OSZ Holiday Tabletop Game Giving Guide

Old School Zero

Old School Zero

Ex-Chargers fan in Portland. Sorry about your carpet.
Old School Zero

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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!

 

Old School Zero
Old School Zero
Ex-Chargers fan in Portland. Sorry about your carpet.
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the king in yellowOld School ZeroSenor WeaseloSill Bimmonsjjfozz Recent comment authors
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the king in yellow
the king in yellow

Holy shit. Hold on. Let me get my nerd outfit on.
Okay. There is a giant culture of board games that most people aren’t even aware of. If you’re into that kind of thing, I recommend checking out Board game geek or Fortress Ameritrash. We have a really smart group of people here, so I bet most of you people would enjoy the hell out of Arkham Horror. It’s an adventure in the world of H. P. Lovecraft, during the 1920’s, where everyone is on the same team, competing against the game. One of the Great Old Ones from the Cthulhu mythos is trying to break into our world and the players are running around trying to seal gates, in an attempt to prevent it. While they’re doing that, they’re having Lovecraftian themed encounters and fighting monstrosities that come out of the open gates. It’s complicated (a borderline RPG), takes a while to set up, and really requires a teacher to get you started, but it can quickly become a way of life if you let it. Google image “custom Arkham Horror game” or “custom Arkham Horror set” and be amazed at how much time people have devoted to this thing. One guy has a game box that looks like a 1920’s era radio.

Senor Weaselo

I assume Cards Against Humanity’s already been mentioned? There’s also a way to play online and I am surprised we haven’t done that during an open thread yet.

Zombie Fluxx gets a special mention because there’s a way for everyone to lose. That’s right, you can lose to the card game!

And then I saw this on the Interwebs earlier this week, which I’ll have to put an order in at some point when I’m not entirely lazy. As someone who’s played and hosted games of Mafia (albeit via message boards) it sounds up my alley, though 5-10 players will mean saving it for family events like Christmas and Easter (which is normally spent playing CAH).
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/maxtemkin/secret-hitler

jjfozz

Saw an article on this game: http://kingdomdeath.com/ and then watched a YouTube video of an unboxing. The people who buy this game and enjoy it should be put on some kind of serial killer watchlist. Holy shit, I’d lose my mind just trying to get the pieces put together.

jjfozz

My first sucker punch was courtesy of my cousin over a game of Stratego.

I was later punched by a guy who played offensive guard for our college over a game of Risk.

And once, during a wrestling game for Sega, my roommates and I got into this drunken wrestling match that included the couches turned over to form a ring and the idea that smashing half full cans of beer, and later on full cans of beer, into each other’s heads and bodies was fun. It was a lot of fun.

So, yeah, gaming and me kind of have a rocky history.

nomonkeyfun

Wow, I’m not surprised that the DFOteriat is into board/card games. If you’ve got kids Rummy 500.is a great game. Other than that for young Kids, you should play Life. Very chance based but will teach them the opportunities off a college degree.

After that, Spades or Hearts. My. Grandpa ways seemed to have the bitch, and drop it on me or my sister.
I was waiting for someone to bring up Axis and Allies. Can’t tell you how many years I spent playing that game.

For computer games of a similar complexity, I recommend Colonization. The real sequel to the original Colonization.

Sill Bimmons
Sill Bimmons

All of this is brilliant except Colonization because I’ve never played that and can’t comment intelligently on whether or not it is any good.

blaxabbath

Is strip poker a card game?

Horatio Cornblower

Not if you do it right.

Sill Bimmons
Sill Bimmons
Mother Puncher
Mother Puncher

Ticket to Ride- very fun, very easy to learn. They have special editions for a wide variety of countries and regions.

Mr. Jack- if you’re like my SO and I and have no friends, this is a fun game designed for only two people.

Forbidden Desert- from the same designer as Pandemic. Another cooperative game with the fun twist of being fucking impossible to beat. Still a lot of fun though.

Cartagena- very fast game and easy game. Essentially a slightly more complicated version of Candy Land.

Also, as obnoxious as he is, Wil Wheaton has a great series on Youtube that has helped us learn how to play most of these games.

makeitsnowondem

Outrage! This is something my family bought in London years and years ago, and I’m still not sure it’s available in actual stores here, but you can buy it online. It’s a game about stealing the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London and it offers endless opportunities for dicking your friends over.

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

A few years ago my family revisited the game of CLUE. I was amazed by how much more interesting it was now that we were adults and could envision more complex strategies (i.e. tracking who had which card; using that information to figure out things beyond your own suggestions). And yet that game still featured my sister losing a game because someone (shot in the dark) suggested the correct combination but she (her turn was next) misremembered what they had suggested when she made her accusation; and my brother losing a game because his accusation included a card that he held in his OWN HAND.

theeWeeBabySeamus

Oh, and you haven’t lived until you’ve play My Little Pony Monopoly with your 10 year old niece who has ADHD and insists upon being the banker.

