Top 5 Sentinels of the Multiverse Heroes

We’ve covered many of the Sentinels of the Multiverse heroes, so I guess we should give our picks for the top 5 heroes. Just to make things interesting let’s limit the number of heroes from a particular expansion, base game or promo to one, that way we don’t end up with a lot of base game heroes. If you’ve been reading our spotlight series on the Sentinels of the Multiverse, you’ll know that many heroes in the base game are overpowered, so they’d dominate this list.

As a result, there’s a lot of heroes that didn’t make our list that I wouldn’t mind adding. Tempest can own any villain, Legacy and The Visionary make our best teammates but miss this list, and despite my love for the double-edged sword of Fanatic’s mechanisms, I had to include a different hero from the base set.


5) Mister Fixer

Rook City’s own Mister Fixer leads off our list. Even though his contemporary Expatriette is a damage machine, Mister Fixer has the versatility to burn. He can manipulate the type of damage he deals, handles other threats that arise, and consistently deals damage each turn.

Sure, he doesn’t deal a lot of damage and can get bogged down with enemy shielding, which renders him less than effective, but of the two heroes from the Rook City expansion, he’s the Swiss Army Knife.


4) The Scholar

We skipped the Shattered Timelines expansion heroes because it’s too hard to pick between the overpowered Omnitron-X and the “I hit once and then I hit you harder” Chrono Ranger. Instead, we’re going with the promo card hero, The Scholar. Like Mister Fixer before him, The Scholar has several ways to help out his team, but he’s best known for damage control.

The bearded one can reduce copious amounts of damage applied to him and then redirect all damage his teammates would receive to himself. It’s always nice to have a shield, especially when you have an injury prone hero like Fanatic on the team.


3) Setback

I love game mechanisms that have you give up something for something else—too bad Fanatic didn’t make the list—so Setback’s a must add. Crashing on the Sentinels scene in Vengeance, Setback has you discarding cards from your hand or dealing damage to him in order to power up his attacks or fuel his other abilities.

Unlike a lot of other heroes that incorporate mechanisms that force you to push your luck, Setback can target ongoing cards and help out his teammates in many other ways. His large amount of health points also allows him to absorb the misfortunes he’ll encounter.


2) The Wraith

I went back and forth between The Wraith and Fanatic from the base game. I like Fanatic for the same reason I like Setback, but The Wraith is too good not to make the list. Tempest might be slightly more powerful and dependable, but so long as The Wraith doesn’t encounter a villain or environment card that causes her to discard in-play equipment cards, she can do anything.

Most early games our group played of Sentinels had someone playing as The Wraith. The Rook City expansion couldn’t stop The Wraith from making the table, Infernal Relics slowed her down, and Shattered Timelines made it so she made an appearance every other game. Even now, someone will ask to play her if she hasn’t made a game in a while.

You just can’t beat a female Batman…or can you?


1) NightMist

The second expansion, Infernal Relics, slowed down The Wraith because it introduced NightMist. This magical, mystery woman incorporated massive damage, a touch of versatility, and the push your luck mechanism that I love so much.

Unfortunately, NightMist can deal damage to her entire team when her abilities backfire. I won’t lie. It sucks when NightMist’s abilities get the best of her. But she can take out a villain in one turn or fully heal a teammate that’s close to death.

The rewards far outweigh the risks and there are ways to minimize the risks. Omnitron-X allows you to look at the top card of any deck, so you’ll have few surprises when NightMist’s abilities explode—and they will explode.

Did we get the list right? Let us know how we did and feel free to give us more ideas for future Top Fives.

Top 5 TV Shows for February 2015

We’re trying something new for the month of February’s Top 5 TV shows. We’re waiting until the month is over so we can get a better idea of which shows deserve the top spots. Without further ado, here’s our Top 5 TV shows for the month of February.

February was an odd month for Television because of Amazon Instant Video’s pilot season and as a result, we have a lot of usual shows that make the top 5 just missing the cut. Arrow and Constantine didn’t quite make it. Agent Carter fell shorter than them but enough about the shows that didn’t make the list, let’s get to the ones that did.

5) Grimm

Grimm squeaks in at number five. Oddly enough, this season of Grimm has suffered from a lot of the same issues as the show it beats out for the number five-spot, Arrow, but Grimm has done a better job recovering. It started the season with more story arcs than a rainbow and started whittling down the arcs, leading to a more cohesive month of television. The Juliette as a Hexenbeist arc works and I’m gaining interest with Adalind’s return to Portland and the magic baby, but I’m not sure if Grimm has or hasn’t peaked too soon. Time will tell, but I could see Arrow switching places with Grimm in the not so distant future. Then again, I waited for Arrow to overtake Grimm the entire month of February and it didn’t.

