The holidays are upon us(!) and there’s no better gift to give than the gift of joy (provided by you in the form of board games). If you’ve ever seen or played a modern board game, there’s a high probability that it was published or owned by Asmodee, the largest publisher in the industry. To celebrate this holiday season, Gameology has stocked deep on all of Asmodee’s best selling board games and a bunch of our favorites! The following will be a quick summary and guide to all of the amazing titles that Asmodee and Gameology want to bring to your game nights this holiday season!

I’m going to break down dozens of games into a few categories, featured in an article each, starting with The Classics, followed by Family Favorites, and then finishing up with the Geek Cred Round-Up. Also, be on the lookout for my Hauntingly Halloween Board Game list.

 

The Classics

 

These are a series of games that are tried and true. Some of them are older, some of them are new Classics. Chances are that you’ve played at least a few of these and that’s why they deserve recognition; they’re all generally easy to learn, have a high replay value, and have withstood the test of time.

 

Catan (& Expansions)

One of the best selling games of all time, Catan is a delightful resource management game in which you try to build settlements, roads, and cities across an island. Each turn, the active player rolls two dice to determine which tiles generate resources for players who have settled on one of their borders. Catan takes a little bit of luck, a little understanding about probability, and some vision to win. Catan normally plays 2-4 players but there is a 5-6 player extension available, as well.

The Catan experience can also be expanded upon with a bunch of expansions: Seafarers of Catan, Cities & Knights, Traders & Barbarians, and Explorers & Pirates (complete with 5-6 player extensions available for each). Seafarers is considered the quintessential expansion, though each adds fun new mechanics to the well loved game. Catan promises endless fun for players of most ages.

Pick up the game:

Catan (Base Game): $48.99

5-6 Player Expansion: $24.99

Seafarers: $48.99

5-6 Player Expansion: $24.99

Cities & Knights: $48.99

5-6 Player Expansion: $24.99

Traders & Barbarians: $48.99

5-6 Player Expansion: $24.99

Explorers & Pirates: $54.99

5-6 Player Expansion: $31.99

 

Pandemic

Pandemic is another board game that has been around for a while and it has garnered much attention and praise in that time. Pandemic is a cooperative game, meaning that the players do not compete against each other. Rather, you and your friends will be trying to beat the game, together. In Pandemic, players must manage their actions, resources, and abilities to eradicate 4 diseases threatening the population of the world. While the actions and mechanics of the game are very simple, the difficulty of games can be quite high–cooperative games tend to skew high on difficulty since the challenge is a large part of why players want to replay this sort of game.

Like most classic games, Pandemic has many expansions and follow-ups to try out. Its various expansions add new mechanics (which typically make the game a little harder). There are stand-alone versions of Pandemic that feature historic or, in the case of Pandemic Cthulhu, fantastic scenarios. There is even a dice version of Pandemic that recreates the feel of the original but includes a mechanic where you roll dice to perform actions; and lastly, there are Legacy versions of Pandemic.

Legacy games are a newer concept within the board game industry: games during which you make permanent changes to the game while playing through some sort of story/campaign. Pandemic has two Legacy games, Season 1 and Season 2. In number one, you play through a 12 month scenario (each month is a scenario that you can try to beat twice), that starts players with essentially a regular game of Pandemic and then progresses through a tense save-the-world storyline where players will have to make hard choices–playing as the diseases evolve, and unlocking new challenges. Season 2 tells the story of repopulating the world generations after such a massive outbreak.

Pick up the game:

Pandemic: $39.99

(other expansions are sporadic; come in store to check out what we have!)

 

Splendor

Splendor is a new game among the classics; it has been charming board gamers around the world with its simple mechanics and deep gameplay. In Splendor, your goal is to gain the attention of noble patrons. The game has these wonderfully tactile chips (think poker chips) with gems on them that you use to buy mines, building, and ship, which are called development cards. These cards provide you with a discount on buying more cards in the future. With enough development cards, nobles will become your patron and give you prestige points. You can also get prestige points from some of the more powerful development cards. You win the game by collecting at least 15 points.

There are multiple strategies to win in Splendor: players may prefer to collect the most efficient developments, choose more expensive developments to pursue, or pursue the nobles first and foremost. The open ended nature of this game provides players with a lot of replay-ability and challenges you to try new strategies every game. Furthermore, the Cities of Splendor expansion allow you to add one of four mini expansions to your game to change the experience up for even more intrigue!

Pick up the game:

Splendor: $39.99

Cities of Splendor Expansion: $39.99

 

Carcassonne

Carcassonne is perhaps the only game on this list known anywhere near as well as Catan. Carcasonne is another long time classic. It’s a simple tile-laying game for 2-5 players, and it runs at about 35 minutes per game. It’s great for the family board game nights, and works with just about any age group. The updated base game box even includes two miniature expansions: Rivers & Abbots, which add new tiles and meeples to the game.

Carcassone involves laying tiles down to build a landscape (towns, cities, etc). Each turn a player draws a new tile and adds it to the landscape in a way that makes sense, then deciding if they want to place one of their meeples on the tile to become a highwayman, monk, knight, or farmer. Points are scored when features on the landscape are completed: I.E. a road terminates in two towns or the walls around a city are completed.

Pick up the game:

Carcassonne: $34.99

 

Small World

Next among our new classics, Small World has actually been in print for quite a while, just not as long as Catan and Carcassonne. Small World is a light strategy game, vaguely comparable to Risk (though without the dice), in which you steward a series of races through the lifespan of their civilizations, scoring points for the territories they capture. As your race(s) start overextending themselves, you can choose to declare them in decline. If that’s the case, you finish your turn and start your next turn with a new race. Small World combines easy strategy with endless replayability to scratch your itch for 1 hour world domination.

Part of the replayability factor for Small World is that each race tile is combined with a special power tile. The base game comes with 14 races and 20 special powers, so you’ve got enough possible combinations to keep you busy for a while. However, when you’re ready to expand your Small World experience, there are no lack of expansions available. Check out: Leaders of Small World, River World, Power Packs #1 & #2, and Sky Islands.

Pick up the game:

Small World: $49.99

 

Patchwork

Patchwork is the final new classic on the list. A fast favorite of mine, this two player board game has quickly become a best seller, an app, and has even spawned an express version! Quick and easy to play, in Patchwork, you take turns selecting various patches of material (tiles of various configurations) to try and piece together to sew a perfectly square quilt. Using buttons and time as resources, you must purchase and arrange these tiles of various sizes and shapes onto your 9×9 board. Having some good spatial awareness will help you a lot in Patchwork but luckily there are ways to earn single square patches to fill in the inevitable holes in your quilt. At the end of the game, you will score your leftover buttons and subtract 2 points per each empty square on your quilt board.

What I enjoy most about Patchwork is that you don’t always just pass the turn to your opponent. The player whose time token is furthest back on the time board takes their turn, so it’s possible to take multiple turns in a row. Furthermore, the easiest way to get buttons (currency) to spend is to advance your token to the space ahead of your opponents’, gaining one button per space moved. The combination of these two mechanics make for a really dynamic game that’s challenging every time!

Pick up the game:

Patchwork: $29.99

Patchwork Express: $24.99

 

Keep an eye out for my next article, where I’ll be discussing some spooky season games!

~ Andrew Narzinski

 

Editor’s Note: you can support articles like this by picking up product! Show Andrew some love. <3