Welcome to Which Game First where we boldly explore the hilariously huge world of board games. Did we unearth any hidden treasures you’ve been missing out on? Let’s find out!

First: We use our pencils as hiking sticks as we roll and write our way up the Himalayas in Trek 12
Next: We take our blood thirsty clans to the streets in a fang laden battle royale in Vampire: The Masquerade – Rivals Expandable Card Game
Lastly: Our armies traipse across Spain building influence and castles in El Grande

Trek 12

Designed by: Bruno Cathala, Corentin Lebrat
Published by: Lumberjacks Studio (2020)
Players: 1 – 50!
Ages: 8 & up
Playing time: 15 – 30 min

Trek 12 is a roll-and-write alpinism themed game. To score points, you have to create chains of consecutive numbers from 0 to 12 and areas of the same number.

A game is composed of 19 rolls of two six-sided dice, with one die having values from 1 to 6, and the other from 0 to 5. After each roll, the player must combine both die values to obtain the number to place. You can:

  • Add the values of the two dice
  • Subtract the value of one die from the other
  • Multiply the value of the two dice
  • Keep the higher value of the two dice
  • Keep the lower value of the two dice

Be careful as you may choose each of these options at most four times during a game. After placing your first number on the game sheet, you must place each subsequent number in a space adjacent to one already filled. You try to make chains and develop areas. Players also have access to several bonus elements to earn during a game.

At the end of a game, numbers that belong to neither a chain nor an area give you minus points. The player with the most points and claims the title of legendary alpinist!

Vampire: The Masquerade – Rivals Expandable Card Game

Designed by: Dan Blanchett, Matt Hyra
Published by: Renegade Game Studios (2021)
Players: 2 – 4
Ages: 14 & up
Playing time: 30 – 70 min

In Vampire: The Masquerade Rivals Expandable Card Game, each player plays with a Deck of Cards featuring a Clan from Vampire: The Masquerade Lore.

At the beginning of each player’s turn, a new challenge or objective will be revealed in the streets. Each player gets two actions on their turn such as draw or play cards, recruit vampires, claim a title, or attack! The other clans will oppose you for dominance in the streets or directly in haven.

Defeat your rival, or gain 13 Agenda Points to win the game and claim dominance over San Francisco.

El Grande

Designed by: Wolfgang Kramer, Richard Ulrich
Published by: Hans im Glück & Rio Grande Games (1995)
Players: 2 – 5
Ages: 12 & up
Playing time: 60 – 120 min

In El Grande, players take on the roles of Lords in medieval Spain, vying for control of the various regions of the country. Your job is to draft caballeros into your court and subsequently move them onto the board to seize control of regions. 

There are nine rounds in a game, although there is a quick game of six rounds. 

In each of the rounds, you select one of your 13 power cards to determine turn order as well as the number of caballeros you get to move from the provinces (general supply) into your court (personal supply).

Then select one of five action cards which allow variations to the rules and additional scoring opportunities in addition to determining how many caballeros to move from your court to one or more of the regions on the board (or into the castillo – a secretive tower). Normally, you may only place your caballeros into regions adjacent to the one containing the king pawn. The one hard and fast rule in El Grande is that nothing may move into or out of the king’s region. One of the five action cards that is always available each round allows you to move the king to a new region. The other four action cards vary from round to round.

The goal is to have a caballero majority in as many regions as possible during a scoring round. Following the scoring of the castillo, you place any cubes you had stashed there into the region you had secretly indicated on your region dial. Each region is then scored individually according to a table printed in that region. Two-point bonuses are awarded for having sole majority in the region containing your Grande (large cube) and in the region containing the king.

After every third round, the regions are scored, and after the ninth round, the player with the most points is the winner. El Grande, Ariba!

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