We’ve all been there. We’ve all had those moments where we’ve been out for blood on the board game table. We’ve either had our butts handed to us or we’ve been out to make the game difficult for someone else. It’s part of our competitiveness as homo-sapiens, some more than others (you know who you are!) but deep down we all have that part of us that likes the challenge against other players. It’s human nature.
With that in mind, I thought I would compile a short list of a few of the games that have been particularly competitive for myself, my partner, our friends, and our gaming group (who are also friends, but a special kind of gaming friends who are just totally awesome).
For this list I have tried to stay away from card games, namely because I thought that should be separate, so although some of these board games do include cards – playing cards is not the biggest mechanic in the game.
So, without further ado, prep your game night – we’re talking blood shed on the gaming table.
#1. Hey, That’s My Fish!
When I was first introduced to Hey, That’s My Fish! by a gaming buddy, he gave me fair warning.
“There is no way,” he said, “you are not going to get d*cked over in the game. Everyone is a d*ck.”
And you know what? He was totally right.
Hey, That’s My Fish! is a 2-4 player area control strategy game by Fantasy Flight. The rules are very simple. In the game, you play as a group of penguins who are out to get fish by skating on a large pond. You can move your penguins along the ice and stop anywhere they want, so long as it is in an uninterrupted straight line (so they can’t jump gaps in the board or other penguins). Then, they take the tile they started their movement on and add it to their collection. The more fish on the tile the more that tile is worth at the end of the game.
Everyone wants the big fish in Hey, That’s My Fish! and so everyone heads for those straight away. Soon gaps begin appearing all over the board and eventually you find that you have been boxed in by another player, unable to move and twiddling your thumbs. It’s a fast paced, cruel game, about putting your own need for fish above everyone else. You aren’t just stealing fish, you are slapping them in the face with it and laughing at their new cod endowed face.
Hey, That’s My Fish! is considered a gateway game to strategy games, and it is easy to see how the brain would think about Hey, That’s My Fish! in the same kind of way it would Catan, Carcassonne, or Castles of Burgundy.
What is even better is that Hey, That’s My Fish! is a very cheap game, costing only £9.99 on Amazon UK.
#2. Blood Rage
Blood Rage is a competitive game and a violent one at that. It’s even in the title – BLOOD and RAGE which kind of gives away about a lot about what is going on. There will be blood, and there will be raging.
Blood Rage is a miniature based territory control game, in which the players take control of rival Viking clans. To check out my summary of the full ruleset you can click here, however, for the time being, let’s just say it is about dealing a lot of damage to a lot of people and potentially wrecking their dreams of Valhalla.
To make matters worse, the clans can enlist the help of gods and monsters to ensure their path to victory.
All of these things, on their own, are competitive. Trolls, for instance, smash everything within the same region as them when they enter play. Sea Monsters deal insane amounts of damage. Fire Giants – well, don’t even get me started on Fire Giants!
Then, once the maths have been counted up and the minis are on the board waging all out war on one another, there is a Munchkin-esque card play off round where players can do even more damage to one another. It is vicious.
I mean, look at the size of the troll in the image above. It’s huge and it’s not even the biggest model! Crazy! That being said, it is not the only competitive board game.
#3. Stone Age
It is rare that worker placement games make it onto “incredibly competitive” lists, but I have added Stone Age for a reason. Yes, it is a well thought out strategic game (like Lords of Waterdeep, only, I would argue, more competitive) that can be slow paced and play out like a well-maneuvered three-point-turn; however, worker placement games can get a meta to them that makes them even more competitive than they already are.
Once again, I’m not going to recap the whole rules in this blog, but I have written a review of Stone Age that you can read here.
So, what makes Stone Age so competitive your blood boils? Well, a few things really. Firstly, there are never enough spaces to do everything you want to in a turn. Someone else will always steal the place you want to go, sneaking in before you.
Secondly, everyone is after the same goals. Whereas in Lords of Waterdeep all the players are kind of after the same goals, they do have a twist on them. They do have their own victory conditions that tilt the gameplay one way or another. This can actually mean players are never really going after the same thing. If we’re playing a two player game and you have the lord who likes Skullduggery and Warfare, and I have the lord who likes Arcana and Piety, then we will never really cross paths when it comes to the final goals (yes, I am over simplifying but bear with me).
With Stone Age, everyone needs a bit of everything. Yes, you can favour building Huts (as an example), but you will almost certainly still need Tools, Workers, Agriculture Level, and Cards all the same. You know you need those things to really stand a chance and so everyone goes for them. What is more, once you spot what a player is favouring you can easily begin to block them. I had an unforgiving game recently where I favoured tools, only to have them taken away from me by the other players around five turns in. I hadn’t gathered enough multipliers in that time to win, or even stand a chance, so my demise was brutal.
This is why Stone Age is on this list. It is a worker placement game where it can be cutthroat and involve more knives in the back than a murderous chef at a knife sharpening party. Once you know the game, you can mess with the players, and play them as much as you do the board itself.
I had trouble choosing between a few options for this list; however, there are a few additional ones that came to mind. Most notable though were two games I haven’t overly played in a couple of months and so don’t have pictures for the blog.
Those two games are Ticket to Ride and Terra Mystica. Two amazingly competitive games, one set collecting and one world building (is that a genre/mechanic of gaming?), but both competitive as hell.
SIMILAR ARTICLE: What Are the Best Snacks to Provide for a Game Night? (Aka. My 5 Favourite Gaming Snacks)
So let’s gather a list of the most competitive board games we can think of. What are your top three competitive games? Note, they have to be board games and not card games. Dice games are way out of the question (one for the Monty Python fans out there). Let me know in the comments below.