‘Tis the season for wandering hordes of undead descending on unsuspecting small towns. It didn’t take long for the modern tabletop gaming industry to embrace one of the most cherished themes in geekdom. Zombie games feature tense survival scenarios amidst the exciting backdrop of a post-apocalyptic world with few rules but lots of guns.
Tabletop RPGs provide some of the most memorable experiences you can have at the table, whether it’s cheering at a clutch dice roll, gasping after a dramatic payoff or laughing at the charming antics of Tim the Goblin. But tabletop RPGs require a substantial time commitment, a dedicated game master and proper planetary alignment for everyone’s schedules.
Thankfully there are an ever-increasing amount of RPG board games aiming to recreate different parts of the roleplaying experience.
When faced with the choice of spilling my pirate captain’s blood over an altar in order to gain supernatural powers over the dead, or looting the shrine for mere gold, I’m taking the blood path every time. For the cost of a temporary wound, I’m rewarded with powerful relics that render me immune to the skeletal conquistadors rapidly spawning around the archipelago amidst the gold-burying, relic-hunting, port-raiding pirate adventure board game Sea of Legends.
It took Danny Ocean and ten other highly trained thieves, hackers and con artists to break into Las Vegas casino vaults in Ocean’s 11, but designer Tim Fowers is confident we can get it done with just two to four players in Burgle Bros. 2: The Casino Capers, the co-op board game sequel releasing later this year.
The original Burgle Bros. released in 2015, and has become publisher Fowers Games’ best-selling title. Players chose from among a team of professionals such as The Acrobat, The Spotter and The Hawk and took turns moving through grid floors made up of room tiles, sneaking past patrolling guards and avoiding motion sensors. Teamwork was key when searching for safe combinations, looting goods and escaping via the fourth-floor rooftop.
Sid Meier’s Civilization. Doom. Quake. Age of Empires. Sandy Petersen’s game design resumé is an impressive collection of some of the biggest, most important computer games of the ‘90s and early 2000s. Yet in 2012, he turned down a lucrative video game design job in India after his board game side project, Cthulhu Wars, began raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars on Kickstarter.
“It was so big that I founded Petersen Games,” says Petersen. “Now I have a [board] game company.”