America’s reputation these days isn’t so great, and for some very good reasons. But in today’s Top 6 list we’re going to take a look at 6 American themed games that remind us of some our country’s prouder moments. Beautiful landscapes, scientific and technological marvels, railroad and industry tycoons, and of course the iconic American cowboy.
America from Bezier Games is a fun-filled party game about being right, or at least being close enough. It’s trivia for people who know some things, but not everything. And let’s be honest, no one wants to play games with people who know everything anyway right?
In America players are asked 3 questions from a card which are thematically tied. For example: 1) What year was Close Encounters released (1977) , 2) In what state is Devil’s Tower located (Wyoming), 3) What was the length of the original theatrical release (135 minutes). Players place their markers on the board to indicate their guesses, and as long as you’re close to the right answer you still get points.
America is a great example of a fun filled casual game you can play with your friends. It plays in just a few rounds which means you can fit it in between longer games, or at the beginning and end of a game night. Don’t worry so much about getting all the answers right though. Just make sure you get more answers right than Cameron…because Cameron is a know-it-all.
Rolling America from Gamewright Games is a wonderful puzzly game themed around a pixelated looking map of the United States. Certainly some liberties were taken with the “map”, but let’s look past that shall we? 😀
Rolling America is a retheme of the Hisashi Hayashi game Rolling Japan, originally released in 2014. In this game players take turns pulling 2 dice from a bag containing 7 differently colored dice. After rolling the dice, all players must write the value of each die into the sections on their scoresheet matching the die color (roll an orange 4,write a 4 in the orange section). However each new number you place must be within 1, up or down, of any other space it touches. As play goes on, the options narrow drastically until, in later rounds, players are faced with difficult choices about where to mark.
Thankfully Rolling America offers some ways to account for lady luck. Players have a limited number of powerups they can deploy during the game. They can choose to change the color of any die, to “guard” a space (which allows them to write any number they choose without consequence), or to duplicate a die and write it in twice. Once 6 dice are on the table, all of them go back into the bag and the next round begins.
Rolling America is a fun, portable, and simple game that people of all ages can enjoy. Plus it’s fairly inexpensive; a great combination.
Great Western Trail
There’s something about the Great American West that has tantalized our conscience in television, literature, and movies. Great Western Trail is the euro game manifestation of this portion of our shared experience, and like so many of the best euros, it latches itself on to one of the least exciting portions of the theme, in this case – cattle herding.
Like so many other games by Alexander Pfister, the decisions seem like a simple choice of a few available actions, but from that simplicity, the true depth of the game emerges. Every action you can take along the cattle trail gives you enticing options – improve your hand of cattle, build a useful building along your route, or hire some much needed crew. However, the more actions you take, the longer it takes to complete your main objective: delivering cattle to Kansas City as many times as possible.
The brilliance of the game having to balance speeding through to make as many cattle deliveries before the game ends, with slowing down to take the best action options along the route. If you’re looking for a crunchy, deep game for your Fourth of July celebration, take a look at Great Western Trail.
World’s Fair: 1893
In 1893, Chicago played host to one of the largest collections of technological marvels the world had ever seen. The World’s Fair in 1893 celebrated the achievements that made America a powerhouse on the world stage: architecture, industrialism, and fine arts. Built on grounds that covered more than 600 acres, the World’s Fair featured more than 200 buildings, lagoons, and other attractions. One of the most notable and visible of which was the world’s first Ferris Wheel around which the game World’s Fair: 1893 is based.
In World’s Fair: 1893 players act as event organizers attempting to attract the masses to their exhibits: Transportation, Manufacturing, Fine Arts, Agriculture, and Electricity. In World’s Fair players collect sets of cards which can be traded in for points; but only if they also control the area which matches the cards. This game requires players to constantly plan several steps ahead to make sure to stay in the lead. Focus too much in a single area of the game and you risk falling behind at exactly the wrong time.
World’s Fair: 1893 is not only a fun game, but it’s full of interesting facts and information. The exhibit cards you’ll use to gain points feature actual details about exhibits shown at the event. And there are 23 Influential Figures which feature some of the most prominent people of the time including Bertha Palmer, George Davis, Charles Schwab, and one of my very own ancestors Cyrus McCormick Jr. (inventor of the McCormick Reaper).
American Railroads isn’t a stand-alone game, but instead it’s an expansion for the brilliant worker placement game Russian Railroads. It builds on top of the system found in it’s parent game and adds new player boards, a stock market, and other additional options.
In American Railroads players attempt to build out 3 railroad lines: the Rocky Mountaineer, the Transcontinental West and the Transcontinental East. As players claim spots on the main player board they unlock valuable bonuses and the ability to lay down increasingly more valuable rail lines. Players can also focus on building on their industry track which will unlock other bonuses. American Railroads adds rail line blockages, and the ability to join the West and the East line with the Golden Spike. The stock market allows players to receive periodic dividend payouts from the market based on actions on the board.
The base game Russian Railroads is one of my favorite games. It’s so thematic, literally building the rail lines your locomotives use to travel from one end to the other. Both Russian Railroads and American Railroads require players to have their hands in every aspect of the game, Ignore any one section of the board and your opponents could steam ahead of you to victory.
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is one of the most successful games of all time, and one which celebrates the Gilded Age of the US and the extensive passenger railway system of the late 1800s and early 1900s; when American pride and industry were strong, and the economy was booming.
In Ticket to Ride players attempt to create rail connections between disparate cities across the country. Connect St. Louis to Salt Lake City and score points, connect New Orleans to New York and gain even more. Fill up the board with your pieces before your opponents can claim valuable railways and force you to reroute. Do you go for high point value individual routes, or do you gain incremental points along the way and shoot for bonuses at the end for having the longest connected route?
Ticket to Ride is not only a great game, but it’s also partly responsible for the resurgence of board gaming over the past decade. And to think we have a Brit to thank for a wonderful game about the United States; thanks Alan Moon!
Statue of liberty:
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