Games for a Laugh by Liam Casserly

Games for a Laugh by Liam Casserly

Last week Wizards of the Coast, along with their parent company, revealed a few more details about the upcoming Magic: The Gathering board game. Among the things we didn’t already know was the name, Area of the Planeswalkers, and the US price point, around $30. Lots of discussion followed, on Magic forums and board game forums, about how much stuff you seemed to be getting for such a decent price.

In the box will be…

6 modular board pieces

4 plastic terrain pieces

3 plastic glyphs

2 temple ruins

5 painted Planeswalker mini figures

1 20-sided die

8 combat die

30 damage counters

60 spell cards

10 squad stat cards

5 Planeswalker cards

Like I said, that’s a lot of stuff. We will have to see what the UK price ends up as but I’m fairly hopeful it will be under £30.

Magic The Gathering Strategy Board Game (Pre-order)

The release date for the game comes in the summer and it’s no surprise that it will feature the five walkers that we were told would be the stars of Magic Origins. As I have said in previous articles, I feel that Wizards are going to make a huge push for new players this summer and the last core set along with this stand alone product are going to be their main tools.

The board game hobby has grown hugely popular in the last few years and has gained a certain amount of mainstream acceptance, where before it was deemed dweeby and uncool. At the end of last year The Guardian newspaper did a series of articles about board gaming. One article was about Will Wheaton’s tabletop series on youtube and another focused on Britains “first” gaming pub/cafe in East London. (I’m sure most people reading this know of a pub or cafe that is gamer friendly). All of a sudden my non-gamer friends are asking me if I have played a game that they read about in a national newspaper. It’s cool and I enjoy seeing new people getting an interest in the hobby.

Magic isn’t the only game I play; I suspect it’s not the only one that most of you play. Today I’m going to talk about a few of the most popular games out there.

You can get this game here.


Android Netrunner Living Card Game

Android Netrunner LCG

I’m sure most of you have heard of this game, even if you haven’t played it. For those of you who haven’t, Netrunner first came out back in 1996, designed by the same man responsible for Magic, Richard Garfield. At that time the game was published by Wizards of the Coast but, despite being very well reviewed, it didn’t quite gain the popularity that Magic had so Wizards took it out of print. Jump forward to 2012 and Fantasy Flight games now hold the license for Netrunner and, instead of making it a collectable card game, they release it as a living card game which has some subtle differences from the CCG model.

Gameplay in Netrunner is at once very familiar and totally different from Magic. It is an asymmetrical game, which means that the two decks are trying to do different things to win. One player takes the role of the Corporation. He must set up cards to act as roadblocks to stop the other player from accessing his servers, which in this case are his hand, his deck and his discard pile.

The other player is the titular Netrunner and her job is to use her cards to break down the roadblocks and steal cards from the Corporation.

As a Magic player, this game can be a little frustrating because it feels so very similar but it plays out a little differently. It can take a little bit of getting used to but it’s worth sticking with for sure. The game is so tactically deep that I feel it gives a more rounded gameplay a lot of the time.

Due to a few supply problems, the re-issued game has taken a while to really make its mark, but now it’s easy enough to get the base set a lot more folks are picking it up. The expansions come out about as frequently as MTG but they aren’t boosters but rather data packs where you know the exact content of the box before you purchase it. Meaning that you don’t have to buy cards for decks that you will not build.

Organised play happens quite a lot in our local store. This one is first on my list because it’s the one I think appeals most to MTG players. If you’re inclined, ask your local gaming shop (LGS) if they have a copy and give it a try.

You can get this game here.


Settler of Catan

Settler of Catan

Settlers of Catan, or just ‘Settlers’ as most people refer to it, has become a breakout game. Lots of non-boardgamer types will know this by name and probably its hexagonal board too. If I recall correctly it was featured in one of the early season episodes of The Big Bang Theory, where Sheldon keeps on repeating the phrase “Has anyone got wood for sheep?” Most people who play this game a lot have a ban on this phrase.

Settlers is one of the most widely known “euros games”, sometimes called German style games. They tend to focus on non-confrontational styles and are more about indirect competition for resources and/or area control. Settlers won the Spiel des Jahres, the German game of the year award, in 1995. For those of us who take an interest in board games, the Spiel des Jahres is an indicator of a good game and the short list is always something to have a decent look over.

Settlers is about placing settlements in places where they will reward you with resources. You can then trade these resources with other players to get the material you need to expand. It can be a really great game and has definitely become one of the so-called gateway games… games that get people into the hobby of board gaming. If I have one criticism of Settlers it’s that it’s not a game that levels the playing field. If all the players have the same skill set it can be great but, if someone has more experience, playing this it can be frustrating at times.

You can get this game here.


Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island

This is one of my favourite type of games. Being the father of two children, a game where the players work together to achieve a goal is an enjoyable way to spend a wet half term afternoon and will, in most cases, lead to less falling out than others. Co-ops are great and Forbidden Island is one of the best games to introduce people to the way these games play out.

Each turn involves lots of discussions about what should happen and then plans are made about what players should do on their next turn and then, BAM! The card you flip wipes out half the tiles you needed to use to get where you were going. All the discussions start again. Now this is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea because some folks love to be in conflict, but this game and its sequel do a great job of making you feel like you’re in peril and you have to make the optimum decisions to survive.

Next time you’re in your LGS shop with a few friends and you can’t decide on what to play because you’ve all played to much Commander and only one person has a Standard deck, why not see if they have a loaner copy of a co-op game and play with your friends instead of against each other?

You can get this game here.


As always, you can get most of these games from your local gaming store. If one is not in stock then just talk to the person behind the till as I am sure they will be able to order them in for you.

Phew, I still have lots to say about other games so I think this might have to be a two part article. Next time I’ll talk about some smaller quicker games and some giant table toppers.

Community Question: What table top games do you play regularly in addition to MTG?

What table top games do you play regularly in addition to MTG

Liam Casserly

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