Everdell (1-4) $99
This board game boasts some amazing art on its cover and cards. In Everdell you play as animals preparing for a year of harvest. A meaty worker placement game, you must balance collecting wood, resin, pebbles, and berries as the four commodities in order to fill your town with buildings and inhabitants. Each animal has an associated building and combos may be formed. But plan each seasons carefully as it’s a race to achieve global objectives and snatch available cards from the central area called ‘The Meadow’. This game starts quick and easy and sprawls out to be a very satisfying and strategic board game. Gorgeous components make this an easy 10 out of 10.
Scythe (1-5) $105
Military games don’t get much better than Scythe. This Stonemaier game has players vying for control of a war-torn eastern Europe. The 1st world war never ended and instead went on and on into a steam punk era of Mechs and Airships. You must use your faction’s unique bonus to be the first to collect 6 stars achieved through nearly a dozen different methods. But these stars just determine game end, in order to win you must complete secret objectives, earn coins, and control the most territories. Thematic encounter cards will give your heroes unique choices on what kind of a ruler you’ll be remembered as. Tyrant or benevolent. Just remember that by the end of the game, how popular you are with the masses will act as a multiplier for your score. No dice, only strategy.
Wingspan (1-5) $84
If you’ve been shopping around or playing games in the last 3 years you’ve probably heard of this one. It’s in short supply all the time, but the Stonemaier title has earned its place among the top 25 games of all time. Wingspan is gorgeous, educational, a puzzling card engine creator, and above all really addictive and fun. Laying birds in 3 different habitats is easily accomplished by picking up resources in the forms of worms, wheat, cherries, fish, and rodents. Each bird eats what they’d actually eat in the wild and have interesting facts. An ornithologist’s dream, this game even charts their wingspan, types of nests, and includes random tidbits of fluff info at the bottom of each card. To get really good at wingspan you need to balance getting different types of birds including high point cards, cheap egg layers, at least one resource generator, and above all extra bonus card birds.
Terraforming Mars (1-5) $99
While Terraforming Mars doesn’t have the pretty art of some of these earlier games it more than makes up for it with its high replay-ability, satisfying engine construction, and meaty feel. This game is almost always ranked in the top 5 in the world on Board Game Geek! You’re a CEO of a company trying to make Mars habitable. You cooperate in creating the planet, but compete for resources. You’ll acquire unique project cards from a deck of over 200 different choices so each game will be different from the last you played. Juggling a research, action, and production phase, Terraforming is likely to be one of those titles you just keep revisiting for another crack at getting those megacredits.
Paladins of the West Kingdom (1-4) $83
If you’ve played other Renegade titles like Raiders of the North Sea or Architects you’ll recognize the theme and art style right away. But paladins is it’s own heavier style of game. Picking from three paladins each turn you’ll give yourself additional military, economic, or religious power based on which of the three you choose to play. Using these skills and developing your player mat your workers will earn you points in these categories while you venture outside on the game board to secure the wilderness from rampaging mercenaries. Just seven rounds and this one is over. Sounds short? It definitely isn’t. Be ready for a real analysis paralysis type of match every time you play.