There are surprisingly few non-historical board games I played this year – almost everything I played had a (more or less solid) base in history. Still, there were a few games taking me to fantastical worlds – and here are the three I enjoyed most.
You can find the other posts in the Farewell 2021 series here:
This game has been a favorite with my playing group during university years – the Game of Thrones TV series’ immense popularity at the time helped with that. However, as we played, three things began to irk us: Play with less than six players was suboptimal if you followed the rulebook’s suggestions on which houses to retain (which were based on house fame rather than balance). Support orders from behind the frontline made defense much easier than offense and thus encouraged turtling. And, finally, there were no Targaryens. The Mother of Dragons expansion (Jason Walden, Fantasy Flight Games) rectifies all of them: A fluid vassal system turns non-player houses into buffers as well as instruments for the players’ designs (and even allows flexible player attendance), loans from the Iron Bank give players short-term boosts to upend the balance of power, and, of course, the Targaryens with their ever-growing dragons are a playable house now. My appetite has been whetted at a game this Halloween, and I aim for another game early next year.
Confession: I order the bookshelves at our house very strictly. There is a non-fiction and a fiction shelf (and a third, small, shelf which houses nothing but my wife’s to-read books). The contents of each shelf are alphabetically ordered by author. – Thus, having a game that requires me to alphabetically order books speaks to my fundamental instincts (and one that features a few hundred puns in the titles of the magical books even more so). And the game has a definite advantage: While I can perfect my own library only so much, whenever a game of Ex Libris is finished, I can just start anew!
And my favorite non-historical game I played this year was…
I know, I know, I write about Eldritch Horror all the time. Strategy this. How to adjust difficulty that. And the game is on my Farewell list for non-historical games for the fourth year in a row, bouncing into the top spot again (which it had in 2018 and 2019). But hey, I just keep going back to the game. It still feels fresh after 20+ games. It helps that I received the first bigger expansion, Mountains of Madness (Nikki Valens, Fantasy Flight Games) for my birthday this year, which threw a lot of new investigators and Ancient Ones into the mix. That might just be the best thing an expansion can do: Extending the lifespan of one of your favorite games by gently giving you more things to play with – without making it any harder on new players. Which reminds me: I should use 2022 to proselytize more for this game. I feel like there are willing acolytes out there to join my table.
And which non-historical board games did you enjoy this year? Let me know in the comments!