First up, we zoom through hostile alien-infested quadrants by the seat of our pants in — Space Alert!

Next, we build the civilizations of our forebears from scratch, in Imperial Settlers.

And lastly, we monopolize properties in that other game . . . Finance!

Space Alert

Designed by: Vlaada Chvátil
Published by:
Czech Games Edition (2008)
1 – 5
12 & up
Playing time:
30 min

Space Alert is a cooperative game where each player is a crew member aboard a spaceship, on a mission for the corporation. There is a captain, comms officer, security officer and . . . well, whoever else showed up before launch. During the mission the players are notified of various internal and external threats, IN REAL TIME, represented by a running audio recording. While listening, players will have to plan their responses out in real time by laying down movement and action cards on a board in front of them. Actions include things like launching fighter ships or rockets, boosting shields, and firing plasma cannons. Once the recording is done running, and all actions have been planned, there is a resolution phase where players walk through their plan to see if it worked. If the players have planned well, they will succeed in defeating all threats and jumping successfully to hyperspace (thus successfully completing the mission). If the players did not plan well, they fail and their ship will likely blow up. But don’t worry . . . I’m sure the corporation will have a nice ceremony for their friends and family back home. 

Imperial Settlers

Designed by: Ignacy Trzewiczek
Published by:
Portal Games (2014)
1 – 4
10 & up
Playing time:
45 – 90 min

Imperial Settlers is a card game that lets players lead one of four factions (Romans, Barbarians, Egyptians and Japanese) that have discovered new lands, new resources and new opportunities. They discover that this land is far too small for everybody; and so, the war begins…

Players will expand their empires over five rounds, during which they perform actions to explore new lands, erect buildings, gather resources, engage in trade, conquer enemies — and of course, score victory points! The settlers are on their way. Lead them to victory!


Designed by: Dan Layman
Published by:
Parker Brothers (1932)
2 – 6
8 & up
Playing time:
120 min

Finance was one of Monopoly’s predecessors. So if you know Monopoly, you pretty much know how to play this game.

Each payer starts with $1925. Properties run clockwise around the board. The prices of the properties steadily increase the farther along you go. If you land on unowned property, you can buy it. Want to build a house on that property for higher rent when other players land on your space? Great! Once you’ve gone around the board once, you can put additional houses on any properties you own.

Players may trade properties (or sell them back to the bank). Unlike Monopoly, there is no mortgaging in Finance. If a player is unable to pay, all their property is returned to the bank, and the player is out.

All players roll two dice at the start of every turn. If you roll doubles, you go again, with no hard limit of turns! (That’s right, you keep taking new turns as long as you keep rolling doubles.) 

If a player lands on another player, the original player moves back five spaces, with the same effect as if the player had landed on that space originally. The game continues until only one player is left. 

An alternate rule establishes a time limit and players total up their wealth – but who wants a time limit when you can play this game for days on end??

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