party games

cafe international

The Café International: All are welcome here!  This statement almost brings to one’s imagination a coffee house where everybody knows your name.  Or is that a different place?  Either way, Café International is a game in which players are trying to accommodate as many international guests as possible into the cafe.  These guests all enjoy sitting together and getting to know one another over a glass of wine, a cup of coffee or a slice of pie, and do so together at tables or individually at the bar.

In the game, players will bring as many people into the cafe as possible, seating them at tables or the bar in clever ways.  As they do so, they will be scoring each round via black (1 point), red (5 points), and blue (10 points) chips, and may lose points when seating customers at the bar or having unseated guests at the end of the game.

Café International is a game designed by Rudi Hoffmann for 2-4 players ages 13 and up, and plays in 30-60 minutes.  The game is scheduled for release in August of 2015.

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.

One of the most talked about games to come out of Essen last year was Spyfall from Hobby World and designed by Alexandr Ushan. Unfortunately it wasn’t available in North America and was very difficult to obtain anywhere else. But now Cryptozoic Entertainment has picked up the rights to this fantastic little game and is set to release it on June 10th.

Spyfall is a simple game with rules that should only take a minute or two to learn but it will provide you with hours of entertainment and laughter. In the game players are dealt a card with the location all the players share, except one person’s card only says Spy and they have no clue what the location is. Players then ask one other player a question that must be answered. The goal of the game is to figure out who doesn’t know what the location is and therefore must be the spy.

Spyfall is played over several rounds, and at the start of each round all players receive cards showing the same location — a casino, a traveling circus, a pirate ship, or even a space station — except that one player receives a card that says “Spy” instead of the location. Players then start asking each other questions — “Why are you dressed so strangely?” or “When was the last time we got a payday?” or anything else you can come up with — trying to guess who among them is the spy. The spy doesn’t know where he is, so he has to listen carefully. When it’s his time to answer, he’d better create a good story!

Once per round the players get to vote on who they think the spy is, if the spy is caught then the all the other players get a point, if the spy escapes detection then they get a point. At the end of a set number of rounds the person with the most points wins.

Spyfall plays 3- 8 ages 15 and up and comes with 30 different locations in the box each with different illustrations from Sergey Dulin and Uildrim. There is even an advanced game mode that has you take on the unique role printed on each card that will make your answers more interesting.

With simple rules and compelling game play Spyfall is sure to be a hit with gamers and non-gamers alike so if you’re interested head over to your FLGS/OLGS any time after June 10th to pick up your copy.

 

flip em up

There is a new game studio from F2Z Entertainment, the same people in charge of Z-Man Games. This studio, Pretzel Games, will focus solely on producing dexterity games made from wooden components. The name comes from the idea that dexterity games and pretzels go together.

From the website:

For as long as we can remember, dexterity games have always been accompanied by a nice big bowl of pretzels and are synonyms of joy:

  • The joy of spending quality time with family and friends, to play and laugh without taking things too seriously.

  • The joy of playing with beautiful game pieces and the sound of two wood pieces when they hit each other.

  •  The joy of impressing everyone with an extraordinary play that defies the laws of physics.

The first game from Pretzel Games is Flick ‘Em Up!, a team-based Wild West themed dexterity game where you move and shoot by flicking disks. It looks like a solid first game for the studio, and if you enjoy dexterity games like Terror in Meeple City or Catacombs (which have similar movement mechanics to Flick ‘Em Up!), then Pretzel Games is the studio for you.

For more information, visit their website here.

Toy Vault will be releasing “Firefly: Fistful of Credits” and “But Wait, There’s More: That’s The Best Part” expansion within the next month.  These two titles offer you something for a small group of friends or a big party.

Tom Vasel and the Party Gamecast have given very favorable reviews of But Wait, There’s More.  Tom’s review here.

Publishers description below

fistful of credits

Firefly: Fistful of Credits

Do the job.  Get paid.  Aim to misbehave.

Firefly: Fistful of Credits is a two-to-four-player cooperative game where players step into the boots of Serenity’s crew to pull off a series of dangerous heists and hopefully walk away with their lives and a tidy fortune! The game features 3 distinct heist scenarios inspired by the episodes Bushwhacked, The Train Job, and Ariel; each with their own highly-detailed board, tokens, and Heist card, which details unique objectives from the show that must be accomplished in order to win.

Players pair up any two of the nine crew members, forming unique teams that work with other players to collect gear, fight, and face both luck and misfortune while racing against the clock to complete the heist. Be careful: triggering an alarm, lollygagging around or sticking your nose in the wrong crate can open up a whole world of ugly – be it Reavers, Alliance, or the sinister Hands of Blue!

Fail and it’s all over…but succeeding means you and your crew walk away with more than a Fistful of Credits!

but wait theres more

But Wait, There’s More: That’s the Best Part expansion

Just when you thought you were the king of improvised pitching in But Wait, There’s More!, we’ve gone and created an all-new expansion, “That’s the Best Part!”

Are you such an expert But Wait, There’s More! pitchman that you can sell solar-powered ice to Eskimos? Then this is the expansion for you! A good pitchman is always prepared to answer any question from the audience, and that’s precisely what the “That’s the Best Part!” expansion puts to the test!

After each pitch, the next player plays their That’s the Best Part! card which contains a curious question such as “What happens if Grandma can’t lift it?” or “What happens if it induces vomiting?”. The pitching player responds with a confident “That’s the Best Part!” and has to continue his pitch, quickly improvising his or her answer!

