Tag: Party Games

Better Party Games For the Holidays

Better Party Games For the Holidays

So, I’ve talked a lot before about Party Games and kind of how I dislike a number of the popular ones. I’ll recap this quick here, but I want to bring in some ideas as to what some better party or bigger group games might 

MY TOP 100 BOARD GAMES 2020 EDITION – 40 THROUGH 31

MY TOP 100 BOARD GAMES 2020 EDITION – 40 THROUGH 31

Getting close to the end, the top 100 are all games that I really do love and would want to play basically whenever someone asks but as we get higher in the list, and I think about and write up about these games, I always 

MY TOP 100 BOARD GAMES 2020 EDITION – 50 THROUGH 41

MY TOP 100 BOARD GAMES 2020 EDITION – 50 THROUGH 41

We’re onto the top half of my Top 100 games. We’ve seen a number of games drop out of the top 50 so far, that means we’re either going to have new games or games that have rise, you’ll have to find out. You can find links to the previous parts below:

100 to 91

90 to 81

80 to 71

70 to 61

60 to 51

Plus a few notes on how I’ve put together the list:

  • These are my favorite, you want what people consider best, see the Board Game Geek Top 100
  • If a game you love isn’t on the list, it might be be coming, I might not have played it, and if I have, it’s 101
  • If a game looks cool, I have links to buy it from CoolStuffInc or Amazon, or you can grab most at your FLGS
  • There are a few games, Destiny 2 Player versus regular Destiny where if they are basically the same thing, I only do one of them
Image Source: Z-Man

50. Onirim

I think this is the purely solo game on the list and it’s dropped a little bit, but I’m still enjoying it a lot. The app is great for playing this game, but I do like the physical one as well. In this game you are trapped in a nightmare and trying to escape, to do this you are trying to find eight doors. This is done by playing down cards in a row where you are trying to get three cards of the same color in a row, when you do you find a door. But there are nightmares in the deck that are trying to stop you, you have a few different ways you can deal with them. I think that’s where the game really is interesting, because there are powerful key cards that can just get a door in without any hassle, but they are also be used to deal with a nightmare. Or you could discard cards off the top of the deck, but that might get rid of a key. Or you can discard your hand or put a door back into a deck. There’s a good amount of strategy in what seems like a small and random card game.

Last Year: 36

Image Source: Board Game Geek

49. Stipulations

One of my top party games, this is one that I’m glad I backed on Kickstarter, but glad that I didn’t back the “adult” version of it. In this game a person picks from four different categories, you might have a superpower, an occupation, lifetime supply of something, or a fulfilled dream, but then, everyone writes a stipulation for it, and you pick your favorite. This game works really well because you can tailor it for your group. If it’s a bunch of college friends drinking, you can make it as adult or dirty as you want, if it’s Christmas with your great aunt and 10 year old cousin, you can make it clean. And it can just get silly, like most party games and eventually people end up writing down weird stuff or reoccurring jokes. It’s really the same concept as a Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples, but it’s much more replayable because you aren’t using cards to answer/fulfill the prompt, which means you can change up your answer for a stipulation for the superpower of flight from “But only when you fart” to “But never more than 6 inches off the ground.” and the prompt will feel different when you play.

Last Year: 42

Image Source: Bezier Games

48. Silver

This one wasn’t ranked last year because I hadn’t played it much, it was just one time at GenCon where I kind of got the rules. But I’ve played it a lot since, I’ve probably played the physical game 10-15 times this year, and Silver Bullet expansion 3 times, and the app who knows how many times, but a lot. I am really enjoying this game now and the standalone expansion(s) – I have two, but only played one. In this game you are trying to get your village of 5 cards down to the fewest points possible. The trick is your cards are face down and you only know at the start of a round what two of them are. Cards have values from 0 to 12 and each card has a special power. You can use them for a power, or you can swap out cards with what you’ve drawn or is on top of the deck. If you have two of the same number you can trade in those two for one card, which allows you to get down in cards and lower the number of points you can possibly have. There’s some luck with the game for sure, but overall it’s a very fast and fun game that is a bit mean with a bunch of take that cards, especially in the Silver Bullet expansion, but still a lot of fun.