Sober, no less.

entropy

My favorite thing about playing games with my nieces and nephews was the random “I win!” exclamations no matter what sequence of events led up to them winning.

jjfozz

The probability of a successful game of Chutes n Ladders being completed in my house is up there with the Ravens winning the Super Bowl this year.

Some of the brawls that have broken out over this game were outright hilarious.

theeWeeBabySeamus

Anybody ever play Acquire? I haven’t in years, but back in my mid-teens it was one of my favorites for myself and my then best friend during summer days spent way drunker than mid-teens oughta be. Kind of a Monopoly type, but easier to keep track of and didn’t take so fricking long….hence why it was great for way too drunk teens I guess.
http://www.worthpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/acquire-3m-usa-1962-wooden-tiles.jpg

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

One of the interesting things about the world of high finance is how hard the inhabitants try (via movies like Wall Street and TV shows like [can’t remember the name; lasted about three weeks] and board games like this) to persuade people that it’s an interesting occupation. The LIFESTYLE seems interesting, but the work itself seems dreadfully dull and unfulfilling.

entropy

Watch any IT-related movie. You would think we live in raves and every screen is an immersive 3D experience to rival anything the big screen has ever displayed…. But really it’s command lines, mouse clicks, and fucking dust. Everywhere, dust.

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

RTD: [hopefully] Angel dust?

entropy

Faaaaaaarrrrrr to much to hope for, man.

Fun story: I once worked with a woman who wore every pair of shoes she owned to the office, and rotated them out in a lovely pile beneath her desk, right next to the PC tower she somehow kept fucking up in new and interesting ways. After the fifth call to her cubicle and choking on footrot in the air, I threw every goddamn pair of those things in the trash.

HR did not appreciate my version of events wherein I told them a mouse had shit, repeatedly and with great conviction, in every single shoe and I was doing everyone a public service.

SonOfSpam

That takes me back. Don’t remember anything about how to play, but I sure remember the cover of that box.

Horatio Cornblower

That reminds me, say hi to your mom for me.

Clipboard Jesus
Clipboard Jesus

I’d also like to recommend 7 Wonders. I generally play board games with larger groups and it’s nice to have a game that 7 people can play that still plays well with fewer people.

Don T

Scrabble! Especially the Spanish version. That damn W is like getting the Old Maid–unless you can make whisky, watt, kiwi or wok.

Don T

Or whist. And that’s it.

Doktor Zymm

My “Better than Risk” board games were always Axis & Allies and Diplomacy.

DIplomacy, man…if you have some idea that your friends aren’t a bunch of treacherous, backstabbing SOBs, this is the game that will convince you otherwise.

entropy

Axis & Allies… I used to play that, years ago, with a friend who ended up designing his own RPG system. That was a fun game.

The Right Reverend Electric Mayhem

Is there an online equivalent for Diplomacy? Cuz an offseason DFO league would ease the pain

Doktor Zymm

http://www.playdiplomacy.com/

It seems there is! And it’s free!

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

I would be interested in joining an offseason remote game of Diplomacy. Always wanted to try it.

makeitsnowondem

I have played Diplomacy and I am so fucking in.

entropy

I’ve never played, but as I am sure you can tell, I bore easily and spend too much time online, so I’d play.

nomonkeyfun

Oh God, Frau Doktor I miss Axis and Allies. I’ve got the box in front of me now even though I haven’t played against someone in 25 years. Every 3 or 4 years I play a game against myself for fun.

the king in yellow
the king in yellow

That series was awesome. Personal favorite was “Fortress America.” Yelling out “Wolverines!” and “Avenge me!” while playing as America was mandatory.

entropy

Not even apologizing this time:

Why the fuck is google continuously asking me to prove I’m human? Does the fucking SEARCH ENGINE curse anywhere near as much as I do? No. No it does not. Get your shit together, future overlord. I am tired of typing your nonsense words.

BrettFavresColonoscopy
entropy

Isn’t this the rule everywhere?

BrettFavresColonoscopy

This Killer Bunnies game, A) Is it worth the $80 Amazon is listing it for and B) Can it be played with 2 players or do you need critical mass?

Doktor Zymm

Everywhere in the US at least. It may be a more pressing issue in DC since the Metro has some of the longest escalators in the world, making it more infuriating to be stuck behind some ass blocking the way.

BrettFavresColonoscopy

Shit, reply fail.

And that’s the frustrating part about DC Metro. It’s commonsense and normal everywhere, but each morning the slew of tourists jam up the metro escalators by standing on both sides and boiling commuters’ blood.

entropy

I may be far too used to traveling in NYC. Everywhere I go, I tend to move left and haul ass. I just don’t understand dawdling in what amounts to large elevators.

Duchess

you run into problems with a.) inconsiderate assholes who live around here and b. people who come from the drive on the left countries UK, Australia, most of south Africa, India, Japan and Pakistan.

BrettFavresColonoscopy

I see it far more as the family of four in from out of town than the local assholes, who show their true colors while driving rather than on escalators.

