concept

Concept is a popular party where players try to guess a word or phrase using a series of icons to represent icons.  Now Repos Production has developed a new version especially designed for children who do not know how to read yet. Concept Kids: Animals is a cooperative game for children ages 4 and up where players attempt to guess the name of an animal being described by the icons on the board. The child friendly board groups the icons in recognizable characteristics of animals:  where it lives, what color it is, how it travels, physical features, what it eats, and if it is a day or night time creature.  It is an excellent way for young children to learn how to describe various animals.  The game contains 110 colorful illustrations of animals to be guessed. Players will attempt to guess 12 animals each game, attempting to earn the highest score possible as a group: Legendary Lions!  Go to Repos Production website to learn more about Concept Kids: Animals.

The board game industry goes through cycles just like any other entertainment industry. With the recent influx of new gamers thanks to the hobby gaining mainstream appeal, new tastemakers are leading the industry in interesting directions. While not all of those directions are particularly healthy, the recent resurgence of party games is most certainly a tick in the win column.

Why are we seeing a party game boom? I think there are a few different reasons. The first, and probably biggest contributor to this shift, is an increasing crop of casual gamers. That mainstream acceptance I mentioned earlier brings with it new faces who’s entry point might have been simple social and party style games. It also seems to me that we’re coming out of a period of rapid heavy game adoption. Where there are peaks, there must come valleys, and even the most hardened gamer needs a bit of a laugh every once in a while.

None of that would matter if the games on the market were junk. I give a lot of credit to companies like Blue Orange Games and R&R Games for publishing some really great quality party games. The market created demanded, and these casual game stalwarts answered it. Did the people bring the games or the games bring the people? Whatever it is that has given rise to this party game-friendly confluence, it’s a really encouraging change of pace.  Let’s take a look at some of the recent highlights.

Image from BGG

Image from BGG

But Wait, There’s More! from Toy Vault, Inc.

But Wait, There’s More! builds on the grand tradition of Snake Oil by asking players to sell increasingly ridiculous products to the other players. It starts innocuous enough with just a thing and a feature, but when additional features are added into the mix pushing players to really stretch their sales pitches, the game gets really fun. It’s easy to talk about a vacuum cleaner that can be used in 18 different ways, but now it cures acne as well?! There are already several minis expansions that add more cards, support for additional players, and even new games modes.

Cards Against Humanity

Love it or hate it, Cards Against Humanity is a perennial favorite among adult party gamers. The game revels in unabashedly off-color humor reaching into the deepest depths of offensiveness, so if your crowd is into that kind of comedy and isn’t easily offended, this Apples to Apples clone might be for you. In Cards Against Humanity, one player is a judge that draws a black card and reads it to the other players, normally with one or two blanks. The players have a hand of white cards with a myriad of soul-scarring phrases that they select from. The judge then shuffles and reads the responses, declaring one the winner and scoring that player a point. The judge’s role then shifts to the next player and on it goes often with alcoholic beverages in tow.

Concept from Asmodee

Concept is a clever deduction game in which one player draws a card with a series of words or phrases ranging in difficulty from easy to hard. That player then selects a word and uses the central board and a variety of tokens to illustrate their word or phrase nonverbally. The board contains a myriad of images and icons representing both concrete and nebulous concepts. By assigned the marker for the primary and secondary concepts, and using cubes to mark additional clues, players can deduce the word or phrase and score points. It’s a great set up for what boils down to board game charades. Will your teammates guess the word before time runs out or your sense of shame gets the better of you?

Monikers

The game at the heart of Monikers is actually pretty old. It’s been published as Celebrities and Time’s Up! most recently, but goes by a variety of names and forms. None of those versions are as attractive and broad as Monikers. Regardless of the edition, two teams of players draw from a pool of cards that all feature people or personas.

Image from BGG

Image from BGG

These can range from historical figures to fictional characters to celebrities and more. In the first round, players attempt to describe as many of their cards as possible, in the allotted time, without using the cards’ name. Sounds easy enough. In the second round, that same deck of cards is used again but this time they must be described using just one word. Round three ramps things up even more by requiring that no words are used at all, only gestures. I won’t spoil what happens in rounds four and five, but suffice to say, it’s about as funny as party games get.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf from Bezier Games

The classic social deduction game, usually referred to as Werewolf or Mafia, has been streamlined into a shorter experience representing just one night of werewolves hiding among the innocent townfolk. Aided by a tremendous vocal track by the Dice Tower’s own Eric Summerer, players are assigned roles in secret and attempt to use their guile to uncover the werewolves or to throw suspicion on the humans, whatever the case may be. Add to that a whole pile of different roles with unique motivations, ensuring endless replay value.

