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Popular Area Control Board Games (Mechanic)

These are the board games with the Area Control mechanic.
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Area Control (Weekly Challenge #5) Like| 10 comments | [+]
Favorite Area Control Games? [El Grande, Blood Rage, Root, Dominant Species]Like| 47 comments | [+]
The Hungry Gamer Previews Theurgy...Again image
ReviewThe Hungry Gamer Previews Theurgy...Again (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIpzxEmSzO0&feature=youtu.be) [Theurgy: The Area Control Game of Monsters and Miracles]Like| 0 comments | [+]
Any pleasant surprises lately? [Empyreal: As Above, So Below, Empyreal: Spells & Steam, Theurgy: The Area Control Game of Monsters and Miracles]Like| 5 comments | [+]
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My unpopular opinion is that Settlers of Catan (#Catan) still holds up today as a fantastic game. I see all these critics throwing shade on it because "it came out 20 years and better games have come out since."

I am not arguing great games have come out since, but they are not better games, just different games. It may not win the Spiel des Jahares today because the field is so much wider but that doesn't change that it itself is a fantastic game. 

It has trading, all players are in on every turn, every game is different, it has a little engine building, a little route building / area control and many paths to victory. Even though there are more options and ways to spend your time today, this is still satisfyingly one of them.


I think I make it really clear up front that I'm a huge Dune fan, so bare that in mind, though I do try to address it from the perspective of someone who could care less about the property in the vid as well. Anyway, as always, I know some of you can't / don't want to / hate watching video reviews so here are the timestamps and a quick TL;DW (though you'll be missing out on dat pipe-cleaner sandworm).

00:00​ - Intro & synopsis

01:21​ - Game overview

02:37​ - Why is everyone so hype on this game?

03:45​ - Competing focus & specialization

05:30​ - What doesn't work?

06:40​ - Do you need to be a fan?

07:14​ - Solo mode & 2 player with automated house

08:15​ - Final (final) thoughts

What makes it cool?

-Integration of clean, simplified versions of deck building, area control & worker placement creates great tension

-Initially I was skeptical of automated opponent in 2p but it turned out really great

-Diverse strategies

-The signet ring as a card in the starter deck that activates an asymmetric power is a cool concept

-Overall evokes Dune pretty well

-Solo is challenging and fun

-My wife couldn't care less about Dune but LOVES this game (Lords of Waterdeep and Lewis & Clark are among her favorite games)

What doesn't work?

-Why oh why is there no inherent way to flush the face up cards in the market?

-Worker placement spaces on the board lose some of their luster after several plays, becoming just a way to obtain/exchange the games many resources

-I didn't really mention this in the review but the board focusses too much on the cold blackness of space and makes look barren like mars; this contrasts to how I envision it as a fan. Arrakis should be arid but brilliant, dangerous but beautiful. Some of the cards nail it, the board just kinda looks blah.


Really like it. I've played it 8 times at this point and just want to play more. It's not particularly innovative in any one department but super cohesive with it's disparate elements which makes it really compelling.

I've only seen 2 of these movies, but I voted for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, because I think you could do some interesting things around the whole Manson story. It would be grim, of course, but it's an interesting story. The movie, however, is not totally accurate to the real events, but that would work for a game because you can tell your own story with the setting and characters.

As for existing movie based games, I can think of a few off the top of my head.

I just named a bunch of games that are supposed to be pretty good (I've only played 2 of them). I'm sure there are many more that are bad, haha. Overall though, I'd say that movies seem to work fairly well as themes for board games, with the added incentive of attracting the movie's audience.

Oh boy! I'm a big Knizia fan  - we held a Kniziathon at our local gaming group, and we usually do an all-Knizia night around his birthday. :)

ALL-TIME GREATS (and I mean all-time great games by anyone, not just Knizia)

#Ra - Such a tense game that combines auctions, press-your-luck, and set collection. And you get to yell "RA!" :)

#High Society - An auction game with some similarities to Ra, but nastier. The "poorest person loses" rule and the reverse auctions for bad items are just so mean!


#Through the Desert - An area-control abstract that puts a lot of balls in the air - reaching oases, fencing off areas, putting out the most camels in a color. And it's very pretty!

#Taj Mahal - Very interesting hand-management game in which you are trying to build the best hand to win auctions. Feels like Euro Poker.

#Lost Cities Board Game  - Multiplayer #Lost Cities with racing on a variable-setup board. Play with the #Keltis rules!

#The Lord of the Rings - Seminal co-op that manages to achieve the feeling of a fellowship with a minimum of rules and chrome.


#Merchants of Amsterdam - Another Knizia auction/area control game - but with a Dutch Auction clock!

