It’s undeniable that some board games just go too long and wear out their welcome. While there isn’t one game that has a Monopoly on this problem (see what I did there?), a long game doesn’t always mean a bad one. In fact, there are some epic titles that require you to put in the time, but produce some of the most exciting, interesting, and rewarding experiences in the gaming world. Here are three of the best.
There is no doubt that Mage Knight is a long game. Even the shorter scenarios can take several hours to play – especially if you have more than two players. With a full compliment of four around the table, you’re looking at 4-5 hours easy. And with some groups, much more than that.
But what it lacks in brevity, it more than makes up for in the epic enjoyment it provides. You start as an incredibly powerful mage knight – a being of near immortality and powerful magic. But that’s just the beginning. From there you amass ever more power as you conquer orc hordes, decimate dragons, enter tombs, explore dungeons, invade keeps, conquer mage towers, visit monasteries, hire soldiers, and ultimately sack cities. As you do, you level up and gain access to powerful new abilities and artifacts.
Mage Knight is magnificent in providing an epic adventuring game. Its open world allows you to explore and make your own path toward victory. And the game length allows you to feel yourself building toward something truly great. While this title will take your whole afternoon or evening, it’ll be worth every second.
The Colonists is a fairly heavy game about building up your own land with farmers and merchants while maintaining ties to the various colonies on the board. Although you can play shorter games consisting of only an era or two, the full game is played out over four separate eras. And while it starts simply, as the eras go by it introduces different types of workers, new goods, and even a new colony.
The Colonists has a central board made up of various tiles. On their turn, the player moves their pawn around and takes whatever action they land on. At first, there are few tiles available and they are easily accessed. But as the game goes on, this central board grows – usually with the newest and best tiles toward the outside. Gradually, managing your placement and turns on the main board becomes critical.
Meanwhile, on your personal board, you try to construct and staff various buildings. They might give you access to special goods or just give you points. But among them are the embassies to the colonies. Depending on how good your relationships are, you get access to powerful abilities. You have to work to improve those abilities, though. So you must decide when getting those added benefits is worth the extra cost in resources and actions.
The Colonists isn’t a short game – especially when playing through all four eras. But you get to see your village build up. You get the satisfaction of watching your farmers turn to citizens who in turn become merchants. Win or lose, you can look over the little village you’ve created with a real sense of satisfaction.
Unlike Mage Knight which includes (relatively) shorter scenarios, and The Colonists which can be played over fewer eras, there is no shortening mechanism for Dominant Species. If you play this, be sure to set aside several hours. You’ll need them. But every one of those hours will be spent in epic enjoyment.
Each player controls a family of animals – such as arachnids, reptiles, or mammals. The board consists of various terrain and food types. Players will try to populate as many tiles as possible and have their species widespread. But the number of pieces on the board is only half the battle. You also want them to be the most adapted to the environment. Only then do you get the bonuses associated with being the dominant species.
But Dominant Species is so much more than a simple dudes-on-a-map style conflict game. You don’t just go around the table taking turns. Instead, there’s a separate phase where all players use tokens to select the actions they want to take each turn. There are few placement areas so competition is fierce. And you don’t have enough tokens to do everything you would want to. Then, those actions are resolved in order. Not only does this provide an interesting constraint on your options, but it allows you insight into your opponents’ plans by watching their placement.
Dominant Species may take all evening to play, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. As with all the games on this list, you’ll look at your watch at the end and be shocked at how much time has passed.
What hours-long epic games do you most enjoy? Tell us about them in the comments.
Image Credits: Wizkids Games, Mayfair Games, and GMT Games
Featured Image Credit: Wizkids Games