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Now that we’re in the time of year where we put forth our wish lists to bloated old white guys (PLEASE JUST GET OUR TEAM TO A SUPER BOWL YOU RICH FUCK!) and also celebrate the holidays by buying gifts, I got the idea (THANKS SILL!) to put out a list of some of my favorite board/card games that you might want to ask for or give for one of the many holidays that are going on this month. I love to play just about any game out there, and so do many of my friends, so I get exposed to any number of cool ones throughout the year. Here’s a number that come to mind:
Stratego — Suggested by Sill, and I agree. While I really enjoy a good game of RISK, that one still has more dice rolling luck involved, whereas Stratego is a deep and a lot of possible variation. Makes me remember I never got a copy of Twilight Struggle when I had a chance.
Five Crowns — A rummy-like game that I play regularly with my mom and brother whenever we’re all together. Easy to figure out, good for all ages, and always a fun one to compete on. Made by the same people who make Quiddler which is good for the word nerd crowd.
Iota — Seems simple, but is surprisingly complex. Good for a small group of introverts who want to go hang out in a bar for a while but not have to be all that social, since each turn ends up involving plenty of silent thought.
Love Letter — Quick, simple, but satisfying and portable.
Gloom — To me, Gloom is perfect in every way–rules, art design, game play, and the time it takes to play one game of it. Highly recommended.
Fluxx — I like this game because it’s always changing and it’s quite silly. My favorite variety is Monty Python Fluxx because I was a drama nerd in high school, but whatever version appeals to you is cool. One word on Zombie Fluxx, though–those games tend to drag on a long time due to some rule variations, but it’s still fun.
Killer Bunnies — Another game that’s always changing and filled with random chaos. While this may not be the most perfectly designed game, I think its weird random rough edges give it a lot of character and just promotes going with it and having fun. Plus, the winner is assigned via a random process, which I like.
Munchkin — Elements of Fluxx and D&D and Killer Bunnies and Gloom and many other things. Really, really fun and a little more complex than your average game.
Anomia — A mix of War and trivia with the side benefit of yelling random words right at your friends’ faces. It’s a blast.
Dixit — It’s like a French Guillermo Del Toro designed a set of rorschach test cards for creative five year olds, but you get to administer them on your friends and see if they really understand you like you hope they do.
Bang! — Live your own spaghetti western and repeatedly Bang! your friends and/or coworkers.
Unexploded Cow — Blow up mad cows, get money, see France. What’s not to love?
Pandemic — Unlike a number of board games to come, this one actually requires all the players to work together towards victory rather than pitting them against each other. You can adjust the difficulty in a number of ways, but no matter what, it feels really satisfying to win.
Power Grid — Settlers meets Monopoly as you try to create your own utility dynasty. I’ve only played it a couple of times, but I really enjoyed it.
Small World — I LIVE! I DIE! I LIVE AGAIN! AND NOW I HAVE DRAGONS OR SOMETHING! Quicker than some and really fun.
Lords Of Waterdeep — Shades of D&D, more indirect conflict than direct conflict, and lots of strategy and variety of play. This one is always popular at the game store open tables.
Game of Thrones Board Game — Tired of the passive-aggressiveness of Settlers? Like the angry responses you get while crushing your relatives in Monopoly, but tired of that being too repetitive? Want to experience the futility of belonging to House Stark? This is the game for you. I LOVE this game; it’s brutal and forces you to make hard choices and you can completely fuck yourself over for the entire game on your first turn, but it is so fun. Caveats: it’ll take you a half an hour or more just to explain the rules, the games take anywhere from three to six hours to complete, and it’s not as much fun if you can’t get a full six people to play. BUT. It is likely my favorite game of all time, and you can throw in some variety by getting some of the supplemental card decks.
That’s barely a fraction of great games out there. What are the ones you really enjoy? TELL ME!