WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED, CHECK BACK NEXT YEAR!
I love board games, and I have always enjoyed introducing others to the hobby or to their next favorite game. One way that I try to spread the board-gaming love is through my annual board game giveaway, and this post kicks off year #5!
Three lucky winners will get to select a new copy of any of the board games highlighted in this post! I want to make it easy to enter, with entries coming from simply following links to check out a couple of projects I have been working on. You can gain up to three entries in the giveaway by performing the actions below:
- Check Out AlphaNoodles Trailer - My brother and I have been slowly working on our word puzzle app about finding hidden messages in your pasta, and we are nearing a release. If the trailer looks interesting to you, we would definitely appreciate any sign-ups to our mailing list to be notified when it launches. However, that is not necessary to gain an entry, you just need to follow the link!
- Visit Ludo Lodge on YouTube - Over the past couple of years, I have been creating video content for game designers and posting it on my Ludo Lodge YouTube channel. It has been encouraging to see how many people have found the content helpful, and exciting to watch the channel grow to over 3,000 subscribers. Visiting the channel is all you need for an entry, but if you consider yourself a game designer in any capacity, maybe consider subscribing or browsing my existing video library.
- Tell Me Your Favorite Board Game - This one is just kind of a fun extra entry, as it is always interesting to hear what games people are enjoying the most. 🙂
The giveaway will be open to new entries through the end of February, at which point I will select three random entries as winners and contact them via email. If I do not receive a response to the email within 7 days, the winner will forfeit their prize and I will randomly select a replacement.
I did my best to select games that are readily available for purchase, but I know the board gaming market well enough to know that it is very hard to predict what games will be available and in print in just a few weeks. If a game on the list becomes hard to acquire or much more expensive than normal, I reserve the right to remove it as an option. That said, I ultimately want the winners to be excited about getting a new game, so I am happy to work with you to find a suitable replacement.
The giveaway is also open to entries worldwide; I will work with the winners to determine the most effective way to get them their game.
👉🏻 CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
Keep scrolling to see all the game options (alphabetically) and my brief thoughts on who might enjoy them!
7 Wonders: Architects
For a lot of gamers, the prospect of a quicker and lighter version of 7 Wonders isn’t really what they are looking for. But I have come to appreciate really accessible games that I can easily teach and enjoy with just about anyone, and 7 Wonders: Architects is a great new entry in that category. I can have a new group up and running in about 5 minutes, and can finish a game in under a half hour. And while it is simple, it has fun and quick decisions and is an experience that I still enjoy. A great pick if you are new to modern games or want a light strategy game that you can play with just about anyone.
The “roll-and-write” or “flip-and-write” genre has absolutely exploded over the past few years, with tons of games that have players filling out their own player sheets based on some shared randomized input. Cartographers remains one of my favorites, as it presents a really satisfying puzzle of fitting shapes into a grid while trying to meet specific scoring conditions that vary from game to game. If you enjoy spatial puzzles and want a game that can play well from 2 to 12 players, Cartographers is definitely work a look.
On the more strategic side of the spectrum, Dune: Imperium combines two of the most popular modern game mechanisms, worker placement and deck-building, in a really clever way. In order to take an action on the board, you must play a card that matches that action’s symbol, also reaping the card’s benefits. However, the cards that are left in your hand at the end of the round will trigger their secondary ability, often allowing you to buy new cards for future use. It is a clever mechanism that leads to lots of interesting decisions, and it comes together in a clean thematic design where players are racing to 10 victory points. If you already enjoy a lot of board games and lean more toward strategic experience (and/or you are a big Dune fane), Dune: Imperium might be a great choice for you.
When I try to briefly describe KLASK, I sometimes say, “it is like air hockey, except fun.” Not that air hockey can’t be a good time, but in my opinion it is a game that can get old quickly (besides being a big financial and spatial investment). KLASK, on the other hand, can be played on any table, and has players controlling magnetic pawns and trying to hit a ball into the opponent’s goal. In a clever twist, there are three magnetic “biscuits” that can get stuck to your pawn, and getting stuck with 2 biscuits loses you the point. It is frantic action-packed dexterity game that I have had so much fun with, and is a great option to pull out at a party and have players take turns since the matches are quick. If you’ve ever even considered owning something like an air hockey table, I encourage you to try KLASK instead.
