(Some of) our board games

All our games have unusual and interesting themes, and often some unique game mechanics. Luck doesn't feature much, and in some games not at all. So shrewd decisions and clever play should determine the winner rather than a lucky dice roll.

In fact most of the games don't have dice; and those that do use them in a novel way and not just to pick a random number.

And unlike some other games (eg Monopoly!) where the object is to grind your opponents out of the game (which isn't much fun on the receiving end) these games never eliminate anyone, and usually anyone can win right up to the last turn.

Below is a selection of our latest acquisitions, followed by short summaries of some older games in our collection.

20th Century

An excellent game of city development, but one in which the happiness of inhabitants is the most important factor!

A Study in Emerald

A very unusual game of semi-cooperation, set in an H.P. Lovecraft inspired imagined Victorian era of monsters, vampires and zombies!

Firenze

Rival builders in 13th Century Florence compete to build the most impressive towers in the city.
An excellent game in which coloured bricks are used as currency and to build the towers.

Endeavor

It's the age of expanding empires, with players striving to increase their population, culture and industry around the globe.

Galaxy Trucker

A fabulous game, and currently our favourite.
Players race to build spaceships from heaps of junk, and then fly them across the galaxy to deliver cargo.
A gem of a game, fast-paced, very funny, and always leaving you wanting to play again.

King of Tokyo

A ridiculous romp in Tokyo as rival monsters battle it out to be King of Tokyo!
A great fun filler of a game, with about 30 mins of dice rolling mayhem.

Lancaster

In Lancaster the players want to proceed from simply being a Lord to the most powerful ally of the king.
They may achieve this by developing their own knighthood as well as by clever deployment of individual knights in the counties of England, at their own castle, and to conflicts with France.
In parliament, they try to push laws from which they will benefit themselves most. The player with the most power points at the end of the game is the winner.

Nauticus

It's the days of the Hanseatic League. Each player runs a shipyard and tries to assemble ships of various sizes in order to ship goods with those same vessels.

Seeland

Players build windmills and plant crops in order to drain the wetlands of Holland in this very unusual and clever game.

Seventh Hero

A very simple card game but with more going on than first meets the eye.
Quick to play, tense and great fun.

