship and crew and have to travel the 'verse to try and make a living without getting hit up by the Alliance or the dreaded Reavers. Do you take the easy routes with the steady pay and low risk, or do you try to cross the system with a ship full of fugitives for one big pay off? The choice is yours. Also there's space ships. 

Based in the Forgotten Realms, which is based in Dungeons and Dragons (Follow that? Good.), Lords of Waterdeep takes the fantasy adventurer concept to a new level by making the adventurers little colored blocks. The players, representing the titular lords, hire groups and send them on adventures for their own glory, making the players the quest givers rather than quest takers. Wealth is then used to improve the city and hire better adventurers. The whole thing is an interesting twist on the genre and yet still feels like a Dungeons and Dragons game with adventures and twists abound. 

It was hard to choose between this and Star Trek Catan but in the end it was either a reprint of an excellent game or a flawed but unique game that had more Star Trek flavoring to it and this is definitely in the latter. Players take the roles of Starfleet captains, building their decks to defend the Federation from threats. The game is a bit more slow than most deck building games but after a while becomes quite intuitive. Now the best part of this game is the co-op modes, where you can either take on the Klingons, the Romulans or (my favorite) the Borg, each with unique challenges and each are a ton of fun to play. 

Have you played any of these? 


No comments:

Post a Comment