Number Nine on the Meeple Like Us Ten Top Best Board Games 2017 Edition!
Whereas Number Ten is the last helicopter out of Saigon, the occupant of the number nine slot has no need to fear the cold outside. At least, for now – we might throw a similar party next year and who knows who’ll be getting an invite. Don’t get complacent, nine – you’re on thinner ice than you might think. That might be you outside next year, and if you think it’s tough being in the cold now just wait and see what it’s like once you’ve got the memory of warmth to make it worse. Those other games? They don’t know any better. You will. God help you – you will.
Oh, don’t look so glum. Have a bit of cheese on a cocktail stick. This is a party!
Michael Picks: Blood Bowl
Blood Bowl is a ludicrous entry on a list like this. Blood Bowl is a game that I adore but I absolutely couldn’t recommend to anyone. It’s utter nonsense – fantasy gridiron with orcs and goblins and trolls. Its rules are brutally complex. Its expectations are laughably high. Its rules for turnover are almost comically cruel. This is the only game I own where I think rage-quitting is a completely sensible strategy. Still, this is a game that has given me some of my greatest storytelling experiences of all time. This is a game where I have played sessions where I remember every die roll, every missed pass, every scoring triumph. This is a game that I have written poetry about. It couldn’t possibly not end up on this list.
Pauline: I played the computer game of this with you once for about two minutes. That’s all I could stand. I really don’t understand the appeal of this at all. I don’t know why you like this game. I don’t know why people would spend hundreds of pounds to buy miniatures they need to spend hundreds of hours painting. The whole Games Workshop thing seems like a massive waste of time, money and effort. I’d rather watch paint dry. I guess that’s free entertainment you’d get as part of doing all this nonsense. I’m all about sports and fitness but I just don’t understand why you like this game.
Michael: Have you read any of my blood bowl poetry? It rhymes and everything. There once was a Reikland Reaver, who wanted to be a receiver. He would play with his ball, and would give it his all, but…
Pauline: I hate everything about this conversation.
Pauline Picks: Sheriff of Nottingham
Sheriff of Nottingham is a lot like Once Upon a Time in that the fun it generates depends on the group around you. The barrier to fun is much lower though because of the role-playing that almost everyone naturally falls into. Sheriff of Nottingham reminds me of a game from the eighties that I still have somewhere – that one is called Smuggle, which in turn is a rebranding of an earlier game called Contraband. Sheriff of Nottingham is a much more elegant game though it shares a lot of similarities.
True story, my father once caught me lying in Smuggle and I burst into tears and offered him all my money to make him stop gloating. In Smuggle you all draw from a shared deck and that means there’s a lot of leaked information. Sheriff of Nottingham is a lot more interesting because you all get your own hand to manage, and even picking up and discarding can be part of your elaborate bluff. You don’t need to worry too much about the lies other people have told – it’s all about keeping your own lies straight. I didn’t enjoy Smuggle much thanks to that traumatic experience in my youth but I’ve gotten a lot better at social deduction since I was eight even if I still don’t know what my own tells are. Sheriff of Nottingham is quick to learn and offers a wagonload of good natured fun.
Michael: I also like Sheriff of Nottingham a lot – it almost made the list but in the end it didn’t because I always get caught out lying. Is it always obvious when I’m bluffing?
Pauline: Yes. I can always tell when you are lying.
Pauline: Your lips will be moving.
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