4) Mad Dogs

Our first of two Amazon pilots, Mad Dogs has an impeccable cast. I loved the direction and writing too as you could feel the slow boil emanating from the screen. I only place Mad Dogs this far down the list because I don’t know how to classify it. I know the show runners want to start a new television series, but this pilot felt more like a movie cut short. I felt like I would’ve gotten all the time I needed with another thirty minutes to an hour and don’t see how the creators could’ve stretched out the story for an entire season. Despite this shortcoming, Mad Dogs is excellent television and a must watch.

Note: Mad Dogs just got picked up for an extended series, so we’ll get more episodes toward the end of 2015 and into 2016.

3) Bob’s Burgers

Bob’s Burgers falls farther down our list mostly because there weren’t that many episodes this month, I think there were more viewable minutes for the Mad Dogs pilot than there were for Bob’s Burgers, and the episodes that did air ranged between very good and okay, a far cry from earlier in the season. Still, Bob’s Burgers holds onto its top three status by showing us just enough of why it’s the best sitcom, animated or live action.

2) The Flash

Like Bob’s Burgers, The Flash hasn’t been as good as it was earlier in the season, but The Flash was liquid magma hot earlier this year. The month of February saw the Firestorm story arc play out as much as it probably will this season and developed characters that needed it. Character development is the reason why The Flash takes our second spot. We should see the Rogues make another appearance and hopefully we’ll see full on Grodd too. I consulted my Magic Eight Ball, and it told me that we can expect another good month of Flash TV in March.

1) The Man in the High Castle

Ridley Scott bringing a Philip K. Dick novel to the screen hollers great television, and The Man in the High Castle didn’t disappoint. If you ever wondered how our world would look had the Axis powers won World War II, The Man in the High Castle will give you a glimpse. Like Mad Dogs before it, this Amazon pilot has a great cast, direction and writing, but it has more of a story to tell. We’re left with more questions than answers. As if showing us an alternate reality of a United States as the Greater Third Reich wasn’t enough, The Man in the High Castle introduces the mysterious, titular character who can see other realities, specifically ours, and creates movies showing what could be, can be or will be.

Check out this video of the contraband newsreel:

I have higher hopes for The Man in the High Castle than I do for Mad Dogs but both series—and the excellent docu-series The New Yorker Presents—got picked up for extended series and we can see them battle it out on-screen in the coming months.

Top 5 Superhero Themed Tabletop Games

Folks have made superhero games for decades, but the past few years have had an explosion of men and women in tights contained in little boxes. Just about every major game publisher has some form of superhero offering, so it’s going to be tough picking this list. Before we get started, let’s cover a few games that didn’t quite make the cut.

Richard Borg’s X-Men: Under Siege was a fantastic game. It nailed the theme, and I spent several hours and days playing it, but other games have trumped it due to its lengthy setup and light strategy. Marvel: Overpower is another game that just missed the list. It had solid mechanics, but these same mechanics proved too simplistic. The third near miss would have been an interesting entry, Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game. This games puts you in control of a Batman villain and you have to take over Gotham City’s underworld. It doesn’t quite fit the superhero theme, so that works against it, and you don’t really tango with the Caped Crusader, so that keeps it off the list, too. Still, you should check it out if you can find it.

And now for the superhero themed games that did make the list.

5) Marvel Heroes (2006)
Marvel Heroes is a pretty game. It has gorgeous miniatures made from the high-quality plastic that doesn’t melt in the box. And these miniatures are of four Marvel superhero teams, consisting of four superheroes, but beware, each team has its own nemesis.

The base game plays just like you’re conducting daily patrols of Marvel’s New York City. I admit the game board, depicting NYC, is blah, and it has to be the least color-blind friendly board on the market. Each region of NYC is color-coded, using the same symbols to denote smaller areas you can travel to within the region. If you’re not familiar with NYC and you’re color-blind, you’ll spend the entire two to three hours hunting and pecking for where you should place your minis.

Marvel Heroes Overview

Still, Marvel Heroes institutes a fine combat system that accomplishes the rare feat of using equal levels simplicity and complexity. You use combat dice, but before dice are rolled, you and your opponent choose which attack you want to use. You’re given three possible attacks and each one has its own pros and cons. I wish more games used this type of system. It feels like you control the flow of combat without getting too involved with the nitty gritty.

