Occasionally we get comments via email from readers of the blog. Just this week, the following question was posed to us – and I thought it would be a good idea to run the question by the writers of the blog so that you could get opinions from many of us!
Comment: Great site; I was looking for some advice and thought who better to recommend something I’ve never heard of and come out feeling optimistic that I’ll like/love it sight unseen! In short, I really enjoy some lighter games such as:
– King of Tokyo
– Wurfel Bohnanza
– Keltis: Le Jeu de Des (the dice version)
– Piraten Kapern
– Las Vegas
– Fistful of Penguins
– Heck Meck
– Exxtra (Excape)
Given that, I was wondering if you had any suggestions of other games of similar ilk that my friends and family would enjoy. I really appreciate your time and look forward to your insight if you can spare the time. Thanks again for a great site!
Comments from the Opinionated Gamers
Dale: Well, you seem to love dice games – I will limit my suggestions to games that also use dice…
1) Yspahan from Ystari, 2006 – this is one of my favorite family style dice games. Luck certainly plays a large role in the game, but the randomness of the dice keeps you on your toes.
2) Steam Park, Cranio, 2013 – is a quick game where you are vying to build the best amusement park.
3) Bang! The Dice Game, daVinci, 2013 is a great dice version of the classic card game – though a bit more streamlined, and it removes the chance that you will be eliminated without a turn. Finally,
4) Blueprints, Z-man, 2013 – a fun little game about building buildings using the dice themselves as building blocks.
Finally, 5) Camel Up, Pegasus, 2014 – this most recent Spiel des Jahres winner is a nice little race game with the added benefit that it can take up to 8 players.
Mark Jackson: First, I’ll echo Dale’s suggestions of Yspahan & Bang! the Dice Game.
Then, I’ll add a few of my own that might be a little tougher to find (but will be worth the trouble)…
1) Nur Peanuts – this OOP game from Heinz Meister is a 45 minute gambling game with some vague abstracted similarities to Monopoly – but mostly just a great way to press your luck for 3-6 players.
2) Cheese Snatching (Kaseklau) – a small box Haba push-your-luck game with cute wooden cat & mouse pieces that works great as a short filler and/or a game with kids.
3) Abandon Ship – an overlooked Knizia game which (I think) is the best of the “you can move any piece – but you secretly want 3 of them to score” family of games. The very cool sinking ship board is a plus.
And if you haven’t played Can’t Stop (the King of Dice Games), you should fix that now!
Greg Schloesser: While you have a proclivity for dice games, my recommendations will also contain a few that are light, but are not necessarily dice games.
1) Can’t Stop: A Sid Sackson classic. Push-your-luck fun that is not devoid of choices.
2) Liar’s Dice / Bluff – truly a classic. Bluffing, odds and some luck all mixed into a tense, fun game. It was briefly featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
3) Palast Gefluster – a wonderful card game that is easy to learn and play, yet has some nice nuances and subtleties.
4) Roll Through the Ages – a combination dice / civilization building game that is always engaging.
5) Cuatro – Yahtzee meets Connect 4 with some interesting twists. This one is addicting and fun.
6) Linko – A novel and addicting new card game from the wonderful minds of Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. This is the one that should have won the Spiel des Jahre, not the disappointing Camel Up.
7) Saint Malo – A dice game wherein you use the results to build your outpost while trying to keep the pirates at bay.
Joe Huber: I agree with everyone that the theme in the games that you list is towards light, quick-playing games, particularly those with dice as a key element. I’d second Mark and Greg’s suggestion of Can’t Stop, but would also suggest checking out:
1) Extra – others would also suggest Exxtra, and I wouldn’t argue with it, but I find Extra a more enjoyable game. It’s from the same designer, Sid Sackson, as Can’t Stop, but offers simultaneous play, and a very different take on push-your-luck.
2) Machi Koro – Machi Koro is being released this year in a number of languages, and again offers a different take on die rolling. I think it would fit in very well with the games you list.
3) Dungeon of Mandom – No dice, but another cute, clever push-your-luck game, with some similar appeal to King of Tokyo.
4) Numeri – Enjoyable light race game, with interesting scoring.
5) Polterfass – Another dice game, but one with barrels as dice; nicely thematic, and seems to fit your preferences well.
6) Gelini Nightlife – Actually, I’m somewhat surprised Mark didn’t mention this one; it’s a less deterministic (and more fun) take on Tutanchamun.
7) Viva Pamplona – Long out of print, but not impossible to find, and great fun particularly with a full table.
8) Tante Tarantel – Very enjoyable escape-the-web game, with wonderful artwork from Doris. Recently packaged with Igel Ärgern, which you might also enjoy.
9) To Court The King – A very closely related game to those you list; a smidge heavier, but still seems a good fit.