Last Year: Not Ranked

Image Source: Board Game Geek

47. Wits & Wagers

Another party game on the list, this time it’s Wits & Wagers which is a classic party game at this point. In Wits and Wagers you are putting down a best guess or a random number, so some trivia question, it might be something like “How many goals did Pele have in his professional career?” Everyone writes down a number, you sort the numbers and then you bet on who you think was the closest without going over. If you’re right you get more chips to bet or to save because however much money you have at the end is your score. This game works well because you don’t need to know anything about soccer. I know a fair amount, so if you’re playing with me and know that, you can bet on my guess even if you guessed either 10 or 10 million for your number. So you get to play the people and think about who might know an answer, or at least have a better clue than you. The answer, by the way, is over 1,000 for goals by Pele, just in case you get that question sometime.

Last Year: 68

Image Source; Geek Alert

46. Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game

This one has dropped a bit for me as you can see. I do really enjoy this game a lot, and I would gladly play it, the only reason I don’t play it more is because it’s a bit of a longer game. This is a game about surviving the zombie apocalypse, for a scenario, with everyone having their own goals, and potentially having a traitor in your midst. This is one of those semi-cooperative games where it tries to make everyone look guilty to help hide the traitor. That is one slightly issue that I have with the game, if you beat the scenario, and a lot of them are hard just purely cooperative, you still don’t win unless you get your secret objective. But the rest of the game works really well, and I consider it a half win if you beat the the scenario. This game also has a thing called Crossroads cards, which is why it has crossroads in the name. These cards offer you tough choices that you’ll have to make during the game and are one of the highlights of the game. We have a house rule for them where instead of drawing one and seeing if it happens on someone’s turn, you draw two and if one of them happens, you do the crossroads event. It just highlights that fun part of the game more. Overall, a really enjoyable game that is just tricky to get to the table all the time because of it’s length.

Last Year: 18

Image Source: Board Game Geek

45. Ascension: Deckbuilding Game

For a lot of people Dominion is their gateway or introduction to deckbuilding, but I don’t like Dominion, so for me, Ascension is the one that I’d use. This is a pure deck building game where you are getting cards and adding them to your deck to buy more cards and fight monsters. Why I like this one so much better than Dominion is that Dominion has a fixed Market, so if someone can spot the ideal combo before the game starts, they’ve probably already won. Whereas Ascension has an ever changing market. Whenever a card is bought or a monster is killed in the market row, a new card is flipped out, and it might be the perfect card for you, or it might be another monster, or who knows what. So you have to be able to adjust a bit more on the fly and you can pick some really good strategies and just stick with them, but depending on how the cards come out, you might have to still adjust even if you have you ideal strategy started. For me, that’s what I like in a game and why I am less of a Euro gamer and more of a Amerithrash gamer, which Ascension feels like compared to Dominion.

Last Year: 46

Image Source: Portal Games

44. Cry Havoc

Cry Havoc is an asymmetrical game where the players have different ways of building up their point totals. And it’s also a unique game with a bit of deck building and some really interesting combat. I like this game as it has some area control, some diceless combat, and really different strategies for the different factions. In this game you’re trying to control crystals which will give you points at the end of a round, to do that you need to take over areas, battling for the crystals there. The combat is diceless as I said, but it has an interesting flow to it, first the attacker will place their troops on the area majority, kill, or capture spots. Then the defender will, and it basically goes along the lines of, check majority, check kills, check captures, and if you kill someone who would capture one of your pieces that won’t happen. But you have cards in your hand that you use both to do actions, but that can influence combat as well. So maybe it’s a close fight and we’re tied for majority in area control, I could play a card to move someone up there if I’m the attacker so I can take the area, but maybe my opponent will do something to change that. The combat is different but really enjoyable.

