It is the winter holidays for schools and I had the privilege of traveling to a nice resort for a few days with friends. Needless to say, I took a couple of tabletop games with me. I thought I would share some of my favourite holiday games to take with me when heading away. Not all of these may be perfect for your getaway if you are camping or adventuring, but I take them whenever I get the chance.
Designed by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede and released in 2000 by Hans im Glück and Z-Man Games, Carcassonne has proved an evergreen choice for gamers. I will regularly come back to this game that is so easy to teach and fun to play. If Carcassonne came out today I think it would still find popularity and success due to its broad appeal and addictiveness. The expansions are always great to try as well. My favourite is Traders and Builders (2003) as it not only makes the castles more competitive, but the farming starts to be a considerably more prominent aspect of the game leading to explosive end scoring. I have a friend I regularly get away with for holidays and we will sit down and play for several hours without breaking a sweat. If you are new to gaming and never tried Carcassonne, I highly recommend it. If you have been gaming a while and not pulled the box off the shelf in a while, I recommend giving your copy another go.
Elder Sign was designed by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson for Fantasy Flight Games and released in 2011. Holiday time is my ideal time to pull this game out. If I happen to be traveling with someone who appreciates it, great. However, more often than not I am not traveling with gamers and having a co-op that doubles as a solo adventure is great. The box is small and easy to pack, yet I have fitted two expansions into my box by removing the insert. With Elder Sign it is so easy to just unpack and roll up an epic adventure. After many plays, I found I could defeat the base game on a regular basis, but the expansions offer so much in gameplay and new mechanics that they are must include for me. I used to be concerned about rolling dice after everybody had gone to bed, but a tea towel solves that issue. I love the variety, I love the theme, and most of all I love the art and storytelling the game builds.
A recently discovered favourite for me, Babel is designed by Hagen Dorgathen and legendary designer Uwe Rosenburg in 2000 and published by Z-Man Games. I will admit that this was not a chase game for me. In fact, first I heard of it was on a sale on a random board game site. I saw that Uwe was one of the designers and I considered the incredibly reduced price worth the risk. It has not disappointed. Babel has a little more luck involved than many Euro games, but it still confidently has the puzzle thinkiness (I swear it’s a word… probably) I love with a Euro. In Babel, you are competing against an opponent to outbuild pyramids. Turns move quick and each player’s turn will impact the next meaning that downtime is non-existent. You must think tactically and while some moves seem overpowered nothing is overbalanced in this game.
There are times you just need a card game that can be played in peculiar situations and has enough familiarity that it is easy for newbies to pick up and play well. Five Crowns offers that for me. Five Crowns was designed by the amazing and talented Marsha J Falco and published in 1996 by her company SET Enterprises Inc. This game is a simple trick-taking game where the lowest score wins. Each player races to go out by emptying their hand. Any cards in hand at the end of the round is scored. This rummy-style game is familiar enough for people to easily pick up and play but has a fun competitive element that will provide a great deal on entertainment and reply value.
In my humble opinion Century Spice Road is a modern classic. Designed by Emerson Matsuuchi and published in 2017 by Plan B Games, Century Spice Road is the first of a three-part series, the second game being released this year. This game is a hand builder that embraces the Euro art of cube pushing to produce something that feels very familiar, yet wholly original. The art is excellent and the game is easy to transport, yet looks amazing when set up and played. This game has been a great success with people who have been long-term players and people who have never gotten into board games. I have been three rounds into a game and had a player say that they never knew board games were this fun and immediately ordered a copy online. I call that a success.
I hope you have a great holiday break if you are on one, but if not I hope you have a great weekend on gaming. Why not jump over to our Facebook page and share some of the games you love to take away on holiday.