#Clash of the Gladiators - Possibly the most un-Knizialike game on the list... Dice rolling! Player elimination! Draft teams of gladiators and pit them against each other. If your gladiators die, you get to control the lions. :D


#Blazing Aces! A Fistful of Family Card Games , #Dice Games Properly Explained, #New Tactical Games with Dice and Cards - In addition to designing hundreds of board games, The Doctor has also written books about board games. All three of these are full of interesting insights into game design from a master - and they have games in them, too!

  • #Kingdomino 1x @ 2p - taught this to a friend while we were waiting for my brother in law to arrive. Always a fun, quick game.
  • #Dune: Imperium 1x @ 3p - this was the main game of the afternoon. It was my brother in law's first time playing it and he loved it. This has been a hit so far. I ended up barely squeaking out a win after being behind for much of the game.
  • #Inis 1x @ 2p - it's been said many times before, but this game works surprisingly well at 2 players, considering that it's a troops-on-a-map area control game. It also plays pretty quickly, which is great. I've read about some stalemate issues that the expansion apparently solves, but we haven't run across that yet. This game, along with Dune Imperium, have quickly shot up into my top 10.
  • #The Isle of Cats 1x @ 2p with my wife. It had been a little while since we played this. Highly enjoyable as always. I thought I was pretty secure in my victory, but she was able to pull out the win! We decided that next time we play we'll try the "family" variant which is simple about placing the cats on the boats, and does away with a lot of the other parts of the game. I felt like sometimes too much time is spent on other parts of the game than rescuing cats, which is really the most fun part. We'll see if we like it that way any better.

Only thing I played was #Coffee Traders on TTS. It was my first time playing it and I managed to win. Great game, very balanced and smooth at 4 players. It can be a very AP prone game, but we managed to keep things moving. Area control, player interaction. Tight economics. This has been polished really well. I'm glad I preordered this. 

Another week full of BGA plays along with some with my friends.  Really close to being able to pay in person now!

  • #Iwari (Boardgamearena x2): I am really liking this area control game.  I do think that I'd prefer to play it in person as I find the board state a bit harder to see for some reason.  (Some of the pieces blend in the board a bit for me on board game arena)  
  • #Viticulture (boardgamearena): I like the implementation of this on board game arena.  My only wish is that it was the essential edition with the tuscany board but this is still a fun one to play online.
  • #7 Wonders (boardgamearena): Another round.  I think this game lends itself really well to the online play format for me.Not that I've done great in the games I've played but I've mostly just been fooling around trying different focuses to see how it works out.
  • #Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization (boardgamearena): Now this one does not really work for me on board game arena.  Likely because I haven't played the game in person.  
  • #Tokaido (boardgamearena): Fine implementation...just really not my favourite game.  But I gave it a whirl.  It is a relaxed breezy game though for when you are in that type of mood.
  • #Space Base (TTS): I've played this one a few times and it's quite fun.  It can overstay its welcome sometimes.  On the flip side the game ended with the "you win" card which frankly I dislike a lot but it also stops it from going long so I guess I can't complain.  If the end game was improved this would definitely be a mainstay for me.
  • #Viral (TTS): First time playing this.  It's a fun little area control game with some deck building elements.  I'd rate it as a good game but not spectacular.
  • #Teotihuacan: City of Gods (boardgamearena): A favourite of mine.  Still not great at playing this online though.  (Not that I'm great offline but I think I do better!)
  • #Clans of Caledonia (boardgamearena): I've played this once before in person and just jumped in online...bad idea.  Lots going on in this game and I wasn't really refreshed on it.  Let's say I didn't do well.  May be time to play it in person again soon.  (Nearly have our entire group vaccinated and wait time ton!)
  • #Roll For The Galaxy (boardgamearena): A good bit of fun but I prefer #Race for the Galaxy.
  • #Russian Railroads (boardgamearena): Had a really good close game!  Definitely one of my favourites.   
  • #Imperial 2030 (TTS): Had a good 4 player game of this game.  I managed to pull off a win with a well timed (and a bit lucky) last second move that saw me get a huge investment in the leading country and allowed me to use it to end the game.  I've only played this game twice but it's been fun both times.  I'd love to get a 6 player game of this going one day!
  • #Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar (boardgamearena):  I was thoroughly schooled in this game.  I've only played it a couple of times before and got in with some experienced players.  On turn 1 I realized I was out of my depth but I did learn a lot of techniques for potential future games!

I am a big fan of worker placement games and I have found that #Stone Age is a very easy one that almost everyone gets right away.

I am also going to throw a random one out there - #Battle Sheep, a super quick area control title that is part puzzle and part sheep aggression.

#Space Base has the same "tableau activated by die rolls" mechanic as Machi Koro.