Spit It Out! from R&R Games

Probably the newest game on the list, Spit It Out! is a deceptively simple game. The box comes with a whole bunch of cards and two regular dice, and all you have to do to win is answer some very basic questions correctly. Huh? Well there’s a twist. Those two dice are rolled to determine which two of the six questions must be answered incorrectly. Those answer not only need to be wrong, but they have to be in the same ballpark as the correct answer. What color is the sky? You can’t say that sky is “firetruck”, you have to answer with another color. It sounds easy, but with a timer ticking down and the conscious effort it takes to trick our own brains away from the correct answers, it’s great fun.

Spyfall from Cryptozoik Entertainment

Spyfall is a social deduction in which players are given secret roles and a secret location. One of those roles is the spy and unlike their fellow payers, the spy doesn’t know the location. Obviously not a very crafty spy. In any case, players take turns asking each other questions.

Image from BGG

Image from BGG

The non-spies are trying to determine which one is the spy, and the spy is trying to figure out the location. The fun comes from the ridiculous questions. Knowing there’s a spy, the players will be pretty dodgy not wanting to reveal too much information. All the while, the spy is all-but grasping at straws trying to piece together the subtle clues found in the other questions. Though it rarely happens, if the spy can outwit the other players, it’s a pretty amazing win.

This is just a small slice of the party game pie, and you really can’t go wrong with any of these selections as long as your group is a good fit. Throwing a party game night is a great way to introduce non-gamers to our hobby. It’s also a nice way to break up your regular game events with something a little unexpected. Next time you plan a game night, consider shelving the heavy euros just this once for a night of goofball fun.

        

Colt Express a game released in November of last year received, on March 3rd, 2015, the  As d’Or – Jeu de L’année 2015. This is the French award for the most prestigious game.  The As d’Or – Jeu de L’année was established in 2005 and it’s mission is to draw attention to great game design and show the games as a true cultural asset. Past recipients of this award have been games like Ticket To Ride (2004), Dixit (2009), and Concept (2014).

 

asmodee

Continental Express

continentalExpress

As an employee of the “Continental Express” railroad company, you are in charge of the constant ballet of train cars at your station. You must complete each train in time for it to depart. But, the other “switchmen” want the same train cars as you…and in this yard there are no holds barred!

 As a railyard manager, players must “switch” the right train cars to the station in order to form their train. The cars will be worth victory points, depending on their number and rarity. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game is declared the winner!

  •  2-4 players
  • Ages: 8+
  • 20 minutes play time

 Contains:

  • 82 small cards (58 train cards; 2 events; 12 bank notes; 10 character cards)
  • 20 company tokens
  • 30 long cards (20 objective cards; 10 contract cards)
  • 1 rule book

The Builders: Middle Ages

builders

Recruit workers and create buildings to prove that you are the greatest builder. You’ll have to start small, with cottages and stables, but you’ll be building your name as you build your masterpieces, and before long, you’ll complete the cathedral!

Hire worker cards, pay them to build your buildings, and balance your income with your expenses. You can’t do everything on your turn but you’ll want to! From wells and shacks to castles and churches, use your resources to create structures that will stand the test of time.

  •  2-4 players
  • Ages 10+
  • 30 minute play time

 Contains:

  • 42 Worker cards
  • 47 Building cards
  • 40 coins
  • 1 rule book

Concept

concept

A large, green animal from long ago? Must be a dinosaur. Water, cube and cold weather? Has to be an ice cube. A man with a job who rides large brown animals in the United States? Is that a cowboy?

In Concept, players team up to place tokens on a board covered in icons, depicting everything from ancient samurai and snails to Leonardo DiCaprio. Points go to the player who can guess the correctly by looking at the various symbols, but in this wild party game, the points are less important than just having a great time!

  • 4-12 players
  • Ages 10+
  • 40 minute play time

Contains:

  • 1 game board with universal icons
  • 5 sets of pawns and cubes (1 green set for the main concept pawn and 10 cubes, and 4 sets consisting of sub-concept pawns and 8 cubes)
  • 110 concept cards
  • Victory point tokens
  • 2 player aids
  • 1 storage bowl

Corto

corto

Enter the thrilling adventures of Corto Maltese, the hero from the fertile imagination of Hugo Pratt. Choose your adventures and then live through them as the game unfolds. Aided by Corto and resisting Rasputin’s attempts to thwart your plans, recruit your own bands of adventurers and get your hands on the gold at the end of the story.

Corto is a card game of high adventure, mixing tactics and luck with exciting tales. In each game, you choose the quests you want to play – each brings its own set of character and exotic locales. Attack the train full of Russian gold, research the four aces of whale bones, or meet the leopard men. Games are diverse, rich in action, and of course, full of treasure!

  • 2-4 players
  • Ages 10+
  • 20-40 minute play time

Contains:

  • 2 figurines
  • 6 storyline boards
  • 6 decks of 20 of cards
  • 4 sets of 13 markers
  • 4 “seals”
  • 1 quest tile
  • 2 handbooks (rules and adventures)