Doktor Zymm

I learned how to drive in DC. This may explain why I’m both fantastic at parallel parking and have a very low opinion of humanity.

Duchess

true, the country yokels do come out and don’t understand how to use the magic moving stairs. or just annoying kids.

Doktor Zymm

And how damn hard is it to figure out how farecards work!? I’ve successfully bought and used public transit tickets in countries where I didn’t know the damn alphabet, yet people from two hours drive away can’t follow simple directions written in their native language.

entropy

My favorite thing about European public transit is buying the farecard for three days, no matter the length of your stay, because as long as you move with purpose, no one ever checks it. Im not saying “rob the transit system,” but yeah….. rob the transit system.

Duchess

TWIFY! Mass Transit

Sill Bimmons
Sill Bimmons

The BAWSE

comment image

Sill Bimmons
Sill Bimmons

Palladium Universe.

Universal RPG system with some great campaign books.

http://www.palladiumbooks.com

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

So many games of Systems Failure and Rifts for the Middle-school Commander…

Lothar of the Hill People
Lothar of the Hill People

Feudal is a fun chess/Stratego/Risk hybrid. It’s old and out of print, though. I highly recommend it.

MikeWallaceAndGromit

If you guys want to REALLY dive into the deep, cleansing pool of the board game world, I am all over that. I had been contemplating supplementing DFOnline with DFOffline talking about board games. I have an entire bookshelf of fantastic games that none of you have probably heard of.

Lords of Waterdeep is great.

If you get Pandemic, get Pandemic: Legacy.

MikeWallaceAndGromit

The hell happened to my avatar?

Lothar of the Hill People
Lothar of the Hill People

I got Exploding Kittens (with the NSFW deck) through the Kickstarter, but I have yet to play it. Looks simple, but I’m thinking the funniness factor dwindles over time.

entropy

Man, none of my friends play card games, which is kind of surprising considering many of them loved poker for so long.

I apologize for going off topic so early in the day, but I do have a recommendation, even if it’s not a game: SyFy debuted the first episode of The Expanse online the other day and I have already watched it three times. This show is going to be amazing if it lives up to the first episode’s promise, and I believe it might.

Feel free to mock me if I am bitching by episode 6.

Sill Bimmons
Sill Bimmons

If you like Stratego you’ll love THE GENERALS.

It’s basically just a slightly more complex version of Stratego with modern US military ranks but it has A BATTERY POWERED ELECTRONIC BATTLE DECIDER THINGY.

That’s right, kids! You each put your piece in the Battery Powered Electronic Battle Decider Thingy and it tells you who won WITHOUT HAVING TO REVEAL THE RANK OF THE PIECE. HOLY. SHIT.

Seriously, this game is fucking awesome and everyone should have it.

http://940ee6dce6677fa01d25-0f55c9129972ac85d6b1f4e703468e6b.r99.cf2.rackcdn.com/products/pictures/249208.jpg

Lothar of the Hill People
Lothar of the Hill People

I’m pretty sure I might’ve had that on my Christmas list as a kid. It hits the sweet spot of my tweens–board games, electronics, and merciless teasing from my older brother.

Sill Bimmons
Sill Bimmons

I got it AND I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT EXISTED.

Best Xmas gift I ever got as a kid.

SonOfSpam

I played that SO MUCH as a kid/nerd. Can still hear the “battle” sound in my head. Plus, it plays Taps when you kill the opposing General.

The Right Reverend Electric Mayhem

Cards Against Humanity

MikeWallaceAndGromit

/climbs up on soapbox
Don’t buy or play Cards Against Humanity. It’s not a good game. Read this:
http://www.shutupandsitdown.com/blog/post/review-cards-against-humanity/

entropy

I kind of have to agree with this. It’s the card game equivalent of Andrew Dice Clay.

BrettFavresColonoscopy

Still worth it because of the way it brings my family together.

Also, this: http://distractify.com/trending/2015/11/30/mariam-cards-against-humanity-u-sneaky

entropy

We just use alcohol in my family. That, and the way I always try to sneak a shot of Jameson to one of my siblings when they’re drinking their awful, awful “chocolate cake” shots. Turns out everyone joins together quite nicely when they’ve a relative to yell at for something.

rodafowa
rodafowa

And thus my twin Internet obsessions of DFO and SU&SD collide.

Garsh.

Clipboard Jesus
Clipboard Jesus

I will second the recommendation for Power Grid. Fun, strategic, a little cutthroat. Downside is that it can take a couple of hours to play and sometimes you can tell you’re out of it after the first couple of turns. Plus the expansion boards and cards are good.

packman_jon

Monopoly, but with (a lot) of alcohol

entropy

That’s how me and some old friends played chess, back in the day. Beer for pawns, shots for named pieces. Blitz games got really fun, really quickly.

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

I learned a similar game at college; we called it Deathchess. The way it worked was that when you took a piece, you had to drink it. Pawns were shots of beer; building up to a very strong queen drink. Loser had to clear everything that was left on the board. Usually it was played in teams of two.