Tabletop Tycoon Top 3 Board Games



Run by CEO and all-round great guy, Dan Yarrington, these passionate group of game enthusiasts bring forward some of the best games known to modern board gamers.


We recently sat down and talked with Dan about how this all came about, what its been like over the last few months during the Pandemic and his plans for getting back out there to conventions and launching new games.


Oh, and his love for the Princess Bride, for which another Tabletop Tycoon brand, Spark Works, has produced multiple titles under this glorious IP.

Lets take a look at three of Tabletop Tycoons top 3 games:


Alien Frontiers


First made in 2010 with multiple editions, it is fair to say Alien Frontiers is a modern day classic. Adored by thousands of loyal fans, the game has seen many changes and reiterations over the years after its initial Kickstarter success! It’s funny to think of a game that had 228 backers raising just under $15k as a huge success, but back then it was! And this paved the way for many other games to use the platform. There is a good bit of back story here you if you want to know more.

So, now on its fifth printing with multiple expansions, how does the game hold up? As a gateway game, I would say it is one of the best. It is perhaps a little too simple for some people's modern game standards if comparing to more might to heavy weight games. But for a lightweight introduction to dice placement I would still say this is one of the best.


The theme is still very appealing, and the rule book, fined tuned as it now is, is excellent! The artwork looks stunning. The only complaint is the dice act as ships, and dice obviously don’t look like ships so it becomes a little abstract there which is a shame. (but there is a fix to that!) But the rest of the production for the Field Generators and Colony Tokens is top notch. The new editions come with upgraded Ore an Fuel tokens now too which look great.

OK, great! So its still a fantastic game. For those of you who have not played this game yet, lets talk briefly on the gameplay. In Alien Frontiers, you are looking to gain the most influence over the Alien Frontier by colonising its different areas whilst having majority in these locations.


The board works as one giant variation of Yahtzee. You start the game with three ships (dice). On your turn, you will roll these and dock them into different parts of the board representing various orbital facilities. Docking three ships of the same value and paying one Ore will allow you to move one Colony onto the planet surface for example. You will also be managing your resources (Ore and Solar Fuel) developing your alien technology and raiding your opponents. More ships (again, dice!) can be acquired, and the game ramps up beautifully into a final race to the surface.

The game can be learnt and taught in minutes and I have enjoyed multiple games with my son (8) who finds this game very simple to pick up and play. So much so, he usually wins! But the theme and simple mechanisms make this a highly approachable game for all levels.


If you haven’t tried this game yet and are looking for a family-friendly dice worker placement game I would strongly recommend checking it out. It is wildly supported with multiple expansions and more to come! Check the video out above to find out more.


Nemo's War


Cited as one of the best solo games ever made, Nemo's War pulls you to the depths of the world's oceans and invites you to go on an adventure on the fabled Nautilus. At first glance, Nemo's War can be quite intimidating. The board is rather complex looking and the rule book is more of a novel! But persevere! Once you have grasped the basics, this is a very intuitive game and plays incredibly smoothly.

In Nemo's War, you are looking to survive a year at sea. There are many ways to die and lose this game, and only one way to win. At the start of the game you will set up your draw deck full of mystery and adventure. At the start of each round you will draw the top card and follows its instructions. Often asking you to ‘test’ yourself against various objective. One of the later cards will be one of the randomly delt finale cards. If you make it to this card and survive its challenges, then you have the rare honour to score your game. Score well enough against the games brutal levels, and you can consider yourself victorious.


But succumb to the various end-game scenarios and you wont need to bother with the scoring. If you become too notorious, the game ends. If your Crew, Hull or you yourself as Captain Nemo, suffer too much damage or loss, the game ends immediately. Or if the worlds oceans fill with enemy ships, it’s into Davy Jones locker for you.

After drawing a card, you will then roll your dice. Starting with two and ending in the later rounds with four. The differential to these dice will be the amount of moves you can make. For example, roll a five and one and get four actions. They will also act as the location of where two new ships will appear in the ocean that round. The six main oceans of the world are assigned a dice face making this easy to manage. You will then carry out your turns as you wish, going on adventures, hunting enemy ships upgrading your own, repairing your hull and recruiting more crew. You will also hunt for treasure and incite uprisings around the world. All in a vain attempt to build your score whilst avoiding the multiple and increasingly inevitable game ending scenarios.


