These three newish board games are my top must-play recommendations

Dune: Imperium
Dune: Imperium

During a much-needed break over the holidays, my partner Will and I committed to playing one new board game a day. It was a welcome break from screen time, and we'd received several new titles as gifts, many released this past year. In this golden age of tabletop games, these are my top three recommendations for your next game night.

The Isle of Cats

By far my favorite on this list, The Isle of Cats is a must-play for all cat lovers like myself, and those who simply enjoy artistic, smartly designed games. Across five rounds, two to four players (there's also a solo mode, and an expansion for up to six) are tasked with rescuing colorful cats from a mysterious island before the evil conqueror Lord Vesh arrives. Using resource cards drafted at the beginning of each round, players lure cats to their boats and must then group them, Tetris-style, while aiming to complete the game's point-scoring objectives. An easier "family mode" cuts out some of the more complex mechanics to appeal to young and casual gamers.

Dune: Imperium

Get hyped for Dune's forthcoming film adaptation from Denis Villanueve with this incredibly flavorful strategy board game set in the world of Frank Herbert's seminal sci-fi saga. Through a combination of deck building and worker placement, players lead one of the Great Houses of the Landsraad and set out to build political alliances, dispatch "agents" to outwit their rivals in politics and battle, and, of course, harvest spice, all to score victory points. At a glance, this game looks complicated, but Dune: Imperium's mechanics are precise and sleek. For those wondering, the upcoming film's cast are depicted on their character cards.

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

At its core, The Crew is a simple trick-taking game; players play cards from their hand to try to win "tricks" based on a set of rules or goals, like in Bridge, Spades or Hearts. But there are two big twists: The Crew is cooperative, but you can't talk to each other. Playing as astronauts across a series of 50 mini-missions, The Crew is all about timing, as each mission specifies which tricks need to be won first, second or last, and sometimes by which individual player. Missions increase in difficulty as the game progresses, yet during each one, players have a single opportunity to share information by revealing one card from their hand to help the team complete the task at hand. Sometimes frustratingly challenging, other times deceptively easy, The Crew is a great pick-up-and-play game that can be replayed over and over. ♦

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About The Author

Chey Scott

Chey Scott is the Inlander's food and listings editor. She compiles the weekly events calendar for the print and online editions of the Inlander, manages and edits the food section, and also writes about local arts and culture. Chey (pronounced Shay) is a lifelong Spokanite and a graduate of Washington State University...