Matt Carlson: I have less breadth of games in my background but have to second many of the games mentioned above. Also, my recommendations are more “classic” games still in rotation rather than some of the newer games mentioned above.
Dice games include:
1) To Court the King – love the special powers but can take a bit longer than some.
2) Airships – this seems to go faster than than To Court the King and has a stronger theme, so it is very comparable
3) Roll Through the Ages – probably my favorite dice game on the above list. I’m a sucker for “build an empire” games
4) No Thanks! – push your luck in its purest, but still fun, form.
5) Kingsburg – a full-on Eurogame, but does use dice and has a tad of randomness if that’s still your thing. It could make a good gap between the games you listed and deeper Eurogame fare.
6) Liar’s Dice/Bluff – a fun larger group game that is easy to put together, just scare up a pile of 6 sided dice!
Other Games with “Push your luck” elements:
7) Incan Gold – a great game for larger groups. Just don’t use the silly hidden decision cards – I do a thumbs up/down call for decisions and the game really moves out.
8) No Thanks! – a sort of reverse auction card game that easily fits in your pocket and yet has some new twists that are playable with gamers completely new to non-mainstream (ie. “vanilla”) gaming.
9) Lost Cities – a classic 2 player rummy collecting game that has card management but with a nice dash of risk/reward.
Lorna: Lots of great games suggested here but I’ll add a few that seem out of your box if you want to expand your gaming experiences.
1) 6 Nimmt aka Category 5 – card fun for everyone, easy and quick with simultaneous card selection
2) Coloretto/Zooloretto – Coloretto is the card game if you need something portable and Zolloretto is the board game version if you have a nice table top available. Has a push you luck element to it, easy and quick
3) Händler der Karibik aka Port Royal – another push your luck card theme with exploration and pirates
4) 23 – play cards in ascending order, seems easy enough but your opponents can make this game a challenge
Mary Prasad: Here’s a few more to consider…
1) Valley of the Kings – a nice deck building/deconstructing game with a pyramid theme (I plan to write a review of this sometime in the next few weeks).
2) Star Realms – another nice deck building game with a space theme (ditto on the review).
3) Rampage – fun board game based on the old video game; has a mix of dexterity elements, some set collecting, and a little strategy. See my review of Rampage here https://opinionatedgamers.com/2014/04/07/mary-dimercurio-prasad-review-of-rampage/
4) Qwixx – quick playing dice game where everyone gets to participate no matter whose turn it is. The active player gets a possible extra action (i.e. to fill in another box on his score sheet).
5) Mosaix – another dice game where everyone gets to participate no matter whose turn it is. The active player gets to arrange the dice. Dice are arranged spatially in a small pattern; each player decides the orientation of that pattern on her board.
Karen Miller: And some more suggestions…these are some of my favorite fillers that haven’t already been mentioned elsewhere in this article. I have given an extremely brief description…please refer the the full game descriptions (on BGG) for complete rules.
1) Zooloretto: The Dice Game – Zooloretto in a small box and it keeps with the dice theme.
2) For Sale – No dice in this one, but fantastic game. The first round is an auction for properties; the second round, you use the properties to try to claim checks. Whoever has the most money is the winner.
3) Piece o’Cake – This is a game in which Player A literally divides up a pie into sections for the number of players, but Player A gets last choice of the sections. The person who collects the most of each type of pie scores points. Love the decisions you have to make…and who doesn’t like a damn fine piece of cherry (or gooseberry??) pie!
4) Sushi Go – newly republished, this is a card drafting game that features cute art and fun game play. Each player chooses a card and simultaneously plays it down in front of him and passes his hand to the next player. You score based on the sets you manage to collect. Plays very quickly…
Knights (Michael Schacht) – A portable dice game that is better than its rating and fits in your niche.
Ra: the Dice Game (Reiner Knizia) is quite a good conversion of Ra into a dice game.
Age of War (Reiner Knizia) is a retheme of Risk Express, which is worth trying.
Aquadukt (Berhard Weber) is a game of irrigation using zones and a d20
Finito (Hartmut Kommerell) – I am not a super lover of it, but am surprised it has not already been mentioned several times.
Co-op dice game – look out for Pandemic: the Cure coming later this year. If you like Cthulhu, have a look at Elder Sign and Shadows over Arkham
I particularly second Yspahan, Zooloretto: the Dice Game, and Airships.
I am so glad you like A Fistful of Penguins!
Larry: Let me second the recommendations for No Thanks, Airships, Mosaix, Nur Peanuts, Roll Through the Ages, and the Zooloretto Dice Game. And let me add my voice to those imploring you to check out Can’t Stop–it truly is the King of Dice Games!
By the way, if you’ve never tried Bohnanza, you really should–it’s a very interactive trading game that’s been delighting players for almost 20 years.