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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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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.

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. 

#6 Nimmt! is great at all player counts and the higher player count changes the strategy and increases the chaos.  Doesn't matter though since its such a quick/fun/silly game.

#Wits & Wagers Party Edition is great at all player counts and I've bought extra dry erase boards so I can go higher than the player count when taking it to family events.

#Gloomhaven is fun from Solo to all 4 players.  It does a great job of scaling. 

#For Sale is geat at all player counts.

#Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition#Welcome to... - All roll & writes work no matter the player count

#Azul - while the strategy changes depending on player counts...all are fun

In general the following things would be true:

  1. Co-ops in general work at all player counts since everyone is working together
  2. Area control games typically play better at the higher player counts then lower player counts.
  3. Games with simultanious action selection works well with games with higher player counts (5+) so that the down time between turns/actions is reduced. 
  4. Games that are silly/light also play better at higher player counts because there is less AP that can drag the game down.  If you are playing with 10 people in #6 Nimmt! there is very little planning you can do so  just pick a card and hope for the best. 

#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.

I started on this and then realized that I can use so many categories that I could probably keep my entire collection for one reason or another. :)

So I narrowed it down to my top 10 favourite mechanics from the BGA mechanics list and games I own and would keep:

Action Selection: #Scythe

Area Control: #Forbidden Stars

Coop Play: #Spirit Island

Deck Building: #Clank! In! Space!

Dice Rolling: #Big Trouble in Little China: The Game - Deluxe Edition

Network and Route Building: #Brass: Birmingham

Rondel: #Teotihuacan: City of Gods

Tableau Building: #Terraforming Mars

Tile Placement: #Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King

Worker/Dice Placement: #Village



  • #Orléans: 4p - Very different feeling game to Altiplano even though they use similar mechanics. The area control aspect and the trade board really made the game feel tight and competitive, but the multiplicative scoring of the trading stations, citizens, and scholar's track felt like it was the main focus of the game.  It seemed pretty heavily weighted toward those mechanics above the others, and winning those areas gave the win pretty handily.  Very fun game overall, and the production quality is great.
  • #Altiplano: 2p - My wife and I really enjoy this one. We decided to extend the main game by a few rounds until all the extensions were gone, but we counted points both at the normal end of the game, and after our extended rounds.  She won the normal point scoring by 6 points.  Then we tied in the extended game, but she still won with 2 more coins, argh. The game is clearly designed well for its normal end game conditions as we were running out of chips for the extra rounds, so we may not play that way again, but it was a fun experiment. 
  • #Beyond the Sun: 2p - This game is just great all around.  I really enjoy games that have action spaces that vary and get created during the game.
  • #Wild Space: 1p - Simple way they solo'ized this game, keeping it really straightfoward, quick, and easy to play.  You control the solo opponent's action, which will never be great for you, but you can strategize their actions to minimize the damage to you.  Good small twist on it.

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.


I had a great weekend of gaming, mostly online, but still! 

#Endless Winter: Paleoamericans - this was as good as advertised -- worker placement + deck building + some spatial puzzles and area control? Count me in! 

#Wingspan: Oceania Expansion - more plays of this expansion, which so far has some of the most fun cards I've seen. Love the 'wild' nectar mechanic and the tension / fun that it brings. 

#Lorenzo il Magnifico - I finally one a game of Lorenzo playing on Yucata! It was a two player game against a friend, and we played it as if it were real-time, so I could see the flow through of decisions. I really, really like this game the more I play it. 

Three Sisters -- the spiritual successor to #Fleet: The Dice Game by Motor City Gameworks. It is coming to Kickstarter in a couple of months, and I was lucky enough to snag a review copy. Yes, it is a 'thinky' randeauxwriter, but the back half of the game has so many combos that you feel like you are popping bubble wrap. Plus, it has a fun theme of gardening in your backyard.