Board Game Roundup #4

Condottiere, Sherlock Holmes and Fillers

By MARK WILSON

Board Game Roundups are where I discuss games I’ve been playing recently. These aren’t full reviews, and are often first impressions of a game or only focused on a particular mechanic or idea. However, some are old standbys and are brief reminders of why I continue to love them.

Best Recent “New to Me” Game: Condotierre
I came in dead last and didn’t score a single point. It was a thorough beatdown. Yet I loved the session. I enjoy when this happens on occasion, because it’s proof that my enjoyment isn’t tied to me winning. The same is true of RPGs for me, where a bad break can be more interesting than an heroic victory. In any case, Condotierre is a quick area control game that involves playing cards of various values. But there are other cards that alter the values of both your and your opponents’ cards, as well as abilities to take cards back into your hand, essentially making some plays a bluff in order to make your opponents overbid on a particular area. There’s a lot of intrigue packed into its small box and quick play time.

Best of the Best (from my personal top games): Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
This is not a board game in any traditional sense, but does a better job of making me feel like Sherlock Holmes (or at least his less clever sibling) than I could have imagined. Intensely thematic and brain-burning, and very, very difficult, which is great. It doesn’t hold your hand through some truly complicated but memorable capers.

Filler Battle Royale: Council of Verona (w/Poison Expansion) vs. Game of Thrones: Hand of the King
A pre-COVID Con included a lot of moments where there was time to squeeze in a “filler” game. I never want my fillers to only kill time; I want to enjoy them, however briefly. Many have come and gone from my collection as I find the best ones for me. And these two are among my favorites. I would have struggled to rank one above the other, but it’s interesting how easy it becomes to assess games that fill a similar niche when you play them either back-to-back, or within close proximity to one another.

Both remain good in my eyes, and will remain in my collection. However, one was clearly the winner with those I played it with: Council of Verona. It does need the Poison expansion to be a complete game imo, but I likely never would have known that I preferred it to GoT had I not played them back-to-back on a couple occasions. I may try to do this more with games that fill a similar niche in my collection. The practice should yield useful results.

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