Marvel Heroes Close-up

Marvel Heroes smells like roses, and it would be higher on our list, but two issues prevent it from doing so: light on theme and the four nemeses. On the surface, Marvel Heroes looks like it nails the superhero theme. But remember when I said that it feels like you’re conducting daily patrols? You could strip away the superhero theme and slap on an NYPD theme, and I think the game would still work. Then, there’s a game element that allows you to avoid your nemesis. That’s like having a Thor movie with no Tom Hiddleston as Loki.

4) Heroclix (2002)
Our previous entry had twenty miniatures, while Heroclix has hundreds of thousands of them. Volume alone demands that Heroclix has to be on this list. You can pit DC Comics versus Marvel Comics or even go for the smaller, independent press comic book characters like Hellboy.

DC Comics and Marvel Heroclix

I won’t lie. Heroclix gets expensive, and the collective aspect of the game means that you can buy a pack of miniatures and not get the ones you want, but the powers match their comic book counterparts – for the most part – and you don’t need every mini in order to play the game. You’ll just run the risk of wanting more miniatures to complete your ever-growing collection.

3) Marvel Dice Masters (2014)
Marvel Dice Masters combines Magic: the Gathering with Quarriors! to great effect. Heroes do tend to attack each other (which can happen in comics but not at the rate this game suggests), power swapping does occur (I didn’t know Jubilee could lift a car and throw it), and some of the hero powers are a little out of place, but you can’t deny Marvel Dice Masters’ appeal.

Marvel Dice Masters Close-up

Like Heroclix before it on this list, Marvel Dice Masters has a collectable aspect to it, but the price point is so low ($0.99) that it doesn’t hurt to collect some of the dice, and unlike Heroclix, you’ll be able to use all the dice you get in the pack, so you don’t feel like you’re wasting as much of your money. I hope a lot of other collectable games switch to this tactic.

And the game itself is solid. Yes, it’s an amalgam of Magic and Quarriors!, but it adds enough new elements to the gameplay that it doesn’t feel like a copy of either game. Since Quarriors! is a pool building game, you may not be able to grab all the dice you want. Marvel Dice Masters allows you to cast the heroes you want and craft a winning strategy in advance of chucking dice.

2) Marvel: Legendary (2012)
Next we have another deck building game, Marvel: Legendary. I place Marvel: Legendary above Marvel Dice Masters for one main reason—cooperative play.

Marvel: Legendary Overview

While heroes can fight each other, most of the time they face villains. Marvel: Legendary captures this aspect better than any other deck or pool building game that uses a superhero theme. It’s not perfect of course. You’ll play games where Spider-man has Wolverine’s claws or Professor X has super strength and flight, but cooperative play adds an element missing from so many of other deck building games in general and a game element that needs to be there for a superhero-themed tabletop game.

1) Sentinels of the Multiverse (2011)
There are plenty of Sentinels of the Multiverse haters out there, but for my buck, Sentinels of the Multiverse delivers on the superhero theme.

Superheroes work together on a team. Check. They fight supervillains. Check. The backdrop is colorful and fitting for a comic book series. Check. I won’t say that Sentinels of the Multiverse is perfect. It does have its issues. There’s a power balancing issue. Some games can last ten or fifteen minutes. Others can take up to two or three hours. That’s not a good thing when you schedule a game night. I’m always playing two or three short games, and then the two hour game rears its ugly head, but I enjoy playing the game. It’s fun.

Sentinels of the Multiverse Overview

Every time I play Sentinels of the Multiverse, I feel like I’m a superhero and that my every action can mean life or death for the people I’m trying to protect. Isn’t that the whole purpose of a superhero themed game?

Did we get the list right? Let us know how we did and feel free to give us more ideas for future Top Fives.

Top 5 Cooperative Games

Designers used to create cooperative games just for children because you can’t have Johnny and Suzie fighting about who has the most money or the most dudes, and any day that doesn’t include, “I’m not playing with you—you cheat” is a win. Cooperative games eliminate the need for cheating. I guess you could cheat, but at least when you do cheat, you cheat as a team.

I won’t include the litany of older children’s games that use the cooperative mechanism, but the last decade has seen a lot of stellar cooperative games that adults — and sometimes kids – can enjoy. These games dominate the board game market, but the following is our list of the best games of this genre.

