COVID-19 has caused a drastic change in all of our lifestyles. While it’s certainly best to stay inside in order to stymie the spread of coronavirus, there’s only so much to do before you get a little stir-crazy.
With that in mind, the folks at Matt’s Cavalcade of Comics have given us a curated list of board games that are sure to make for great pastimes, both during the quarantine and beyond, all of which can be picked up at their store.
Supporting local businesses is especially important during this time, and Matt’s is offering curbside pickup for all their products, along with allowing a couple people into their store at a time.
2-4 Players, 60 Min, $70
On the nose? A little bit, but it’s also a great game. Pandemic sees players taking on the roles of scientists and investigators working together to find a cure for the eponymous pandemics that threaten the world.
While not necessarily escapism during these times, Pandemic offers engaging, co-operative gameplay. This version in particular is a “legacy” game, with the results of previous game sessions having an impact on future sessions, building an overarching narrative. Overall, the storyline can last from 12-24 sessions.
2-6 Players, 60 Min, $40
Unsurprisingly, the scientific concepts behind evolution are the core forces of gameplay here.
The game has players adapting their chosen species to a dynamic ecosystem, keeping them competitive in an ecosystem with scarce food and plenty of predators. Players draw from a deck of cards, selecting traits like “Hard Shell” to protect their species from predators, or “Intelligence” to give them more environmental flexibility.
With over 4,000 potential paths of evolution, Evolution offers immense replay-ability while being highly accessible to newcomers.
2-4 Players, 45 Min, $40
Elegant in both art style and gameplay, Tokaido has the players take on the role of travelers crossing Japan’s famous “East Sea Road.” On the way, travelers meet interesting people, taste exotic foods, and view beautiful vistas.
The experiences serve as the game’s scoring system, with players comparing their journeys to see who has discovered and experienced the most. Where many games are concerned with giving players a visceral or thrilling experience, Tokaido takes the opposite path. It’s a superbly relaxing and peaceful gameplay experience.
2-4 Players, 30 Min, $30
Yet another game with lovely art and easy accessibility, Machi Koro is a fast-paced experience that sees players each taking on the role of a newly elected mayor.
Players will compete to turn their own city into the greatest in the land. To do this, they’ll build landmarks, collect income, and possibly even steal from neighboring cities.
As is written in the rulebook, “They say you can’t build Rome in a day, but Machi Koro will be built in less than 30 minutes!”
2-4 Players, 30-60 Min, $60
For fans of The Hobbit, or fantasy in general, Clank! is a deck-building adventure game that put players in the shoes of sneaky adventurers looking to plunder a dragon’s mountain lair.
The player’s deck will determine their thievish abilities, allowing them to move around and take special actions. You’ll need stealth, guile, and luck in equal amounts in order to steal the dragon’s artifacts and make it out alive.
2-6 Players, 10+ Min, $12-20
A personal favorite, Fluxx is a card game where the rules change as you play, with each player able to play cards that change everything from the amount of cards drawn, to how many cards are kept, to the win-condition itself.
It’s an extremely simple game with a low barrier to entry, yet with huge amounts of replay-ability.
3+ Players, as long as you want to play, $40
Much like its contemporaries Pictionary and Charades, Concept is a guessing game that can reasonably accommodate large groups.
Instead of wild gesticulating or hasty scribbles, the game sees one player choosing a theme and word, and putting down markers by various icons. The other players are given the theme and have to draw conclusions based off a shared connection between the icons. Hidden words like “bike” are easy to guess, but words like “Danny DeVito” may be much harder.
1-4 Players, playtime varies by scenario, $140
This game is BIG, coming packed with enough content to justify the relatively high price tag. The best way to conceptualize this is to imagine that someone turned Dungeons & Dragons into a board game.
Players are adventurers in a realm of grim fantasy, forming a party to embark on dangerous quests. Over the course of play, adventurers may “level up,” gain new abilities, and find magical artifacts to bolster their power.
From shifty Scoundrels, to brawny Brutes, and even sagacious Spellweavers, players have a ridiculously large roster of playstyles to choose from, with many more becoming unlocked through play. The game comes with detailed miniatures, several boards to play on, and a huge number of scenarios. With so much content (and even some expansion packs) it might take actual months to get through the entirety of what Gloomhaven has to offer.
2-6 Players, 10+ Min, $15
Blank! is a fast and simple card game where the goal is to empty your hand as fast as possible. It’s unique in that it allows the winner of each round to change the rules or add a new card to the game. Think of it as a twist on UNO – another game that’s both affordable and easy to learn.
Call to Adventure
1-4 Players, 30+ Min, $40
The concept of the “Hero’s Journey” has become firmly cemented in how we view our most enduring stories, and how they relate to the human condition; protagonists such as Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, and Kvothe come to mind.
It’s this concept of character-driven storytelling that drives the gameplay of Call to Adventure. Players work together to create a hero destined for greatness, crafting their own “Hero’s Journey.” Players follow their created protagonist, from humble origins to the heights of their adventure, facing Herculean challenges and terrible adversaries along the way.
Matt’s Cavalcade of Comics, located at 2075 NW Buchanan Ave, has all of these games and more! Be sure to call ahead at (541) 752-6757, or message them on their Facebook page.
By Thomas Nguyen