With the explosion of the board game hobby in the past 20 or so years, there are literally thousands of new games every year. Of course, no one person or playgroup can play all those games to find out which ones are worth their time.
We turn to reviewers, bloggers and YouTubers to help us find the exciting ones, but even then, some games fall through the cracks. Let’s talk about a few games you might have missed that we think deserve another turn.
The shop has a lot of demand for two-player games, and we kind of fell in love with Skulk Hollow. This is an asymmetric game where one player plays a single, gargantuan Guardian defending the wilderness, and the other is a group of elite Foxen rangers defending their city. Skulk Hollow tells a classic tale of nature fighting back against encroaching human settlements with wonderful cartoon art. Skulk Hollow’s design hits so many checkboxes for us that normally go unappreciated, so we’re happy to recommend it when we can.
Find out more about Skulk Hollow at BoardGameGeek!
Some of the most popular games amongst Level One’s customers are Splendor and Century: Spice Road. Once people find these light economic strategy games, they get hooked because they’re immensely satisfying. When looking for more similar experiences, Orbis is a strong recommendation from us. It satisfies in the same way, where players get to grow their economies through clever moves and shrewd planning. Splendor and the Century games got their time in the limelight, and we think Orbis should get a turn as well.
Find out more about Orbis at BoardGameGeek!
Some of the games that get the most buzz are also some of the biggest and most complex. Terraforming Mars and Scythe are wonderful games, but can be pretty overwhelming to new fans. For customers like this, we like to recommend games like Wayfinders. Wayfinders is more affordable and easier to learn, but is still a lot of fun and paves the way for players to learn more complex games. Wayfinders has elements of worker placement, resource management and network building that heavier games use, but plays in about 30 to 45 minutes instead.
Find out more about Wayfinders at BoardGameGeek!
Amongst customers who want good two-player games, there are even customers who mostly play with two but also like the option of expanding to more players. Azul is most frequently recommended for this, but other options are also needed. Sometimes people already have Azul and are looking for more. Enter Bosk. It’s a tactical territory game wrapped up in beautiful arboreal artwork. In the first half of each turn, players score points for clever placing trees; in the second half, players score points for covering spaces with their shed leaves. It’s a fun, challenging thinker for 3 or 4 players, but the strategy changes just enough in 2 player games to be interesting in a different way.
Find out more about Bosk at BoardGameGeek!
Designing simple party games is actually very difficult. The rules have to be easy, which requires a lot of elegance from the designer. Which is what makes the concept for Concept so impressive. Everyone is familiar with Pictionary, Charades, and other guess-the-secret-word games. But instead of using drawings and posing, Concept has a board full of emojis. The current player places tokens on each emoji to describe the secret word, and it’s up to everyone else to figure it out. It’s a simple, modern twist on classic party games that should get more recognition.
Find out more about Concept at BoardGameGeek!
There’s a special class of board games called “gateway” games. These games are recommended to new fans as they’re easy to teach and learn, but are different from traditional board games. One game we at Level One Game Shop love for this is Tokaido. Its rules are deceptively simple. Players move forward along a path, and get to choose how far to move. The catch is, moving too fast misses scoring opportunities; moving too slow lets other players get those opportunities. Tokaido is very easy to explain to new players but elicits a surprising amount of competitiveness.
Find out more about Tokaido at BoardGameGeek!
New Classic Games You Might Have Missed
We at Level One see plenty of games come and go. We see why popular games are popular, of course. But we also see why good games can get overlooked in the rush to make the next big hit. Here’s our opportunity to fight for a handful of games that we think deserve a second look.