This year has been one for the history books, and not in the right ways. The holidays haven’t ended this 2020, however, even if experts recommend you avoid large gatherings.
As before, we’re going to recommend some tabletop games, which are even more critical when you’re stuck at home. Unlike years prior, however, we want to highlight our favorites from the entire decade.
(P.S. We know some of these might not be playable given how many people you have access to, but it doesn’t hurt to know about them once the pandemic is over. Plus, you can support your struggling FLGS at the same time!)
Our first game is one of the more complex (and lengthy) gaming experiences: Jens Drögemüller and Helge Ostertag‘s Gaia Project. A strategy game of galactic civilizations, the gamefocuses on factions attempting to achieve dominance through economic paths, terraforming, and territory control.
Factions use resources to colonize new planets and begin terraforming them to match their home. Each player also improves their various technologies and skills, earning and using special abilities in their conquest of the galaxy.
Designed for up to four players (although it has a solo mode), Gaia Project can take hours to play, has many complex mechanics, and a significant tabletop footprint. Despite these factors, this game is perfect for adults and teenagers who enjoy strategy games with a slow-burning, lengthy endgame goal.
We’ve praised Fantasy Flight Games‘ Star Wars: Rebellion before, and the love for the game hasn’t stopped. A strategy game imitating the lopsided Galactic Civil War of the Star Wars universe pits the Galactic Empire’s military might against the Rebel Alliance’s propaganda and guerilla strikes.
The Empire players’ primary goal is to discover the Rebel’s hidden base while the Alliance attempts to sway a given number of planets toward their cause. Leaders help each side move troops, commit to missions, and even have battles while pursuing their goals.
Intended for two players (although there’s a four-player option), Rebellion requires significant playtime and table space but is relatively less complicated than similar games. If anything, this may be the perfect game for Star Wars fans stuck at home with their significant others or adolescent siblings.
Our next favorite is yet another strategy game: FryxGames‘ Terraforming Mars. While I hate to focus on a single game type (or genre), we have to admit this competitive game of corporations working together to make the “Red Planet” inhabitable has graced many a table.
Players purchase cards that have projects on them, then use various actions to fulfill these projects or terraform the planet. The corporation contributing the most to terraforming (Terraform Rating) and earned Victory Points through other avenues wins the game.
Playable by up to five players (with a solo mode), Terraforming Mars is relatively easy to learn, and games can be completed in 2-3 hours. This game may be a good fit for quarantined families consisting of pre-teens through adults.
Although Starling Games‘ Everdell is a strategy game, it has a different feel from its predecessors. In a magical forest inhabited by anthropomorphic critters, cities vie to create the valley’s best civilization.
Players can choose to place workers or play cards from their hands in the hopes of gathering resources, drawing more cards, or taking particular actions. Play continues from the end of one winter until the following winter, with the player with the highest-scored city winning the game.
Designed for up to four players (with a solo mode), Everdell isn’t overly complicated, and games may only take 1-2 hours. It’s fantasy setting, interesting board, and average complexity makes this perfect for a family, including late elementary-aged children.
Players perform a variety of actions, including gaining food, laying eggs, and adding new species that cause a chain reaction of effects. After four rounds, the player with the most points has the best preserve and wins.
Playable up to five players (with a solo mode), Wingspan is easy to learn yet allows multiple paths to victories. Its peaceful theme and style make it perfect for a quiet night home with older kids, teenagers, and adults.
These five games are merely our favorites, and hopefully will bring this troublesome year to an end. Many more games exist, from the complex and time-consuming to simple fun done in 15-30 minutes.