I love tableau builders. I love good card games. I love a number of tile laying games. I love games with a variable board setup. But sometimes I just want a game with a big beautiful game board in the center of the table. There is just something about a big beautiful game board that is fun for me. So, I decided to rank my five favorite game boards. This is, as are all my lists, completely subjective. I also want to make it clear that I am strictly ranking the boards. I am not ranking the rest of the game.
- #Scythe: This was the first “premium” game I ever bought. The thing that captivated me the most about the game when I opened it up was not the cool player characters, or the dual-layered player boards, or the lovely mechs, or the custom meeples. No! The thing that captivated me when I first opened up the box was the board. This is a big board, and somehow it manages to be extremely artistic while, at the same time, being completely clear and legible. Often times, with a beautiful board, the art can sometimes obscure essential gameplay elements. Maybe my favorite thing about this is the multitudes of easter eggs hidden within the art. If you look you can find any number of cool things hidden within the art, you can find Pacman, or Gandalf, or Nessie, or any number of other cool things.
- #High Frontier 4 All: This, like Scythe, is another game that melds beauty and legibility in a really astounding way. This is a board that you look at, and it makes zero sense, then, you learn the game and suddenly it is all clear. Really, the way that it plays with distance, time, and information on such a 2d space is a marvel. A notable thing about this game board is that I think that it makes a good litmus test for whether or not HF4a is a game for you or not. If you look at the board and you recoil in horror, probably not for you. If you look at it, and you find yourself fascinated, likely a game for you.
- #Pax Pamir (Second Edition): My first two pics are big boards with a lot of information and art. They are the crème de la crème when it comes to the melding of art and information. This game board isn’t even, technically, a board. This is a small piece of cloth with simple lines on it. There are several reasons I love this board. I love how it disappears into the theme. I have tried playing this with a cardboard map, and it just sort of somehow subtly distracts from the them. I also love the tactile nature of the board. I love the way it feels and sounds when you put a coalition block on there.
- #Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain: This is another big cardboard board like my first two. There are some things that are easy to nitpick about it. I think it might be a little bit hard to distinguish between some of the colors sometimes. With the multitude of wood on the board, it can be difficult sometimes to read the place names you need to be reading. The way that one track tracks everything is slightly annoying. But that being said, this is a beautiful board. I love the way the script looks. I love that they used Latin place names. I love the way the numbers on the track look. I love the way the pieces look on the board. I just like this board.
- #Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island: This combines a big beautiful board with variable board setup. I love the art on this one. The open books, the beast deck on the board, the way that it looks like a bit of a hand drawn map and a handwritten journal in different parts. It is just a thematic looking board with a theme that I love. I am sorry that I don't have more and better pics of this one. But, it is what I had on my phone, and I am too lazy to set it up for this opinion piece.
This list was sorta painful for me. I found myself leaving out gameboards that I thought for sure that I would include #Navajo Wars. I figured that #Imperial Struggle would probably make the list, I even thought that there is a decent chance that #Fief: France 1429 or #Root would make it. However, I am happy with my list. I like the way that I have a pretty good variety of games on this list. Every one of these games is hugely different, and none of them share a publisher, a designer, or an artist. I imagine there is probably something here for most tastes.
Anyways, drop your favorite boards in the comments below. Drop some pics, and tell us why they are your favorite.