Love Letter is a card game where two to four players must battle for the affections of the princess and get their letter to her before anyone else. Love Letter involves a lot of subtle scheming as players draw a card and play a card each turn with effects like looking at other players’ hands, trading hands, or calling out other players’ cards. For only featuring sixteen cards, it’s surprisingly robust and has a lot of replay value. It’s the perfect game for casual and newbies alike.
Carcassonne is a tile-placement game in which the players draw and place a tile with a piece of southern French landscape on it. The tile might feature a city, a road, a cloister, grassland or some combination thereof, and it must be placed adjacent to tiles that have already been played, in such a way that cities are connected to cities, roads to roads, etc. Having placed a tile, the player can then decide to place one of his meeples on one of the areas on it: on a cloister as a monk, or on the grass as a farmer. When that area is complete, that meeple scores points for its owner.
Splendor is a game of chip-collecting and card development. Players are merchants of the Renaissance trying to buy gem mines, means of transportation, shops—all in order to acquire the most prestige points. If you’re wealthy enough, you might even receive a visit from a noble at some point, which of course will further increase your prestige.
On your turn, you may (1) collect chips (gems), or (2) buy and build a card, or (3) reserve one card. If you collect chips, you take either three different kinds of chips or two chips of the same kind. If you buy a card, you pay its price in chips and add it to your playing area. To reserve a card—in order to make sure you get it, or, why not, your opponents don’t get it—you place it in front of you face down for later building; this costs you a round, but you also get gold in the form of a joker chip, which you can use as any gem.
All of the cards you buy increase your wealth as they give you a permanent gem bonus for later buys; some of the cards also give you prestige points. In order to win the game, you must reach 15 prestige points before your opponents do.
Gobblet Gobblers Junior plays the same as Gobblet, but features a smaller 3×3 board (instead of a 4×4 board) with fewer pieces.
Your goal in Gobblet Junior is to place three of your pieces in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal row. Your pieces can stack on top of each other and they start the game nested, off the board. On a turn, you either play one exposed piece from your three off-the-board piles or move one piece on the board to any other spot on the board where it fits. A larger piece can cover any smaller piece.
Your memory is tested as you try to remember which color one of your larger pieces is covering before you move it. As soon as a player has three like-colored pieces in a row, he wins — except in one case: If you lift your piece and reveal an opponent’s piece that finishes a three-in-a-row, you don’t immediately lose; you can’t return the piece to its starting location, but if you can place it over one of the opponent’s two other pieces in that row, the game continues.
Shards of Infinity combines an unprecedented level of strategy and customization into one small box. Rather than competing for points, players must outlast their opponents and reduce their health to zero, which can be done in a number of ways. Each player starts the game with a basic deck of cards, and they can acquire new cards from a central display of six cards (as in Ascension) and add these new cards to their deck or use them immediately, depending on what they are.
Every character starts with fifty health and zero mastery. On each turn, you can spend one gem (a.k.a., money) to gain a mastery point. The more mastery you have, the more powerful your cards become. This lets even the weak cards in your starting deck become more powerful as the game progresses. If you reach a total of thirty mastery, you can activate your Infinity Shard, which instantly defeats your opponent.
As you acquire new cards, you can employ allies and champions to craft your strategy. Mercenary cards can be added to your deck as in other deck-building games or they can be played immediately from the center row for their ability; this adds even more drama to each player’s turn as a key mercenary flip can alter the very outcome of the game!