Next on our list is a game from Gil Hova where you are trying to build your television station from basic cable to one of the most watched stations in the world! That is the goal of The Networks which is a fun ride with good choices to make and great parody cards that will give you a laugh throughout play time. The game is played over 5 rounds, known as seasons, for obvious reasons.
Game play is fairly simple as you take one of just a few actions on your turn and you go round and round the board until everyone passes for the round. I also like that everything is known at the beginning of the round. So when you take a show card it is not replaced with a new one from the draw pile like in other games. Once the round is set up, you know exactly what will be available, and the question is can you get what you want before other players nab it.
The different actions you can take all revolve around building you station. Of course you can buy show concepts and the stars to cast them. All of those cards are obviously referencing either a show a lot of people know, like “31 Paper” or a network star dressed in a wolf cloak. But of course you have to pay the bills so you can get the support of network executives and putting advertisements on your shows. Not only is there a bit of a race to get all of those different resources, but the earlier you pass the higher your budget for next year. So once you’ve gotten the things you wanted it's time to get out of the round!
Similar to real life between each season your shows will start to lose viewers (which are the points in the game) so you might have to cancel a show before it reaches its true finale because you can only have one show per time slot. After five seasons the channel that had recruited the most viewers over its lifespan is the winner.
There have been some other games that have tried to emulate the creation of a television station from cable access to a big budget channel. Networks is the best of that lot mostly because of its simplicity. It doesn’t take the need to simulate the real world too far adding unnecessary complexity. The parody always helps me enjoy this game, but as time passes fewer and fewer people will get some of the references. So while the parody component might have gotten the game a little bit higher on my list, even without it, Networks would be in the top 100 because it is a great game.