We’re a little late with the December update, but it’s better late than never!
New board games, from best to worst:
Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment – We played the one iteration of this escape room game that currently exists, and it was probably the best board game that emulates an actual escape room. There were enough puzzles to occupy all 5 of us playing, and there was a nice amount of real objects (locks, containers, etc) that were a nice break from just cards or pen and paper. This is our favorite escape room board game so far, and we’re hoping that there’s more to come since Mattel has bought the game.
Qwixx Deluxe – We picked this game up recently because it was cheap, and it was an unexpected holiday hit with all of our family and friends. Everyone is familiar with the roll-and-write genre because of Yahtzee, but Yahtzee with strategy? That plays in the same time? No wonder everyone loved it.
Monikers – We bought this after Shut Up and Sit Down’s promotion of it, and finally broke it out at our holiday parties. Our friends loved the slightly bizarre word choices and that it had the description of them if you weren’t familiar with it. It nicely filled the niche of charades. Plus, it can be played drunk. Our friends immediately requested to play it at subsequent parties.
Azul – I didn’t expect much from this tile laying (literally) game, but it was a pretty half hour puzzle game that was easy to teach and didn’t tire after multiple games.
Star Wars: Rebellion – Adam had played this before, but this was my first time with it. It’s hard to judge off of one play experience, as I didn’t fully comprehend the rules until the end of the game, but I love Star Wars and it certainly felt like Star-Wars-in-a-box. I’m looking forward to trying it again.
Downforce – This racing and betting game was another surprise hit with our friends and family, where you could actually enjoy someone else beating you in the race. Our only real downside so far is that often the lead player still ended up running away with the game, but we are considering some house rules to stop that.
Queendomino – I loved Kingdomino as a light game, and this is it’s slightly-heavier cousin, which adds buildings with variable powers. I’m undecided if it’s an improvement on the original, but still love this game.
Ex Libris – A game about organization? Sounds great! The actual game is collecting and stacking “magical” textbooks, and while I enjoyed playing it, I didn’t find myself wanting to return to it. And while I usually enjoy a silly pun, I would have preferred a theme of classic literature, rather than yet another magic-themed game.
Cat Lady – This is a small, easy drafting game, similar to Sushi Go. The theme was more appealing to my cat-loving family, but I wished it had more variety in the cards; it started feeling pretty same-y after a few plays.
Bonk – I love Klask, but it’s largest problem for us is that it’s only 2 player. This 4 person team dexterity game by the same designer is a fun exercise for a few minutes, but I don’t think it has the staying power of Klask.
Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty’s Trail – I really wanted to like this animal themed deduction game, but there wasn’t enough substance for us to want to play again. Could be good with kids.
New board game expansions:
TIME Stories: Estrella Drive – As a lover of Beatles, murder mysteries, and Hollywood, the latest TIME Stories expansion, which adapts its story from the Charles Manson murders, was likely to be my favorite. The fact that it added an interesting mechanic and time travel puzzle was the cherry on top. It is rated for mature audiences, so if that describes your TIME Stories play group, definitely check this one out. (Caveat to say that TIME Stories isn’t for everyone, and my group has enjoyed every one that we’ve played).
Exit: The Game – The Forgotten Island – This is my favorite Exit the game scenario I have played thus far, based on both the vaguely-piratey theme and the quality of the puzzles.
Exit: The Game – The Polar Station – Another solid entry from Exit the game, in which you are trapped in a Arctic research station. I also recommend (I don’t think we’ve played a bad one yet).
New video games:
Deponia 2 – I enjoyed this sequel to the popular Deponia adventure game more than the original. This time, you are escaping the junk world with the help of your cyborg female companion who has been strangely separated into 3 personality modes, which led to some interesting mechanics. The story still wasn’t very compelling to me, but the characters are fun.
Deponia 3 – I didn’t enjoy the final chapter of the Deponia trilogy as much and the second one – the puzzles seemed more convoluted, the story got very strange, and the ending was terrible. I also didn’t enjoy the playing multiple characters as much as other games (see: Day of the Tentacle). Still, if you enjoyed the others in the trilogy, you should play this one.