Before we get started, we have a public service announcement. You’ll find two notable exclusions from this list: Fury of Dracula and Battlestar Galactica. Both of these games are fantastic, but they go back and forth from getting labeled games that use the cooperative and partnership mechanisms, so we took them out of the running. Sorry, FoD and BSG fans.


5) Hanabi

We lead off with a game unlike any other on this list. Hanabi is a small cooperative card game that plays in twenty minutes or less.

I included Hanabi on this list because you always need a filler game, a game that you play while you wait for the rest of your gaming group to finish eating or using the restroom. It’s also easy to teach, learn, and play.

Hanabi is Japanese for firework, and you work together to create the greatest fireworks display. You can’t start with the biggest explosions first – you have to build up to them – so you’re given four colors of bursts, numbered 1-5. You have to form four separate piles of cards (based on explosion color) that begin with one and progress in numerical order to five. The only catch is that you can’t see your cards.  You and your teammates hold your cards away from yourselves. Your teammates have to give you clues as to which cards you have in your hand.


Hanabi burst into gaming stores a couple of years back, earning game designer Antoine Bauza his first Spiel des Jahres.


4) Forbidden Desert

Next we have a game by a designer, Matt Leacock, who specializes in cooperative games. I’m sure we’ll see more from Leacock further down this list. Forbidden Desert may be the sequel to Leacock’s Forbidden Island, which in turn, borrows a lot from Leacock’s own Pandemic, but Forbidden Desert adds enough gaming elements that you can’t say it mimics the other two games.

But the shifting desert tiles of Forbidden Desert do mimic getting lost in a desert with little hope of making it out alive. Players start the game stranded in the middle of a desert that’s prone to massive sand storms, and everyone has their own unique ability with which they have to use in order to escape.


Forbidden Desert allows you to adjust the difficulty level, so if you have someone new to the game or if you’re playing with younger gamers, you can make the game more accessible. But the game already gets you going in a jiff. You’ll be halfway to constructing your own Jules Verne flying device in no time.


3) Ghost Stories

Here’s another offering from Antoine Bauza. Ghost Stories also marks the only entry of a horror game in this list. Now, horror games tend to use the cooperative game mechanism, but despite how popular and plentiful these games are, many horror games fall flat. That’s not the case with Ghost Stories.

I wouldn’t say that I was ever scared while playing Ghost Stories. Sure, players explore a haunted mansion, where ghastly specters crowd every hall, but each player takes on the role of a martial arts master. You never fear for your character’s safety because your character could kick your butt in five seconds.


If your characters can’t defeat the ghosts, no one can. And usually, you can’t take on all the ghosts. Most games start with the players roundhouse kicking their way to victory, but then, the ghosts keep coming and you can’t keep up. I love Ghost Stories, but it has to be one of the toughest – if not the toughest – game on this list. Still, if you haven’t played it, you should.


2) Shadows over Camelot

Bruno Cathala is the most accomplished designer on this list, and no list of the best cooperative games would be complete without his Shadows over Camelot. Okay, Shadows over Camelot was a cooperative effort between Cathala and designer Serge Laget, but we’re splitting hairs.

Shadows over Camelot marked the beginning of the modern, cooperative game renaissance. Each player controls one knight of the Round Table, and they must team up in order to accomplish various quests like defeating the Black Knight or finding the Holy Grail, but the best part of Shadows over Camelot is the inclusion of a possible traitor.


I mentioned Battlestar Galactica before getting to this list, and BSG takes a lot from Shadows over Camelot, but you’re guaranteed a cylon or two. Shadows over Camelot makes no such promises. Some of the best games don’t even have a traitor. Players spend the entire game accusing other players of being the traitor – thwarting their comrades along the way – only to find that it was all in their heads. The name fits, and I challenge you to play one game without making a Monty Python and the Holy Grail reference. You can’t do it, can you?


1) Pandemic

I promised another Matt Leacock game and here it is: Pandemic. The reason Pandemic beats out Shadows over Camelot is because while Shadows over Camelot marked the beginning of the cooperative game renaissance, Pandemic popularized cooperative games, causing them to fly off shelves.

Players assume roles like scientist, medic, and researcher in order to stop four deadly viruses from spreading and becoming a global pandemic. There are many ways to lose but only one way to win. You have to cure all four diseases.


The game elements and mechanisms are simple and elegant, the premise topical, and no two games of Pandemic play the same way. Like other Leacock games, you can scale the difficulty which is perfect for new and/or young players. And while the diseases don’t have names, I’ve never played a game where players don’t name each of the four diseases. You can feel the tension rise with each epidemic.

