Hate me if you must, but I absolutely loathe Cards Against Humanity. Apples to Apples, being essentially the same game, isn’t much better but at least one has to think creatively to achieve sexual innuendo. For the fortunately uninitiated, Cards Against Humanity is essentially a comedic popularity contest in which players argue, beg, and plead for their infantile non-sequiturs to be selected by other players. Despite requiring no skill, strategy, teamwork, or intelligence, these “games” dominate parties and relaxed social spaces. They are a stain upon the gaming community and I feel it is my duty to provide fun, easy-to-teach alternatives to bring to your jock friend’s next “game night”.
Codenames is a simple game in which two teams of players attempt to guess their team’s code words on a grid, by receiving hints from their spymaster. Although it gives the same general feel of Pictionary or Charades, Codenames manages to add a bit of strategy and depth by enabling teams to potentially guess more than one code on a turn, at the risk of accidentally guessing an opponent’s code. The team that has all of their codes successfully guessed wins the games! Go here to check out a brief rundown on the rules to this quick and easy crowd-pleaser. Games of Codenames rarely last longer than 10 minutes and multiple games can be played at the same time out of just one box by creating some color coded cardboard strips to simulate the operative markers. Codenames can be found in stores or at Amazon for $16.59.
Fancy a game of Mafia/Werewolf that might actually end someday? Consider picking up a copy of Avalon. Though I have already reviewed the game in depth, the basic premise is that the Knights of the Round Table must root out agents of evil that would seek to stop the good King Arthur from finding the Holy Grail. Everyone receives role cards indicating their allegiance, and on each round must argue and bicker to choose which brave knights should be sent on a quest. Once selected, any evil agent may choose to sabotage the quest, with three failures resulting in a win for the villains while three successes will prove the loyal knights triumphant. The great advantage of Avalon as opposed to Mafia is that players will never find themselves eliminated from the game. Although the crowd may turn against a player that they suspect is a villain, they still get to cast votes to select the adventuring party. Unlike Mafia, no one will find themselves sitting around after being killed during the first night. The game supports up to 10 players and even offer special character roles like Merlyn and Morgana which add additional powers and a welcome wrinkle to a game all about information. Avalon can be found currently on sale at Amazon for the excellent price of $14.09
If you’re interested in a significantly more refined version of BS, look no further than Coup. In this card game for 2-6 players, each player receives two character cards which remain hidden from their opponents. Each of these cards have special abilities that they can enable. Using these abilities, players collect coins which can be spent to force players to discard their cards. The goal of the game is to be the last player standing with a card in their hand. What makes the game so appealing, is that players can claim abilities from cards that they don’t have in their hand. Similar to BS, other players can decide to “challenge” the player if they suspect that player lied. If the player can’t prove their innocence, they must discard a card but, if they can reveal the relevant character, the accuser loses a card instead. Coup is a rowdy, fast-paced bluffing game with just enough meat to engage gamers while remaining simple enough to quickly teach others. At the moment Coup costs $12.99 on Amazon.
…please don’t play Cards Against Humanity.