Our Meeple Overlords’ Top 5 Licensed Games OF ALL TIME!!! (For Now.) (According to Jay.)

If you’ve been following along, we’ve decided that since this is our first end-of-year for Our Meeple Overlords, and because we haven’t played a lot of the newest games, we’re just doing top 5 lists of all time this year. We figure that this creates a baseline that you, dear reader, can use to get an idea of what we like.

The plan was to make these top 5 lists where Em and I would each give our top 5 games in a category. However, Em’s job is wrapping up all of its year-end affairs, and so she’s incredibly busy, That means that this year, you are stuck with me and my lists.

So here are my top 5 licensed games of all time. By licensed games, I’m talking about games where the IP is owned by someone else, rather than the board game company. Licensed games can be tricky because the game designers have to please the IP owners, the fans of the IP, and the board game community. These 5 games fit these criteria, and are some of my favorites.

5) The Expanse

I’ll be honest: I’ve only played The Expanse once. I probably would have gotten a chance to play it more often, but I don’t own a copy, and the global pandemic has prevented me from going to my friends’ place to play it. The one time I did play it, though, I had a blast.

You play as one of the factions from the books/show: The U.N.(Earth’s government), Martian Congressional Republic, the Outer Planets Alliance (rebels unaffiliated with Earth and Mars), and Protogen (an inter-planetary corporation).You fight for influence over each faction’s territory, achieving goals and flexing political and military might.

Because I’ve only played the one time, I can’t say if the game is enjoyable if you’re not familiar with the IP. Being familiar with it, I loved the experience. It was immersive, and each faction plays differently from the others. Factions get different resources, as well as I love asymmetrical games, and the specific asymmetry in this game really matched the theme.

4) Firefly: The Game

Firefly: The Game is, fittingly, a pickup-and-deliver game where you play as smugglers (in the base game, at least), taking jobs–both legal and less-than–while gathering a crew and supplies. Meanwhile, the reavers and the Alliance stalk you through the verse. Dodge enemies, get the upper hand on rivals, keep your crew from staging a mutiny, and keep flyin’.

This game would rank higher if it hit the table more often. Setup is a pain, as there are tons of little pieces and card decks, and it takes up a cargo-hold’s worth of table space. Still, it’s a surprisingly immersive and thematic experience. And while knowledge of the show might give you a slight advantage in knowing what planets might have the supplies or crew you’re looking for, you could go into this game with no prior exposure to Firefly and still do well.

3) Legendary A Marvel Deck-Building Game

Legendary is one of my favorite deck-builders. I’ve played the digital version, which doesn’t use the Marvel IP, and it still holds up as its own game. However, the Marvel IP really makes the game feel epic.

There are about a thousand expansions for this game, but it’s one of those games where if you don’t like certain characters, you don’t need that set. We skipped the X-Men expansion because all of the X-Men we like are in the core box or in Dark City. It plays sort of like Dominion (to chose a game most people reading this have likely played), but you use your cards not only to buy other cards and take actions, but to fight enemies. The enemies move across a board to achieve their objectives, and it’s up to you to stop them cooperatively (or semi-cooperatively). If the Mastermind (the Big Bad) wins, the players lose!

The biggest complaint people have about Legendary is that you get cards from several different heroes, rather than playing as one hero each. I understand that, but you’re not playing as the individual heroes; you’re playing as S.H.I.E.L.D. You’re barking orders at the heroes, which might not be the most thematic explanation of the game mechanics, but if you can get past that, the game’s a lot of fun.

2) Star Wars: Imperial Assault

What can I say about Imperial Assault? It’s a fun dungeon crawler that can be played with or without an “overlord” Empire player, it features campaign play with characters that gain new abilities and equipment from session to session, it features cool minis to paint (making it two hobbies in one box), and it’s freaking Star Wars!

If that was all the game had goin for it, it would be a must-buy. However, Imperial Assault also features a “Skirmish Mode,” where players create teams of 5-10 or so characters and fight, head-to-head, to score points and objectives. Em and I have played Skirmish probably around fifty times, and she is practically unstoppable with her Wookiee Warrior-centric team. Next time we play, I’ll see if my new droid team can finally put an and to her streak.

It’s a shame that Legion seems to have replaced Imperial Assault. I’m sure that Legion is a better miniatures game, but Imperial Assault, as expensive as it was, packed a lot of game into that box.

1) Battlestar Galactica

I feel bad for the new generation of gamers who may never get the chance to play Battlestar Galactica. One of the earlier social-deduction games, BSG has created more moments of epic-level tension for me than any other game in that genre.

The game goes like this: You need to get Galactica from its start point to Kobol (in the base game). To do this, you need to make a series of FTL jumps, and the admiral will determine which of two destinations to go to each jump. In between jumps, you will play cards to lessen the damage of a series of crises. You’ll manage resources, make repairs, and shoot down Cylon raiders to save humanity. BUT…some of you will secretly be Cylons. Cylon players will try to avoid detection while sabotaging the human’s efforts.

The first time I played this, I was a Cylon, which was a lot of pressure. I was lucky in that everyone suspected one of the humans (Eric, who has written for OMO) of being a Cylon, so the Cylon Admiral and I were able to squeak out a victory.

This game barely hits the table anymore (as it really needs 5 players to make it shine), but when it does, it’s amazing.

What are some of your favorite licensed games? Let us know in the comments, or find us all over the Internet!

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