Best of all, Pandemic attracts people who aren’t typical gamers. It earns our top spot because of this crossover quality.

Did we get our list right? Let us know and give us more ideas for future Top Fives.

Top 5 Game Designers

Some tabletop game designers sparked a revolution or created a game mechanism that everyone wants to copy. Others try to tell an engaging story or immerse us in a gaming. Still, others morph from one game type to the next, making it impossible to pin them down to a specific game type. But which game designers are the best out there right now?

I’ll try to answer this difficult question in a minute, but let me start by saying that tabletop game designers ebb and flow, so a top game designer today may not be a top game designer in five to ten years. Heck, they may lose their spot in one or two years.

With that said, there are some designers that paved the way for some of the guys on our list and other designers who haven’t done enough yet for inclusion. I’ll recognize them now, but even this addendum to the list isn’t a complete list of fantastic game designers.

Matt Leacock (Pandemic) just misses our list because he’s predominantly a cooperative game designer. If he chooses to expand his range, he’d be a sure fire top five. Vlaada Chvatil (Space Alert) is still new and could make a future list should we make one. I commend Alan R. Moon for not sticking with expansions for his mega hit Ticket to Ride, but he still hasn’t made enough recent games for our list. Reiner Knizia (Keltis, Wer War’s, and Lord of the Rings) has had more misfires than hits lately, but those earlier hits were Spiel des Jahres worthy.

And now for the game designers who did make the list.


5) Richard Borg

Truth time. I went back and forth with including Richard Borg. He hasn’t produced as many recent games as other designers on this list – or even the four designers I mentioned that I left off the list – but his tabletop games almost single-handedly keep war game companies in business.

It doesn’t matter if you like the American Civil War, World War II, samurai Japan, ancient Greece, or sci-fi/fantasy, you’ll find a game of Borg’s that’ll float your boat—er, battleship. He’s even the designer of one of my favorite games as a youth X-Men: Under Siege. So with full disclosure, I added him because I like him as a designer.

But Borg has kept himself busy this decade, and I always pay attention when he has a new game on the horizon.


Notable Richard Borg Games:

1987: Liar’s Dice (Spiel des Jahres Winner)
1993: Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel
2000: Battle Cry (based on the American Civil War)
2004: Memoir ’44 (based on World War II)
2006: Commands & Colors: Ancients
2006: BattleLore
2010: Commands & Colors: Napoleonics


4) Eric M. Lang

Unlike Borg, Eric M. Lang has kept himself hopping in the last few years. He has one of the largest catalogs of recent games of any designer on this list, and many of them are picture-perfect.

Lang would be higher on our list, but he tends to switch from dice mechanic games to living card games—Arcadia Quest is one of the few odd ducks and boy, it’s one fantastic duck. There’s nothing wrong with specializing in two game types. Most of his titles have undeniable quality, and like Borg, I’m always on the lookout for the next game by Lang.

The greatest testament to Lang’s abilities is that you breathe a sigh of relief when he announces that he’s making a game of your favorite intellectual property. You know he’ll nail every aspect that makes your favorite novel/movie/TV show/comic book/video game that makes it great.


Notable Eric M. Lang games:

2008: Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game
2008: A Game of Thrones: The Card Game
2009: Chaos in the Old World
2011: Quarriors!
2012: Star Wars: The Card Game
2014: Arcadia Quest
2014: Kaosball: The Fantasy Sport of Total Domination
2014: Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men
2014: Warhammer 40,000: Conquest
2015: XCOM: The Board Game
2015: Blood Rage
2015: Dungeons & Dragons Dice Masters


3) Antoine Bauza

Now we get to the top three. I could put all three of these designers in any order, and it wouldn’t bother me. Everyone on this list is a great designer, but I’m pre-ordering the top three designers’ games at my local game store as soon as they announce a new release. Antoine Bauza leads off our big three. He’s the youngest, so he could climb the ranks, and he’s also the most recent Spiel des Jahres winner.

The best thing about Bauza is that when I take my kids and their friends to our local board game café (Spielbound) and tell them to pick out a game, someone always picks up a game by Bauza. These kids don’t read the name on the box. They just pick up a game that speaks to them (and most of them of vastly different tastes), and someone always brings me one of his games. Once, I had six kids with me and four out of the six kids picked a different Bauza game.


