I promised you a board game and that was no lie.
I really enjoy playing board games. Over the past several years I’ve become absolutely fascinated with extra geeky and slightly strategic games like Munchkin (and all of its expansions), Carcassonne (and all of its expansions), Settlers of Catan (and all of its expansions), along with numerous others and one that I’d been eying like a slathering idiot until my SO decided to treat me to it a couple of years ago:
The marvelous folks at Days of Wonder (also known for Ticket to Ride, which I have SHAMEFULLY not played yet) have made a sprawling board game of epic proportions that utilizes teamwork, patience, and turn by turn play with the wickedly evil element of having one player be the traitor (the game can be played without this aspect; I advise this for beginners; the game is difficult enough in itself without wondering whether someone is WORKING AGAINST ALL OF YOUR HARD WORK), who can ruin the game at the worse moments. Players get to be Knights of the Round Table (each has a different game-aiding ability) defending a Camelot besieged by Picts and Saxons, running several quests (Holy Grail, Excalibur), as they try to successfully defeat the mighty dragon before forces overwhelm the castle walls and everyone dies of exhaustion. The key to success: everyone must work together to ensure victory. It’s a collaboration to defeat the game, rather than a competition to destroy (errm, beat) the other players. The game forces players to be noble and act for the good of the group (hence why the traitor is so evil).
As if that wasn’t bad enough (I’m not convinced I’m doing a proper job of describing just how insane this game can get), there’s an expansion!
It features Merlin, another traitor (argh), and EVEN MORE Knights of the Round Table, which is awesome because everyone always wants to be the same damn knight and I don’t know how adding more solves the problem, aside from variety in selection and the opportunity for even more people to play and grumble about how they don’t get to be Arthur or Gawaine…
Anyway. There’s yet another expansion (I don’t have this or Merlin’s Company and desperately crave both):
Purely for aesthetic purposes, A Company of Knights is just a box with hand-painted game pieces inside. It’s gorgeous.
A bit of warning: these games, depending on where you find them, don’t run cheap. Even Amazon lists them around $40, but specialty stores are known to double that. You might feel a pain in your wallet, but surely, after one attempt to play this game you’ll be so utterly taken with a gamut of emotions so difficult to distinguish one from the other that you’ll keep cajoling your friends into playing because damnit, you either love this game or you hate it (or, you know, you hate your friend, the TRAITOR), but the bottom line is: you’ll want to keep playing.
Also: gameplay may go for at least a couple of hours. Although, if you’re familiar with Settler’s of Catan or any of the other games I mentioned above, you are quite familiar with the cost involved, both monetary and time-wise as well as psychological.*
*Erika makes no factual claims to support actual costs involved in pre-, post-, or during gameplay.