We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog with a blatantly self-congratulatory post.
That’s right, this blog was born on October 4, 2010 with an overview of the soon-to-be-released 7 Wonders. Five years, and 499 posts later, here we are. The blog has certainly evolved since its early days, and I’m happy to still be finding ways to keep myself interested.
I have several things to talk about today, but I want to start with a question I’ve gotten several times recently. Namely, how did I come up with the name Boards and Bees? There are no bees anywhere on the blog! OK, that’s true, but the name is more a reference to my tendency to look for puns in weird places. Boards and Bees is a play on the term “Birds and Bees”, but there’s also the fact that when I started out, I was just talking about upcoming games. Games with buzz, as it were. As time went on, I gradually began to add more topics – reviews, session reports, some game design articles, a few different series, and so on. But I’ve tried to keep that buzz thing relevant – I am totally a part of the cult of the new.
The other thing you may notice if you’re a regular reader is that the blog has undergone a major facelift. I’ve been using the same basic theme with the same stock image ever since I started the blog, and I felt like it was time for a change. So, here we are with the new look – I hope you like it. Thanks to my friend Tim Cole for designing the new logo.
Now, I know most of you are probably here for the giveaway. That’s fine – scroll to the bottom of the post for information about that. Before I get to that, however, I’ve been counting down my Top 99 Games ever since July, and I am going to take this opportunity to reveal numbers 1-11. For a complete list, click on the link in the menu above. On with the list!
#11: King of Tokyo is Richard Garfield’s 2011 monster melee game. On your turn, you roll six dice up to three times, then take actions based on what was rolled – score points for having three identical numbers, use lightning bolts to gain energy cubes, heal yourself with hearts, or attack with claws. You can use energy to purchase cards to make you more powerful. The game ends when someone scores 20 points or eliminates everyone else. It’s a great, quick, simple game that is a lot of fun and widely accessible. King of New York may be a better game for gamers, but this one is wonderful if you just want a fun slugfest.
#10: Blood Bowl: Team Manager was designed by Jay Little in 2011, and is more about the behind the scenes team building than playing the sport of Blood Bowl. Players begin each round with six cards in hand, and assign those to various matches. The winner of each match gets a reward – star players, team upgrades, or fans are available. Cheating happens all the time, and can be very profitable as long as you don’t get caught. After five rounds, the player who has amassed the largest fan base is the winner. This game is a ton of fun – it’s my favorite refinement of the base attack mechanism, and all the different teams make the game quite replayable.
#9: Argent: The Consortium was designed by Trey Chambers and published in 2015. In the game, you are trying to become the chancellor of Argent University, the world’s most powerful magic school. To do so, you must collect the most votes from a consortium of electors, each with their own ideas of how the school should be run. Through a combination of worker placement, spell casting, use of supporters and treasures, and yes, a little treachery, you have five rounds to win their favor. There is a ton of variety just in the base box. It’s overwhelming for some, but for me, it’s absolutely brilliant.
#8: Hive is John Yianni’s 2001 abstract classic where the object is to surround your opponent’s queen bee. Each player has the same pieces, each with their own power – the grasshopper jumps across a line, the spider moves exactly three spaces, the ant moves anywhere around the perimeter, the beetle crawls up on top of the hive, and the queen is the one you must protect. I often call this Chess with bugs, and it’s appropriate – only through clever manipulation of each ability can you really excel at this game. This is also one of the best games to take out in public – it’s portable, and the bakelite tiles mean that it’s waterproof.
#7: When Dominion came out in 2008 (designed by Donald X. Vaccarino), it was a literal game changer. It was the birth of deckbuilding as an in-game mechanism. Each player starts with the same deck of ten cards (7 Copper and 3 Estates), which slowly builds over the game as players purchase new cards and add them. On your turn, you may take one action and buy one card before discarding your whole hand and drawing another. Actions may give you more actions, buys, cards, money to spend, or other benefits. In the end, the player with the most points wins. It’s the most pure form of deckbuilding out there, and still my favorite.
#6: Cosmic Encounter was almost my gateway game. I discovered this 1977 classic in its online version, but couldn’t find a copy of the board game, so I missed out on an earlier entry to the hobby. Each player has a race with its own ability, and on your turn, the game chooses an opponent for you. You can both call for allies, then play cards to attack each other. The object is to land five colonies on other player planets. There’s a lot of negotiation, backstabbing, and manipulation, which I don’t typically like. But I love Cosmic Encounter, and am glad to now have my own copy.
#5: Seasons, published in 2012 from designer Régis Bonnessée, first attracted me due to its art, but it’s a great game too. Players begin the game by drafting nine cards, then assigning them to the three years of play. Then, in each round, a player rolls the dice of the current season and players draft one of those. These determine what can be done – gain crystals, gain summoning power, gain energy, or draw new cards. The object is to gain the most crystals by the end of the third year. The cards are varied and powerful, and there are lots of strategies to pursue. The game is beautiful, and one of my favorites.
#4: Puerto Rico was my first Euro after being introduced to the hobby by Settlers of Catan. This 2002 Andreas Seyfarth design is a role selection game. In each round, players will select one of the available roles, then all players will take that role’s action with the selector getting a small bonus. You’ll be producing goods, selling goods, shipping goods, constructing buildings, and basically just trying to get the most points by the end. Every time I play it, I am in awe of how clean the design is, and how well it keeps everyone involved throughout. Absolutely my favorite Euro.