In short, no two Bauza games look the same, play the same, or feel the same.

Notable Antoine Bauza games:

2008: Trains & Stations
2008: Ghost Stories
2009: Pocket Rockets
2010: Hanabi (Spiel des Jahres winner)
2010: Mystery Express (with Serge Laget)
2011: 7 Wonders (Kennerspiel {Connoisseur-gamer} Spiel des Jahres winner)
2011: Takenoko
2011: Dr. Shark (with Bruno Cathala)
2012: Tokaido
2013: Rampage


2) Richard Garfield

Richard Garfield has the most gaps in his resume of any other designer on this list, but whenever he comes out with a new game, it’s always big news. His Magic: The Gathering revolutionized the card game industry over twenty years ago, and it enjoys more popularity today than it did then. In fact, Magic is sometimes the only thing that keeps game stores open.

But Garfield has caught fire these last few years. King of Tokyo is a cross-over sensation that brings new gamers into the hobby. Folks clamber for his Android: Netrunner living card game, and King of New York, the follow-up to King of Tokyo, gives gamers a more in-depth King of Tokyo.


Notable Richard Garfield games:

1993: Magic: The Gathering
1994: RoboRally
1994: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle
2002: Star Wars Trading Card Game
2006: Rocketville
2011: King of Tokyo
2012: Android: Netrunner
2014: King of New York


1) Bruno Cathala

Bruno Cathala has the versatility of Bauza but he also has the benefit of a longer career. If I was stranded on a desert island and I could only play the games of one designer, that designer would be Cathala.

He collaborates with a lot of other designers, but not many of the designers Cathala works with have done much on their own. Cathala carries a game. Whether he revitalizes the deduction mechanism, or combines the play of Mancala with worker placement, Cathala adds new wrinkles to gameplay, and most of what he touches turns to gold.


Notable Bruno Cathala games:

2003: The Queen’s Necklace (with Bruno Faidutti)
2005: Mission: Red Planet (with Bruno Faidutti)
2005: Shadows over Camelot (with Serge Laget)
2006: Mr. Jack (with Ludovic Maublanc)
2006: Cleopatra and the Society of Architects (with Ludovic Maublanc)
2007: Jamaica (with Sebastien Pauchon)
2008: Senji (with Serge Laget)
2008: Mow
2009: Dice Town (with Ludovic Maublanc)
2011: Dr. Shark (with Antoine Bauza)
2012: Niya (a.k.a. Okiya)
2014: Abyss (with Charles Chevallier)
2014: Five Tribes

Did we get the list right? Let us know how we did and feel free to give us more ideas for future Top Fives.

Top 5 Tabletop Games that should be Made into Movies

Yesterday we covered the games with movies that are already in some stage of production. Today, we’ll list the games we think should have their own movie but no plans exist – yet – to turn the game into a film.

Pandemic015) Pandemic
We begin our list with a game concept that might get lost in the overall Hollywood shuffle. There have been a lot of movies that have focused on a regional epidemic or global pandemic – both zombie and otherwise – but Pandemic does enough to set itself apart from the pack. In the game, there are four diseases originating in different locations that converge to become a superbug. Pandemic is a thriller featuring three to four acting troupes filmed in multiple locations waiting to happen.

Gloom014) Gloom
To say that Gloom has character is an insult. The kooky families that make up the world of Gloom have more issues than Time magazine. There isn’t a screen big enough to contain the bevy of bizarre these four families possess when you have a family reminiscent of the Frankensteins, an Addams family offshoot, a serial killer family, and the world’s most pathetic freak show. While you could split up the group, I’d like to see a director perform this insane juggling act.

GalaxyTrucker013) Galaxy Trucker
I almost added a couple of other Vlaada Chvatil games (Space Alert and Mage Knight) but had to go with Galaxy Trucker. We’ve seen space pirates, space knights, and space princesses, but we haven’t seen space truckers. There might be a reason for this. Still, Galaxy Trucker is the perfect engine for a comedy set in space that doesn’t focus on the usual fare. The game does have its share of space pirates and other spacefaring tropes, but Galaxy Trucker’s flavor of self-deprecating humor screams comedic masterpiece.

ForbiddenDesert012) Forbidden Desert
This is another game that has a familiar movie concept: a group of friends get stranded in the middle of a desert and have to find their way out. Heck, C-3PO and R2-D2 wandered the desert planet Tatooine. But Forbidden Desert gets our nod as the second tabletop game that should have its own movie because of the game’s world. The flying contraption our group has to construct in order to escape is something straight out of Jules Verne. Given the proper treatment, a movie based on Forbidden Desert could be a steam punk classic.