Last Year: 52

Image Source: Plan B Games

43. Century: Golem Edition

This, for me, is a Splendor killer, though, I still have both in my collection. Century: Golem Edition, is a fun hand building game where you are trying to create an engine of cards that is going to get your gems, and trade gems in such a way that you can score golem cards. The first person to five golems triggers end game. But where the game works, besides the amazing components and artwork, is the card play. You can build up a combo that might start by giving you three yellows, which you can turn into two greens, which maybe you can turn into a pink, which can be turned into a blue and two greens, and you can really find interesting ways to manipulate the gems that you have. The game plays extremely fast with either playing a card and doing it’s action, getting a golem, or picking back up your hand of cards being all that you do on a turn. It really does have a good amount of strategy to it, but it’s still easy to teach and to score so it might be just slightly too much for a complete game novice, but someone who has something like Ticket to Ride or Catan under their belt will be able to learn it.

Last Year: 33

Image Source: Geek Attitude Games

42. Not Alone

There have been a number of party games on the list thus far, and while Not Alone isn’t a party game, it is one that can play a larger player count. This is a one versus all game where the all are playing crew of a spaceship who have crashed onto a planet and are waiting rescue. However, the planet and the monster on the planet are not happy that they are there. So the planet is trying to take everyone out before the rescue ship can get there. It’s an interesting game of cat and mouse, because the crew can strategize amongst themselves as much as they want, but they have to do it so that the monster can listen. So do they try and send him down a false path, or can they split things up in such a way to be able to do most of what they want. This is another hand management style game for the crew as they have various locations that they can go to, but they discard it to their own, visible, discard pile and the monster has powers that it can use throughout the game. The game has basically always been close when we play it, and it’s a pretty easy game to play, but one that has a nice tension. Probably, actually, a pretty good Halloween game as it has some horror elements to it.

Last Year: 41

Image Source: Blue Orange

41. Cross Clues

This apparently was the party game section. Not ranked last year because it came out this year, Cross Clues is a fun and challenging party game where people are giving clues so that other players can determine the intersection point between two things. To put this better, you have a spread sheet that is 5 by 5, each row and column has a header of a word, so A might be stick and 1 might be wind. If I have the card that has A1 denoted on it, I have to give a clue that will get the other players to guess A1, maybe I go with something like Kite. But maybe C is tail, now kites have tails as well as sticks as structure on them, so which do I mean. So maybe that’s not the best clue, maybe for rustle, but maybe D is cattle, so wind and cattle might make sense for that. So you have to be clever with your clues, and you are trying to get as many done in five minutes as you can, or since we’ve played it across Zoom, just seeing how many out of the 25 on a 5 by 5 grid or 16 for a medium challenge, we can get and score that. It’s a clever game that works really well, and I’m not sure how many word cards there are, but depending on how they intersect the game has a ton of replayability. Definitely a party game that everyone should checkout, in my opinion, and probably one that’d be really popular now, if it wasn’t for the pandemic.

Last Year: Not Ranked

So what from this part of the list, the beginning of the Top 50, looks most interesting to you? Any you’d put higher in your own Top 100?

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Expansion vs New Game

Expansion vs New Game

So, when building up your board game collection, it can at times reach the point where you have so many games that you just don’t play them all that often, and that you have a core few favorites that you play all of the time, 

Beyond the Box Cover – Cross Clues

Beyond the Box Cover – Cross Clues

So, I’m holding off on reviewing this one until I can play it in person, but I did pick it up and play it on Saturday for our digital board game night. I had to modify oh so slightly how the game was played, not 

Building a Board Game Collection

Building a Board Game Collection

I will say that if you’re looking for a board game to buy, you can check out my articles (Part 1 and Part 2) because there will be some overlap, but in this case, I’m talking about building that collection when you want to play a lot of games with a lot of different people. For me there are three different groups of games to consider when building your collection, games that you love, games that you can introduce people to, and games that are good for a big group. I’ll go through all three of these and why I think they are important in most any collection.

