Holiday Lists – For the Too Competitive Gamer
Normally I wait a little bit closer to the Holidays to create these lists. There is speculation, and I suspect some of it might come true, that because of Covid, shipping is going to be crazy, so it probably makes more sense to get your orders in early so that it shows up on time, even if the holiday get together is digital, you don’t want your gift to be a screen share of an order on the way.
This first category is going to be for that person who is just a little bit too competitive when it comes to gaming and must win at all costs. Playing to win is good, needing to win is not quite as good. So I’m looking at two different types of games here, games that are cooperative and games that are relaxed. And with cooperative games, I do want to try and find games that are going to be harder for them to be an alpha player (someone who controls other players and their own turns, thinks they always know what is best).
The Lost Expedition
One of my favorite games, this cooperative card playing game is going to give that Alpha Gamer a chance to be a little bit of a Alpha Gamer, but not spend the whole game making everyone’s decisions. In this game you are trying to traverse to the Lost City of Z. You hike very morning and evening, the trick to this is that before you go down the path, you are creating that. To do that you are playing event cards that go in a row from your hand. But you can’t really talk about what you might be playing. This means that each player gets to make a real decision for themselves in the game. During the morning, the cards are slotted in numerical order before you traverse them, in the evening, the order that they are played in, and each player will play all of their cards on a given day. Then as a group you talk through how you want to traverse the cards, what of the optional actions you want to take on the cards, are there any cards that allow you to rearrange, what resources to spend. The game is pretty simple and small, but is a good cooperative game.
Another cooperative game, this one is a party game where you are trying to give one word clues to get people to guess a cross section between two words. Think of it as a spreadsheet where you have columns and rows, each row and column has a word. So it might be something like “Witch” and “Stick”, if you have the coordinates for that intersection you would give a clue like “Broom”, but the trick is sometimes you might have another word that will make that harder for people to guess. So something like “Clean”. If that is in the place axis, row or column, as “Witch” now is “Broom” a word for a “Clean Stick” or a “Witch Stick” so you have to be clever about the clues. But when someone gives a clue, everyone else partakes in guessing. This one also works well via Zoom. It plays fast and offers some chances to be clever, which a competitive gamer will probably like, but everyone else will enjoy as well.
Another party game as well. This one is also about giving one word clues, but in this one you are comparing clues, And if two, or more, clues match, those clues are not allowed to be shared. That means that you might have six clues at the start, but end up with only two valid ones to show the person who is it. They are trying to guess a one word answer from those clues. I like this one because it is impressive when someone gets something from a very tricky set of clues, or when you think you are being clever and someone else is being clever in the same way. For example, I’ve seen someone guess “Karate” just from the words “Style” and “Discipline”. I’ve also seen someone not get cookie, because two of the people cancelled out each other by giving the clue “Snickerdoodle”. It’s a fun game, again one that can be played via Zoom really easily.
The Crew: The Quest For Planet Nine
This one is interesting because it’s a cooperative trick taking game. In this game you are trying to play out cards in certain ways so that people know what cards you do or don’t have so that you can set it up that certain cards will take tricks or certain players. It makes it really interesting as you play not through just hand after hand of the same thing, but you can try missions. The further in you get, the tougher the challenges are going to get, and the nice thing is what this game plays with a pretty wide number of players, though, some player counts are easier than others. It’s been a very popular one this year as it can play at the two player count.
Second Chance is not a cooperative game. This is one of the relaxing games that I’ve been talking about. This is a little roll and write game where you are filling in squares on a grid to see who can fill in the most. The trick is that you have two shapes to choose from but if you can’t use either of them, you get a single second chance card. If you can use that second chance card you are still in the game but if you can’t you’re out and you count up all your open spots. What works so nicely in this game is that it really encourages you to doodle in the shape you’re filling in. So while competitive, everyone is going at once, and everyone has access to everything in the game.
In a similar line as Second Chance, Welcome To… is a competitive roll and write game (flip and write). In this one you are making your perfect neighborhood. Each turn you place in a house number and take the corresponding action with it, it might be building a pool or a park, putting in a fence, doing advertising, or using workers or creating a bisecting house (term to be explained later). The great thing is what everyone picks one to use at the same time, it doesn’t matter if someone else is using it. And everyone goes at the same time. That means there is nothing that is “better” for one person to take or not, because everyone always have access to everything and is dealing with the same card flips. Games like that are going to limit how much someone can try and decide what everyone else should do.
These are just some fun options that work with a more competitive or alpha gamer who might not always be the best to play with. Some of them are going to be more likely to bring out the sore loser, but with the competitive ones that I did pick, I picked ones where everyone was dealing with the same set-up of things instead of dealing with someone “stealing” what they needed for their strategy or taking a less than optimal turn. And one nice thing is none of these games are too expensive either, so get them two.