All I want for christmas… is a well-written rulebook : 10 english boardgames you should play because it’s (mostly) the only choice you have

(Written by Alexandre Poirier)

At the turn of the 21st century, we have witnessed a certain regain of interest regarding the board game industry, the latter being mostly invisible for the last 25 years because of the video game industry. This led to numerous localization of European board games, like The Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne, to name a few, on our side of the Atlantic Ocean and, thus, to various translations in French and English. However, these translations often cost a lot of money and some independent game developers cannot afford these costs, leading to the publishing of these games exclusively in English and making them more accessible because the retail price of the English versions if often lower than the French version. Fortunately for some of us that are bilingual, we can speak both languages and we have the chance to experience these games that are WAY better in Shakespeare’s tongue.

A GAME OF THRONES: THE BOARD GAME.

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The hell is that? 14+, 3-6 players, 2-4 hours. Like the book and the series on HBO, the board game basically uses “Risk-like” mechanics where you have to conquer all of Westeros as one of 6 Houses, while backstabbing all your opponents or, even worse, you friends.

Why should I care? As some of you may know, I’m working in a game store and I had to deal with a couple of customers who wanted a refund because the French translation from Edge Entertainment, the European business partner of Fantasy Flight Games, is completely disgusting with lots of badly-formulated sentences and simple words mistakes. Do yourself a favor, play in English.


BIOSHOCK INFINITE : SIEGE OF COLUMBIA

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The hell is that? 13+, 2-4 players, 1 hour. The players either take control of the Vox Populi or the Founders, as they have to conquer various districts of Columbia, while completing certain quests and dealing with certain events that occurs during the game, such as the disturbing actions of Booker and Elizabeth, the protagonists of the Bioshock Infinite video game.

Why should I care? Plaid Hat Games is a fairly new game developer and some of their games, except for Mice & Mystics and Summoner Wars that are published by Vaudreuil-based Filosofia Games, does not have a translation in French because they tend to be played by a certain niche of geek players.


CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY

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The hell is that? 17+, 4-30 players, 30 minutes. This game is the evil gaming UFO we have all been waiting for. Each turn, each player has to complete the sentence on the black card by using one of his white cards in the most original and disturbing way possible. Usually, this kind of stuff lead to sentences like “Instead of giving coal, Santa now gives the bad children… the primal, ball-slapping sex your parents are having right now.” Yeah, it’s that funny!

Why should I care? Because some of the cards of the game are usually inside jokes from the U.S.A. and translating them in French would be kind of awful, even though the developer will ship you a special expansion pack when you order it from Canada. However, I heard that the Randolph Pub Ludique is working on a Québec-French version.


EPIC SPELL WARS OF THE BATTLE WIZARDS : DUEL AT MT. SKULLZFYRE

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The hell is that? 14+, 2-6 players, 30 minutes. The first part of the game is to say the title a thousand times to find how stupidly awesome it is. The second part of the game is to defeat your opponents (all of you are legendary wizards trying to be the last one standing and the one with the most victories after three games) by combining different cards to create powerful and lethal magical spells.

Why should I care? It’s only in English and I don’t care because the title and the name of the spells are amazingly orgasmic. Go. Play. NOW!


LAST NIGHT ON EARTH

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The hell is that? 12+, 2-6 players, 90 minutes. In a 6-players game, two of them are playing the zombies that are trying to kill all the survivors, while the remaining four players, the survivors, are trying to destroy a certain amount of undeads before the sun rises again, while searching for more efficient weapons and running for their lives.

Why should I care? For fifty bucks, you’re getting A LOT for your money: finely-sculpted miniatures, beautiful artworks made from real photos that makes you feel like you’re in a B-movie and even an original soundtrack that creates the perfect mood you as you’re slaying your opponent. The fan-base of this indie game is so amazing that you can easily find new original scenarios and translations on the interwebs.


MISKATONIC: SCHOOL FOR GIRLS

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The hell is that? 8+, 2-4 players, 1 hour. Simply put, Miskatonic is a deck-building card game set in the Cthulhu universe where each player not only has to build his deck with innocent schoolgirls and cosmic tentacle teachers, but also the deck of his opponents in order to win the game by being the less crazy classroom at the end of the school year. Who would have thought that Lovecraft could be so cute?

Why should I care? Miskatonic has entirely been financed by a Kickstarter campaign, which explains his English-only publishing, but the game rules are fairly simple and you can easily order it from specialized stores like Le Valet d’Coeur.


MUNCHKIN

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The hell is that? 10+, 3-6 players, 90 minutes. Do I really have to explain this game? Seriously? It’s been there for more than 10 years! In Munchkin, you have to get to level 10 before the other players do by kicking doors, beating the crap out of monsters, collecting treasures and, of course, betraying friends and enemies alike, all this in a fantasy-genre card game that makes fun of ConanThe Lord of the Rings and many more.

Why should I care? The fact is there’s not only a fantasy version of Munchkin. Steve Jackson Games also makes a lot fun of Clint Eastwood, Jack Sparrow, Edward Cullen, Captain America and many more. Unfortunately, if you decide to play with the French-version, you will miss all of these great parodies because Edge Entertainment has only translated a small selection of them.


OUTBREAK : UNDEAD

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The hell is that? This is a pen-and-paper role-playing game like Dungeons & Dragons where all the players have to survive a zombie apocalypse. The fun twist is that each player controls himself with stats generated through a Web-based survey. If you ever wondered if you could survive in this flesh-eating hell, this is your chance!

Why should I care? Unlike most RPGs, you only have to buy one book, not a thousand, and the official website gives a lot of free content every Friday. Combined with the almost infinite possibilities offered by the book, this RPG is more than complete.


RISK 2210 A.D.

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The hell is that? 10+, 2-5 players, 5 freakin’ hours (***sigh***).It’s Risk, but set in a post-apocalyptic future where some of the territories (they change each game) cannot be conquered due to high radiations. Each player has special abilities that are randomly drawn in a deck in the beginning of the game and you can also conquer the Moon because-why-the-hell-not. Trust me, it’s more fun than the original game.

Why should I care? Because it seems that Hasbro or Milton-Bradley or whatever-the-name-of-the-company-is couldn’t care less about this game, since it’s too different of the boring Risk so they don’t mind about not translating it. You also get too much stuff for your money, A LOT more than Last Night On Earth, which is usually more expensive than 2210 A.D. Now that’s a good deal!


THE RED DRAGON INN

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The hell is that? 13+, 2-4 players, 45 minutes. Have you ever wondered what happens to a couple of adventurers after a dungeon-raiding quest? Well, they spend their money on beer at the local tavern, of course! While supposedly splitting the gold pieces evenly, each player has to steal the money from the other adventurers with various tricks while making them so drunk that they have to go to sleep, thus leading to not being part of the “financial negotiations” and losing all their precious, shiny stuff.

Why should I care? Because it makes an excellent drinking game if you like! If you just implement a simple rule where you have to drink a shooter each time you lose an Alcohol Point, this could get pretty funny (or awkward). Also, if you buy the other two games, you could play with up to 12 players.

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