The Best Board Games at BFIG 2017
For those unfamiliar with BFIG (Boston Festival of Indie Games), it's an annual festival set up at MIT, that focuses on indie designers and their games. It's also worth noting that the games range from finished/ready-to-purchase, to "I made this in my spare time and it's one copy on cardstock and pencil."
WHICH IS WONDERFUL
I spent most of the day in the board game section and had a blast. I've showcased my own games before, but this year I wanted to just play a bunch of things. There's absolutely no way to play everything at the show (I wish they had more space!), so here are my favorites. And if I am connected to the designer, I'll put an asterisk next to their name.
Salvage by Nolan James (The game I enjoyed the most)
This is a 4-player spaceship free-for-all that was fast, fun, and cutthroat. Everyone controls a spaceship in a collapsing galaxy, and you need to grab 4 spaceship parts (matching color or shape) and bring it to a jump point before you all die. Part of it felt like a super-fast Robo-Rally, but it's turn based and you do all the move programming on your turn. I super enjoyed the combat and everyone is constantly stealing ship parts, and I was actually sad that there were no prototype copies for sale. It definitely needed a little polish, but it was immediately fun, and easy to get into.
Pitman by Wild East Games*
From the team that made Pie Rats of the Carob Bean, Pitman will be worth a purchase when it launches. It's a tough one to describe but it mixes bidding, bluffing, dice rolling, and poker elements together in a small package. The idea is that players need to use their hard of 5 cards (which represent dice rolls, guaranteed dice values, or attack/defend cards) to make a dice roll, and if they hit enough dice pips to match their bid, they get that many points. If they lose, everyone else splits the bid. But only one player can roll dice, and other players will be trying to screw with the high bidder.
Yummy Yummy by Lily Ling and Bunny Liao
This game was elegant, straightforward, and enjoyable. The players are gods, controlling floating islands, and a team of 3 animals. Your goal is to eat the other team's animals, while avoiding monsters that are lurking. Animals and monsters follow a simple AI for movement, but the players shift and rotate islands, to help their animals get into a better position to eat people. It didn't seem like the advanced rules had a ton of replay value, but it felt pretty zen and was a nice relaxing game, even though you were trying to devour other creatures.
A unique idea: Battlecats by Gary Chavez
While it was on the complicated side, once I figured out Battlecats I enjoyed it, and had never seen any deck-builder like it. Essentially all the players have a card shop in front of them, and are adding these purchased cards to a single deck in the middle of the table. The table cards are revealed 12 at a time, and in order, you can activate card powers to do things like attack other revealed cards. I only played the demo, but I'm definitely interested in trying out the full game.
CRINIMALS by Abdullah Konash*
Aloft by Eye4Games*
Prototype Leaf Raking Game by Pair of Jacks Games*
I wasn't able to play any of these at BFIG proper, but I playtested them all within the past year, and they were all really fun. CRINIMALS involves cute animals who are criminals, and you're trying to plant enough evidence to send someone else to jail before they do the same to you. Aloft was a really simple 4X game in space that was extremely fast to play, which still feeling like you got a good amount of things done. And the Leaf Raking Game is a game for young children that involves collecting the same type of leaf on your rake, and if you fail, you slam the rake and send the leaves back into the yard.
Fire Tower by Runaway Parade
I was never able to find an opening to play this, but it looked like it was complete, and had a cool theme. The board was a forest and a fire starts in the center and rapidly grows, all while you try to contain it. I had some friends that checked it out and enjoyed it, so there you go!
All in all, the event was a ton of fun, and I always look forward to seeing the new games here at BFIG, in a space that feels way less crowded than PAX East.
P.S. Here's a related article you might enjoy: My experience as a playtester for Seafall