Video Games

The Best ’90s Board Games

While many will remember the 90s as the decade of Furbys, Friends, and ferociously loud grunge music, it was also an extraordinary decade for great board games. Two things happened to him that changed the face of the game forever. The emergence of collectible card games and the importation of entirely new design ideas from Germany. We’ve covered those two things in his first two entries on this list of iconic games from the 1990s, but keep reading and you’ll find many more innovative ideas are just off the coast. .

Magic: The Gathering

Where else to start than the game that sparked the collectible card craze in the ’90s and revolutionized games and game stores? When nearly every role-playing and board game club switched to playing Magic: the Gathering had. It’s easy to see why you’ll find powerful rare cards in hidden packs, plan decks to build around them, and get thrilled with the combination of random draws and strategic combinations at play. It’s an almost addictive recipe even today, and the game remains healthy. regular deployment There’s never been a better time to get involved.

Catan

Catan

Catan, known as the Settlers of Catan in the 90s, didn’t take off like Magic did. Also, it hasn’t aged very well. In many ways, however, it had a long-term impact on the gaming scene.Before Catan, almost all tabletop games were war board games or variations on dungeon crawling. But the combination of Catan’s trade resources, which players used to build networks of roads and settlements to secure as much territory as possible, showed a whole new side to the game. There was plenty of interaction and plenty of strategy, with dice rolls and random card draws, without direct fighting or banding together. It also introduced us to a novel paradigm of board games that existed in Germany, and games have never been the same since.

contemporary art

contemporary art

Reiner Knizia is one of the most talented and prolific top designers to have worked in the German games industry. His work is quite large and he has worked on almost every genre, but his particular favorite is auction games, and his best auction game is Modern His Art. Players take on the role of dealers and secure works based on five different auction methods, from open bids to undisclosed prices. However, there are pitfalls. Purchased works are only valuable if they are popular. That is, if other players also collect paintings by the same artist. This intense mixture of strategy and edgy satire on the art world goes deeper with the latest edition, which uses work by real-life artists.

for sale

for sale

It’s rare to find so many games in a package as small as For Sale. The game includes his two decks of cards. One pair is real estate and the other pair is checks. These are used in his two phases of play. First, a selection of property cards is revealed each turn, and players bid on them using their limited funding. In the second, a selection of checks is revealed, and players secretly select properties from their hand to sell for those checks, with the most valuable checks getting the biggest payouts. This simple game is set up for endless moments of torment, whether you’re outsold at auction or overwhelmed by the secret hunt of check-paying. It’s exciting all around, but it’s simple enough for kids to play and rewards clever strategy making.

blood bowl

blood bowl

It’s kind of cheeky to add this game here: you may have memories of the first edition of this crazy game of violent fantasy football, but the current edition has been completely redesigned. The good news is that it’s even better. Slimmer, better-looking, more strategic, but also crazy and violent.The Warhammer-esque underpinnings have been abandoned in favor of an entirely new game concept where a failed action ends the turn. This leaves every choice teetering on the precipice of risk and reward as you struggle to decide if risky actions are worth prioritizing to advance your game plan. has been replaced with highly detailed plastic miniatures that look amazing on the tabletop.

Tichu

Tichu

Tichu would have conquered the world if it didn’t have to be just four people to play. It’s essentially a rebranded deck of standard playing cards with four special extras, but for a reason. It’s actually a tweaked commercialization of a series of card games widely played in China. You play with your partner, trying to clear your hand by lining up his combos of cards in his style of poker that are worth more than what’s currently on the table. But there are a lot of fascinating wrinkles in this basic formula, especially when you consider the partner element, as it’s rarely clear when it’s worth splitting a combo just to get what’s on the table. , there is also the all-important bidding aspect of calling ‘Tichu’. This means that you bet on emptying your hand first. This is where most of the points are earned. Accessible, engaging, and terrifyingly addictive, Tichu deserves a larger audience.

high society

high society

Considering this is the second Reiner Knizia auction game on the list, it’s no surprise that the brilliant doctor (he has a PhD in math) is passionate about mechanics and good at making it happen. understand. It’s the lightest and fastest of his three (see the other one below), but it still delivers thrills, spills, and acerbic social commentary: each round makes you a part of the financial culture. A series of bids for fancy items that show that However, no matter how small or large the cash you have, you cannot get change. You will have to choose between gradually increasing your bids, or risk leaving only the high denomination bills for a small win. Another twist is that some cards are negative. In these cases bidding works in reverse, the first player to pass “wins” and everyone else throws away their cash. You have to keep up with social circles by spending huge amounts of money on little things without begging. It’s a perspective that’s as fun to play with as it is alienating to actually observe.

Elgrande

Elgrande

Of all the games published in the 90s, El Grande is perhaps the most enduring and still the most fresh and relevant today. As such, it’s surprising that it hasn’t seen a reprint and remains expensive on the second-hand market. A challenging yet interactive conundrum must be solved. You can go early or get more influence, but you can’t do both. You can perform powerful actions or have more influence on the board. not both. Of course, you can’t have a majority in every region of the board. You have to choose your battle. It’s so well-made and pushes so many game buttons that it’s still thrillingly playable 25 years after its release.

Tigris Euphrates

Tigris Euphrates

This is another long-running classic that is now out of print, although it has a track record of appearing in more editions than some of the other games on the list. This is also his third Reiner Knizia game on this list, giving us an idea of ​​how his work took gaming by storm in the 90s. Tigris and Euphrates is framed as a game about the birth of a civilization, but it’s actually very abstract, very deep and nuanced. You can place and combine groups of tiles to create kingdoms and add leaders to them. You score points by growing your kingdom with new tiles, but only players who have a leader in their kingdom get points. This open-ended play, where you eagerly exchange points with other players rather than “owning” kingdoms, is hard to understand at first, but extremely rewarding once you get the hang of it. and don’t expect it to be out of print for a long time.

Ra

Ra

Finally, we’ll cover another Reiner Knizia classic that includes an auction. In Ra, you are bidding on the history of ancient Egypt. Not in terms of artifacts, but in terms of much more abstract concepts such as events, monuments, pharaohs, etc. Each tile type has its own complex scoring mechanism, so certain combinations must be collected or avoided. I have. On your turn, you either add tiles to your available stacks or start an auction, but Ra’s currency is very limited and the amount you win becomes part of the auction’s next lot. This makes every tile draw and every bid an excruciating elevator of excitement, forcing players to bid on tiles they want to avoid in order to avoid falling into that trap. , the new edition has just been funded through GameFound.

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