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 CatsBy 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: ImperiumGet 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.
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