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Best board games in 2019: Mansions of Madness, Lord of the Rings and more

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This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2019, your source for the season’s best gifts and deals, hand-picked by the experts at CNET.

brand-new generation of video game consoles are expected to arrive next year, but that’s not much help when it comes to the 2019 holiday shopping season. 

Board games have undergone somewhat of a creative renaissance over the past couple of years, and while holiday season might be the time to blow the dust off classic games like chess, checkers, Clue or Monopoly, tabletop games have come a long way since the 20th century. Many games now involve intricate problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination or complex strategy. Others leave room for additional card expansion packs opening up new variations of rules and play styles. But the best board games aren’t just fun for children, they also present an exciting challenge for serious gamers.

The themes are, not surprisingly, often focused on Dungeons & Dragons-style fantasy, sci-fi battles, zombie attacks and Lovecraftian supernatural high jinks. Some popular board games, such as the recent Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth, combine miniature figures, map tiles and a highly polished tablet app that handles some of the card and combat management for you. 

Read more: Best tech toys for kids in 2019

So here are some of the best board games for 2019, any one of which can turn game night into an epic adventure with real competition to win. Feel ambitious and want to make your own extra accessories, game pieces or card holders with a 3D printer? We’ve got that covered, too.

Got your own suggestions? Let me know your board game picks in the comments or on Twitter.

CMON

The latest version of this zombie-filled game series takes the action of a far-off mining colony, where zombie-like aliens team up with big boss monsters straight out of Doom. One to six players fight back, usually by using their problem-solving skills to collect some McGuffins and make for the exit as swarms of xenos flood the map. This party game is great fun that’s easy to pick up and learn. 

Read more: Best gifts for 10-year-old girls in 2019

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The cult classic comic gets a great game packed with comic-style art, great miniatures and lots of storytelling. The more-expensive collector’s edition ups the number of minis past 100, and includes a great idea I’d love to see more often: a random mission generator for endless mix-and-match scenarios.

Ravensburger

There have been a handful of Minecraft card and board games before, but this new one — revealed at Minecon 2019 — feels like the most ambitious yet. You actually mine for resources with tiny wooden blocks, and combine building with fighting mobs. 

Read more: Best gifts for dad in 2019

Fantasy Flight Games

It’s time to get the fellowship back together. This is a great game for joining up with four other players (or just as a solo player) to go tromping across Middle-Earth by moving cool-looking sculpted miniatures around map tiles. There’s a free, but mandatory, app available on iOS, Android and via Steam, which tells you how to lay out the map tiles and which monsters to fight. It also provides for a certain amount of randomization. It also provides for a certain amount of randomization to challenge even the most thought-through strategies and skills. Built from the ground up as an app-based board game, it makes it easy to get set up and learn the ropes. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Another giant-box game. This is one of my favorites because it includes tons of floor tiles you can use to create a haunted mansion, plus dozens of plastic miniatures for investigators and monsters. The vibe is definitely classic Lovecraft, and this board game actually requires you to use its companion app, which creates the layout, spawns monsters and even adds sound effects. 

Dan Ackerman

I’ve been playing an early version of this Universal Monsters-inspired game, which hit stores at the beginning of August. It’s a fun mix of nostalgia and modern tabletop games, pitting players against all the classic Universal movie monsters of the 1940s and ’50s, from the Wolf Man to Dracula. Just don’t accidentally call Frankenstein’s Monster “Frankenstein,” or I’ll subtweet you. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The best Star Wars game I’ve played in years isn’t a video game — it’s this fun and challenging tabletop strategy game, where rebel heroes fight through various skirmishes with Imperial forces. There’s a fantastic companion app that not only teaches you how to play, but handles the storytelling and enemy placement, too, so you don’t have to guess. The miniatures are fantastic, and include a giant AT-S. Add-ons and expansions are on sale separately and can add dozens of new figures. Fun fact — this is actually a remixed version of a game called Descent: Journeys in the Dark, so check that out if you want a game that plays like Imperial Assault, but with a Dungeons & Dragons or Game of Thrones-style fantasy theme. 

Read more: Best gifts for Star Wars fans

Dan Ackerman

Get those “gonna need a bigger boat” jokes out of your system now. This clever new two-part strategy game is asymmetrical, which means one player is the overpowered super shark, and the other players are hapless humans, who need to combine their strategic thinking, skills and resources with the goal to survive and win. The best feature is the game board, which flips from the beaches of Amity Island in the first half, to Quint’s boat in the second half. (It gradually gets eaten by the shark.)

