Something a little more game-y…

I’ve gotten into board games over the past two years, so for something random today, here’s my opinion on a selection!

Forbidden Desert art Forbidden Desert is a co-operative board game. There are multiple ways to die and not many ways to win; you can get swamped by sand, die of thirst, get lost in a desert, get buried in a tunnel, die when the storm reaches its height… seriously, it’s great fun! Part of the charm for me is the gorgeous design; the concept artwork has inspired several of my stories and getting to play with the beautiful tiles is an additional pleasure. It almost makes the dying worthwhile…

The game mechanic is fairly simple; it takes a game to get the hang of it, and then you can start playing strategy! Do you stay in a tunnel to be safe from the sun, or make a run across the shifting sand to get the one piece of the engine you need to get out of the desert? Can you all get to that well, and will it be the mirage or are you saved for a few more turns? It’s one of my housemate’s go-to games, and it’s not unusual for one of us to say “So, want to die in a desert?” to the other! I’d highly recommend the game if you’re looking to buy something new – it’s definitely a favourite. (Ps. Waterstones usually sell it!)

Forbidden Island artForbidden Island is made by the same people as Forbidden Desert, but in the expert opinion of someone who has played both repeatedly, it’s slightly less fun. The game mechanic is fairly similar, but there’s less peril overall (seriously, it’s one of the fun things about Forbidden Desert!) and the game becomes more about “leave yourself a path and try to stop everything sinking” than any major strategic decisions. However, it’s got the same beautiful artwork and is still a very entertaining game.

Another card game I’ve recently been introduced to Saboteur, which I need to get hold of! Unfortunately for our first game we ended up with two saboteurs and two dwarves, who promptly lost when every single ******* tunnel kept getting blown up…it’s a misdirection and outright lying game in the theme of Avalon and Coup if you’ve played either of those. It’s also quite a lot of fun!

One of my personal favourite games is Cards Against Humanity; I’m aware that a lot of people have problems with it and I can understand that, but I personally love the juxtaposition of the mundane with the absurd, and the chance to let my incredibly sarky and dark humour out of its box. I do find with CAH that it varies by players; the answers will always be different depending on the humour of the people you’re playing with! I think my favourite answer of all time has to be “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition…our chief weapons are fear, surprise, and [POWERFUL THIGHS]” which is just complete WIN!

Werewolf cardsAnother group game is Werewolf, which is a variation on the Mafia and Fox/Goose games. Someone, or several someones, are werewolves, killing people in the night…and it’s up to everyone to work out who they are before they kill all the innocent villagers! It can be adapted nicely to a wonderful variety of situations (Murder Town, Star Trek, horror movies, specific insults geared towards whichever friends you happen to have there…) and you can either play with the standard werewolf/villager combo, or add in special abilities. It does require a bit of drama on the part of the narrator, and I was really nervous the first few times I played – but it’s an absolutely brilliant way to break the ice, and I really enjoy playing now.

Exploding Kittens explodingExploding Kittens. We opted out of introducing this to my cousins ( we didn’t think “NOPE sandwich with NOPE ketchup” would go down too well with my aunt) but various friends have picked it up, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing! It’s very silly, fairly strategic, and generally based half on luck and half on screwing other people over with very cute cats. Lots of fun!

Apotheca coverAnd finally, one I’m looking forward to. I backed a Kickstarter for Apotheca last year; the artwork looks beautiful and the game looks like a lot of fun! It seems to be reaching a conclusion so I’m hoping I get to play soon.


Apotheca cards

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.