Getting a little further afield, #My Little Scythe has some similarities to Catan. Along with the resource gathering and hexmap area control of the original #Scythe, My Little Scythe also has die rolls that generate resources on the board. And while there isn't direct trading, putting those resources in hexes controlled by opponents also gains friendship for you.

#Risk: Legacy is my favorite way to play Risk.  The games tend to be pretty short (45 - 60 min for a 4 - 5 player game) at a least at the start of the legacy campaign.  The longest game we've had is 2.5 hrs at the full 5 player count.  My group has done 25 or so plays of it over the course of 2 campaigns and its awesome. 

#A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition has a lot of the things to like about Risk in a very similar type of package.  If you have friends who like Risk and have any interest in the IP then this is a good one.

Related #Risk: Game of Thrones is Risk in the GoT universe and it has a number of things that make it better than basic Risk such as giving you the ability to buy upgrade cards, and play for VPs by completing objects which helps the game to end faster.

#Kemet, #Blood Rage, and #Rising Sun are all good to great dudes on a map game where combat is highly rewarded and best of all doesn't involve any dice. I'd probably rank them in the order listed but I know a lot of people love Blood Rage.

I really like #Adrenaline for direct in your face combat with a fairly reseasonable play time.  Not a dudes on a map, area control game at all but if want you want to use a lazer to chop your buddy in half....you can't beat it.


Since many games have a lot of different mechanics would one game encompass all those?  I don't if that makes sense so I'll give an example.

If I pick #Root does that count toward both asymmetry and area control?  Also some may argue it's a war game.

Thanks for the write-up! #Arctic Scavengers: Base Game + HQ + Recon has been on my radar ever since I got into the hobby 4 years ago.  Every once in a while I get the urge to look into it again.  How would you rate that one?

I also really like deck-building as a mechanic, not as a complete game.  So games like #Dominion or #Ascension: Deckbuilding Game don't interest me very much.  Even #Star Realms got old pretty quickly for me.

Have you heard of #Path of Light and Shadow? It's an interesting take on deck building mixed with area control and a tech tree.  You don't get to choose your cards directly (though you do have some influence over what kind of cards you get).  The main point of the game is to cultivate your deck to work for your strategy.  I do wish the component quality was a little better, but it's a solid game.

A more expensive than normal month for me.  Of course it helps that my bday was last month and a man needs to treat himself occassionally.


  1. #Dice Throne: Season Two - Cursed Pirate Vs Artificer
  2. #Dice Throne: Season 2 - Seraph vs. Vampire Lord
  3. #Dice Throne: Season One ReRolled (all 4 boxes)
  4. #PARKS: Nightfall Expansion
  5. #Flamme Rouge: Meteo
  6. #Bandido
  7. #The Estates
  8. #Tammany Hall
  9. #Planet
  10. #Flick 'em Up!
  11. #Blokus
  12. #Sagrada: Passion
  13. #Sagrada: The Great Facades – Life
  14. #APEX Theropod Deck Building Game: Collected Edition
  15. #Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition

I feel like i'm missing something but I can't think of it at the moment.  I'll update if i think of it.  I'm super excited about Apex - saw they had a small number of copies avaialble after the kickstarter last year.  Backed The Ares Expedition kickstarter

On my Radar:

  1. #SINS, an infernal deck-builder - I was looking at their new kickstarter and somehow managed to hold off
  2. #Theurgy: The Area Control Game of Monsters and Miracles - another kickstarter I'm considering
  3. The #Everdell: Newleaf, Mistwood, and The Complete Collection is something I'm considering.  I haven't backed yet and trying to tell myself that I should try the base game before I go all in and spend that much $.  Probably won't have that level of self control.
  4. #Death Valley
  5. #Stellaris Infinite Legacy - I was super excited about the prospects of this but the early kickstarter details, or rather lack their of, really put me off on this one
  6. #Foundations of Rome has a late pledge option that i'm considering.  So much plastic.  While I'm sure the game is going to look great on the table, I think I'd be more willing to purchase if all of the buildings were cardboard and the price was 1/2 what its currently listed as. 

Getting Rid Of

  1. #Catan Histories: Settlers of America Trails to Rails
  2. #Welcome Back to the Dungeon
  3. #Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
  4. #Neuroshima Convoy
  5. #DaVinci Challenge Game

1,3 and 5 were given to me by a co-worker who had a girlfriend who was into games and when they broke up he got rid of most of his games which i acquired.  The Catan game was still in shrink and I never opened it given my general distaste with the series.  WBttD is a game that I thought I would like but just never got it to the table and have found a couple of better games in the same area.

Considering purging:

  1. #Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game w/ #Legendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding Game - World War Hulk expansion
  2. #Ethnos - I like it but it never hits the table
  3. #The Blood of an Englishman - got it for cheap 2nd hand but haven't gotten it to the table yet after a year.