Kittens011) Kittens in a Blender
JK – Just Kidding. No matter if a movie based on Kittens in a Blender is live-action or animated, you have to be really sick to want to see cute, cuddly, frappe kitties.

KillDoctorLucky01The Real 1) Kill Doctor Lucky
You could say that Kill Doctor Lucky already has a movie in a roundabout way. This game is the reverse of Clue. But while Clue begins gameplay after the death of Mr. Body and the players compete against each other to solve who committed the murder, Kill Doctor Lucky pits players against each other to see who will commit the murder. The cinematic version of Clue dabbles with this concept a bit, but it’d be great to see a full-fledged Kill Doctor Lucky in all its zany glory.

Did we get the list right? Let us know which games you’d include in this Top Five or suggest ideas for new Top Fives.

Top 5 Upcoming Movies Based on Tabletop Games

Hollywood has repeatedly tapped the comic book well, converted TV shows to movies, and retreaded classic movies. Always looking for the next big thing, the big screen has turned its attention to tabletop games. We may have gone ten years between Jumanji (1995) and Zathura (2005), but the silver screen shortened time between tabletop game movies with films like Battleship (2012) and Ouija (2014). More movies are on the way in the not-so-distant future, but I’ll be the first to say that not every tabletop game needs its own movie. Here’s our pick for most the anticipated movies based on tabletop games that you could see soon in a theater near you.

Candyland015) Candy Land
All we know about the upcoming Candy Land movie is that Adam Sandler stars and plans to co-write the script. The real question is will Sandler play King Kandy, cross dress as Gramma Nutt, or switch between both roles?

Risk014) Risk
We know a little bit more about Risk. Sony hired John Hlavin (Underworld 4) to write the script in 2012. Overbrook Entertainment is set as the production company, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Overbrook is owned by Will Smith, so we know who one of the actors will be. My big question is what will make Risk different from all other war movies? It has to have something that at least hints at the board game.

Monopoly013) Monopoly
This is another tabletop game movie where I question how the film will differ from all other tycoon films. Obviously, they’ll set Monopoly in Atlantic City. But will they portray Rich Uncle Pennybags as he appears in the game? Will they make the flick a period piece? Will they animate it or use live-action? Ridley Scott doesn’t do animation and he wants to direct the film. Scott even hired writers in 2011. I wonder if we should send a search party, since no one has heard from these writers. Perhaps they went to jail, directly to jail.

HungryHungryHippos012) Hungry, Hungry Hippos
You heard right. Hungry, Hungry Hippos is getting the big screen treatment. Film studio Emmett/Furla confirmed in 2012 that they’re bringing the blubber, citing that the upcoming film will be “a playful adaptation of the game, featuring murderous hippos.” This flick could plummet, succeed as artful camp, accurately portray one of nature’s most deadly animals, or even devour the box office. We’ll have to wait and see. But one thing’s for certain. You’ll fear the hippo. You will.

Monsterpocalypse1) Monsterpocalypse
We know the most about this film, so that should be a good sign. Dreamworks acquired the rights to turn this fun beat-em-up into a movie in 2010. There’s a script flying around and someone even shared a synopsis.

Monsters attack Earth, get defeated and burrow beneath the ground to recuperate, sending a signal into space for reinforcements while licking their wounds. Meanwhile, Earth forces construct giant robots to fend off the anticipated attack.

If this sounds like Pacific Rim, you’re right. Pacific Rim (2013) borrows more than a little bit from Monsterpocalypse (2008). But I’ve been saying for a couple films already that you have to separate this movie from others of its type, so how will Monsterpocalypse accomplish this? Three words. Full. Frontal. Burton.

Tim Burton is set to direct this film and you get three things with that: the patented Burton aesthetic, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Johnny Depp.

Did we get the list right? Let us know which movies you’d include in this Top Five or suggest ideas for new Top Fives.

Top 5 Tabletop Games of the 1940s and 1950s

You might have noticed that we grouped the 1940s and 1950s together in this list, while giving the 1930s their separate list. That’s because a little thing called World War II occurred during the 1940s. There weren’t that many board games produced during this time frame, and it took a while for folks to want to play games after the war’s conclusion. But the games that did see a publisher during these two decades are among some of the best of all time.

Let’s set some ground rules before we get started.

