Valentine’s Day is here, which is typically a time for us to show our significant others how much we care about them. I remember from my high school days the song (Can’t Live Without Your) Love & Affection by Nelson. This song immediately came to my mind when trying to plan out this post. In this Best 3 post, we will take a little different look at some of my favorite games that happen to have a mechanic or element in them that reminds me of Love. These games are not focused on nor marketed to the romantic crowd, so you will not see Love Letter on this list (although that game is great in it’s own right!), but once you play them you will come to realize how prominent the idea of love and affection are in their designs. So in honor of the holiday dedicated to love, here are my Best 3 Games with…Love & Affection!

3. Scythe by Stonemaier Games

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I know you are probably confused right about now and asking yourself “what does a heavy combat oriented euro game have to do with love or affection?”. Well, my answer to you is plenty! Yes, Scythe is about dominating your enemies through direct combat, spreading out and taking the best resource generating spots for your own purposes and stealing those encounter locations before others can reap the rewards. But, the key to the game is the Popularity Track, which determines the multipliers that you will use at the end of the game to score points. So, at the end of the game, after battling it out with your enemies and having worked your citizen’s fingers to the bone, how much you are loved and revered by the masses will determine your fate. This Popularity Track is directly affected through your actions. If you over extend your workers after deploying all 8 of them to the board, you will have to pay a Popularity Point to produce goods each time you take that action. Also, if you attack your neighbors defenseless workers and displace them making them into refugees, your Popularity will decrease by one point for each displaced worker. I hate to say it but I have been guilty of placing my workers in spots likely to be attacked by my enemies as a deterrent. Is that really that bad? They weren’t there alone, there were always mechs guarding them. I loved this thematic element of the game and feel it is a very good game that demonstrates the old maxim, do unto others as you would have them do unto you! If you’re interested, we did a video after a recent play of Scythe sharing our thoughts on the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsD0MDVuCvk

2. The Pursuit of Happiness from Stronghold Games

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In The Pursuit of Happiness, everyone takes on the persona of a new person and actually “lives life” to try to gain the most long term happiness or victory points. Along the way, each person will start projects, gain partners, complete activities, manage pets, start and change careers and purchase items. At its heart, this is a worker placement game with resource management and some minor set collection. But the game does provide each person with the opportunity to find love as they can decide to try to balance a relationship, which if done well, can lead to a good amount of happiness and ultimately victory points. The interesting thing about relationships is that they take more of your available time and limit what you can try to do in the rest of the game. That just isn’t true! (I typed that fake outrage just in case my wife reads this!). It is true and you will have to try to juggle the relationship with your other priorities, hobbies and projects as well as your career. In the end, a well managed relationship will provide victory points. It can also cause stress which shortens your life in the game. You must enter into this “in-game” relationship with your eyes wide open but it makes this game a very fun and challenging exercise in making a relationship work.

1. Stone Age by Z-Man Games

Generally, Stone Age has nothing to do with love or affection. This worker placement game sees you using your workers to collect resources in prehistoric times through logging, hunting, mining and panning for gold in order to construct buildings that provide victory points, increase your use of

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“The Love Hut”, where 2 men enter…

technology through making stone tools, the building of artifacts and culture cards that provide victory points as well as additional resources and also cultivating crops through agriculture. All of these actions require you to place workers and the more workers you place in a certain area the more dice you will roll to obtain resources. So you need to grow your workforce. In order to get more workers to take more actions each round and try to become the greatest cave man you must procreate and grow your tribe. This procreation  happens in an area we affectionately call “The Love Hut” where you must place two of your workers. After placing two workers on this spot you will take a new worker from the supply as your tribe grows. We usually say “2 men enter, 3 men leave”, which is a play on the similar saying from the movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome!

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…3 men leave!

(They actually say 2 men enter, 1 man leaves!) So, love & affection is an important part of a cave man’s epic quest to improve himself.

I hope you have enjoyed my humorous and oddball look at the Best 3 Games with…Love & Affection, and if you are anything like me I now can’t get that stupid song out of my head! “There she goes…!” I hope you have romantic plans with your sweetheart tonight, besides playing these great board games…but if not, count yourself lucky and have fun trying your hand at love.

-Grant