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Game up

Hundreds of board games are published every year but only a few stand out, like these five titles

Mathures Paul Published 14.11.21, 04:17 AM

Betrayal at House on the Hill

USP: High on goof factor


Age: 12 onwards

A semi-cooperative board game that involves a spooky, haunted mansion. The game is divided into phases — exploration and the heart. During the first phase, players work together to discover room tiles and build up the house. But in the title is the word ‘betrayal’. Not everyone can win as one of the players will double-cross the rest. Each character has two Mental Stats (sanity and knowledge) and two Physical Stats (speed and might). Stats can increase or decrease over the course of the game. In each round, team members discover new rooms with new traps and rewards. When a player passes through a door with no room on the other side, they draw room tiles until they find one that matches the house level they are on. The traitor comes face to face with the remaining players in a final battle until one side emerges victorious. More than strategy, players can get goofy. Since there are more than 100 different scenarios, there is a high replay value attached to the game.


USP: Developing an interest in ornithology

Age: 10 onwards

It’s an engine-building-style game to get different birds. Each player gets their board and will get eight cubes in one of the colours. They will also have five different types of food and you will need to draw a handful of bird cards as well as couple of bonus cards. You can keep as many bird cards as you want but for each one you keep, you have to discard one of the starting foods. And you also pick one of the bonus cards, which will give you in-game bonuses. For example, “Birds that can only live in the water”. Say if you have three or four of these at the end of the game, you will get three points or if you have five of them you get seven points. Each bird is worth a certain number of points at the end of the game (for example, Great Egret is worth seven points). Then each bird has a certain number of eggs that they can hold on to; there is a point for each. The birds also have some special abilities. In case you have an interest in our fine-feathered friends, you need to get this game. Or, introduce kids to the awesome world of ornithology. There is also a Hindi version of Wingspan available.


USP: Quick-pace puzzler

Age: Eight upwards

A different take on dominoes, it’s a fast-paced game in which players have to build a kingdom, which takes around 20 minutes. You have to lay tiles and it helps to have matching terrain tiles with the crown symbol as much as possible. You begin with a starting tile with a castle and a matching king figure. There will be a number of random domino tiles equal to the number of kings and players. These tiles are arranged in the order of lowest to highest and then faced up to show the terrain. Each domino is made of two equal squares. It may hold the same or different terrain type. You will generally get more points for choosing tiles having similar terrain types with what you already have or with more crown symbols. There is a dynamic game structure, making it a challenging puzzle.

Ice Cool

USP: Finger-flicking fun

Age: Six onwards

The award-winning game has penguin pieces that are weighted, allowing them to curve and spin in unexpected ways. You have to flick them through doors and across rooms, winning fish hanging from the doors. Up to three players become “students” who race across the board from one location to another while one is the “hall monitor” who tries to keep the students in check while winning their fish. The game moves at a blazing speed and you will end up playing five-six times in a row for weeks and months. Once assembled, the board is nowhere small, so you need to play on, say, the dinner table. There is nothing to overthink… just point and flick penguins.


USP: Master strategy-making skills

Age: 14-15 onwards

It would be a lie to say that only 14-year-olds will get addicted to the game. Meant to be played over 120-odd minutes (though it may take longer during the first few matches), Scythe latches on to anybody who loves history. Making the purchase decision worthwhile is the expansion pack as well as upgraded custom box. The plot unfolds in 1920s post-World War I Europe when five fractions are trying to claim land. There is capitalism and a show of no-mercy. Each player has different resources to begin with, like combat acumen, coins, power and popularity, a different starting point and a hidden goal. With every turn, each player chooses one of the four actions on their assigned action mat. All players have the same set of actions but the rewards are different. Once a player puts his or her sixth achievement (star) on the Triumph Track, the game ends but the winner is the one with the most coins.

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