Where to Find the 2018 Mensa Select® Titles
300 Mensans. 70 games. 40 hours. Every year, an army of Mensans, their families, and friends roll D12s, build decks, and move their meeples during Mind Games®, our annual tabletop judging juggernaut, to determine the year's best board games. This year saw several hundred gallons of coffee consumed, 64 titles judged, and five walk away with the coveted Mensa Select seal.
The Select seal indicates that a game is original in concept, challenging, and well designed. Additionally, these games are a good value for the price, easy to comprehend and play, and, above all, fun! Select winners from past years include Apples to Apples, Lanterns, Worlds Fair 1893, and Castles of Mad King Ludwig. The 2018 Mensa Select winners are:
Azul by Plan B Games
Price: $39.99 | Players: 2-4 | Ages: 8+ | Play Time: 30-40 minutes
Azul was designed by the world famous, award winning game author Michael Kiesling. Azul captures the beautiful aesthetics of Moorish art in a contemporary board game. Players compete as artisans decorating the walls of the royal Palace of Dvora. By carefully drafting the correct quantity and style of tiles, the most clever of artisans plan ahead to maximize the beauty of their work (not to mention their scores!) while ensuring they wasted no supplies in the process.
Introduced by the moors, "azulejos" (originally white and blue ceramic tiles) were fully embraced by the Portuguese, when their King Manuel I, on a visit to the Alhambra Palace in Southern Spain, was mesmerized by the stunning beauty of the Moorish decorative tiles. The King, awestruck by the interior beauty of the Alhambra, immediately ordered that his own Palace in Portugal be decorated with similar wall tiles. As a tile-laying artist, you have been challenged to embellish the walls of the royal Palace of Dvora.
Constellations: The Game of Stargazing and the Night Sky by Xtronaut Enterprises
Price: $20 | Players: 2-4 | Ages: 8+ | Play Time: 45 minutes
Players race to collect the right number and types of stars to complete constellations to fit the needed pattern — are B-type stars or F-types required to complete the constellation? Strategically collect the right stars, reserve patches of the sky for observation, and explore the universe. Once you have your constellation, add it to the map of the night sky being assembled right in front of you. The closer you get to putting together the actual map of the heavens, the more points you score.
The game involves drawing Star Cards, which represent the seven types of stars classified by astronomers. Each constellation requires a unique combination of star types to place in the sky. As the game progresses and more constellations fill up the night, players must use their puzzle skills to fit the constellation hexes on the board to score the most points. The player with the most constellation points at the end of the game wins.
Ex Libris by Renegade Game Studio
Price: $44.99 | Players: 1-4 | Ages: 13+ | Play Time: 45 minutes
In Ex Libris, you are a collector of rare and valuable books in a thriving fantasy town. The Mayor has just announced a new seat in the Village Council, Grand Librarian. The prestigious and lucrative position will be awarded to the citizen with the most extraordinary library! Unfortunately, several of your book collector colleagues (more like acquaintances, really) are also candidates.
To outshine your competition, you’ll need to expand your personal library by sending your trusty assistants out into the village to find the most impressive tomes. Sources for the finest books are scarce, so you’ll need to beat your opponents to them when they pop up — especially if they match your library’s secret focus!
Photosynthesis by Blue Orange Games
Price: $34.91 | Players: 2-4 | Ages: 8+ | Play Time: 30-45 minutes
Welcome to the world of photosynthesis, the green strategy board game! plant and shape the ever-changing forest as you cultivate your seeds and your strategy. Take your trees through their lifecycle, from seedling to full bloom to rebirth, and earn points as their leaves collect energy from the revolving sun's rays. Carefully pick where you sow and when you grow, as trees in the shadows are blocked from light, and from points. This game features realistic gameplay and beautiful graphics.
The sun shines brightly on the canopy of the forest, and the trees use this wonderful energy to grow and develop their beautiful foliage. Sow your crops wisely and the shadows of your growing trees could slow your opponents down, but don't forget that the sun revolves around the forest. Welcome to the world of Photosynthesis, the green strategy board game!
Raiders of the North Sea by Renegade Game Studio
Price: $34.76 | Players: 2-4 | Ages: 12+ | Play Time: 60-80 minutes
Raiders of the North Sea is set in the central years of the Viking Age. As Viking warriors, players seek to impress the Chieftain by raiding unsuspecting settlements. Players will need to assemble a crew, collect provisions, and journey north to plunder gold, iron, and livestock. There is glory to be found in battle, even at the hands of the Valkyrie. So gather your warriors, it’s raiding season!
The aim of Raiders of the North Sea is to impress the Chieftain by having the most Victory Points at the game’s end. Victory Points are gained primarily by raiding Settlements, taking Plunder, and making Offerings to the Chieftain. How players use their Plunder is also vital to their success. The game ends when either only one Fortress raid remains, all Valkyrie are removed, or all Offerings have been made.