jeff’s pick: TINY TOWNS
You are the mayor of a tiny town in the forest in which the smaller creatures of the woods have created a civilization hidden away from predators. This new land is small and the resources are scarce, so you take what you can get and never say no to building materials. Cleverly plan and construct a thriving town, and don't let it fill up with wasted resources! Whoever builds the most prosperous tiny town wins!
In Tiny Towns, your town is represented by a 4x4 grid on which you will place resource cubes in specific layouts to construct buildings. Each building scores victory points (VPs) in a unique way. When no player can place any more resources or construct any buildings, the game ends, and any squares without a building are worth -1 VP. The player with the most VP wins!.- BoardGameGeek.com
cody’s pick: CITADELS
In Citadels, players take on new roles each round to represent characters they hire in order to help them acquire gold and erect buildings. The game ends at the close of a round in which a player erects his/her eighth building. Players then tally their points, and the player with the highest score wins.
Players start with a number of building cards in their hand; buildings come in five colors, with the purple buildings typically having a special ability and the other colored buildings providing a benefit when you play particular characters. At the start of each round, the player who was king the previous round discards one of the eight character cards at random, chooses one, then passes the cards to the next player, etc. until each player has secretly chosen a character. Each character has a special ability, and the usefulness of any character depends upon your situation, and that of your opponents. The characters then carry out their actions in numerical order: the assassin eliminating another character for the round, the thief stealing all gold from another character, the wizard swapping building cards with another player, the warlord optionally destroys a building in play, and so on.
On a turn, a player earns two or more gold (or draws two building cards then discards one), then optionally constructs one building (or up to three if playing the architect this round). Buildings cost gold equal to the number of symbols on them, and each building is worth a certain number of points. In addition to points from buildings, at the end of the game a player scores bonus points for having eight buildings or buildings of all five colors. - BoardGameGeek.com
mason’s pick: fluff
Clever and crafty, this liar's dice experience is an evolution on the classic bluffing game. Fluff features palm-fitted rolling cups for poker-style peeking, and critter-adorned dice for "wild-style" play to inspire bolder bidding. Fluff up the bids, or challenge the calls. Be the best fluffer to outlast the other cast of characters.
Each player places dice in their cup and gives them a good shake. Take a peek at the dice. Your goal is to "call" the total number of a particular dice across all the hands at the table. So the first player places a bid, such as "I think there are 4 threes across all hands." Player to the left increases the bid or calls. You can only raise the value of the last bid by either increasing the value or quantity. So if I'm the next player, I can say 5 THREES, or keep the quantity the same and raise the value to 4 FOURS.
Your other option is to call "Fluff!" on the existing bid. Say I bid "9 FIVES" and you have no fives. You might think I'm bananas, so you call "Fluff!" All players reveal their dice. If there are 9 FIVES or more, you would lose a die. If there are fewer than 9 FIVES, I lose a die, and I'm sad. You may also call "Fluff!" when it's not your turn, but you will lose two dice if you're wrong and the bidder still loses only 1 if you're right. It's risky and frisky!
When you lose a die, set it aside for all to see, and start fresh with a new roll. The person who lost the die starts the next round with the opening bid.
When you lose your last die, you're out. Now you're sad, too. Play continues until only one player has dice left. That player wins and may celebrate in any way they choose.
So be the best fluffer to outlast the other cast of characters. - BoardGameGeek.com
hilary’s pick: pandemic
In Pandemic, several virulent diseases have broken out simultaneously all over the world! The players are disease-fighting specialists whose mission is to treat disease hotspots while researching cures for each of four plagues before they get out of hand.
The game board depicts several major population centers on Earth. On each turn, a player can use up to four actions to travel between cities, treat infected populaces, discover a cure, or build a research station. A deck of cards provides the players with these abilities, but sprinkled throughout this deck are Epidemic! cards that accelerate and intensify the diseases' activity. A second, separate deck of cards controls the "normal" spread of the infections.
