Board game gift guide 2014

BOXED-WORLDS

This time of year, it’s traditional for columnists to put together gift guides — lists itemizing the perfect present for your spouse, roommate and pretentious brother-in-law who never quite conceals his distaste for your latest attempt at giving. The trouble is, I’ve likely never met you, your friends or your relatives, and so it seems presumptuous to suggest I have any idea what they want.

Fortunately, I do know what I want. Too many games come out in any given year to come close to trying them all, and I’ve read about some intriguing ones that I’m dying to get my hands on. To be clear, I haven’t tried any of these games, but based on their premise and reputation, I’d love to get my hands on any of them. The same might be true of someone you know, but I make no promises.

If one or two of them were to mysteriously pop up at the Fast Forward Weekly office, well, ’tis the season, I suppose.

Tragedy Looper

There’s a title that just screams out “good times,” right? Zman Games’ Tragedy Looper is described as a “time-loop deduction board game,” which basically means the heroes re-live the same day until they can prevent a pre-set tragedy from happening. As they scramble to figure out just what they’re meant to prevent, an evil mastermind manipulates the scenario with red herrings and misdirection. With a strong theme and unique gameplay, my gosh am I ever curious.

Five Tribes

A twist on worker placement games like Agricola and Lords of Waterdeep, Five Tribes has you “displacing” workers, moving them in clusters around the board, and taking actions based on where the last piece lands. The strategy comes from using the workers you want without setting up powerful combos for your opponents. It’s Days of Wonder’s first stab at a “gamer game,” and it seems like they’ve nailed it.

Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

Upper Deck has a massive hit on their hands in the Legendary series, a collection of collaborative deck-building games set in popular franchises. It launched with Marvel superheroes, where you team up with your friends against the forces of chaos. The Legendary Villains spinoff came out this year, putting you on the other side of the fight. But it’s the Alien tie-in that’s most enticing: If it comes anywhere near replicating the feeling of facing off against an endless horde of bloodthirsty xenomorphs, it deserves to be in my regular rotation.

Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension

If you can get past the sub-B-movie title, this one from Cryptozoic Entertainment looks like it’s hit the easy-to-learn, impossible-to-master sweet spot (pictured). Players compete to escape from a black hole by playing cards that move them closer to the nearest object, whether its a derelict spacecraft or an opponents ship. Hopefully, that’ll pull you forward — but it just might fling you back towards the black hole if you misread your opponent’s moves. It sounds delightfully chaotic.

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