The Laurels: Best Daredevil Games Of 2017

The Cardboard Republic has rolled out the annual Laurels of the Republic awards, celebrating the best new games released in 2017 for each of the gamer archetypes. What follows are the finalists for one of those groups. 

DaredevilLargeAlways the penultimate gamblers, Daredevils like living on the edge. This group adheres to the idea of high risk and high reward, never letting a silly thing like failure get in their way of possible victory – or a good time. That said, this group doesn’t avoid or dislike strategy either. Rather, they’re just far more willing to take chances for a better payoff, be it on the battlefield or the board room. Essentially, Daredevils like to win, but they want to do it on their terms. They adore games giving them a wide variety of options to cross the finish line, and if they have to embrace a bit of luck to accomplish that, then so be it!

And with that, here are The 2017 Laurel Finalists for Daredevils:


Honorable Mention: The Colonists

Publisher: Mayfair Games / Lookout Games | Players: 1-4 | Play Time: 30-360 Minutes

Despite it being one of the most blasé themes in all of gaming, with a name that rivals The Game for most obvious namesake, The Colonists is a solid civilization game worth taking a look at. So pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable as you embark on civ-builder with a massive scope but intimate appeal, in what is best described as Sim City Unplugged.

In this game, players are mayors of their respective villages whose job is to look towards the future. Your objective is to plan, foster growth, and carefully guide your new home from basic settlement to a bustling town full of educated, happily employed citizens.

How you decide to accomplish that will largely be left up to you. With scalable options for both difficulty and time commitment, The Colonists provides a crunchy yet manageable civ game that has copious actions to choose from and quite a few different strategic paths to explore. You have to manage resources, build and upgrade your infrastructure, and ensure that everyone who wants to move to your miniaturized Pleasantville has adequate space to live and work.

The Colonists is an ambitious game that undeniably requires thinking ahead and envisioning the bigger picture. What makes it worthy of mention for Daredevils is the impressive flexibility you have during that undertaking. The game is heavily mechanics-driven, true, but it leaves the order and style of how you want to use those mechanics to achieve victory up to the players. Thanks to a massive array of possible decisions to make, The Colonists bestows the freedom to try different strategies and see what works. Between hefty components, depth of replayability, and the means of experimenting with different village buildouts, this is surely the kind of meaty Euro game Daredevils will consider sitting down for.


The Nominees


Number Five: Sol: Last Days of a Star

Publisher: Elephant Laboratories | Players: 1-5 | Play Time: 45-90 Minutes

We’re not going to lie: there is something oddly fulfilling about hurling your pilots into the center of the sun as a viable strategy in a game where your main goal is…trying to get away from the sun.

Such is one of the most flavorful inversions around with Sol: Last Days of a Star. In this space-based catch-22, players are evacuating their planets in a solar system containing a dying star. After many successful years of harnessing the sun’s energy, the star is collapsing and due to go supernova at any time. To avoid their inevitable fate, players are attempting to pilot massive colony ships away from harm. The problem is, the only energy source large enough to get those Death Star sized engines going is the sun itself.

Mother Nature can take one last hit for the team, right?

Thus the race is on as players spend turns siphoning as much energy as they can from the sun via smaller ships and solar structures. Converting energy into ship momentum is the only goal here. Sometimes this means boring closer to the sun for more efficient harvesting, and sometimes it’s tossing your units into the core in a desperate gambit for quick momentum boosts. The more momentum you generate aids your chances of winning, but it also simultaneously speeds up the sun’s demise.

In Sol, you never quite know when the end will come, forcing you to make ever more risky moves. It’s a charmingly thematic game where careful planning and tactical posturing inevitably gives way to perilous gambits as everyone scrambles for every scrap of energy. In Sol, playing it safe will get you killed, putting this title squarely in the Daredevil’s wheelhouse. For them, finding out whose maneuvers will work will be well worth the hazard pay.


Number Four: Dice Forge

Publisher: Libellud / Asmodee | Players: 2-4 | Play Time: 45 Minutes

One of the biggest misconceptions about Daredevils is the belief they’re going to be favorable to a game solely because it has luck in it. In reality, it’s not that this group loves completely every unpredictable outcome. Rather, it’s that they’re much more willing to incorporate the unknown into their choices and strategies. And if they can manipulate those outcomes, all the better.

Fortunately, Dice Forge is a lightweight dice crafting game that’s all about trying to do exactly that and does it by taking luck mitigation to creative new design territory. In this dice chucking exercise, instead of finding ways to alter the results of the two dice you roll each turn into something more favorable, the game simply removes the middleman and goes right to the source: letting you modify the dice themselves.

Over the span of this game players will repeatedly purchase and upgrade their dice with removable die faces, allowing you to customize your odds of rolling different outcomes each turn. Whether that’s to boost your income, stockpile the two core resources needed to collect valuable VP cards, or merely to obtain VP directly, is entirely up to you. This ingenious concept shifts the standard focus of reacting to dice outcomes into being proactive instead, giving you a whole new degree of control over your dice-based destiny.

Slightly. They are still dice after all.

Dice Forge is not a highly complex game, but its novel concept of removable die faces and the ability to influence dice rolling without making it routinely predictable certainly appeals to Daredevils. They’ll enjoy experiencing the aesthetic of observing different outcomes each game based on their permutation choices and whether their choices will reward them…or continue to obey the capricious will of Lady Luck.


