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The Nerdz Garage Best Board Games of 2019 – From Time Travel to the Stock Market-  The Year ha

Updated: May 26, 2020

While we live in a world of short attention spans, the board game resurgence has sparked our appetite to get back at the tables often and for hours. The scheduled game night has risen to a priority and not just a time filler. We collect games, and we track our victories as well as our losses. The spirit of competition is alive and well at The Garage. Our top ten games played this year, some that are new and some that are new to us.

  1. Star Trek Catan

Let me preface that we have played other games that were versions of a game and then Star Trek or Star Wars-themed adaptions, and we were exceedingly disappointed. It was serendipitous that the blend of Catan and Star Trek was successful since the subsequent wait time, for the game to arrive,  felt like light-years.

The game’s artwork is engaging, Starship roads and Space Stations are delightful. The takeaway was that we needed to search out superior miniature tokens for our other Catan’s.

The most substantial change is the addition of the Crew cards. Every player gets a two-time use crew card. Then you have to discard it back into the Crew pool, to be picked up by another player. These crew cards each do something different, so it’s best to wrap your head around them before you start to play.

These Trekkers enjoyed the fun twists with the various stars from the original Star Trek series, as well as new pieces of acting as roads and settlements, and cities. The Nerdz at the Garage are obsessed, if you liked Catan and you like Star Trek, this is a must!

Who wouldn’t want to play with a tiny Enterprise Starship or Klingon Battle Cruiser?

Buy Star Trek Catan  

  1. T.I.M.E. Stories

These Nerdz have been obsessed with Sci-Fi shows and have recently binged, Travelers (Netflix), and Life on Mars (B.B.C.). When I saw T.I.M.E. Stories’ playthroughs on the social media, it was evident that The Garage required some Time Travel games. The players become Agents from the T.I.M.E. Agency and are sent on missions to different places in time to fix the anomalies and return to base. Complete the task in time, or you will be recalled back to base, where you will have to start your mission over again. If you failed and sent back to complete your task, taking notes is crucial; we found out the hard way. These notes will assist in future missions.

What we enjoyed was the mechanism for collaboration. When a player gets to read the back of a card, they have to explain what they’ve just read to their teammates rather than just reading it verbatim. Once you advise the team on the next goal, the group works together to advance the mission. The artwork in T.I.M.E. Stories is stunning, and each expansion has an entirely contrasting look. Days after completing the first game, we found ourselves still talking about how we played and what strategies we would do different and use for the next mission. Mirroring how we converse after a binge-worthy show.

Buy T.I.M.E. Stories 

8. Viticulture

We were in St Louis for a fundraiser and had a serendipitous opportunity to learn Viticulture from the designer, Jamey Stegmaier. Our copy was still shrink-wrapped on the shelf at home, waiting for the time to get it on the table. When Jamey asked what we wanted to play, the choice was obvious, Viticulture. It takes me a few playthroughs to fully grasp a game, and I was trying my best to be competitive; however, I was thoroughly enjoying the company, and that enjoyment may have contributed to my severe loss. We have since played it a dozen times and moved on to the expansions. It is quick to learn, solid player interaction, and with the expansion, replayability. It is often what we teach when newbies come over.

Viticulture is a worker-placement game. It is played over a number of rounds until someone has scored at least 20 points. At the end of that round, the player with the most points wins. Each player has his own mat, which shows his vineyard.

But Viticulture

Star Wars the Outer Rim
  1. Star Wars Outer Rim

The rulebook the rulebook the rulebook. Once you get past the rulebook and get through a play through, the game presents its nuances. The strategies wrapped in the delightful characters are well thought out.

The path to a victory is not set alone on your actions, other players may hold secret plans to attack you. The player interaction is limited but keep a close eye on the other bounty hunters! The negotiation element is a unique addition. Borrow money to trade a contract or bounty, but the deal may leave you broke at the end of the galaxy.

Bounties and jobs give replayability and deepen the story. These jobs are mini-stories with multiple encounters.

The gameplay is smart, with lots of options and adventure. Yes, we are huge Star Wars fans and thoroughly loved this game!

Buy Outer Rim 

  1. Above and Below

Above and Below is a new game for Nerdz Garage. Once it was on the table, it stayed. We are fans of “choose your own adventure,” and this has a unique take, and it is four games in one. There is board advancement, strategy, engine building, dice rolling role-playing, and choose your own adventure stories! The premise of Above and Below is that your village was forced to flee and relocate. After finding a suitable location on which you can rebuild, you discover a vast network of caves underneath filled with mystery. We’ll get to the caves and the mystery in a moment. First, you’ve got to acquire beds for your villagers. Beds are essential because your workers must rest when exhausted to continue the next turn. Now that the villagers have a place to rest their heads, you can to put down roots and rebuild your new village. Now is the time to gather resources and explore Above and Below. It is an engine-building game, and like most, it starts out slow, and the shifts to high by the end of the game.

Overall the game is beautiful and intriguing. Both are what attract the Nerdz to a game and keep it on the table. There is variety in the encounters, allowing for a new experience each game.

The gameplay is straight forward but has a depth of strategy that will appeal to seasoned gamers. Nerdz Garage highly recommends this game to anyone who enjoys the excitement of choosing your adventure or who enjoys the careful management of resources.

Buy Above and Below 

Tokaido Let's Go
  1. Tokaido

I came across Tokaido by pure chance. Walking through a game store and out of my peripheral was this beautiful box. I was drawn to the art, and the game was on the table that night. The stunning artwork is throughout the game and its components.

The game is straightforward and swift to learn. Tokaido has all of the players traveling the famous Tokaido road between Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo) and having encounters along the way. Each spot on the road you may acquire, money from working on a farm, or maybe a piece of a panorama. Essentially this is a set collection game with a few different sets to collect. These collection and encounters give points to move you up the track. We enjoyed the mechanics of the turns and how they were subdivided into four parts with a mandatory rest at an inn in-between. We enjoy both the original experience and then the more involved Crossroads game.

Tokaido is often played over morning coffee and always packed when we are on the road. There have been many a hotel lobby that the game has been played and invariably gets compliments from passersby.

Buy Tokaido 

  1. Scythe

The game Scythe was a gift from our friends Ben and Mariah, who bought the game while on their honeymoon in Ireland. They purchased it at a game store and donut shop where the commonality was to buy/bring a game, consume fabulous donuts, and play for hours. Why this has not been invented in the U.S., I don’t know because it sounds marvelous and I would live there. If it does, please let me know!!!!

There is scarcely a game that I do not delight in, however, when a game box weighs in at 8 pounds, and you lift the lid of Scythe, it can be simultaneously exciting and daunting. Scythe is a game with a lot of bits and bobs to understand and keep track of, but that gives ample opportunity to get your hands and develop a backstory. They offer immense information to draw from to build strategy and or role play. There are plenty of rules for players to discern and then figure out how to get all of them working together. Set in an alternative universe in Eastern Europe in the 1920s with mechs roaming the countryside. You farm goods, conquer regions, and try to win over the people and gain popularity. Players start with their own faction. These factions have their own faction leader, their own mechs, their own home base on the board and their own characteristics, or powers. Combined with a randomly drawn player board, every board is slightly different, you have unique starting conditions. This ability to weave together highly complex strategies that change each game makes the game replayability something to be commended! Scythe is a rare creation that we found had the perfect balance between depth, style and substance, and fun and challenge.

Scythe keeps you wanting to come back to try new faction and player mat combos.

We have started the expansion, Rise of the Fenris, and we are trying to relish it unhurriedly.

Buy Scyth