My father has reached the level of notoriety that he has become known as “The Game Man,” and his game collection now grows through no effort of his own. People give him old games, unplayed games, and some very strange games because they know he will play them. He fills the top level of his foyer closet with his games, and has an entire bookshelf in the garage for the rest of them.
Comparatively, I am still merely a game boy. I still must purchase most of my own games, and my collection does not even fill a miniature bookshelf. It is a very nice bookshelf, though, a gift from my Mother. Also, I know a bit about the best game for the best situation. Let me go through my games from left to right and top to bottom.
A cross between telephone and pictionary. Popular at parties. People will often complain that they can’t draw, but tell them the worse the drawings are, the more fun the game is.
A one hundred year old game (114 years old, to be more precise) that simulates the commodities market. Boiled down, this game is quick to learn and tends to involve a lot of shouting as players each clamor to get the attention of a trading partner.
Seven Wonders Duel
If you have one fellow strategically minded friend, this is a good game for the two of you. Advance through technological ages and build an empire better than your rival’s!
A game where you make imaginary people for your fellow players to date. It’s a fun, simple to play game where you make ridiculous suitors such as a man who “loves kittens, shares all your interests, and is incapable of feeling emotion.” Don’t expect much strategy or a lot of replayability.
Aye, Dark Overlord
One of my favorites, Aye Dark Overlord is a guided improv game where one player plays the overlord and the other players are all his or her minions. The twist? The minions have already failed at a task that the overlord player makes up to assign them. Each minion’s job is to avoid the blame for the mission’s failure. The penalty for being blamed is, of course, death.
The Battle for Vyk Tornaahl
This is more of a piece of art than a game. It’s beautiful, but when my friend, who illustrated one of the cards, showed it to me, and I insisted we play it at three or four events, eventually he said, “Could we play a fun game?”
The classic D&D parody where you kill monsters and take their stuff. This game is simpler to play than a serious strategy game, but more tactically rewarding than a pure party game. My copy is many years old, and has so many expansions and is so well-played I have to hold the box together with rubber bands.
Unstable Unicorns and Exploding Kittens
A small sample of the recent explosion in kickstarter party games. Still more sophisticated than Red Flags strategically, but simpler than Munchkin and much simpler than a real strategy game. Their amusing illustrations and writing make them fun to bring out once or twice at parties, and unicorns and kittens may be effective at drawing out certain reluctant players.
This is a variant of dominoes with simple rules and bright colors.
I often refer to this as “the magnet game.” The goal is to put magnets on a mat without them touching each other. The rest is physics. I find this game is particularly good for attracting the interest of non-gamers, and I often will claim that it has never failed to entertain.
If any of these sounds appealing to you, they’re all still available for sale, I’m sure. If you’re in the area and want to play one, just let me know!