But before that, let’s talk a little bit about why you build up a collection of board games. For me, clearly I love board games and having a variety of board games brings me joy. I like being able to pull out so many really different games and play them, but also to just look at them on my shelf, mess around with the pieces and learning the rules. It also gives me joy because I get to introduce other people to the board game hobby as well because I have so many games. I can pull out a game for any occasion, whether it was the board game club that I started just before Covid-19 hit so it’s been on hiatus, or if it’s playing with family, or introducing someone to gaming. Now, that’s why I have a diverse collection of games, but that also is something that won’t work for some people, some people simply do not want to play complex games or they don’t want to play party games, and therefore you might not have as much in your collection. So when building up your collection target games that you’ll love and games that you’ll enjoy that work for your group. If you only play with casual gamers, you’ll probably want to focus your collection more on games that’ll fit their play style. If everyone hates party games, no need to have one in your collection.

Let’s talk about the three different types of games that I think make a strong collection.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

1 – Games You Love

This part is pretty obvious. Your collection should have a lot, probably the majority, of games that you like to play. This is whatever type of game you love, maybe you love heavy war games, or euro games, or ameritrash games, campaign games, dungeons crawls, sci-fi, deduction, trick taking, whatever it might be, most of the games in your collection should be games that you love. Most likely, if you love these games, you’re going to have a few people to play them with, as part of your gaming group. These are the games that I’m using, thus far, in the board game club, so not my campaign games that I love, though I do have a group for that, but stuff like Blood Rage, Lords of Hellas, Dead of Winter, Clank! In! Space!, bigger and a bit meatier games that we can sit down and just spend an evening playing those games. These won’t be the games that you play the most, most likely, but that’s fine, these are the games that you always want to play.

Image Source: Catan

2 – Gateway Games

This is a pretty small part of your collection, these are games that you use to introduce people to hobby gaming. Best known are the Ticket to Rides, Dominion, Carcassone, Small World, and Catan. But find what works for you and the ones that you enjoy. Having a few of these slightly more complicated games than your typical mass market games will allow you to get more people into hobby gaming. You wouldn’t want to start someone off with Blood Rage if they don’t understand area control and card drafting strategies, but Small World and Sushi Go Party! and now they have a basis for potentially playing Blood Rage. Make sure that you do enjoy the ones that you have, you might be sitting for a while in this part of your collection with some gamers as they get to explore and discover new games and strategies as compared to the mass market games, and consider outside the normal games. Something like King of Tokyo is great that isn’t mentioned as often as the big five I mentioned above, but works well and is familiar in some ways to Yahtzee, or something like Century: Golem Edition is easy to teach and play and newer.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

3 – Big Group Games

Now, with board game nights, there’s kind of a tipping point of around eight people to ten people where you can start to split into multiple groups. But even then, sometimes you want to play in a big group. I also like these bigger group games for kicking off or winding down a board game night as people start to leave and you go from a couple of groups into a single group. This category of games has stuff like Criss Cross, Welcome To…, Just One, Scattergories, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, Sushi Go Party!, and more that can handle a pretty good size number, and they don’t take that long. They are almost filler games, but for a bigger group, and I could have probably put a fourth category of filler games, but I also like just using the higher player count games with lower player counts if I need a filler. These games are meant to get played quickly to start off a game night, played by people who don’t want to play a heavier game, or just played for the whole game night if that’s what everyone is feeling or you don’t have enough people to split into two groups easily.

Now, obviously, your group and your tastes will get different mileage out of the different types of games. You might just have it planned out that you don’t need filler games. When one game is full, the next person there just starts setting up the next game until more people show up. But that’s going to be up to you. If you know you need a more well rounded collection, those are the three categories that I would look at filling out your collection with. All this keeping in mind that your collection is to bring you joy, so with Gateway Games and Big Group Games, you can fill in a few that you like or can tolerate if you need them. If you hate all gateway games, don’t have any in your collection, that is okay, same with group/filler types of games, but think about the group that you play with, and make your decisions based off of that.

Do you have a mix of games in your collection? Is it only games that you like, do you find that you need group games or gateway games?

