As in the original Pandemic, each player takes on a specific role to limit the spread of four viruses across the globe and research a cure. But then things … change. As you play more games in the season, the viruses mutate, rules change, cities rise and fall, and new character options and abilities (and penalties) come into play. Each session is different from the one before because game modifications are permanent and carry over between sessions. The continuous gameplay creates the feeling of a coherent, evolving story, and we were always curious (and terrified) to find out what would happen next.
Source: Tim Barribeau (New York Times)
One player takes on the role of the ghost, who tries to convey the details of their murder via vision cards illustrated with objects, characters, and dreamlike landscapes. The remaining players are psychics who must solve the murder case using the vision cards to pick out the correct person, place, and thing cards—each psychic must solve a different facet of the case to advance. A common color, shape, or theme might be the only connection between a set of vision cards and a person card. The psychics bet on who they think placed a correct guess each round, and whoever wins the most bets has the greatest advantage during the final round. In the last round, the ghost gives the psychics one final vision, and any psychic who guesses correctly wins.
Source: Signe Brewster (New York Times)
At the beginning of the game, each player gets to select a fantasy race to control from a shuffled stack. Each race is paired with a separately shuffled stack of powers that modify what the troops of that race can do—for instance, if you pick up Wizards with a Flying power, you get bonus gold for occupying magic spaces (the Wizard’s feature) and you can send your troops anywhere on the board (the Flying feature). Once a player picks their characters, they get a set of tiles representing their troops, and on their turn use them to take over land on the board. As players expand their empire and come into conflict with each other, they eventually run out of useful tiles, which they can then turn over (the game calls this “going into decline”) and on their next turn pick a new race/power combo to use. This continues for a number of rounds depending on the number of players, and whoever has collected the most gold (earned mostly by acquiring land) throughout the game wins.
Source: James Austin (New York Times)
In CATAN, players try to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads. On each turn dice are rolled to determine what resources the island produces. Players build by spending resources (sheep, wheat, wood, brick and ore) that are depicted by these resource cards; each land type, with the exception of the unproductive desert, produces a specific resource: hills produce brick, forests produce wood, mountains produce ore, fields produce wheat, and pastures produce sheep.