Crusaders Games


The list is for more complex strategic games, taking longer to complete or comprising a deeper level of rules understanding and knowledge of certain strategies to compete well. These selections stand out for theme and gameplay, however i rarely own these myself. I do like games which have different starting factions to explore, so here are my current recommendations.

1. Spirit Island – Greater Than Games (2017)

This is a strategic co-operative game where your island is being invaded by colonists and players use different spirits to help the natives fight them off. Each spirit has its own theme and core strength such as earth, river, fire, nightmares and combining their powers together will be key to your success. This game is fairly deep, you must initially control your own area of the board, expanding and building your powers over the course of the game, giving a real feeling of progression. You can try out alternative powers and combinations, plus there are varied map configurations you can try, and with the different spirits there is a huge amount of replay value.  The invaders actions are visible in advance which enables you to plan ahead and there are alternative ways to win the game.  The design of this game is really clever, it has an excellent solo game too and it has become my preferred strategic game for one to two players.

2. Caverna – 999 Games (2013)

A worker placement game where each player builds his farm and excavates his dwelling cave to build his unique area. This is a game of massive choice and different strategies, and there is so much to do and many different ways to compete in this game, from growing crops, keeping animals, jewel mining and adventuring. The theme is family friendly, although it can take a while to set up, and with so many choices is right at the top end of what a family may cope with playing. This was the follow up to the famous Agricola and makes you ponder each move, with nice little animal meeples, you will always get a warm feeling of having built a cool farm at the end of the game.


3. Great Western Trail – Stronghold Games (2016)

A worker placement game set in the 19th century, where as a rancher you will herd cattle from Texas to Kansas. You have many choices in this game from collecting the best herd, to hiring cowboys or engineers, building new locations on the trail, and then expanding your rail network, and there is a clever balance between them all.  Movement feels unrestricted, you can pass by locations quickly to get around the board, but every space will tempt you with something useful. This game is not overly complex in rules, although there are a lot of alternative options to consider.  It is one of the best of its kind.


4. Tzolk’in – CGE Games (2012)

Players representing different Mayan tribes and will be placing their workers on a board containing giant connected gears. The gears will rotate each round taking the workers to different action spots, and staying on a gear longer will yield greater rewards, but they do also tie you down, so you there is also an offset cost involved. This game is all about timing your way on and off the cogs and there are many paths to victory, almost too many. The mechanic here is different enough to make it memorable against other placement games and lifts it out of the pack.

5. Lancaster – Queen Games (2011)

A knight placement game set in 1413, where players take the role of an ambitious aristocratic family aiming to become the best ally of the new king of England.  You develop status by deploying your knights in the counties of England, building their own castle, or even helping at conflicts with France. The core of game revolves around parliament, where you will try to push through the laws that benefit you the most, and mixes this with strategy choices. Knight conflicts for key locations are common, although holding territory is ultimately not the main aim of the game. This is a slightly more complex than a family game, but not overly so, and does provide a wargame feel with a worker placement mechanism.


6. Scythe – Stonemaier Games (2016)

A worker placement economic board game set in an alternate history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, where players take an Eastern Europa faction, each having unique starting set ups and abilities. You conquer hex territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, build structures, and activate mechs, and expand across the world map, occasionally fighting other factions for territory and building up economic power. This game feels complex, but round mechanics are repeated and you can soon get into a flowing game, but there are so many options, you always feel spoilt for choice. The artwork and style of the game is fabulous.

7. War Of The Ring 2nd Edition – Ares (2012)

A two player wargame set in Lord of the Rings where the Free Peoples take on the might of the Shadow Armies. With two asymmetrical sides, players will play on a huge map of middle earth, taking over strongholds to gain victory points. The shadow player has numerical advantage, but the free peoples have the fellowship with special abilities, and has an alternative win condition by destroying the ring. There is a cool mechanism where the Ringbearer is hidden for periods of the game while Sauron has to hunt for him. The game combines special action dice with event cards, and has captured the story amazingly well into a strategy game. It is complex, and the game length is significantly long, however there are many options and combinations that games will be different. If you want a wargame with a fantasy setting then this should be explored.


8. Blood Rage – Cmon (2015)

This game has lovely miniatures and can be played in under two hours and isn’t overly rules heavy. You command a clan of vikings who gain glory by claiming territory, winning or losing battles and completing quests. It contains a number of different mechanic elements from initial card drafting to placement of warriors on a map, upgrading them, or obtaining monsters to fight for you. You will also need to balance your clan status between gaining extra rage, improving the glory you get from battles and the number of warriors you can use each turn. This is a fun game with great models and theme, however some combinations are very powerful so runaway winners can often happen.

Other Strategy Games I Want To Try Out… 

Viticulture, Russian Railroads