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2020 Gift Guide - Adam's Picks

Adam has a tendency toward heavier board games. While some of these are heavier than the others in our 2020 board game gift guide, they are more accessible than the heavier games in our collection. These are some of his favorites and he hopes you might have a chance to enjoy them too.

In Space Base, players assume the roles of Commodores of a small fleet of ships. Ships begin docked at their stations and are then deployed to sectors as new ships are commissioned under your command. Use cargo vessels to engage in trade and commerce; mining vessels to build reoccurring base income; and carriers to spread your influence. Establish new colonies for a new Commodore in a sector to gain even more influence. Gain enough influence and you can be promoted to Admiral!

Space Base is a quick-to-learn, quick-to-play dice game using the core "I roll, everyone gets stuff" mechanism seen in other games. It's also a strategic engine builder using a player board (your space base) and tableaus of ship cards you can buy and add to your board. The cards you buy and the order you buy them in have interesting implications on your engine beyond just the ability on the card you buy, making for a different type of engine construction than seen in similar games. Players can take their engine in a number of directions: long odds and explosive gains, low luck and steady income, big end-game combos to launch from last to first, or a mix-and-match approach. Ultimately, Space Base is a game you can just start playing and teach everyone how to play in the first round or two and has a satisfying blend of dice-chucking luck and challenging strategic choices.

If you like Machi Koro, you will probably LOVE Space Base. It is easy to teach but takes time to master as you learn what cards are available and how best to use them. If you already have the game, you could try out the expansion, The Emergence of Shy Pluto. It gives you a campaign to play through with a variety of new mechanics. We still prefer the base game on its own, but it is fun to switch things up from time to time.

Terraforming Mars - In the 2400s, mankind begins to terraform the planet Mars. Giant corporations, sponsored by the World Government on Earth, initiate huge projects to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and the ocean coverage until the environment is habitable. In Terraforming Mars, you play one of those corporations and work together in the terraforming process, but compete for getting victory points that are awarded not only for your contribution to the terraforming, but also for advancing human infrastructure throughout the solar system, and doing other commendable things.

This is one of our all time favorite games. For Adam and I it is like comfort food in board game form. We spent our first 18 months playing the game wrong and still loved it! It is much better playing correctly, by the way. It is an engine building game. Each play will make you more comfortable with the icons and available cards. Frequent play will make for quick games despite the two hour playtime mentioned on the box. There are also a variety of expansions available. Our favorite expansion is Prelude.

Prêt-à-Porter is an economic strategy game set in a world of fashion. Players run clothes companies and fight for dominance during fashion shows. It is – perhaps – one of the most cruel and ruthless of all our games. Money can be a dangerous weapon.

During the game players open new branches and outlets, hire new workers and try to gain new capabilities. New Design Agencies, Brand stores or Preparation rooms are opened, Accountants, Models and Designers are hired, lucrative contracts are signed to allow for short-term profits and expand company’s competencies.

I love the theme! Adam loves the math! This game will have your brain on overdrive trying to figure out the most efficient use of your time and money. If you have a bit of entrepreneur in you, you might really enjoy this game. We sure do!

Scythe is an engine-building game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor. In Scythe, each player represents a character from one of five factions of Eastern Europe who are attempting to earn their fortune and claim their faction's stake in the land around the mysterious Factory. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs.

This is probably Adam's all time favorite game. It is a light 4x game. The various aspects of the game are well balance. You wouldn't have to battle, but can. There are a variety of ways to pull off a win. There are also all kinds of fun bonus items and expansions to add to this game. Rise of Fenris is our favorite and turns the game into a campaign.

Dice Forge is a development game featuring innovative mechanics based on dice with removable faces. In this dice crafting game, players build their own dice. Roll your dice, manage your resources, complete ordeals before your opponents and explore multiple winning strategies.

One thing we really like about this game is that you are rolling your dice all the time. You get to change the sides of your dice to optimize them the way you like too. The game is colorful, unique, and provides a lot of great choices.

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