Posted Tuesday, 26-Apr-2016
Imagine the joy of a child when opening a birthday present and finding several more presents in the package. That is the feeling one gets when playing an asymmetrical board game.
Contributed by Calvin Wong
Asymmetrical board games offer vastly different playing experiences for each player. They often have a great replayability factor because people want to experience all angles of a game.
Each of the 5 games below offers up vastly differing experiences for each player, and each of them is excellent. Between them, you should definitely be able to find something that scratches your particular itch.
2 Players ♠ 45 Minutes ♠ Ages 14 & Up
Originally designed by Richard Garfield of Magic: The Gathering and King of Tokyo fame and brilliantly updated by Fantasy Flight Games, Android: Netrunner is a 2 player card game about the clash between high tech and low life. Netrunner pits morally questionable megacorporations against intrepid hackers in a digital cyber-struggle for the only currency that matters: information.
The corporation player attempts to defend their servers from the hacker, installing firewalls and advancing their agendas in order to score points, or even send security teams to find and kill the hacker. Meanwhile, the hacker attempts to leverage their cutting edge software and underworld contacts in order to expose corporate plans.
Corp and hacker play is completely unique to each other – the two sides share no cards – and are further differentiated by the game’s 7 factions. Corps must bluff and deceive their way to victory while hackers often have to risk it all on one final glory run.
The core set is a fully realized experience and the power levels of the game’s expansion packs have remained relatively static, eliminating the need to always chase the latest and greatest. If you enjoy science fiction in the vein of Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell and a high degree of bluffing and risk taking, Android: Netrunner is one of the deepest and most engaging card games out there.
2-8+ Players ♠ 15-45 Minutes ♠ Ages 14 & Up
This tiny party game seems too simple to be true. Two fistfuls of word cards, a couple of colored tiles – where’s the game here?
But designer Vlaada Chvatil (Galaxy Trucker, Dungeon Petz, Mage Knight) is no slouch. 2 teams are competing to make contact with all of their field agents (red or blue). One player on each team is the Spymaster – they must give their team clues consisting of exactly 1 word and 1 number,
for example: “Animals 3”. This says that there are 3 words relating to animals on the board which belong to your team.
But wait, what about Stole? Stoles are made of fur. Are Dinosaurs animals?
Guessing wrong might end your team’s turn, give the other team a precious point, or worse – activate the deadly black word, the Assassin. When selected, the Assassin word makes your team instantly lose the round.
While the Spymasters break their brains trying to connect seemingly unrelated concepts, they also run the risk that your team might not understand how ‘Sun’ is supposed to related to ‘Temple’ and ‘Holiday’.
Codenames is great fun, sets up in seconds, is a wholly different experience as the Spymaster, and utterly engaging from start to finish. As one of the hottest games on the market, it’s recommended you try and find a copy as soon as you can.
2-5 Players ♠ 180 Minutes ♠ Ages 14 & Up
This classic hidden movement game of Victorian horror has recently been re-vamped (muah hah hah) to Third Edition. 1 player is Dracula – Europe is his playground. The other 4 players are hunters – weak individually, but gradually growing in strength as they acquire silver bullets in Budapest, holy water in Edinburgh – and slowly they close the net around the monster’s trail.
Hunting the most powerful vampire on Earth requires nerve, and Dracula will leave powerful traps and ambushes in his wake. You may stumble across a newly born vampire, a horde of rats, or even a mundane train closure or roadblock – but is the Dracula player simply trying to throw you off the scent? Is he heading east or south? Is it worth waiting until dawn to try and nullify his powers?
Fury of Dracula has been around for nearly 30 years – a real testament in this industry – and is a phenomenal introduction to the hidden movement genre. The latest edition is available now.
The best way to describe Omega Protocol is classic computer game X-COM mixed heavily with James Cameron’s Aliens. This 1 vs Many game has two distinct sides – the alien Overseer, and the resourceful Commandos.
The Overseer player pits his horde of alien creatures against the commandos as they attempt to lock down a secret research facility – the catch being that the number of actions the Overseer can perform (using the innovative dashboard mechanic pictured below) is limited by how much the commandos did on their turn. The more they run through the corridors and kill off your clones, the more ammunition they’re handing you on a silver plate.
Each commando player is also playing their own asymmetrical game, as one of 5 different classes including Heavy, Team Leader, Recon – and each class can be kitted out with various builds. The Rifleman for example can be an immobile sniper, wield a room-clearing submachine gun, equip various sentry drones to control the battlefield, or even be a field medic.
Level 7: Omega Protocol is a fantastic science fiction romp with all the trimmings – scary aliens, big machine guns, psychic powers, and is an exquisitely balanced for all players.
2-4 Players ♠ 150 Minutes ♠ Ages 13 & Up
War has come to Middle Earth. In the east, Isengard rises and the dark lord Sauron comes to destroy all. The free peoples must rise up – man, dwarf, and elf alike – to deliver the ring-bearer to Mount Doom before the lands are swallowed by shadow.
An epic war game for 2 players, War of the Ring simulates the plot of the books – the Free Peoples player must hide the ringbearer while delaying the advance of the Shadow Armies and rallying the nations of men and elves to war.
The Shadow player on the other hand, must either find and destroy the Fellowship of the Ring or crush the free people’s spirit through military conquest.
War of the Ring (currently in its second edition) features a truckload of components, compelling gameplay, and is a must try for fans of Lord of the Rings or epic war games.
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