Steamforged Games

As a long-time Resident Evil fan, I had to snatch this up immediately. Like many big box board games, it started as a Kickstarter project, but is now available from Amazon and other retailers. Unlike arcade-y zombie games like Zombicide, the vibe here is much closer to the survival horror feel of the Resident Evil video games. If you have a 3D printer, there are a ton of accessories, including 3D walls, doors and typewriters, which you can download and print to replace the cardboard tokens that come with the game. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

A stripped-down version of the Lovecraftian game subgenre. This is strictly a card-based game, so there are no map tiles or plastic game pieces. Even so, it has amazing narrative storytelling, which involves laying out location cards on the table to give each player a clear picture of what’s going on and where. If you like this, it’s a “living card game,” which means new packs of cards are released on a regular basis. 

Read more: Best gifts under $25

Originally published earlier this month.





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Ex-Apple store employees reveal the biggest mistakes customers make at the Genius Bar (AAPL)

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Apple Store

  • Some of the most common mistakes people make when coming into the Apple Store for repairs include forgetting their iCloud password and failing to back up their device beforehand.
  • Sometimes customers will forget to charge their device before bringing it in, too.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Working at the Apple Store certainly has its perks. For example, people who have worked there said they love the people and the opportunities Apple offers for career development and personal growth. And Glassdoor is filled with employee reviews citing the staff, culture, and employee benefits as being among the best perks that come with working there.

But every job has its more difficult moments. According to several former employees and one current worker, there are certain things customers do — or don’t do — that can make their jobs more challenging. 

Here’s a look at some of the most common mistakes people make when coming in for repairs, based on interviews with several people who have worked at the Apple Store. Most of the people interviewed requested to remain anonymous so that they could speak freely about their former or current job.

SEE ALSO: The 31 best tech companies to work for in 2020, according to employees

Not backing up their data

Among the most common mistakes many people make is not backing up their data when they come in for a repair.

“The biggest thing is how unprepared the general public is about saving their information,” said one current employee. “A lot of people, they run their entire businesses off their phones and computers . . . If this is your entire life, how do you not save this elsewhere?”

Read more: The 21 most expensive products Apple has ever sold

Forgetting their iCloud password

Forgetting or not having access to their iCloud password is another typical issue Apple Store employees must help customers deal with, said CJ Ryan, who worked at the Apple Store for two years, and a former Apple employee of four years. When that happens, employees sometimes have to tell the customer to make a different appointment and come back when they have access to their iCloud account. 

There’s a chance customers forget their iCloud password because they don’t have to use it very often. A study from September 2018 led by Rutgers University New Brunswick found that important passwords that are used frequently are less likely to be forgotten.

Do you currently work at the Apple Store? If so, we want to hear from you! Contact this reporter at leadicicco@businessinsider.com

Asking Apple to help them with their Gmail or Facebook password

Helping customers reset their iCloud password can also be difficult when Genius Bar patrons forget their email password, said Ryan. Sometimes customers would ask Apple staff to help them with their Gmail or Facebook password. Even though it’s not part of their job, Apple Store workers will usually try to be helpful in this situation anyhow, according to Ryan. 

One way to create a strong password that you’ll actually remember is by using an entire phrase as your passcode rather than just a string of characters. That’s according to Etay Maor, chief security officer at IntSights who previously worked for IBM Security, who spoke to Business Insider in July. Since phrases are often much longer than the average eight to 10 character password, using a passphrase makes it less likely that a malicious actor will crack it. 

Not being honest about what happened to their device

When customers are dishonest about what happened to their device, it makes it harder to address the problem, two of the people said. 

“On a technical level, if they’re not honest with us, it becomes tough,” said one former employee of seven years. 

The ex-employee who worked at the Apple Store for four years said customers would sometimes come in with shattered phones and make excuses about how the accident happened. “We would get that on a weekly basis,” this person said.

Not charging their device before they bring it in

Bringing in a device without any charge left in it will only waste time both for the customer and the Apple employee. But it’s a common mistake that Ryan says he often encountered during his time at the Apple Store, especially with Apple Watches.

“I’d just sit there, and we all have to wait,” he said. 





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