It’s that time again – International TableTop Day! This event started the same year that we started Comparative Geeks, and we started an annual tradition of the 12 Days of TableTop Day. We featured 12 games over 12 days before the big day – so at this point, there are 36 games we have recommended for play today!
If you missed this year’s game recommendations, you can find all of them on our Instagram – or you can read on after the jump for a bit more about each game! Hopefully today finds you playing one of these or many other games, together with old friends or new friends. You can find events near you on their website. In the words of Wil Wheaton – play more games!
Our first recommendation was Zombie Dice. This is one we had played before but only picked up for ourselves recently. The game is crazy simple – you’re a zombie, and you roll dice. The dice come up as brains, which you want, or getting shot, which you don’t. Then there’s the feet symbol, showing you just keep shambling. You roll until you get shot thrice, and you’re going for a number of points of brains. You can stop rolling and pass the turn whenever you want.
So it’s also not an easy game – because you’re guessing against probability and luck. And the other players and their risk tolerance and luck! Who will eat the most brains? Find out by playing Zombie Dice!
Firefly Out to the Black
Last year we recommended Firefly: The Game. When we saw Firefly Out to the Black, we thought we had found an expansion to that game and we grabbed it right up. Not so! This is its own game, also in the Firefly universe. It also is based on the themes and encounters from the show, so you’re trying to survive in space, avoid the Alliance and the Reavers, and do a bit of crime.
However, while last year’s game is a competitive game, Firefly Out to the Black is a cooperative game, where you choose characters, go on missions, and generally get to bring friends with you on the missions. You have a really limited amount of cards to work with, and most of the character abilities or use of resources is for drawing more cards. You have to survive through two rounds of everyone doing a mission, and it can be quite the challenge!
One other thing to mention: this is a 3-5 player game. Holly and I tried to figure it out as the two of us playing as two players each, and that did not go as well and we lost horribly. When we actually played with four players, we had a blast and proceeded to buy some expansion packs! We need to play again so we can tap into those!
Rivals for Catan
Well, if the last game is meant for more than 2 players, it was time for a strictly 2-player game! Enter Rivals for Catan. Do you have Settlers of Catan, but have to wait for friends to be around to play it? It’s another 3+ player game! Never fear – Rivals for Catan is a 2-player game which simulates how regular Catan works, while also coming with a bunch of included expansion to really change up how the game works!
It was kind of like getting four or so games all in one – which Holly and I proceeded to sit down and play all of them. You can read our more detailed account of the game here. I’ll say it again here, though: I was surprised to see just how much space this 2-player game can take up!
With a child on the way, I’ve been looking over our games and wondering when we’ll be able to play them with the Geek Baby. We’ve also looked through the games selection at the store… we might have to actually get some of the more “traditional” games! However, we have some already that would be great to play with the Geek Baby in a few years. One of these is Dixit.
Dixit can be fun at any age, as it’s a game of cards with pictures on them. You say a phrase to describe the picture, and everyone else tries to match your phrase with one of their cards. You get points for people guessing your card, and points for guessing the original card – and other scoring shenanigans that make it so you don’t want to be too obvious with your clue, and you want to try really hard to match it.
There are a number of expansions available for Dixit as well. We haven’t gotten any yet, so there are all sorts of new artistic cards waiting for us to play someday!
Forbidden Island is another cooperative game. In this one, you’re a group of explorers who have found an island with ancient, hidden, secret treasure. However… the island is sinking. You’re racing against time, luck, and the constantly rising tides. You don’t have the luxury of wasting many moves, but luckily you get to all work together to try to figure out what the best move is!
I hear tell there’s a real board game version of Forbidden Island. I mean, I’ve seen it on TableTop. However, what I know is the App version. The App does a great job of keeping track of the turn sequence, legal moves, all that stuff. Figuring out some of the order of operations for clicking things can be interesting (like for Helicopters), but you get the hang of it. Plus, if you have multiple people for the Helicopter you get a little graphic and get to put them in seats!
In rearranging our house and life, we’ve found some of our older board games – like Hoopla! This is a game from the folks who made Cranium, and it is a many-options party game. You draw from cards and depending on the card, act out, draw, or describe in some other way a clue. Then the rest of your team tries to guess it!
Hoopla adds an element where it is also timed, and you’re racing the time to try to get as many as you can. Many party games can play on forever without really moving towards an end, but the timer element on Hoopla keeps that from being the case here. Looking for a longer party game? Check out Cranium proper!
If you haven’t noticed, we like cooperative games. They’re great for folding in new players, for avoiding conflict (and increasing the fun factor that way), and they help mitigate for factors like one player having really bad luck. Of course, a different way to play a cooperative game is with the “one versus many” game type.
Think Dungeons and Dragons (or your favorite flavor of roleplaying game): one person is the mastermind game master, and everyone else is working together against them. Okay, you’ve now got the first piece of Tragedy Looper! The next piece? Think Groundhog Day. And the last piece? Think Clue.
Tragedy Looper is a game where something awful has happened – and you’re the time travelers going back trying to prevent it! You don’t know what caused the event, and only have a bare bones. You then replay the loop of time multiple times – although you only have so many tries! And the mastermind? They get to play things out in different ways, as each subtle change causes things to happen differently… but maybe that bad thing still happens!
Yeah, this game is calling for a longer review. That’s why we have one – read that!
Tsuro of the Seas
From complicated game back to the more simple: Tsuro of the Seas! In Tsuro, you are placing tiles with movement lines on them, and your Dragon game piece follows the line. As you get closer together, or start doubling back, you can move on more and more tiles. Just don’t go off the board! Oh, and no infinite loops, either. The goal? Be the last Dragon standing!
Well, Tsuro of the Seas is the follow-up game. Not an expansion, it is a full game itself. The new twist? You are playing ships on the sea, and the Dragons are part of the hazards of the game! Every turn, players role dice to see if the (many) dragons move, and if so, where. If a Dragon lands on your space (or blocks your path!), you lose as well. Even more ways to lose, this game adds a lot of luck and danger, and can make for a really quick game that you can play multiple times.
This is a great game for just about any age – we’ve lost this one to a three-year-old before. If that’s not enough reason to sell you on this game, one thing we have realized – you can play a normal game of Tsuro with the Tsuro of the Seas box – just play without the Dragons! Two games in one, there you go.
Words with Friends
Words with Friends was one we avoided for a long time – keeping our phone board gaming to Ascension and Lords of Waterdeep. However, we eventually gave in – and it is a lot of fun! I mean, okay, it’s pretty much asynchronous Scrabble on your phone. However, there’s a good side to that: it’s pretty much asynchronous Scrabble on your phone!
Holly and I both talked about this game before in what was our first “official” Comparative Opinions posts – check out both for different perspectives on this game:
Another one-versus-many game, Scotland Yard is a game where one of you is the thief – and everyone else is Scotland Yard out to catch the thief! Everyone has a limited number of times they can use different modes of transportation, between taxis, Underground, walking… you choose your movement secretly, and see if the thief is caught!
Most of the time, you don’t know where the thief is, but on specific turns they do have to reveal their location. Then, as you see what types of transportation they use, you try to figure out which way you think they went! As you have a team of Scotland Yard cops, you can work together to try to circle them in, follow all the possibilities, and see if you can catch them! We’ve found the hardest part actually being still having the transportation modes left that you need as you get late in the game, and are getting close to the thief.
This is a big international seller, and is a fun game with friends so I can see why. Can you catch Mr. X? I think they call the thief Mr. X. You even get a Mr. X ballcap to wear…
Another one of our older games we found around the house, Scene It? is a party game with a fun, nostalgia-filled twist: there are video clues! Getting the rights to put this game together must have been a beast, because there are clips from a ton of movies on the DVD. And the clues can be all sorts of things – like who directed the movie (how should I know, from watching a clip?) to specific events or background items in the scene.
Holly loves trivia games, so we have a lot of them but don’t play them often as the two of us. However, Scene It? is a great one for the two of us, because stopping and watching the clips is so much fun. Plus, a lot of the video clues are “All Play” and whoever gets it right first wins that! But since the questions can be so random, it’s not like you can guess it in advance. Anyway, great game, and glad we’ve found this one again!
And finally, Goblins, Inc. This one was on sale at the bookstore/gamestore, and we saw it, laughed, and bought it. What we bought was a whole mess of crazy, as the game is designed around chaos. You play as goblin engineers building a giant robot, and then once built in a crazy hodgepodge fashion, you do battle against your opponent’s robot!
However, that’s just two player… in four player, two of you cooperate (kinda) to build and fight a robot, then fight. Except everyone has their own secret goals their working towards – so one person’s great idea could be another person’s path to victory. Who knows who’ll win! Just know you’ll be laughing as your robot falls apart, or the dice all come up goblin and Holly shoots your pilots out of the cockpit…
Read our longer review (with a bunch of pictures!) here.