GTM #216 - Critical Hits! — Evergreen Board Games
by the GTM Staff

Welcome to Critical Hits, a brand-new advisory resource from Game Trade Magazine. Its purpose is to sift through the mountainous choices you have for great games, and highlight some that no one should be without. Monthly selections will be based on a combination of historical sales, critical acclaim, consumer and retailer feedback, and a little dash of “how could you not have played this!?!” Selections will have a different flavor each month. You’ll see old and new games, as well as varying genres and styles. The idea is to remind you of proven fantastic games that must, Must, MUST be in your collection.

To kick off the Critical Hits initiative, we’d like to focus on the time-tested ‘best games ever’. These are “hobby” games more than 10 years old (but currently in print) that are considered the best of the best.

Straight Up Evergreens: Board Game Edition

Catan - The granddaddy of modern era games! Sure, everyone knows about it, but have you actually played Catan? If you’ve been around board games a while, the answer is probably yes, but if you’re relatively new to the hobby you might not have been introduced. Just know that Catan and it’s 5-6 player companion is one of the most accessible and replayable games ever designed. It’s a wonderful world that keeps growing through multiple expansions, and if your game group or family has somehow overlooked it, don’t! (Catan Studios, Inc., CSI CN3071, $49.00)
Puerto Rico - One of the best games for both family and game groups, Puerto Rico is easy to learn, but mastery takes some time. Choose to be a ship captain, a mayor, a builder, a settler, and more, all to gain prosperity on the newly discovered isle of Puerto Rico. (Rio Grande Games, RGG 195, $44.95)
Ticket to Ride - Possibly the best game of all time to introduce non-gamers to the gaming world. And, who doesn’t like trains? Parents, younger siblings, annoying cousins, and finnicky friends will all “get” Ticket to Ride within seconds. It also has some of the best expansions of any game line. Each with a slightly different mechanic that keeps the game fresh. (Days of Wonder, DOW DO7201, $49.99)
Carcassonne - The classic tile-building game. For those who like a simple rules set with endless playability, Carcassonne is perfect. Use tiles to complete cities, roads, lakes, and pastures, but make sure you’re paying attention to the best ways to score points while you’re building. (Z-man Games, ZMG ZM7810, $34.99)
Dominion - The game that kicked off the deckbuilder market, Dominion is a fantastic blend of cards and medieval domination. Each turn you buy cards to increase and improve your deck’s ability to purchase property. But, be careful… deck management is just as important as buying land. No game collection should be without a good deckbuilder. Why not begin with the one that started it all? (Rio Grande Games, RGG 531, $44.95)
Tsuro - Because it’s an abstract game, Tsuro is often overlooked when building a game library. But, that’s a huge mistake! Tsuro is an incredible example of pure, great game design. Connect pieces on a board and try to force your opponents off. Simple. The last person on the board wins.  Easy to learn, very hard to master. Like Chess or Go… but totally different. (Calliope Games, CLP 020, PI)
Agricola - Worker placement at its best! Gain resources and build your farm. Agricola is one of the oldest and best examples of the Eurogame craze that started in the 80’s. A kinder, gentler way of gaming that is great for families and never gets old, Agricola has proven to be a mainstay of game libraries for many years, and never seems to slow down. (Mayfair Games, MFG 3515, $60.00)