Justin Williams of Austin Texas details his top picks for board games this year.
While video games have evolved to provide hours of multiplayer entertainment in various forms (with some games reaching as much as 64 players in one match), there’s nothing quite like sitting down at a table with your friends and playing a board game. Board games bring friends together in a more intimate setting than video games can achieve, even if you’re playing on the same couch. Instead of being focused on the TV screen, your group is instead focused on each other and the game board. Justin Williams of Austin Texas has shared some of his favorite board games that include the best examples of this, whether they force you to work together as a team or pit you against each other in healthy competition.
First, on Justin Williams of Austin Texas’s list is a classic: Risk. Risk is definitely not for everyone—matches can take hours and hours to complete and can become a slog for some. However, for those who are invested, it becomes a match of wits that few other games can compare to. The Risk gameboard is simply a map of the world, with sections divided by countries’ borders. Each turn, you move your soldiers to attempt to take over the world. The game forces you to ally with other players in order to gain strength, but there can only be one winner. Thus, betrayals are a core part of the game. This may be offputting to some, or ill-suited to others, but for those who can appreciate a strategic back-stab and not take personal offense, Justin Williams of Austin Texas thinks Risk is a fantastic choice of game.
As mentioned earlier, a drawback of the game might be the length it takes to complete. You’ll need to commit a full evening to a game if you’re intending on finishing it, and if you can’t, Justin Williams of Austin Texas suggests making sure you have a safe place you can leave the board without it being disturbed so you can pick up where you left off.
Next on Justin Williams of Austin Texas’s list is even more of a classic, yet many who aren’t into board games haven’t heard of it: Cosmic Encounter. In Cosmic Encounter, each player takes on the role of a unique alien, each with their own win conditions and special rules of play. The main goal of the game is to take over other players’ planets through a series of planetary attacks.
Cosmic Encounter was released in 1977, and actually heavily served as inspiration for the rules of arguably the most popular trading card game of all time, Magic: The Gathering. With over fifty alien characters to choose from of varying gameplay difficulty and several expansions which also introduce new gameplay mechanics, every game of Cosmic Encounter has the potential to be something different you haven’t experienced before. Justin Williams Austin Texas highly recommends checking it out—if you have friends to play it with, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
Finally, Justin Williams of Austin Texas has to bring up Gloomhaven. Gloomhaven is an absolute monster of a game, with around a $120 price point. The game includes 95 playable scenarios, 17 playable characters, and more than 1,500 cards in its box, which weighs just shy of an astonishing 22 pounds. This game isn’t for the faint of heart, Justin Williams Austin Texas warns: setup time alone can take up to 3 hours, without even taking into account learning the complicated ruleset. If you have the time and interest to invest, it’s absolutely worth it.