Taking a unique role within the team, players must plan their strategy to mesh with their specialists' strengths in order to conquer the diseases. For example, the Operations Expert can build research stations which are needed to find cures for the diseases and which allow for greater mobility between cities; the Scientist needs only four cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal five—but the diseases are spreading quickly and time is running out. If one or more diseases spreads beyond recovery or if too much time elapses, the players all lose. If they cure the four diseases, they all win!
The 2013 edition of Pandemic includes two new characters—the Contingency Planner and the Quarantine Specialist—not available in earlier editions of the game.
Pandemic is the first game in the Pandemic series. - BoardGameGeek.com
ADAM’s pick: ASCENSION
Ascension: Deckbuilding Game — originally released as Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer — is a fast-paced deck-building game designed by Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour champions Justin Gary, Rob Dougherty, and Brian Kibler, with artwork by Eric Sabee.
Ascension is a deck-building game in which players spend Runes to acquire more powerful cards for their deck. It offers a dynamic play experience where players have to react and adjust their strategy accordingly. Each player starts with a small deck of cards, and uses those cards to acquire more and better cards for their deck, with the goal of earning the most Honor Points by gaining cards and defeating monsters.- BoardGameGeek.com
sean’s pick: ticket to ride
With elegantly simple gameplay, Ticket to Ride can be learned in under 15 minutes. Players collect cards of various types of train cars they then use to claim railway routes in North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who fulfill Destination Tickets – goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who builds the longest continuous route.
"The rules are simple enough to write on a train ticket – each turn you either draw more cards, claim a route, or get additional Destination Tickets," says Ticket to Ride author, Alan R. Moon. "The tension comes from being forced to balance greed – adding more cards to your hand, and fear – losing a critical route to a competitor."
Ticket to Ride continues in the tradition of Days of Wonder's big format board games featuring high-quality illustrations and components including: an oversize board map of North America, 225 custom-molded train cars, 144 illustrated cards, and wooden scoring markers.
Since its introduction and numerous subsequent awards, Ticket to Ride has become the BoardGameGeek epitome of a "gateway game" -- simple enough to be taught in a few minutes, and with enough action and tension to keep new players involved and in the game for the duration.
Part of the Ticket to Ride series.
shane’s pick: AZUL
Introduced by the Moors, azulejos (originally white and blue ceramic tiles) were fully embraced by the Portuguese when their king Manuel I, on a visit to the Alhambra palace in Southern Spain, was mesmerized by the stunning beauty of the Moorish decorative tiles. The king, awestruck by the interior beauty of the Alhambra, immediately ordered that his own palace in Portugal be decorated with similar wall tiles. As a tile-laying artist, you have been challenged to embellish the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora.
In the game Azul, players take turns drafting colored tiles from suppliers to their player board. Later in the round, players score points based on how they've placed their tiles to decorate the palace. Extra points are scored for specific patterns and completing sets; wasted supplies harm the player's score. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
MITCHELL’S PICK: RICK AND MORTY: ANATOMY PARK
Based on the hilarious "Anatomy Park" episode, each player in Rick and Morty: Anatomy Park attempts to construct the world's greatest theme park inside of a homeless guy named Reuben. Players build while battling both monstrous diseases and fellow park-builders with creative differences concerning how the park should be laid out. The object of the game is to score points by placing your park tiles into the best spots within the body. Move your character pawn around the park to scout out the best locations and stay away from (or shoot) the monster diseases that will pop up and cause chaos. Whoever has the most victory points wins and is the master builder of Anatomy Park!
WILL’S PICK: ONE NIGHT ULTIMATE WEREWOLF
No moderator, no elimination, ten-minute games.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a fast game for 3-10 players in which everyone gets a role: One of the dastardly Werewolves, the tricky Troublemaker, the helpful Seer, or one of a dozen different characters, each with a special ability. In the course of a single morning, your village will decide who is a werewolf...because all it takes is lynching one werewolf to win!
Because One Night Ultimate Werewolf is so fast, fun, and engaging, you'll want to play it again and again, and no two games are ever the same.
This game can be combined with One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak.