Gooooood afternoon everyone! After a slightly longer than expected hiatus (beautifully filled by Paddy’s interview with game designer Robin David) I’m back with the second half of my post on introductory games for new players. So let’s take a look at what I’ve plucked from the Crafty shelves…
Do you like sushi? Do you long for a game that simulates sitting in a restaurant choosing delicious sushi as it goes by on a conveyor belt? Well long no more!
Sushi Go! (exclamation mark included) is easily one of the most adorable games in my collection. Seriously, look at these guys!
Adorable right? Sushi Go! is a really simple card drafting game that is played over three rounds. Players are dealt a number of cards based on the amount of players (between 7 and 10 cards each), they then chose one card to place face down in front of them and then pass the rest of the cards to their left. When everyone has chosen, players simultaneously flip over their cards. This continues until all cards have been drawn and played.
Players score points based on the cards they have chosen, with some cards scoring points by themselves, pairs and triples of certain cards scoring high points, and other cards multiplying a card’s points. The game is super simple, super cute, and has pretty much no barrier to entry. It’s a perfect starter game and can help you to introduce the idea of card drafting which has become central to so many games these days.
Side Note: Max players for Sushi Go! is listed as 5, but we’ve played it with up to 9. There’s a huge stack of cards so it is definitely playable with big groups as long as you tweak the amount of cards dealt out (we went with 6 per person for a 9 player game).
King of Tokyo
Continuing the Japanese theme comes King of Tokyo! (exclamation mark not included). This titanic game, created by equally titanic game designer Richard Garfield of Magic: The Gathering fame, sees players taking on the role of a variety of enormous monsters and vying for control of Tokyo. These great behemoths are gorgeously designed and are visually similar (but legally distinct!) from famous monster movie critters like Godzilla (Giga Zaur) and King Kong (The King).
Players get to roll a whole bunch of colourful custom dice to see if they get victory points, do damage, lose health, or become the King of Tokyo. It plays something akin to old-school king of the hill with players trying to get into Tokyo to get extra points while desperately trying to keep the other players out.
It’s a nice bright, colourful, tactile game that will immediately suck people in with it’s theme and artwork. Definitely worth bringing it to the table for the newbies!
Codenames, designed by the prolific Vlaada Chváti, was released last year and has become one of the favourite games within our group. Setup of the game sees a huge stack of double sided, half-sized cards shuffled and dealt out into a 5 by 5 grid. Players then split into teams with one player on each team being assigned as the “spymaster”. Spymasters need to try to get their team to guess the correct words according to the layout of the grid chosen as you can see in the picture below, while also avoiding the other team’s words and the dreaded assassin word (which causes you to immediately lose the game!).
The twist here is that the spymaster can only use a single word and number to describe their words, e.g. Yankee, 2, could be a clue to get “New York” and “Stadium” in the image above.
This is where all the second guessing, tension, and utter comedy comes from. Ya’see the spymaster cannot give any outward reaction to their team’s discussions. Not even when they pick the correct words and then manage to talk themselves out of picking a completely different word!
It’s an incredibly simple and fun game. I can’t recommend this game enough, so go out and get it! It also has nigh endless replayability with hundreds of double sided cards, as well as pile of the grid cards that can be oriented in any way to change the possibilities! Serious bang for your buck.
Exploding Kittens is another nice, simple and quick card game. It was created by two video game designers and the guy behind The Onion comic (you’ll spot his style in the artwork a mile off if you’re familiar with it).
The game essentially boils down to a game of chicken. Players are dealt a hand of cards to start with and on their turn they can choose to play a card but must draw a card. If you draw one of the titular Exploding Kittens, sorry, you’re dead my friend and your game is over – unless you have a Diffuse card to distract that pesky combustive feline. Other cards add to the fun by letting you target other players, steal cards, or “Nope!” the effects of cards played on you (unless someone else plays a Nope, then that’s a Double Nope… Unless you play another Nope, so you Nope the Nope that Noped you… Unless… Well, you get it).
It’s a great game for getting people laughing and joking and even though there is player elimination the games go quite quick so people won’t be sitting around for very long. Plus its usually pretty entertaining to just watch the tension build and build until it looks like your friend is going to pass out.
Betrayal at House on the Hill
Ah 2004: The year of Mean Girls, Orlando Bloom, and the launch of The Facebook. What a banner year it was! It was also the year that this unholy relic found its way into hobby game shops and insinuated itself into people’s hearts.
Betrayal at House on the Hill (henceforth simply “Betrayal”) sees players take on the role of a number of horror movie stereotypes and venture into the local haunted house for a fun night of being terrified and probably murdered. Players start in the entry hallway and explore the house by moving through doorways or up and down stairs. As they do so they draw tiles from a huge stack of cards and flip the first one that corresponds to the floor they’re on (ground, basement, and upper). Using the stats marked on their character cards players can find items, meet wandering lunatics, and generally uncover creepy phenomena that really should warn them to get the hell out of this freaky-ass house.
Sounds like a weird kind of fun right? It is but, like any good horror movie, Betrayal has a dark and malicious twist hidden away, ready to leap out and strangle the life from your fun co-op party night.
About halfway through the game “The Haunt” happens (I’m actually a little nervous even typing that!). At this point the game switches from a co-op game to a many against one slugfest to see who will leave the house alive! The Haunt will tell you who the betrayer is then that person leaves the room with their own rulebook while you and the remaining good guys read through your own book and see exactly what you have to do.
There are 50 “Haunts” and they range from the classic slasher flick style super murderer, to tracking down and destroying a painting ala Dorian Gray, and all the way to Cthulhu inspired house-reshaping madness! Sometimes there isn’t even a betrayer and you and your buddies just need to figure out what to do and bolt out of the house.
It’s a really fun game and is easy to learn after a round or two (which will be done naturally as you explore the house). The only caveat is that it can be somewhat intimidating to be the betrayer if you’re new to the game. But hey, maybe that’s part of the fun, as you watch an ancient and fearsome vampire wander around aimlessly and fall down a coal chute.
And there you have the last of my suggestions for introductory games! Next up I’ll be sharing some of my preferred intermediary games. I should have a newborn any day now so who knows when I’ll get a new post done but I’ll leave you in the safe hands of Paddy!