This add-on expansion contains 40 brand new cards and brings a wonderfully entertaining new aspect to But Wait, There’s More! Requires But Wait, There’s More! main game to play.

R & R Games, publisher of games like Hanabi, SpellCaster and Spike, will be releasing three new games soon.

Caffeine Rush

Caffeine Rush

In Caffeine Rush you and your fellow competitors are baristas who will compete to be the one barista to have finished the most orders when the game ends. You do so by grabbing ingredients and making your drinks as fast as you can. The game is for 2-6 players, ages 8+ and plays in 10 minutes.
Components

  • 162 Ingredient cards
  • 36 Order cards
  • 12 Special cards and player aid cards

Spit It Out

Spit it Out

A party game where you will answer six easy questions wrong to get them right. If that wasn’t weird enough, you will have a short time limit to answer the questions your brain is hardwired to answer correctly. Each wrong answer can only be given once, but sometimes you have to give the correct answer as well. Sounds like a fun, whacky, party game for the whole family. The game is for 3-8 players, ages 10+ and plays in 20-30 minutes.

Spit It Out 2
Components

  • 300 Question cards
  • 2 Dice
  • 1 Score pad
  • 1 Sand timer

Cup A Cup

Cup-A-Cup

This game requires fast hands and fast reflexes. Roll the dice, quickly identify the missing colored shape and grab the matching cup. You will have to move fast since they are all up for grabs and the first to collect three cups wins the game. The game is for 2-8 players, ages 6+ and plays in 10-20 minutes.
Components

  • 9 Cup-A-Cups
  • 2 Symbol dice

more than games 02

The resurgence of the board game is truly a worldwide phenomenon as evidenced in a great article from the Bangkok Post website yesterday talks about the popularity of board gaming at the “More Than A Game Café”.

The Thailand eatery doubles as a gaming center where many people, especially techies, are disconnecting from the virtual and reconnecting in the real world to play analog games.

It’s uplifting to see generations of gamers from all walks of life and different cultures coming together to enjoy the shared experience the narrative a board game brings. You can read the full article here.

tgik blog

An intriguing post from the TGIK Games blog discusses a recent series of shows by Chaz Marler on Board Game Breakfast about the potential for a board game “bubble”, much like that the comics industry experienced in the 90’s.

With the explosion in popularity of board games bringing a plethora of titles to the market, the industry has shown it can support the growth but can it sustain it? An interesting question with no clear cut answers but I do believe the forecast is a more positive than negative one for board gamers because one of the greatest strengths of board games is their ability to bring together people of all ages and walks of life, spanning generations and varied interests. Games are now more socially acceptable and accessible than ever before, it’s our job to ensure this growth continues by sharing our passion with others to grow the ranks.

Definitely an interesting analysis of the current gaming environment and well worth a read.

what the face

Now available from Spin Master Games What The Face! This game centers around the making of first impressions. It appears to me to be more along the lines of Apples to Apples mixed with an awkward popularity contest. Having never played it I can’t comment on the play of the game but I immediately want to compare it to the classic first impressions game Faces. The scoring does not necessarily seem as favorable since it is apples to apples style scoring where you are playing to a set number of matches.

This appears to be a Target exclusive. You can find the full product listing here.

funemployed

IronWall Games and Urban Island Games have partnered to release the game Funemployed. This party game is touted as the craziest job interview you’ll ever have. They are having you trying to get fairly normal jobs but you have developed a particular set of skills. Though these skills are things that one would not expect a candidate for the job to have.

This game reminds me a lot of the game Fairy Tale where you have to work in words. I suspect that the working in of some of these skills will be quite difficult to do in a coherent manner. Likely in explain these skills you will have to come up with crazy reasons why these things are applicable.

This project is slated to hit crowd funding in the coming weeks.

The publishers press release below.

Urban Island Games, LLC and IronWall Games, Inc. are proud to announce their joint publication of the new game, Funemployed! Funemployed! is a satirical party game where players convince each other that they’d be the best for “real” jobs by using unreal qualifications. Players pitch why they would be perfect for the job to try to get hired!

The jobs in Funemployed! are (mostly) real world jobs that anyone could try to be—things like a Mime, Bounty Hunter, or Televangelist. The qualifications, however, are usually things you wouldn’t bring to an interview— a foam sword, your self-loathing, yoga pants, and an uncontrollable libido. Say anything to try to get the job—as long as you work in your four qualifications. Making up whatever you want is not only rewarded, but encouraged.

Funemployed! had a limited print run in 2014 to rave reviews and now Urban Island Games and IronWall Games are bringing it to a wider audience. There will be more jobs, more qualifications, and, oddly, a smaller box to hold it all.

Urban Island Games, LLC was founded by Anthony Conta in 2013. Funemployed!, the studio’s first published game, was created by Anthony and released in 2014. It sold out in six months, and Urban Island Games is partnering with IronWall Games to bring it back, bigger and better.

IronWall Games Inc was founded by Rob Daviau in 2012 to be a small publisher of games that need to be in print. Rob fell in love with Funemployed! in 2013 when he first saw it at a game festival in Boston and is overjoyed at this opportunity to work with Urban Island Games to bring Funemployed to a wider audience.

Urban Island Games and IronWall Games are running a crowdfunding campaign for Funemployed! during November 2014. For more information on this campaign, please visit www.urbanislandgames.com or www.ironwallgames.com in the coming weeks.

Funemployed! is more than just a game–it’s the best interview you’ll ever give. Mostly because you can use the word “beefcake”, “chains”, “daddy issues,” and “tentacles” to try to score that job as a news anchor.