#3: Shadow Hunters is Yasutka Ikeda’s 2005 social deduction game that is my favorite in the genre. Each player is assigned to a team – Hunters, Shadows, or Neutral. Hunters want to kill Shadows, Shadows want to kill Hunters, and Neutrals have their own individual agendas. On your turn, you roll, move, then take an action and possibly attack. You want to figure out who is on your team, and more importantly, who isn’t. I think the brilliance of this game is the introduction of the Neutrals – they add that extra element of chaos to make this a great game. Very luck driven, sure, but VERY fun.
#2: Galaxy Trucker is Vlaada Chvátil’s 2007 shipbuilding masterpiece. The game is divided into three rounds, and each round is split in half. In the first half, you build your ship by grabbing parts from the center of the table, and adding them to your board. In the second half, you take a journey and see what terrible, awful things happen to your ship. This game takes a lot of flak for there not being any decisions to make in the second half, but I think those critics are getting distracted by their ship getting blown up and not being able to do anything about it (which can be frustrating). There are a lot of subtle decisions – do you hold back on going to a planet so you can get into first place? Do you try to fall back so that ship with fewer cannons has to take on the pirates you know are coming? Do you waste your batteries now, praying that something even worse isn’t on its way? I concede that this game is not for everyone, but it’s definitely for me.
#1: My all-time favorite game is not a modern one. Cribbage was designed by Sir John Suckling back in the 17th century (BGG says 1630, but that date is not certain). It’s a two-player card game with a pegboard track to mark your score. In each hand, players are dealt six cards and discard two to the crib (an extra hand for the dealer). After revealing a starter card (a fifth card that will be used in counting points), a round of pegging occurs where players alternate playing cards in order to score points – bringing the count to 15 scores 2, a pair scores 2, a run scores 3 or more depending on how many cards are in sequence. Then players count the points in their hands, with the non-dealer (pone) counting first. Deal then passes, and the first player to 121 points wins. I grew up playing this game with my father and grandfather, so it has a lot of nostalgic value for me, but I’ve also played it enough to grasp a lot of the subtleties in the game. Sure, bad cards can tank you, but skill is required to make the best of what you’ve got. This is the only game I rate a 10 at BGG, and I don’ see that changing any time soon.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this stroll through my favorite games, but now it’s time to give away some stuff! In the best Hobbit tradition, I’m using this anniversary as an opportunity to give presents to you, my loyal reader. Four publishers have generously donated products for this little contest, so let’s review the prizes:
Stonemaier Games has donated a Treasure Chest. This is a box of components to be used in upgrading your games. Instead of using little wooden cubes in games like Agricola, Kingsburg, Keyflower, Caylus, or Stone Age, you can substitute in these really beautiful pieces. Included are wood, brick, gold, ore, stone, and gems. It all comes in a nice wooden box, and has a lot of value. Jamey Stegmaier has provided a lot of good feedback and support for this blog over the year, so I want to thank him for that and for donating a Treasure Chest for this contest. This prize is available to ship anywhere in the world.
North Star Games has donated a copy of Evolution. This game is all about building up species to survive and eat. Each player will be using cards to add different traits to their species, including defensive, more efficient eating, or carnivorous. They can also add new species to their tableau, or increase population and body size of their species. In the end, points are counted for food collected, total population, and traits in play. The game is very well designed, and pretty beautiful. North Star donated a copy for me to review last spring, and have donated another copy for this contest, so thanks to them! This prize will only ship to the US.
Level 99 Games has donated copies of BattleCON: War of Indines. This two-player fighting game is a remaster of the original, first published in 2010. It uses the Battle Connection system where players choose two cards, a style and a base, to form an attack pair. Attacks are resolved in priority order, and the goal is to reduce your opponent’s life to zero. I’ve gotten to play Fate of Indines as well as the online version, and I think this is a pretty clever tactical system. There are a bunch of available characters, so you’re playing a different game every time. Level 99 has sent me more review copies over the years than anyone else, and so I definitely want to thank them for their support of this blog and this contest. This prize will only ship to the US.
MAGE Company has donate a copy of Wrong Chemistry plus its expansions Expand Your Lab and Bonus Nobel Prize Scientists. This is a game about making patterns to match chemical elements in your hand. I’ve never played, but it looks pretty light, abstract, and puzzle, all things that I like. MAGE Company has supported this blog in the past by giving a review copy of 12 Realms, and now they’ve donated to this contest, so I want to say a big thank you to them. This prize will only ship to the US and anyone in the EU.
So, what do you have to do to win these prizes?
- Click on THIS LINK.
- Fill out the survey. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes. Though it might if you get super detailed with your answers.
- Be sure to leave a valid e-mail address so I know where to contact you if you win. I promise to nuke all the e-mail addresses that don’t win.
- Only one entry per person. If you tweet about the contest using the hashtag #5BNB500, you’ll get an extra entry (leave your Twitter handle on the survey so I make sure you get the credit).
- You have until the evening of October 18 to fill out the survey. I’m not going to give an exact time, so don’t push your luck.
- I’ll draw four winners, one for each prize. I will try to match you as closely as possible to your first choice preferences, and you won’t win something you said you don’t want.
- Winners will be announced on October 20, and I will contact them via e-mail shortly after that. Again, make sure you provide a valid e-mail, or you’ll forfeit your prize.
- As a reminder, Evolution and War of Indines will only ship to the US. Wrong Chemistry will ship to the US or EU. The Stonemaier Treasure Chest will ship anywhere in the world.
- Good luck! And thanks for reading!