When planning your International Tabletop Day festivities, it’s important to have the right game for your situation. Whether your gathering is large or small, competitive or cooperative, there are dozens of great titles to choose from. But perhaps the greatest workhorse in gaming right now is Orleans – especially once you combine it with its first expansion, Invasion.
Orleans is an intriguing blend of worker placement and deck building. Think Agricola meets Dominion. You start with only four workers, all of which get placed in your bag. From there, you draw them and then play them on your board, taking various actions.
Many of the actions get you more or different workers to add to your bag. There are seven total in the game. But each of them also gives you a special bonus. Grabbing a Knight lets you increase the number of tokens you can take from your bag each turn. Craftsman let you permanently place a token on any site so that it is easier to activate. And Boatmen can grab you some coins. But as you grab them, your bag will soon balloon with a ton of new guys in there.
The really interesting thing is that you can’t just go down a single path and hope to find success. Let’s say you try to rush out all the Knights so that you can maximize your hand size quickly. That’s good in theory, but then your bag is filled with knights. You’ll draw much more than you can use and will end up wasting precious turns. As a result, the key is to build toward your strategy, but build in a way that consistently gives you the right variety of workers each turn.
Orleans works from two to four players. It’s also the kind of game that ends a few turns before you are ready. Just as you begin to feel like you have a finely tuned bag of workers, when you are ready to accomplish all of your goals, hopes, and dreams, you look over and see that there are only three turns left. Orleans seems to go by crazy fast and if you aren’t focused, you’ll miss it.
It’s a good game and all, but by itself its just one experience of many out there. But that all changes with the expansion. Invasion makes Orleans one of the most versatile games available today – and certainly one that can find enjoyment with almost any group. It includes six new modules for play. A new competitive one, a cooperative scenario, a two-player version, and three solo experiences.
If competitive is your group’s desire, then Invasion brings the Prosperity scenario. In addition to everything from the base game, you also get the Craftsman. He’s a special dude that moves around the map and allows you to build new structures. Building structures is now an important aspect of the game and makes the spacial element so much more important.
If you enjoy cooperative play, then the eponymous Invasion scenario is for you. All of the players try to prepare the city for a looming threat. Now, instead of simply grabbing points for yourself, you’ll try to donate to the cities defenses, coins, and food stores. Each player will also get a special task that they have to complete – and all players have to complete their own unique special task or everyone loses. It’s amazing how a few changes can take a highly competitive game and use essentially the same system to get everyone working together.
If you are celebrating with just one partner, then the Duel module is the way to go. It takes the whole game, designed for multi-player competitiveness, and streamlines it down to a head-to-head brawl. There are now specific actions that you will compete for very directly.
Finally, some people have to celebrate ITTD without a gaming group. And, yet again, Invasion is the answer. It includes three different solo play versions that you can try. Each tweaks the rules in important ways and gives you new and different challenges. If you are playing alone, Orleans has you covered there, too.
So whatever your circumstance on Tabletop Day, Orleans is very likely to meet your needs. It may not be the only game you’ll play that day, but it should be able to create joy among almost any group of gamers.
What games are you most looking forward to on ITTD? Tell us about it in the comments.
Image Credits: Tasty Minstrel Games and dlp games
Featured Image Credit: Tasty Minstrel Games