Top New Zealand-Made Tabletop Games
In our recent video I looked into New Zealand designed and produced board games. What follows is the readable version of that video. If you prefer to read your gaming news, then this is for you!
Board gaming has seen a massive growth in popularity over the past decade and we’re fortunate here in New Zealand to have a number of talented kiwi board game designers and creators who share Game Kings’ passion for awesome games. Today, we’re going to take a look at a few of our favourites, including some titles cooked up right here at Game Kings.
First up is actually a collection of games from Shem Phillips of Garphill Games. Shem's North Sea and West Kingdom trilogies have frequently featured among the most popular worker placement games in the industry and their distinctive art style and rewarding gameplay make them popular favourites among board gamers around the world. From the accessible Raiders of the North Sea through to the deep gameplay of Viscounts of the West Kingdom, Shem has continued to evolve the worker placement space, proving to be a master of the genre. Not only are these games a joy to play, they also offer amazing value in a package that won't overload your shelves. Like a Viking longship loaded with plunder, these boxes practically burst at the seams with an abundance of colourful wooden meeples, linen finished cards and thick, chunky player boards. The way Shem continues to squeeze all this stuff into such small packages suggests he may, in fact, be a Time Lord.
Raiders of the North Sea by Garphill Games
If you've never played any of the North Sea or West Kingdom series before I recommend starting with Raiders of the North Sea. It's not too daunting for newcomers and should still provide a challenge for more experienced players. If you're looking for a midrange challenge, then Architects of the West Kingdom would be a great fit, you get an obscene amount of meeples to place and you can even take other player's workers into custody, making it perfect for playing with those mates you don't particularly care for!
Cheap Sheep Games
Next up is Sven Obermaier. Sven's company, Cheap Sheep Games, publishes Crimopolis, a 2-5 player game with elements of tile placement, area control and hand management, set in the 1930's era city named, you guessed it, Crimopolis, where small time gangsters try to make a name for themselves. Players gain prestige points by completing jobs, taking out rival gangsters and playing fortune cards to further their standing in the crime riddled streets. I mean, to be fair, if you name your city after crime, you've pretty much brought any resulting trouble upon yourself.
Pictured: A hard working family man probably.
Utilising a unique, clock-based action system, players have seven in-game hours to complete each of their turns. Wannabe gangsters need to plan and prioritise their turns to get the best BANG for their buck... and their Tommy guns! But the real star of this crime stopper is the church. This gorgeous 3D building sits at the head of the table like an overweight mob boss silently overseeing the proceedings. It's here that players keep track of their prestige points, as well as a tally of their hits by placing tombstones housed in the church onto their coloured space in the graveyard which, in turn, adds to that player's score at the end of the game.
The learning curve for Crimopolis isn't steep, and the gameplay is fast and fluid, players track time for the player to their right, so there's very little down time in the game, ensuring all players remain engaged in the action. Crimopolis is ideal for both casual and experienced board gamers, so it's a great fit for any game night. The game is competitive, so be ready for an evening of negotiation, smack talk and friendly rivalry. And remember, it's nothing personal it's just business.
Cheeky Parrot Games
Julia Schiller from Cheeky Parrot Games has created and introduced an impressive catalogue to the Aotearoa board game community.
Whether claiming a design credit for games such as Hoard and Raid the Pantry, or aiding in the distribution of games like Galilean Moons by kiwi designer, Lukus Adam, or Oaxaca by overseas designers Sarah and Will Reed, Julia has broadened the collective palate of New Zealanders and enabled them to experience a wider range of fun, imaginative games.
Popular offerings from Cheeky Parrot Games
Julia has even worked in partnership with Amanda Milne to form SchilMil Games, publisher of Martin Wallace's AuZtralia, and it's upcoming expansions, TaZmania and Revenge of the Old Ones. Featuring a world where Cthulhuian creatures have set their sights on overrunning the Land Down Under, never has any game so accurately captured a day in the life of the average Australian. Will Cthulhu finish what 2020 began? Yes... yes he most likely will. Spoilers for 2021! All hail Mighty Cthulhu!
This next developer may come as a surprise to some, as Weta Workshop is most famously known for being a world leading special effects studio. But in addition to bringing fantastic worlds and creatures to life on the big screen, it seems their artistic talents know no bounds as, in recent years, they'd dabbled in the world of tabletop gaming. Weta Workshop's first entry being GKR Heavy Hitters. A game of corporate-owned heavy mech combat set in an alternative world where corporations run everything and spar for the last remaining resources in the ruins of civilisation. Yes, that's right... “alternative” world.
The attention to detail is impressive; the mechs boast unique heavy industrial designs that appear both functional and menacing, while still managing to portray a sense of satire appropriate to the tone Weta Workshop was aiming for. The fact that the large mech minis come fully painted means gamers can enjoy these colourful battles right out of the box.
GKR Heavy Hitters by Weta Workshop
Combat is decided by cards representing the various offensive and defensive systems of the mechs each with their own initiative rating. Cards are played simultaneously by all players involved in a given battle and then resolved in decreasing order of the cards in play. Do you let loose a volley of fast, but somewhat weaker attacks, or stand your ground and take a pounding before unleashing a hailstorm of heavy weapons fire? Each player's deck doubles as the mech's hit points, so the more damage they take, the more systems they lose until they're finally destroyed.
The stuff epic mech battles are made of
This system captures the essence of piloting these building sized behemoths. Watching systems go offline one by one, while holding on to the hope that you'll manage one final, Hail Mary attack that will take down your opponent and allow you to claim the precious resources these greedy corporations crave. You see, these skyscrapers aren't just for show. Each building represents an area of control that the players are vying for by placing their tokens on the rooftops during combat until the structure is destroyed, thereby allowing them to salvage the remains. The use of smaller support units, such as scout drones, and repair droids adds further depth and a greater sense of strategy to the game. Learning how best to manage your units and knowing when and where to deploy them can make the difference between victory or defeat. The game can take up to four players and includes rules for a solid solo mode if, like me, you don't have any friends.
Game Kings Studio
If you're reading this, you're already aware of Game Kings as a board game store, but did you know we also produce a range of games of our own design?
The first of these is Kiwis Versus Morality, Game Kings' homegrown take on the popular party game genre. Together with the Black Box and COVID-19 expansions, you'll be well equipped to judge how funny, creative, or deranged your gaming group is.
Kiwis Versus Morality. Serving suggestion only.
But it’s not all judging and parties. Game Kings are also passionate about supporting Kiwis to learn Te Reo and as such, our best selling game series, Tākaro is our way of encouraging this essential aspect of Aotearoa's identity. Tākaro aids in expanding your Te Reo vocabulary, and fosters the self-confidence to use it in day to day conversation. There's even an app to help you with your pronunciation. Our recent Koha for Kura initiative sought to gift a copy of Tākaro to every primary school in New Zealand for each copy sold. Even though we fell short of our goal by the end of the programme, we're still going ahead and supplying Tākaro to each of the 2,556 schools nationwide because we believe in the importance of this initiative, no jokes, just a genuine passion for bringing people together through gaming.
Thanks for reading and see you next time. Ka kite!
My Game of the Week: Crimopolis