Designer: Rob Heinsoo, Cory Jones
Why it is on the list: Epic Spell Wars has a fun combat system where you cast spells by combining different types of cards from your hand. Finding the right synergy for spells to deal lots of damage is satisfying. The main thing holding the game back is its NSFW humor.
Who may like it: People who like finding combos and fans of adult swim type of humor.
Designer: Tom McMurchie
Why it is on the list: I’m still unsure if there’s actually a way to strategize in Tsuro. Each player takes turn playing a tile that moves their dragon to another spot on the board. Any player who falls off the board is eliminated until only one player remains. The structure the board ends up at the end of the game is so complex that I find it difficult to plan ahead, the game is always a blast to play regardless.
Who may like it: People who enjoy chaotic and unpredictable games.
Indie Boards & Cards
Designer: Rikki Tahta
Why it is on the list: There are plenty of hidden role games based on deception. Where Coup distinguishes itself is bluffing to perform role actions that you don’t have. There is large risk versus reward system that feels different from just hiding which team you’re on. Another benefit is that games are fairly short so you can easily play multiple rounds.
Who may like it: Fans of hidden role and deception games looking for a shorter game.
22. Specter Ops
Plaid Hat Games
Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi
Why it is on the list: Specter Ops is the only hidden movement game I’ve played so far but I found it very interesting. Both hiding yourself from other players and trying to find the hidden player are really cool mechanics for a game.
Who may like it: Fans of stealth games.
Designer: Thomas Sing
Why it is on the list: The Crew is a trick taking game that is completely co-op. Each mission gives different objectives to complete but the players have very limited communication. I haven’t had a chance to play the new version yet but I could see this game jumping a few spots if the improvements allow for better variation in gameplay.
Who may like it: Fans of card games like Euchre and limited communication team games.
Designers: Austin Harrison, Max Anderson, Zac Dixon
Why it is on the list: Moonrakers is a deckbuilder where you are a mercenary upgrading your ship and crew. The aspect I prefer over other deckbuilders is the in-game politics. In order to complete missions you can team up with other players and then split the rewards, however they can then sabotage the check instead making you fail. This extra dynamic adds another layer to the game.
Who may like it: Fans of deckbuilders and in-game politics.
Designer: Ramy Badie
Why it is on the list: This is more of a guilty pleasure of mine that I’ve played a surprising amount of. While the game appears to be a simple party game at first actually winning the game takes quite a bit of strategy to combo your cards. Plus the art is really fun.
Who may like it: Fans of silly card games and cute artwork.
Next Move Games
Designer: Michael Kiesling
Why it is on the list: Azul is one of the few game I enjoy that doesn’t have a very strong theme to it. The game more than makes up for it with very solid mechanics. The tile drafting gives players many different strategies to go for. Do you play slowly and optimize your picks, or do you quickly complete rows but lose some points for having extra tiles. The tiles themselves are also well made components that are nice to look at.
Who may like it: Players who prefer good mechanics over theme.
Designer: Matthew O’Malley, Ben Rosset
Why it is on the list: In Between Two Cities you must build two different cities with the person on either side of you. While Between Two Castles is probably a more advanced version of this game I somewhat prefer the limitations of Cities. Often in Castles the highest scoring team just built a tower with every piece in one line, while Cities requires the tiles to be in a 4 by 4 square.
Who may like it: Fans of tile placement and drafting games.
Czech Games Edition
Designer: Jan Březina, Martin Hrabálek, Michal Požárek
Why it is on the list: There are lots of popular word guessing party games like Codenames but Trapwords is my personal favorite. Not only does it have a D&D theming to it but the mechanic to set ‘traps’ that the other team can’t say is great. Clue givers end up describing clues in very creative ways to avoid saying anything that could be a trap.
Who may like it: Fans of word guessing party games.
Designer: Sam Aho
Why it is on the list: Tiny Epic Dungeons is a dungeon that is rather difficult but a lot of fun. The tiles for the dungeon are placed randomly so the layout is different each time. There is also a large selection of characters to pick to play as which all have a unique ability or two.
Who may like it: Fans of dungeon crawlers and team games.
14. Picture Perfect
Designer: Anthony Nouveau
Why it is on the list: Picture Perfect is a very unique and intriguing game. You gain points by placing figures in a family photo according to the desires of each person. Players only start with the info for a few people and have to try to trade for the others.
Who may like it: Something unique and different.
Designer: Stefan Feld
Why it is on the list: In Castles of Burgundy you buy tiles in order to build a kingdom to earn the most points. Which tiles you can buy is determined by rolling dice but the game does have mechanics to manipulate the number. I enjoy attempting to build the best kingdom with limited places to put tiles.