Lorenzo Il Magnifico
If this cover doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will... 😉 Lorenzo Il Magnifico is a “Eurogame” through and through, meaning it is a strategy game that focuses on mechanisms over theme. I happen to love these kinds of games, and Lorenzo Il Magnifico is one that has really stood out from the crowd and climbed my personal rankings. It uses a clever worker placement mechanism where three dice are rolled each round to determine the value of everyone’s workers, so the randomness is always fair. But the fun of the game comes from acquiring cards and building up an engine that will ultimately score you points. And unlike some of my favorite games, it manages to do it in under 2 hours. If you are a strategic gamer that doesn’t mind a lack of exciting theme, I think Lorenzo Il Magnifico is one of the best in the sub-2-hour category.
Marvel United (Bundle)
For a long time, I have felt like my collection has been missing a really accessible cooperative game that is fun to introduce to new players while avoiding “alpha gaming”, and with enough variety to keep me enjoying coming back to it. Marvel United has really hit it out of the park for those criteria, and I definitely splurged in the game’s recent Kickstarter to get a lot of the expansion content. That said, you don’t need tons of extra content to enjoy the game, and Amazon has a great bundle with the base game and a couple additions that would be a great jumping in point for new players. If you like games where you play as a team, and if you enjoy the theme of Marvel and The Avengers, Marvel United is quick and simple game that you may really enjoy; I know I have. Note: This specific bundle is only available through Amazon, so it will only be an option if I am able to place the order through Amazon to ship it to your location.
The Quacks of Quedlinburg
If I was to pick one game in the last 5 years that has been the biggest hit across a variety of groups that I have played with, it has to be The Quacks of Quedlinburg. It is a push-your-luck masterpiece that has players randomly drawing ingredients from a bag, trying to make the best potion, but stopping before their potion explodes. There is almost no downtime as play is simultaneous, and every game there are different ingredient abilities that allow players to customize their strategy by selecting which ingredients to buy and add to their bag. At over 30 plays, I am still eager to get it to the table, and it is a great option if you want a strategy game that is easy to teach and has a very pure fun factor.
My most played game of all time by number of plays is Race for the Galaxy by Tom Lehmann, as it was one of the earliest board game purchases I made a decade ago and saw constant play during the season when my younger brother and I still lived with my parents. I finally had the opportunity to try Res Arcana, which is one of Lehmann’s more recent designs, and I have been kind of smitten by it. It distills a lot of his style (i.e. card combos) into a very clean design that also has a layer of resource management. If you are someone who has enjoyed collectable card games like Magic: The Gathering, or you just like trying to find combos among cards, Res Arcana might give you exactly what you’re looking for.
Terraforming Mars is probably the heaviest strategy game on this list, and one that is hard to recommend unless you have played a fair number of modern board games. That said, it is currently my second favorite game of all time, and hugely popular among the broader board gaming community as well. It is all about managing your resources to buy more cards that will power your engine to more resources, and ultimately turning that into a strategy that gives you points. This “engine-building” style of game can be so satisfying when implemented well, and Terraforming Mars is one of the best in class, in my opinion. You’re looking at a 2-3 hour game in most cases, but if you have a group that wants lots of strategy, it is hard to go wrong with Terraforming Mars.
Lastly, we have a party game! Every year, it feels like there are a bunch of new party games that are simply rehashing a lot of the same ideas that we’ve seen over and over again. Wavelength is one of the few party games I’ve played recently that really felt original and distinct from other games I’ve played. You have to get your team to guess the location of a dial by giving an example for that round’s spectrum. For example, the spectrum might be “Cold → Hot”, and if the dial is at 60%, you have to try to think of an example that is slightly more hot than it is cold. The fun of the game is in the discussion it sparks, as players try to figure out where the answer should be, coming up with all kinds of comical reasoning. For example, we might think a cup of coffee is hot, but then where on the scale would the center of the sun be? If you enjoy talking about absurd theoretical situations, Wavelength really fosters that kind of intellectual silliness in a larger group setting.
I hope there is at least a couple games on the list that get you excited! If you feel like you have no idea which game you would pick, don’t worry; I will be happy to give guidance to the winners to try to figure out which game might be the best fit. Good luck!