Holiday Board Gaming

So the family and I went away for a few days during the Easter break! You know what it’s like — hard-drinkin’, partying, beer pong. None of those happened because it was a relaxed trip to a cottage for the in-laws’ 70th birthdays.  What we did get to do was a bit of board/card gaming though, which is something I enjoy taking part in and also enjoy forcing on others. I’m nice really, I promise.

Due to having two children, we didn’t take a huge swathe of games with us, but we put a few in the car and had a crack at them, and here’s how they went! Keep in mind that whilst I’m a big gamer and my wife enjoys the odd game here and there, the other family members with us aren’t massively into them, so some of these went better than others!

Pandemic

The eternally popular modern board game was brought out (by my wife as it happens) first. Seeing as we were away, we only had the base game rather than expansions and such, but it’s such a great game it works fine without all the extras. Three of us took on the virus on the highest difficulty. If you’re not familiar with Pandemic, you and up to three allies work together to clear cubes representing different infections from major cities around the world, all the while trying to find the cure from them. Getting matching colour cards will allow you to find cures, but you’re always fighting against the ever-spreading infections.

Pandemic
There were a lot of black cubes early on and very few yellows which at least helped us focus on where to work.

Our team composition wasn’t perfect, but we did have the quarantine specialist which prevents cube placement, helping us out when things were looking dicey. We had a few Outbreaks early on that threatened to end our game early, but thanks to some good Event cards, we managed to pull everything together and win by the skin of our teeth. This is always a great choice as it’s easy enough to teach and play. Personally, I prefer the Reign of Cthulhu version, but I’ll take Pandemic in any iteration!

Valley of the Kings

A quieter one here, with just my wife and I playing Valey of the Kings, a rather excellent deck building game. We’re fans of the Marvel Legendary series here, having many of the expansions as well as the base game. My wife has an interest in Egypt so this game seemed like an obvious purchase. The premise is you are Egyptian nobles preparing your burial chamber for death by acquiring and entombing many valuable items. As with most deck builders, you start with a basic hand and improve it over the course of the game by purchasing more cards with higher values and powerful effects.

Valley of the Kings
That Ka figurine was pretty useful for building up a good set to prepare for entombing.

The twist here is that you only score points for cards you’ve ‘entombed’, and entombed cards can no longer be used in your hand. This means that if you want to score well, you often have to sacrifice your most powerful cards. It’s a great twist that requires careful balancing of your hand so you can keep enough power to buy the more expensive cards later on, but without scuppering you scoring chances. On top of this, you get extra points for collecting certain card sets, meaning you can try to screw over your opponent by buying cards from the set they want. This game took us around 45 minutes and resulted in my glorious victory (by about three points).

EXIT: The Abandoned Cabin

I like escape rooms, so an escape room game is something I’ve wanted to try for a while. Three of us had a go at one of the EXIT games one night whilst away. This one had a loose horror theme of your group breaking down and ending up trapped inside a cabin filled with riddles that must be solved before you can escape. It’s well set up and gives you a reasonably easy starting riddle that unlocks further challenges as the game goes on. There’s even a hint system should you get too stuck. We used the hints more than a couple of times…

EXIT The Game
This was pretty great, with a lot of things to work on at once.

Most of the riddles were really well set up, with only one flummoxing us, even when looking at the solution (included in the hints). We weren’t too sure how the riddle leads to the solution given but carried on all the same. We had to manipulate books, work out the layout of the whole room based on pictures, cut up some of the cards, and even study the game box to finally get out after around 90 minutes. This was a lot of fun and we’re going to pick up a few more of the games from this series (there are ten from what I can tell) to play down the line.

We had a few others with us that we didn’t get around too, including Dinogenics (think Jurassic Park the board game) and Obama Llama (a really fun group rhyming game) but they didn’t get to the table during our time away. I’m pretty happy with what we did play though! What sort of games do you like to play when you’re on holiday? I’ll gladly add some to my collection, although I’ll probably have to clear some space on the shelves first.

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15 thoughts on “Holiday Board Gaming

  1. I do like the idea of a cooperative board game that isn’t necessarily a tabletop-RPG. It reminds me a bit of an old Atari 8-bit game named M.U.L.E. wherein victory and defeat aren’t mutually exclusive. Depending on the outcome, everyone losing is a distinct possibility – as it is in Pandemic.

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  2. It looks like we had very similar weeks! Pandemic is a game I really want to try (just once…). My gf relaly lost her mind on board games lately and she bought an incalculable number of them and, after half a day spet learing all the rules, we had a great match with Through the Ages. I don’t know if you’ve tried but in my opinion is a great game!

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    1. I’ve heard of it but have never played it. I understand that it’s fairly heavy so it’s something that might not get played here. Hence things like Pandemic! Easy to learn and a great gateway game!

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  3. My sister and I have been trying to get more into board games lately as something else fun to do and to “gently persuade” other family members into playing with us. Pandemic is something that we keep seeing on the shelves of one of our favorite stores and we may end up buying it, especially since you speak so highly of it. Escape rooms are also up on our list for us to try!

    When we’re away with the family, we tend to go the classic route of Monopoly with some Codenames thrown here and there. Hedbanz with our cousins is another favorite.

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    1. My daughter likes Hedbanz! She didn’t bring it this time, so we played a whole lot of Guess Who with her.

      For my money, Pandemic is the perfect gateway game for modern board gaming. It’s easy enough to teach and the fact it’s co-op makes it all the easier to get people into it. I don’t think my wife would play half the games she does with me now if it weren’t for that.

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  4. We play a few games over the holidays. Can’t remember the names of them though >_< Anyways, I have played pc version(and mobile) of Plague Inc., which is similar to pandemic. Something about starting(or stopping) the apocalypse that's really fun. Also, I never knew there was a board game version of Dark Souls :O The more you know!

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    1. I’ve played Plague Inc too on PC (there’s a board game version as well). It’s pretty fun but it’s the Workshop content that really brings out the best in it! The Dark Souls board game is pretty tough and isn’t a light game (you’ll want a good couple of hours to play it) but I quite like it. I’m looking forward to the Bloodborne one too!

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    1. I agree with that, it’s very much like a puzzle in which you don’t have enough parts to solve it yet. As you go on and gain more cards and a couple of cures, the path to the solution becomes clearer. I love that

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  5. “EXIT: The Abandoned Cabin” looks very interesting. I enjoy escape room games as well, so I would love to give it a go. A few weeks back, I bought “Cluedo”. It is a recent one. I haven’t had the chance to play it yet.

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