Who may like it: Fans of tile placement and euro games.
Designer: Tobey Ho
Why it is on the list: The major different in Deception to other hidden role games is the forensic scientist is giving hints of who the traitor is. However there are limitations on what hints they can give allowing the traitor to shift blame towards others. I prefer this over games like Avalon because there is much clearer evidence to figure out the traitor.
Who may like it: Fans of hidden role games and limited communication.
Avalon Hill Games, Inc.
Designer: Chris Dupuis
Why it is on the list: Betrayal is one of the first two games on this list I played. The Betrayal mechanic gives the game so much replayability. The Baldur’s Gate version of the game is both more refined and flavored more to my interests.
Who may like it: Fans of D&D(or horror movies for the original) and games that play different every time.
Designer: Matt Carter, Justin Gibbs, Kyle Rowan
Why it is on the list: Out of everything on this list Vagrantsong is the one I desperately need to play more of. It is a co-op campaign game where you move through a train fighting off ghosts. The artwork and style for the game is phenomenal and drew me into the game immediately.
Who may like it: Fans of team based games and amazing artwork.
Designer: Jamey Stegmaier, Alan Stone
Why it is on the list: Of the worker placement games I’ve tried Viticulture has been the most impressive. The game covers every aspect of winemaking from planting to fulfilling specific orders. There are many different locations to place workers separated into seasons, so planning ahead each turn is important. There are also several decks of cards that each do different things which I like for replayability. There is even a fun and unique mechanic for determining turn order each round.
Who may like it: Fans of worker placement games and wineries.
Designer: Serge Laget
Why it is on the list: In Mare Nostrum each player controls an ancient empire competing to rule the Mediterranean. At first glance it appears very combat focused, but its mostly about building up your economy. While attacking allows for stealing resources or slowing down other players victory is mostly achieved by building the best economy.
Who may like it: Fans of ancient history and asymmetric factions.
Designer: Prospero Hall
Why it is on the list: Villainous is an asymmetrical game where you attempt to complete a villain’s evil plan before the other players. Each villain plays very differently which is great for replayability. While there is an argument that the Disney version has better mechanics(it certainly has more expansions) I’m enough of a die hard Marvel fan to prefer that version of the game.
Who may like it: Fans of Marvel and asymmetric win conditions.
Designer: Ted Alspach
Why it is on the list: Another classic that I couldn’t resist leaving off my list. There’s a reason this game is played so often at League of Geeks events. Both trying to figure out who is a werewolf and staying hidden as a werewolf is exhilarating. While dying early is disappointing there is still plenty of entertainment in watching how the rest of the game plays out.
Who may like it: Fans of hidden role and social deception games.
Designer: Adam Kwapiński
Why it is on the list: In Nemesis the players are trying to repair their spaceship while hiding from the aliens hiding aboard. Most of the rooms are randomized allowing for some exploration like Betrayal. The traitor objective also has a nice twist, part way through the game each players selects one of two personal objectives to complete which may or may not interfere with the other players. This allows players to somewhat pick for themselves to be a team player or a traitor. There is also a setting to play purely co-op as well.
Who may like it: Fans of Alien and hidden role games.
Fantasy Flight Games
Designer: Bill Eberle, Jack Kittredge, Bill Norton, Peter Olotka, Kevin Wilson
Why it is on the list: Cosmic Encounter is a wild game with tons of variability even without the expansions. The uniqueness of each alien race ensures no two games ever feel the same. The politics of convincing other players to help you and even being able to win together adds a lot too.
Who may like it: Fans of silly game breaking abilities and in-game politics.
Designer: R. Eric Reuss
Why it is on the list: In Spirit Island the players are spirits protecting an island and its natives from colonial invaders. There are plenty of different spirits to pick from and play very differently. There are a lot of moving parts in the game that make you feel like you’ll be overrun immediately but as you grow stronger it feels great to wipe the island free of invaders.
Who may like it: Fans of difficult team games.
Designer: Hal Duncan, Ruth Veevers
Why it is on the list: Playing Cryptid feels a lot like trying to solve to solve a logic puzzle. Each player has one hint that when combined allows you to win the game. The trick is figuring them all out without revealing your own.
Who may like it: Fans of Clue and other deduction based puzzles.
Greater Than Games, LLC
Designer: Christopher Badell, Paul Bender, Adam Rebottaro
Why it is on the list: This list has a lot of co-op games on it but my favorite is Sentinels of the Multiverse. With all the expansions there is an impressive number of heroes to play as that all feel unique and plenty of villains to overcome. There is also a surprising amount of lore that I’ve spent a fair amount of time reading about as well that deepened my appreciation of the game and characters.
Who may like it: Fans of superheroes and team based games.