At NiNi Games we are not only busy developing our own games, we also keep a close eye on the current games market. This is of course largely for inspiration, namely: the more you play, the more you learn!
But besides game makers, we are also just game fanatics. We regularly put a game on the table, together with our friends. Especially in this corona time, the number of board games played per week has gone up considerably.
But which board games do we most often use? What makes us excited? And which games do we recommend to you? Read on quickly: Nikki tells in this blog post which top 5 games she likes and explains whether it can be a fun game for you.
1. The Crew: not too difficult and nice to work together
Players: 3 to 5 players
The Crew is published in the Netherlands by 999 Games and has won several awards for 'game of the year' in 2020. Rightly so. It is a wonderful game to play.
The concept of the Crew is quite simple: you have to get strokes, just like with many card games. The difference, however, is that you have to work together. With your group of 3 to 5 players, you must ensure that you all achieve your individual assignment. For example, you must ensure that one of the players receives a specific card by completing the trick. The twist is: you cannot just communicate everything to each other!
The assignments are getting more and more difficult - in total there are 50 assignments that you have to complete with your 'crew'. The aim of the game is to discover the ninth planet and all the game components are nicely worked out in this theme. You also get a logbook where you keep track of the points, so that you can continue with your team the next evening.
The Crew is super popular. Precisely because it is so easy to learn and makes combative, but it is cooperative, it is a lot of fun. Because of the communication limitations you constantly get miscommunication and confusion: you really have to learn to work together, otherwise it will not work!
I guess the Crew strongly recommends families whose children are over 10 years old. This is also ideal for groups of friends, who like to get together a few times a month to play. With a beer it only gets more fun.
2. Machiavelli: a surprising role-playing game
Players: 2 to 7 players
Since Niels and I are more in the board game community, I have heard very little about it Machiavelli. It was very popular when I was a kid, but I don't see it often on the table of others. In recent years the game has had a design makeover, which gives it a friendlier and more modern look.
The name Machiavelli is reminiscent of the Middle Ages and for connoisseurs of the well-known strategist and diplomat Machiavelli. Machiavelli was mainly known for writing about the workings and rules of politics. The word Machiavellian nowadays equates to 'deviousness'.
Does that give a good representation of the eponymous game Machiavelli? Not quite, but it sets the tone. In the game published by 999 Games, you all play a city builder. You must be the first to build 8 buildings and also get the most points to win.
In addition to building buildings, you each play a specific role / character during a round. For example the 'the Merchant', 'the Murderer' or 'the Preacher'. This role gives you special actions. For example, the Assassin kills another character during the round, who is then no longer allowed to play. The Koopman receives extra money for certain buildings, with which you can then build more buildings.
It is a fun game with twists and turns that can come unexpectedly. At the same time, building buildings feels satisfying, a nice game mechanic that makes you feel like you are progressing even when you are behind. In addition, you have to weigh up expensive but point-rich buildings against cheap buildings with few points. So be fast, but not too fast! You also get in each other's way, but it never feels too personal. The roles are only known when they are called up.
Machiavelli can be played up to 7 players and I think, the more players the more fun. Although it is also fine to do with 4 or 5 enthusiasts. We ourselves have Machiavelli Deluxe - with the Dark Countries and Dark Figures expansion - which is especially fun because you have three times as many roles.
However, this is not necessary to get to know the game and especially nice if you have played it before. The game has some dark themes, so it may not be the best game for young children.
3. Wingspan: get your rest suits with beautiful birds
Players: 1 to 5 players
I think everyone and his mother now has Wingspan already played! This edition (originally published by Stonemaier Games) was released in the Netherlands in 2019 by 999 Games (gosh, I see a trend in this list). This bird game has won multiple awards and been critically acclaimed by the board games community.
I am also a big fan of this game. Wingspan is a game about birds and you play the role of bird keeper on your own or with 1 to 4 other players. Your goal is to collect as many points as possible by placing birds, laying eggs, collecting food and performing other activities. There are many ways to accumulate points and thus multiple strategies to win.
There is little interactivity in the game, you mainly work for yourself. This makes it a fairly quiet game - you can watch nice pictures while others finish their turn. I can remember that we played it nice and quiet on holiday, on the terrace in the sun.
Although it is actually competitive, points are only counted at the end. This often leads to surprising results. Another important point of this game: it's damn nicely made. A lot of care has been put into all bird charts, both in terms of drawings and research. The colors are beautiful and it feels like a world is opening up for you: who knew there were so many different birds ?!
It is not the easiest game for people who don't play board games very often. But kids can master this just fine too, so don't be afraid to try it. Wingspan is originally an American game, with American birds, but has now also released two expansions, one version with European birds.
4. Dominion: the best strategic deck builder
Players: 2 to 4 players
I think deck builders always fun to do - probably because I enjoy building something for myself during a game. Dominion is the real, original deck builder (the OG) and it is a strong and well-balanced game.
In deck builders the idea is that you make a deck for yourself by taking or buying new cards each time. Each turn, you draw a new set of cards from your self-made deck and use them to advance in the game. You want to collect money, but ultimately also points.
999 Games has released the Dutch version of Dominion. It is a game that has the atmosphere of the Middle Ages. You are building a kingdom and it resembles Machiavelli in terms of ambiance.
Deck builders are always highly tactical. You have to carefully consider which cards you want in your deck at what time. You also have to remember that you want to get rid of certain cards, because they are worth less at the end of the game. Dominion is a game to think about. There are always several roads to Rome, but if you make the wrong decisions, you will notice it in the quality of your deck at the end of the game.
Usually there is not much interaction in a deck builder and this is also the case with Dominion. The nice thing about Dominion is that you played it in half an hour. Dominion has an incredible number of expansions and can therefore be played forever.
I would Dominion recommended for adult players who want a competitive and strategic game.
5. Schweine-Wurfeln (mini version): small game, great fun
Players: min. 2 players
Schweine-Wurfeln, often called 'Piglets' in Dutch colloquy, is a small game that fits right in your pocket. It is also the oldest game in this list, invented in 1977 (15 years before my birth!). In terms of game depth, it doesn't quite match the rest of my recommendations. This game is also more of a 'joke' than a serious board game, but still ends up on our table very often.
Piglets is a small box containing five small plastic piglets. The aim of the game is to throw the piglets from your hand onto the table. The piglets then land on their side, snout or back. All positions are worth points, some more than others. Of course, a piglet is less likely to end up on its snout than on its side.
It is a simple, funny game based entirely on Luck. The pigs look cute and will bounce in all directions if you're not careful.
I would recommend Piglets to anyone who wants to play a game in the pub or to children who want to learn to count (haha). We bought this game for a price of two euros and the amount of fun you have with it is completely worth it. This version is a bit difficult to obtain, but there are many alternatives such as: PIG Party