World without End

A beautiful medieval game in which players compete to build a town, taking particular care of medicine, religion and trading.
A delicate game in which players are always on the brink of disaster and must try to progress despite of this.
A game along the lines of "Go for Broke", but much better!
It's the end of the 19th century, and players compete to waste an inheritance as quickly as possible.
They can buy property, manipulate property prices and then sell at a loss; they can throw lavish parties, take their horse to the theatre and guests to posh restaurants; anything to get rid of money.
There aren't any dice; players choose each turn from a number of options and try to make the right decisions that cost the most.
A very nice game, absolutely beautiful high quality components. Silly and fun.
A very popular gateway game: it has colourful and beautiful components and it's easy to pick up so newcomers can quickly get playing.
Players are competing to expand and defend their remote districts at the edges of an ancient kingdom, with each turn representing one season of the year. They need the help of a number of the King's advisors, numbered 1 to 18, to this end.
To do that involves a novel use of dice-rolling: having rolled 3 dice, say 3,4 and 5, you decide how to use them to gain the assistance of an advisor.
You might use the "3" die to get the help of advisor #3; or maybe combine the "3" and "4" to influence advisor #7, etc.
Various gameplay mechanisms can modify the values of the dice too, so there are even more combinations (and therefore choices) available to you.
Your choices and those of the other players determine each turn what resources are gathered, what buildings can be built, and how well a district can be defended against invaders that attack each winter.
A lovely game with a wealth of high quality, attractive components. The game is set in the southern coast of China in the 17th century, with players taking the roles of adventurous Portuguese merchant/traders.
In their turn players try to develop the districts in the port of Macao, trade in exotic produce and sail the goods to far away destinations for profit.
At the end of 12 turns the player who has acquired the greatest prestige (points) is the winner.
The game has many novel play mechanisms which we'd not seen before in other games. Unusual, engrossing, and good fun.
One of the best worker placement games, where in each turn the players have many things they could do, but only the resources to choose a few.
In Caylus players take the role of medieval Master Builders, competing for the favour of the King as they build him a castle.
With worker placement a player can build buildings in the surrounding countryside, gather resources, construct aspects of the castle, influence the bailiff and provost who oversee the construction... but not all at once.
A very good game with lots of player interaction, where you always feel you need one more worker than you have available.
An elegant little gateway game, in which the gameplay is simple but has more depth than you'd think.
Set in rural medieval France, players take turns to reveal a tile on which there might be a portion of road, a bit of city, a cloister or other feature. The tile then has to be played adjacent to any already revealed, so that all its edges match features.
The player then decides whether or not to place a Meeple in order to score points in a variety of ways.
With a finite supply of Meeples, choosing when and how to place them is a tricky proposition.
This classic game has numerous expansion packs available; we've bought three of them, which increase the options and possibilities a great deal.
This is a cracking game, set in ancient Rome. It's easy to play, once under way, but there are a lot of different elements to the game which means it's best for experienced gamers. It's not a gateway game!
The board and components are stunning; really beautiful artwork, excellent cards and wooden figures, a variety of coloured tiles - it really looks impressive.
And the gameplay doesn't disappoint. Basically players try to increase their influence and power in various areas of Roman life, including political influence, trading, construction, military strength and other important parts of Roman culture.
No dice in this game - instead the main mechanism is a mancala-style set of dishes in which each player has a number of different coloured wooden tokens. The way he chooses to move the tokens determines the actions he can take this turn.
It sounds bewildering but once you see it in action it's actually easy to do.
The game has lots of options and decisions at every turn, and even though you think you can see who is winning, the actual winner isn't revealed until the end. A great game.
No board with this gateway game as such - instead players take turns to either take some money that has become available (in four currencies) or spend money to take one of the four currently available building tiles.
Tiles are then laid in front of the player, subject to some rules of placement, and slowly form their Alhambra (a palace complex in Spain).
Players score as the game progresses by having the most of each type of building, and by having the greatest length of protective wall around the Alhambra.
An interesting take on a card game, blending it with money and tile-laying.
How could a game about subsistence farming in the 17th century be fun?
Amazingly, it is! More amazingly, in the BoardGameGeek.com popularity ranking, Agricola is in 3rd place in their list of over 60,000 games!
Simple to play, pretty to look at, lots of strategic options, good player interaction, great artwork, excellent components and a game theme you'd think would be incredibly tedious but isn't.
Keeping it brief, this is a classic worker placement game in which players are farmers competing for the resources needed to survive and prosper.
In turn, each player can choose to send a worker to do one of: chop trees, dig up clay, gather stone or reeds, forage for food, extend or renovate the farm, build fences, erect a stable, plough fields, sow crops, harvest crops, bake bread, acquire pigs, sheep or cattle, improve the farm with a hearth or oven, etc, etc...
With only two workers (farmer and wife until the family grows) there is so much to do, so little time, and when a worker is sent to the action space for the selected action, no other player can use that space this turn. Tough decisions in every turn. A great game.
This was a surprise gateway game hit for us. We'd thought the 8+ age range probably meant the game would be too simplistic to appeal to grown-ups.
We were wrong. Yes you can happily play the game at a superficial level - but there's more depth to Oregon if a player wants to look for it.
The game is set in Oregon in 1846, and players compete to stake out some land, build ports, churches, train stations; go prospecting for gold and coal, and farm the land.
In gameplay terms this amounts to placing farmers and buildings onto the board in a way that scores points. At the end of the game the player with the most points wins.
Although players earn points all through the game, some are only revealed at game end, so you can't be sure who's won until then.
An ideal game for those with young children who want to play at a superficial level, but still excellent for adults able to perceive the strategies and tactics needed to score well.
An excellent game with a strikingly different theme and simple mechanics but lots of choices; lots of paths to winning too.
Players are competing nobles tasked with jointly building the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in 6th century BC!
The winner will be the player who has gained the most prestige (points) in the eyes of Queen Amyitis, and these points can be aquired in a variety of ways.
Players gain prestige by, among other things, irrigating the gardens, planting, selling resources and influencing the temple priests.
The gameplay is elegant and clever, and the game components are beautiful, making this a popular and enjoyable game.
A clever game in which the players are plantation owners in Puerto Rico in the days when ships had sails.
Players grow five kinds of crops: corn, indigo, sugar, tobacco, and coffee. They must try to run their business more efficiently than their rivals by...
...growing crops and storing them efficiently, developing San Juan with useful buildings, deploying their colonists to best effect, selling crops at the right time, and, most importantly, shipping their goods back to Europe for maximum benefit.
Lots of options, good player interaction, and very neat game mechanisms. Number four (out of 60,000!) in the BoardGameGeek.com charts!
It's 15th century Paris, and the players are the heads of influential families competing for prosperity and reputation (ie, points!).
Each player controls a district near the Notre Dame cathedral, and must advance the power of his family through the clever use of his action cards.
However, turn after turn, round after round, players must make choices that can have major implications. If a player does one thing, then the other can't be done. Concentrating on one aspect means automatically ignoring another, which is risky in the case of the gradually approaching plague and accompanying rats...
An unlikely theme for an absorbing game, but it's very good and hotly contested to the end.
This is a clever game set around the German towns in the Hanseatic League in the Middle Ages.
It looks like this would be so dry, but actually, it's very good. The players are traders trying to establish a network of offices to control the cities and their trading routes. Lots of options, lots of player interaction, lovely game components, interesting game mechanics.
A little more complicated than a gateway game, but not by much.
This game uses dice in a novel and interesting way.
Players represent wealthy families in the city of Troyes in medieval France. They strive to increase their prestige (points) mainly by working on the construction of the Cathedral and fighting foreign invaders, all the while seeking to build their influence in the palace, town hall and bishopric.
And this is done with yellow, red and white dice. To cut to the chase, each player simultaneously rolls several dice and puts them onto the board.
Taking it in turn, a player can use combinations of their dice to achieve some of the aims mentioned above; but they are not limited to just what lady luck has given them.
They might choose to use influence (points gathered in a variety of ways) to either re-roll some dice, or turn them upside (eg turning a 1 into a 6).
They also might choose to use money to buy dice from other players (if short on influence but long on coins).
These gameplay mechanisms moderate the luck of the dice in a way that you can often turn any roll to your advantage with some shrewd decisions on how to change them.

"Gateway" games

Gateway games make an ideal introduction to the hobby for those new to the Eurogame style.

They are simple to learn and play, but still have challenging and interesting gameplay.

Below are a few suggestions for gateways.

"Worker Placement"

Worker placement is a game mechanism used in many Eurogames. A player determines which actions to take in a turn by placing counters (which might be little people figures - see Carcassonne - but is more often than not just a wooden cube) onto special spaces on the board.

There are usually many choices and many actions that could be made, but only enough workers are available to activate a selection of them.

It's also often the case that these "action spaces" are first-come, first-served, so by choosing one of two you're keen on you may be unable on your next turn to choose the other.

This process of selection gives the players much greater control over their progress through the game than more traditional methods, such as dice-rolling.