So, you’ve managed to lure a few friends over for some tabletop gaming, but the dice gods have decided to throw you a curve ball. Now you’re left with a rather sizeable group of six or more friends all expecting a night of tabletop action! Some of your friends have barely played a board game before while others are your regular gaming friends who were secretly hoping for a quiet night of Terraforming Mars! But, as a prepared gamer and all around games night savant you’ve probably already got a perfect list of games ready to throw at your group. Just incase you’re struggling though, here are a few ideas!
First up we’ve got the 2016 release, Captain Sonar from designers Roberto Fraga and Yohan Lemonnier. Despite being advertised as 2-8 players, this really needs at least six to be worth bringing to the table and is at its best with a full compliment of eight. In Captain Sonar players split into two teams and take on various roles on board a state of the art submarine. With just one mission; Seek and destroy! Each crew will consist of Captain, Chief Mate, Radio Operator, and Engineer. Both teams sit opposite each other and will be busy plotting the submarines course, loading and firing torpedoes and listening in to the enemy team trying to pinpoint their movement. With simultaneous action selection this game is organised chaos at its finest. Its battleships on steroids and is well worth a closer look!
Next up we’ve got Snake Oil. A simple but wildly effective game from designer Jeff Ochs. In Snake Oil players take on the role of nefarious snake oil salesmen, each trying to sell their ridiculous products to the customer. The customer for the first round draws a customer card and announces it, the salesmen then combine two unique word cards from their hand to create a product. Then in turn order they endeavour to outdo each other, pitching their product to the customer who in turn decides who’s is best. After each players has been the customer a set number of times the game ends and a winner is declared. This game has its roots in Apples to Apples and will be familiar to players of Cards Against Humanity. In my opinion, this is the perfect example of this type of game though and with the right group will be an absolute blast. Creativity is rewarded, imagination is stretched and above all, lots of laughs will be had. It is, as you may have guessed, very dependant on the group dynamic and gaming style, but if you have friends who will throw themselves into this type of game then you won’t be disappointed!
My third offering for you to consider is the awesomely named Escape From The Aliens In Outer Space. It shares a few similarities with Captain Sonar but this time players will be busy either fighting for their survival or hunting down their next meal! Players will either play as humans trying to espcape a derelict space ship or as the aliens hunting them down. The game plays out via hidden identity and movement and is tracked through personal maps. Players secretly chart their own movement and mark the suspected position of the other players. Variable player powers help to add more flavour to a game that is already brimming with theme. If you’re the type of gamer who can immerse himself into a story then this is one you will love. Paranoia abounds for the humans as they try to stealth their way to a safe airlock, while the alien players will be filled with a sense of anticipation as they pick up the scent of their prey! This is an incredibly immersive and atmospheric experience with the right group and one that is sometimes overlooked in todays gaming landscape.
Now lets talk about Jamaica. This is another one that seems to have been a little forgotten in recent years, but if you are looking for a fun little game that can handle up to six people then this is well worth checking out. Jamaica is a pirate themed race game where players will be racing to the finish line while trying to pick up treasure along the way. Broadsiding and stealing your opponents booty is inevitable and speaking in your very best pirate voice should be mandatory! It only plays up to six, but its a smooth and simple experience. Simultaneous action selection helps to limit downtime, which is the curse of so many higher player count games. While a little bit of dice rolling and luck of the draw will help to keep things competitive.
The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac is another one that is well worth a closer look. It plays up to six and is a fun, lightweight ‘push your luck’ dice chucker. With a cool Indiana Jones vibe your adventurers will race through the temple trying to grab as much treasure as possible and get out before succumbing to one of the many hazards the temple holds. The most notable of these hazards is the huge boulder chasing you down. The more time you spend filling your pockets with treasure the more risk there is of you getting crushed! It’s a really simple game that just about anyone can pick up. It will comfortably run under an hour, so never outstays its welcome at the table. The theme really shines through with this one and both the high quality components and beautiful artwork help bring the game to life. Currently out of print, this is one that’s going to be hard to find, at a reasonable price, but well worth it if you can track down a copy!
And finally, I’m bringing you Mysterium from designers Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko. A deeply thematic game of deduction, murder and mystery. One player takes on the role of a murdered ghost, who is tasked with directing the other players to the guility party. This is all done by beautifully illustrated cards that represent visions given from the ghost to the spiritual investigators, or mediums. Players are against the clock as they try to decipher the clues given and track down the murderer. This is a cooperative gem that relies on good communication and information analysis and probably a little bit of lateral thinking. Turn the lights down low, encourage your players to embrace the theme and enjoy!
I’ve tried to avoid shorter ‘fillers’ in this list and with the exception of Snake Oil the games have a good bit of flesh to them and will likely run at around an hour, including set up. For shorter fillers to round out your session, take a look at the awesome Bang: The Dice Game or one of my absolute favourites The Resistance. On the other end of that scale, and only if you have plenty of time on your hands, you should take a look at Eldritch Horror. Just make sure that you start early or are prepared to play into the small hours!
Let me know your favourites and all the games you think should have made the list but didn’t! As always, thanks for reading and check back soon for more!