Number Three: Cutthroat Kingdoms

Publisher: AEG | Players: 3-6 | Play Time: 90-150 Minutes

Intrigue. Warfare. Shifting political alliances and arranged marriages. These are the hallmark of pretty much every fictional setting involving a medieval style court, from the cultural zeitgeist hit that is Game of Thrones to here, with Cutthroat Kingdoms. Taken as a combination of tacit realization that civilization actually went through such a period, as well as the ease for storytelling embellishment, many are continually fascinated with a world that’s at once foreign and exciting.

At least from afar.

Look, there’s a host of reasons why we may love medieval themes even if zero percent of us actually would want to live back then. (Spoiler: you wouldn’t.)

Cutthroat Kingdoms allows you to get your fill of these pitched battles and active negotiation in a condensed and appealing way. In this game of bold action, area control, and player interaction, players are various houses vying for control of the throne. You accomplish this by collecting the most points, which mostly revolves around controlling territory. The more territory, the more potential for points. As such, most of the game involves attacking your neighbor, or finding ways to bribe them so you can proceed to attack their neighbor instead. Combat and deal-making in the game are public and plentiful in this land of simple maneuvering and rampant opportunism.

Cutthroat Kingdoms also has a canny knack for upending those who prefer long term planning, from random events each turn to Royal Weddings where players can team up, to an endgame Feast where you try to give extra points to yourself while trying to secretly go all Red Wedding on your enemies. Instead, it mixes cunning, negotiation, and randomness together in a way that forces you to be fluid with both your plans and ambitions, making this precisely the kind of palace Daredevils will want to hold court.


Number Two: Battlestations: Second Edition

Publisher: Gorilla Games | Players: 1-9 | Play Time: 60-240 Minutes

Captain, our engines are shot and the enemy is closing in. Orders?

Do we still have that quarantined room of ill-tempered monkeys?

Yes sir.

Then quickly now, get them to the transporters!

While you might not run into that exact scenario in the long standing fan-favorite Battlestations, this is one title that easily lives up to its reputation as a true space-based simulator. Not unlike many tabletop games, the more familiar you become with this sci-fi setting the more its potential can be unlocked.

Originally released in 2004, the Second Edition of Battlestations saw a massive rules overhaul, distilling the game’s essence down into a more streamlined and accessible version without sacrificing much of the open-ended qualities that’s endeared itself to players over the years.

In this asymmetric One v All space romp, most players act as the crew of a starship, each with a multitude of potential skills, attributes, races, and professions. Your goal is simple: survive whatever obstacles inside and / or outside the ship that the remaining GM-like player (The Enemy) throws at you in a given scenario. The Second Edition provides built-in scenarios, but with dozens of supplemental scenarios generated over the years and an optional Advanced Rulebook as thick as a D&D manual, Battlestations is the epitome of a space-based sandbox.

And that’s the kind of enlistment Daredevils just can’t say no to.

Battlestations affords the flexibility to make the game easy or difficult and as rote or as eccentric as your group desires. Although the basic rules are remarkably easy to grasp, the depth of possibility from one playthrough to the next is staggering – especially once you expand beyond the core box.

Battlestations Second Edition is what you’d get by combining FTL with the Firefly RPG, solidifying its deserved place on this list today. In fact, it even had a shot at the Laurel itself if not for another space game that saw the level of player-led freedom of choice and said, ‘hold my Synthale’.


The Winner

2017 Daredevil Laurel – Sidereal Confluence

Publisher: WizKids | Players: 4-9 | Play Time: 120-180 Minutes

Regardless of the setting, genre, theme, or mechanics, the single most desirable thing to any game for Daredevils is freedom of choice. Above all, this group doesn’t want to be predictable, which is usually why they’re more willing than other groups to embrace random elements in order to achieve their goals.

Conveniently, Sidereal Confluence has enough unpredictability to fill moon-sized craters.

In Sidereal Confluence, disparate alien races have come together to forge an interstellar trading block. However, because each race is adept at making some kinds of resources and in need (sometimes desperately) of others, it’s impossible to win without engaging with other players.

What follows is a game that’s one part resource management, one part tech tree building, and eight parts player negotiation, as the first half of each round offers simultaneous, real-time, anything goes style trading and negotiation between everyone at the table. You can expect more wheeling and dealing than a carnival barker at a county flea market.

These precious goods in turn fuel your economy, letting you generate VP, get new tech, and of course, generate more cubes start the process all over again. At its most basic, Sidereal is about trying to convert one type of cube into another.

Sidereal Confluence is a free-for-all deal-making game with asymmetric powers and plays up to nine people. In many ways, it shouldn’t work. But what you get is a ribald and energetic experience where you must haggle, undercut, and scheme your way into getting ahead. It’s replayable, far more accessible than it seems, and effortlessly encapsulates the idea of player-led choices as a viable means of winning.

As a result, this game is like intergalactic candy shop for Daredevils to gleefully treat themselves to with every single playthrough, easily and rightfully earning this group’s Laurel for 2017.


Sidereal Confluence Contest!

We thought about different ways to highlight the how great the winning title of the Daredevil Laurel is. We wanted to do something spontaneous and wacky, but too many of our options proved to be too dangerous, expensive, or had us winding up covered in feathers. (It’s a long story.) To avoid costly bills, potential litigation, and much to the dismay of Daredevils everywhere, in the end we opted for the most direct approach: providing one lucky winner with the opportunity to enjoy the award-winning game first hand. So let’s get to it!

That’s right! Enter below for your chance at your very own copy of Sidereal Confluence!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: In honor of their award recognition, WizKids has kindly provided a copy of this game for giveaway purposes.

Be sure to check out the 2017 Laurel Award pages for the other archetypes once they go live!

ArchitectsmallTacticiansmallgreySocialsmallDaredevilsmallImmersionsmall Aggressivesmall