1: Cultural relevance plays as much of a factor as overall quality. A game might make the list that doesn’t hold up to others of its type, but you have to admit the game is everywhere.

2: Only one game from a franchise makes the list. Sorry, but you won’t see Simpsonopoly.

3: Longevity plays a role, too. A game doesn’t have to fly off the shelves today, but it had to have some widespread appeal for a decent time period.

5) Careers (1955)
Careers may look like a Monopoly derivative, but it’s a lot more than that. Developed by the sociologist James Cooke Brown, Careers uses a secret “Success Formula” that consists of a minimum amount of fame, happiness and money that a player must gain to become fulfilled.

Careers03Players set their own victory conditions (split between the aforementioned three areas) before the game begins. You can glean a lot about a person by how they divvy up fame, happiness and money and that’s the point of Careers.

Careers01Parker Brothers may have been the first to produce Careers in 1955, but the game has bounced from publisher to publisher in the decades that followed. You don’t see this game in stores as much, but it left a mark in the tabletop game industry as being one of the first games to implement win condition choice.

Careers024) Stratego (1947)
Who doesn’t like a good game of capture the flag? Players of the 1940s’ Stratego sure do.

Stratego03But as with a lot of games in our series of Best Tabletop games, Stratego as a 1940s game is a bit of a misnomer. It’s based off the traditional Chinese board game “Jungle,” and there’s even a similar European game called L’attaque that cropped up around World War I. It wasn’t until 1947 where the Napoleonic imagery we know today was first deployed.

Stratego02Stratego caught fire in Europe and sold well for over a decade before it crossed the pond. Milton Bradley first distributed the game in the United States in 1961. The game may have changed through the years that followed – first printed cardboard pieces, then painted wood pieces, and finally the plastic pieces of today – but the core game mechanics have remained.

Stratego01Battleship may have instituted the secret unit deployment game mechanic, but Stratego brought the mechanic to a whole new level of bluffing and strategy.

3) Candy Land (1945)
Eleanor Hallowell Abbott may have been a successful author and frequent contributor to The Ladies’ Home Journal, but perhaps her most enduring work is Candy Land.

Candyland01She created this simple children’s racing game while recovering from Polio in San Diego. Milton Bradley – why is it always Milton Bradley? – quickly gobbled up the game most likely because of Abbott’s notoriety. I guess it pays to be a well-known author.

Candyland02The characters and locations have lived in the hearts of children for decades. Who doesn’t know Candy Cane Forest, Gum Drop Mountain, Queen Frostine and Gramma Nutt? And the game’s notoriety earned it the top spot as the American Toy Industry Association’s most popular toy of the 1940s.

Candyland03On a side note, Candy Land was involved in one of the first disputes over internet domain names. An adult web content provider registered, and Hasbro objected. Fortunately, the site’s rights have reverted to Hasbro, so don’t worry if your kids login to see who fell into the Cherry Pitfalls.

2) Risk or La Conquete du Monde (1957)
French film director Albert Lamorisse invented La Conquete du Monde (The Conquest of the World) and originally released it in 1957. Imagine me using my best Troy McClure voice with this next part. “You may remember Albert Lamorisse from such films as Palme d’Or (White Mane) and Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon).” The latter of which earned Lamorisse an Academy Award, and it predated La Conquete du Monde by one year.

Risk01So Lamorisse earned an Academy Award and then created a beloved board game in consecutive years. Parker Brothers bought, tweaked and then released La Conquete du Monde as Risk in 1959. The game took off and has grossed more money than you can shake a Rockefeller at.

Risk021) Cluedo or Clue (1944)
Colonel Mustard did it with the candlestick in the dining room. Why do people go to Colonel Mustard and the candlestick first? Cluedo, or Clue to North Americans, was created by Anthony E. Pratt, an English musician.

Clue01Originally named Murder!, Cluedo found not one, but two publishers. Waddingtons (now part of Hasbro) first published the game as Cluedo in Europe, while Parker Brothers simultaneously licensed the game in the United States five years later as Clue with some minor changes. Nurse White became Mrs. White and thankfully Colonel Yellow changed colors to Mustard. There were some rooms like the gun room and the cellar that got dumped and the weapons got whittled down. No bomb, syringe, shillelagh, or fireplace poker for North Americans.

Clue03But despite these minor changes, the core gameplay stayed the same to the delight of players on both sides of the Atlantic.

Clue02Did we get the list right? Let us know which games you’d include in this Top Five or suggest ideas for new Top Fives.