Five Older Games You Should Be PlayingDecember 17, 2018
With a plethora of new board games being released nearly every day, the Cult of the New mindset can be a tough thing to break away from. Thankfully, there are plenty of brilliant games from years past that have remained relevant despite the continuing bombardment of new titles. Older games may not have the “hot new release” label attached to it, but they do have years of proven game play, often at a more reasonable price than the shiny and new.
I used two criteria for designating “older” games: games must be at least five years old and they must be readily available (as of this article’s publication date). We’re looking for the titles that have managed to stay popular and playable while yet another flavor-of-the-week crashes and burns. We’re also looking for games that you can buy during a quick visit to your FLGS or online retailer; no out-of-print rarities here.
Here are five older games you should be playing.
The Castles of Burgundy
Released in 2011, The Castles of Burgundy has been a mainstay on the Board Game Geek top games list, currently sitting at number 11. Playing as an aristocrat in medieval France tending to your land, you’ll build castles, exploit mines, and use the knowledge of travelers to score points. At first glance the iconology can be a bit much and the bland colors can be a real turnoff, but don’t let that stop you from playing this masterpiece of tile placement and set collection. Turns go by quickly and there are ways to mitigate the luck of the dice in this classic Stefan Feld game, which has a bit of a point-salad feel to it; yes, there are plenty of ways to score, but it’s up to you to find the most effective way to do so.
Although the two-player version, Duel, gets more love from the gaming community these days, the original 7 Wonders is still one of the best gateway games out there. It’s a light civilization building game using the card drafting mechanism of Sushi Go!. Simply take a card, pass the rest to your neighbor, then simultaneously reveal and play your card. Use resources to build point-scoring buildings, science and technology, or the ever-popular military, while also constructing your empire’s wonders through three ages. Bonus: it’s one of the few games for seven players that you can easily finish within an hour.
Lost Cities is a two-player gem from respected designer Reiner Knizia. While the Indiana Jones-knockoff theme is entirely meaningless, the game itself is a joy to play. Players take turns playing a card and drawing a new one, attempting to build a tableau of ascending cards to score the most points. Like the best of Knizia’s games, you’re constantly agonizing over what cards to keep and discard.
Z-Man Games finally brought Stone Age back into print this year by releasing its special 10-year anniversary winter-themed edition and it’s still the best introduction to the worker placement mechanism. In Stone Age you’ll try to advance your people by collecting resources to upgrade tools, technology, and living quarters, all while trying to feed your tribe. And no matter how many times you play this game you’ll always have a few laughs whenever your workers enter the “love shack” to produce more workers.
For a pure deck-building experience, the original-and-still-champion Dominion should be your first choice. New players can easily learn the base game: shuffle your starting deck, draw five cards, then perform an action and/or buy a new card. As the game progresses and you add cards to your deck, you’ll start unlocking those killer combinations that grant you additional actions and money, allowing you to buy those big point-yielding provinces. With over a dozen expansions, the game continues to satisfy long-time fans as well.