Inspired by my recent invitation to “guys night” where I mercilessly crushed my husband and his friends, here are my top ten (non video) games. They are in alphabetical order, not by any kind of ranking. You’ll notice it is a combination of strategy games and word/trivia games, which are my husband and I’s two preferred categories. He tends towards the slower paced strategy kind, while I love speed and knowledge.
Cards Against Humanity
The adult version of Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity always has me alternating between cringing and laughing hysterically. The way to play is for every black topic card, each player submits their best white subject card for judgment by one of the other players. The topics range from “What’s the best happy meal toy?” to “White people like _______?”. The subject cards are even more out there, including things like “a sad handjob” and “smallpox blankets”. Together, the combinations are endless and hilarious. Plus, you never know if you’re going to win, it depends entirely on the judge. Will the best match win? Or simply the most outrageous selection? Warning, this game is absolutely not family friendly — unless your family is cool with sex jokes and horrifying imagery.
In a completely different direction, this game is completely family friendly, as long as everyone can read. It’s best played with an even number of people, who form into two teams. You pass the unit around, and try to get your team to guess the displayed word or phrase, without using any of the words. There is a timer, which makes it even more intense. This game always has us in fits of laughter as well, watching our teammates struggle to describe their target in a way everyone else can understand.
This is one of my family’s favorites, and I can reluctantly get my husband to play on occasion. You compete in teams to move around the board, proceeding by completing challenges in trivia, wordplay, art, or performance. The trickiest is the “Humdinger”, where you are required to hum a certain song well enough for your teammates to guess. I think it uses a wide set of skills, playing to the various strengths and weaknesses of each person. My personal favorite is the “word worm” category, which includes everything from spelling a word backwards to identifying a definition, to unscrambling or filling in the blanks. The questions cover a wide range, so no person seems to have a serious advantage over any of the others. This is the perfect game for a group of mixed ages.
This game is a recent addition to my repertoire, but one I have started to enjoy. It is a deck building strategy game where you use coins to acquire resources towards the ultimate goal of earning the most victory points. Each player buys cards each turn, which get reshuffled into their personal deck to be used in a future round. Therefore, you have to be careful not to buy too many victory points too early on, because when those turn up in your hand, they are useless as they cannot be tallied until the end of the game. You are also able to attack other players, trash your own cards in order to upgrade, and earn additional “buys” each round. It’s a little complicated to explain, and I’ve only played the beginner version, but it’s definitely something to try. Once it’s in front of you it becomes very self explanatory.
Another recent addition, and one of my new absolute favorites. There are quite a few versions of Fluxx, but we own the pictured Pirate version, which I adore. It begins as a simple card game, but each play has the potential to change/add new rules. You win by meeting the goal, but anyone can change the goal at any time, which keeps things hopping! The theme is very well done throughout the set, and some of the cards played in combination make things absolutely chaotic. The game itself is very portable, and can take a wide range of time, as the ending is completely random. Like Dominion, the cards themselves are very self explanatory, and the game is easier and faster the more familiar you are with how each card is used.
This game is quick, portable, and easy to pick up. A great combination, and the perfect choice to bring along to kill time. With only sixteen cards, it is mainly a game of deduction, knowing which cards others have played, and therefore what is left. Each card has a certain character on it, and each character has a certain effect. You get a choice from only two cards each turn, which moves things along quickly and helps the other players plot their own strategy. The game is won by making the princess “read” your love letter a certain number of times, aka being the last player left in the round.
We actually own two versions of this game, the original and zombies set. They can be played independently, or in combination, and we’ve experimented with both. It plays like an RPG, where you fight monsters, collect treasure, and ultimately try to level your player to level 10 to win. You can collect and wear gear, choose a race and a class, and either help or hurt your fellow players in the quest to win. The rules are quite elaborate, and the game itself is time consuming and may take a while to learn. But when you’ve figured it out, it can be quite entertaining, and the cards themselves are funny. You can fight “The Lawyer”, wear the “Pointy Hat of Power”, or be cursed by the “Duck of Doom”. For those who enjoy RPGs, this is a much more structured form of play, but the possibilities are still endless.
An oldie but a goodie. In this game, players are given a letter and a set of categories, and must choose one answer for each category starting with the set letter. The trick is that you only get points for answers no one else has, so for a food the begins with “s”, it’s better to choose “sashimi” than “sandwich”. I’m a word person, so this is definitely one of my favorites. It’s simple to play, entertaining, and the combination of letters and category cards creates a very high replay value. Sometimes simplicity is all you need.
Settlers of Catan
Ahh, the game that proved me victorious at Guy’s Night. This is yet another strategy game, where you collect resources to build roads, settlements, and cities to make it to 10 victory points. Each place you build on provides a variety of resources depending on the what number is rolled on the game’s two dice. You also can sabotage the other players, by moving the robber in order to prevent them from collecting resources on their roll. The game encourages trading with others, and that is one of the best ways to get the cards you need to build. Additionally, you can use resources to buy development cards, which can do anything from giving you a victory point to allowing you to relocate the robber. This is perhaps my favorite of the strategy games, and can get exciting when people are willing to trade and be aggressive.
Another classic. Some may say this is a children’s game, but those people have obviously never played with vengeful adults. This is the ultimate in party games, as you move around the board getting closer to the safety zone of “home”, when suddenly you’re getting knocked back to start, or switching places with another player. It’s so easy to make a comeback in this game, as you need an exact move to make it into the goal area, and that could take a while as it’s the luck of the draw. Playing this game as an adult is a very different – and fun – experience.
That’s it for my top ten tabletop games. I hope this encouraged you to try some new and unfamiliar ones, or revisit some old favorites. I’d like to hear any you’d think I’d like, as well!