I am lucky to be able to teach an ESL board games class in my day-job. This gives me a budget to buy new games every year. I recently bought two awesome games, Outfoxed! and Karuba.
Description: A cooperative game where players work together to find clues, eliminate suspects, and capture the fox who has stolen the pie before he escapes down the fox hole.
Play Mechanics: Players roll 3 dice. 3 ’eye’ icons let them reveal 2 more possible suspects. 3 dice with ‘paw prints’ lets the player walk to a clue space on the board. If player fails to get 3 of a kind on their 3 rolls, the fox piece moves 3 spaces towards the fox hole. There is a special decoder piece where players can put the ‘clue’, umbrella for example, and pull open a door to see if the thief is or isn’t holding an umbrella. Players eliminate suspects who fit the description. It’s a good game for younger kids as they have to use logic to figure out who can be eliminated or not.
How to Win: If players have eliminated all suspects except one, they have caught the fox. If the fox makes it to the fox hole on the board, all players lose.
Overall Experience: Very fun game to play with a family. It’s a co-op game so it’s neat to work together as a team to spread out on the board to get clues, and figure out which suspects to eliminate. To make the game harder, you can make the fox move 4 or 5 spaces on failed die roles. Sometimes the game feels too easy with the fox moving only 3 spaces but sometimes the difficulty is just right.
More information: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/172931/outfoxed Buy here: http://kangagames.com/outfoxedgw.html ($720 NT)
Description: A group of explorers has arrived at a faraway land said to be rich with gold and other treasures. Players try to get their explorers to the temple of their corresponding colour to get the treasure. Players also try to collect some gold and crystals on the way.
Play Mechanics: Each player has a rectangular board with a beach on 2 sides, and jungle on the other 2. Players setup each of their boards with the explorers and temples in the same place. Each player has 36 jungle/path tiles. One player is designated the expedition leader and turns all their tiles over. The expedition leader picks up a tile and reads the number. Other players find that tile and place it anywhere they want on their board. On your turn, every player can either place the chosen tile on their board, or discard the tile. If you discard the tile, you may move an explorer from 2-4 places on the board. If they tile has a path touching 2 sides of the tile, you can move 2 places, if it’s touching 4 sides, then you can move your explorer 4 spaces.
How to Win: Get the best temple treasures (each treasure has temple treasures in value from 5-1 points), with the most gold (2 points) and crystals (1 point). The most total points wins.
Overall Experience: Although it sounds rather complicated, it’s actually quite easy to play. The longest part of the setup is arranging your tiles on the table. The strategy in this game is multi-layered; you have to decide where to place the different coloured explorers and temples at the beginning of the game and then decide when to build paths and when to move your explorers. The game requires you to balance different objectives: gathering treasure (not always possible to visit all temples), gather gold, and gather crystals. I enjoy these sort of games that look like simple tile-laying games but actually have some sophisticated strategy underneath. This game sort of reminds me of Carcassone or Cacao. I would recommend this game to my family and friends! I’m excited to play it again with some of my adult friends.
More information: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/183251/karuba