By Calvin Wong
From the designer of Last Will and Underwater Cities comes Pulsar 2849, an engine building game of space exploration, energy harvesting, and dice drafting.
If, like me, you're one of those players who likes to have loads of options, Pulsar gives you all the choice your galaxy brain can handle. Shoot for an upgrade path, angle for the various objectives, fly a spaceship around and claim pulsars for massive points... there's lots to do, and never enough time to do them all.
If you enjoy dice drafting, some tableau building, and point-salad style games where you can choose to do a little of everything or focus deeply into one area, Pulsar 2849 is an underrated star of a game. Though not as flashy as the rest of Czech Game's Edition's portfolio, if you're a fan of the genre you absolutely should check this out.
The best thing about Wordsy is how easy it is to teach compared to how much it'll tickle your brain. In the above picture, what's the best scoring word you can make using the letters, with gold letters scoring +2? (You can add as many of your own letters as you like.)
I got 'appreciates', which scores a respectable 23 - 5 points for P and C, 4 points for the 2nd P and T, 3 points for R, and 2 points for S.
What about this grid? Dowager only scores 15, drat! Hm what about diethyl azodicarboxylate...
And that's Wordsy. I love the freedom that it gives to come up with your own words (though if you break out the chemistry terms your fellow players might thwap you.) and how easy it is to teach to anyone. Less-skilled wordsmiths can use a variant with no timer, or a handicap that caps the number of points a player can score. My favorite word game.
Set in the cyberpunk universe of The Resistance and Coup, Grifters is a card game about criminals and heists, slick operators and the operations they pull off.
Each player must amass a cadre of underbosses, getaway drivers, and femme fatales which they will use to rob the city (or each other) blind. Any cards used have to lay low for a while, thus preventing you from repeating the same action too many times.
Besides using the abilities on their cards, players can combine their lawbreaking ruffians into teams to perform crooked capers - from blackmailing a pop star to stealing nuclear weapons.
Grifters plays very fast, has loads of cool interaction that doesn't descend into overly malicious take-that, and has one of the slickest art styles in the industry. Along with its Nexus expansion, my favorite gateway board game.