The game has a clever mechanism of including Nemo's motivation to set your score against. At the start of the game you will chose from one of four different reasons for your quest that year. Perhaps you seek victory at War? Or maybe you prefer to explore the ocean depths. None of this will change your options in the game, but it will change how each element of the game is scored. Whichever motivation you pick, you cannot change until the third and final act, at which point you are given this final last gasp option.

On many occasions I have asked myself why is this included as a option? Surely you would know your motivation from turn one and do all you can to score well against it? But in most games, for me at least, I have found I take up this option and make the change. The game has a clever way of throwing multiple curve balls as you, and this late amendment to your scoring options is often a welcome one!


I can see why this game is so highly regarded in the solo gaming world. There is a co-op and semi co-op variation that I have tried which works well. But solo is where this game is at. In co-op you are very much succumbing to the most experienced players decisions. But it is a good way to teach the game or play with younger players. The semi co-op variant has an interesting rule whereby you can seize the role of Captain by challenging a decision they make and paying a gem stone. Which was novel at first. But ultimately led to more arguments than necessary as seizing the captaincy was more fun than making sensible decisions for the good of the ship.


If you are looking for a new solo gaming experience, one that will take a few hours and give you the chance to fully absorb yourself into a new world, then this could be something you will absolutely love! As a fan of the book, which you can read for free here, I have absolutely loved every second of my time in the Nautilus. I can see this getting a lot of game time and potentially climbing into a top ten spot for me.


Everdell


I am unsure if anyone here hasn’t played this game yet? Perhaps you don’t own your own copy, having tried a friend or played in a café and are debating whether to buy this yourself for not. But you have played it so you have probably already made your mind up? Well, in that case, there is not much else to say. Everdell is a modern classic and has given many of us hundreds of hours of joy. In seems trite and futile to even try and say anything new about such a wonderful game. So, instead, I will try and break down why it's so good rather than review the game as usual. Although isn’t that just a review?

Everdell is a wonderful game that hits so many sweet spots. Visually it is stunning. The art from Andrew Bosley is market leading and universally appealing. The game play is approachable, simple to understand and enjoyable for all levels of gamers. The mechanics are delightfully mixed with elements of engine building, set-collection, worker placement, hand management all shaken up with some interesting end-game bonuses. All this combined, makes for a very enjoyable experience at the table.


Worker placement with engine building is always a joy for me. Few games do it well and Everdell definitely does it very well. There is something very satisfying about putting a limited amount of workers out to slowly build up your powers through your cards so that later turns become more powerful. And no matter who wins or loses the game, each player will experience this progression.

The game flow is set up as such that no matter how well you are doing, you will be able to do more things in the later rounds. The simple addition of extra workers being given to you guarantees this. But also the very nature that you will be laying cards into your tableau that will bring you added benefits inbetween rounds means that all players will have multiple moments of feeling good about themselves in this game.


At the end, sure, you will score the game and there will of course be winners and losers. During the game, you can get a sense of how well you are doing, but you can never be sure. And yet, even if you do fall behind and end up loosing, you still get to experience those endorphins as the game pats you on the back and says “well done, here, have another berry. You deserve it.”


This doesn’t mean the game is easy. Far from it. It just means it is well made and expertly developed. Everdell gives everyone at the table an enjoyable experience. Everyone will meet certain goals and achieve certain objectives. It may not always be the ones you were aiming for, or enough to get you the most points, but it will keep you happy along the way.

The game also has a wonderful rule that I especially enjoy, which links the character cards to location cards. If you acquire a location card when the linked character card is available, you may then ‘build’ that character for free. This is a brilliant element of the game, I often over use and fill my village too quickly by bringing in low point scoring characters, just because I can. But I enjoy this sense of development. Fruitless as it often can be!


As such, this leads me to my only criticism of the game. Why is there a limit to how many cards you can place in your village? I get this makes the game a little more tense, and encourages you to be more selective in your card choices. But with the joyful nature of being able to bring certain characters in for free, why not just let players build as they please? I have discussed this at length with many different people, and it seems to polarise opinion. So, I am not saying they should have made this change. Far from it. But it is the one thing for me that I like to house rule, whenever the person I am paying with is happy to do so.


That said, this is a minor quibble that I have found after extensive games of Everdell. Overall, this is a modern classic. A masterpiece in modern board gaming. And will go down in the history of as truly one of the greats. If only they had made a few expansions for it? (Editors note, there are quite a few and they are all amazing. This is just a bad joke about how successful they have been on the recent Kickstarters. Seriously, check out the numbers, it will blow your mind! $15k used to be a success over there).



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