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Board Game Battles: Codenames vs Codenames Pictures

Board Game Battles: Codenames vs Codenames Pictures

It’s been a while, but we have a feud going on between two popular party games from the same family. It’s sibling versus sibling in a battle that is going to get messy. Which one will stand tall at the end of this board game 

Party Game Theory

Party Game Theory

For a lot of board gamers, this is a hated genre of game. A lot of them are just silly for no other reason than because they are a party game, or they’ll want to play the same trivia games or word based games that 

What’s a Game and What’s an Activity

What’s a Game and What’s an Activity

So, I’ve been sitting on this topic for a while, because there was a popular game last year (I’ll review it this week) called The Mind. It was very popular but also got a bunch of dislike around it because people saw it not as a game but as an activity. I wanted to talk about the differences between the two and if that really matters in the long run.

Taking from the Oxford dictionary, the definition of a game is:

“a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck”

Oxford Dictionary

According to that definition, is my example of The Mind, a game?

Basics of the Mind are that you are trying to play cards in numerical order without talking, you can see your cards but there is no communication, so you have to guess, based off of feel when to play them down, and you’re trying to get through a certain number of rounds.

By the definition of a game, it doesn’t really take skill or strength, but it is very much luck. And, I think that something that I’d say for a definition of a game, it needs to have a win condition of some sort, I think that competitive is trying to cover for that, but I think a win condition is clearer, because cooperative board games are definitely games even though you’re not competing against someone. So, the Mind, by the technical definition is a game. But, when looking at the definition, it feels like it’s lacking a little bit of what is normally a game because it is just luck based.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

So, maybe it’s a combo of a game and activity. I think that you could say that all games are activities. And with the Mind, because you’re mainly just guessing when to play down a card or when to use a special ability, it feels more like an activity to me. And it is a fun group activity as you try and use body language or other non-verbal queues and non-spoiling clues to get other people to play or to have a rush of playing when the numbers are close together. For me, the Mind is more of [redacted – come back for the review].

Is it bad that it might be more of an activity than it is a game? No. I think that many party games, they are best when they are treated more as an activity than a game. When you are playing something like Stipulations and trying to come up with an answer, it’s better to put down something that you think is funny. Same with Balderdash or a game like Cards Against Humanity or Apple to Apples. Even if it isn’t the best answer or the answer most likely to win, it’s a lot of fun just to create moments where you can laugh. And you play until laughing is just starting to fade, and you’ve had a great activity without caring about who wins because you can just be goofy. If you treat them as a game, you won’t get the in-joke answers, you’ll get people trying really hard, and that’s less fun. Yes, you might be removing the game aspect from it or going against the spirit of the rules, but it’s a party game, and a party is supposed to be fun. That’s why I have issues with “party” style games that don’t led themselves to being an activity because they can’t have the same level of fun. I’ll talk about what makes a good party game later as well.

So, with the Mind or party games, they can border on an activity, and that’s fine. I think what’s not fine and some of the reason why I’m writing this article, is because there can be a sort of snooty thumbing of the nose towards these games and the people who play them. Yes, it’s not that complex a game or activity, but are the people having fun, yes. Can it be a gateway for getting people into the heavier and more complex games? Yes. Will it always do that? No, and that’s fine. We want to encourage as many diverse gamers to join the hobby as possible as that will keep the hobby growing and from becoming stale. It might not be a 4X game, an 18XX game, a euro game, or an Ameritrash game, but that’s fine depending on the group, and if they don’t want to move on to those sorts of games, it might be that game group isn’t the right one for you, but don’t disparage someone for having fun in their own way.

What is a light game that you think works better or is more of an activity? Have you tried The Mind, and do you like it? Let me know in the comments below.

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My Top 100 Board Games – 80 to 71

My Top 100 Board Games – 80 to 71

I’m back with the next round of the rankings. I’m going to run this basically straight through just because it would stretch out until the end of the year if I didn’t, so hopefully you are enjoying the board game content. I had fun putting