The last couple of weeks I enjoyed quite a number of great games, in particular the opportunities to game have come from outside of my normal gaming circles which made for some very interesting and fun experiences.

Deception Murder in Hong Kong
Score: 4 christmas_starchristmas_starchristmas_starchristmas_star

I picked this game up on a whim and while it was very well received among my standard gaming group, to the surprise of no one, it was particularly interesting to see how it held up among non-gamers.  I took this bad boy with me on a family skiing trip and we played it several times with people who quite literally had their first modern board gaming experience.

Whether your a gamer or not, everyone loves solving mysteries, making deception a truly universal game that can reach everyone.

In a 8 player game Deception Murder in Hong Kong not only held up but was a hit in the purest sense.  It engaged everyone, the discussions went off the rails and we spent the evening confused, accusing and counter accusing each other all night.  It was a blast!

Its really no surprise to me that this game is held in such a high regard, while the premise is simple, there is something about trying to unravel a mystery that is universally human and Deception Murder really taps into that with perfection.  I have quite a few different social deduction games and while I love them all, I think this one is probably one of my favorites at the moment.    Highly recommended.

Camel Cup
Score: 3 christmas_starchristmas_starchristmas_star

Sometimes called Camel Up, this race betting game is not something that I would ever bring to board game night at the club, but as a family game, Camel Cup really has just enough game in it to keep an old school gamer like me invested, while being sufficiently silly and simple for non-gamers and casuals.    I was really surprised by this one, I mainly bought it for the kids, but I really wasn’t expecting it to make my personal shelf.

Camel Cup makes getting the family to the gaming table very easy, gambling is just something that appeals to everyone when its not for real money.

Camel Cup is essentially a gambling game and I think that in itself is really where casual family games do really well.  Gambling mechanics ensure that no one is expecting to win based on “strategic play”, you sort of push your luck, roll  the dice and hope for the best, but Camel Cup does offer up just enough decision to trick you into thinking you might just be able to out think your opponents.  As a family game, this is among the best I have played in recent years.  Light hearted fun for the win.

Score: 3 christmas_starchristmas_starchristmas_star

A friend of mine picked this one up on a whim, I think mainly because he liked the theme and art work.  We weren’t expecting much from it when we dropped it on the table, but to our surprise, it was actually super fun.

Some of the coolest art in one of the best themes in a card game I have seen in a long time.

With fantastic artwork, and kind of a weird science-fiction western theme where you can be a gun wielding cat (for example), this is a game effectively about trying to outguess your opponents, read their mind and asses “the most likely plays”.  I can see how this game might land a bit flat if you played it with strangers, but among friends, people who you know a thing or two about the personalities, this one flourishes.  Its really just a mind game, one with simple mechanics and plenty of interesting decesions.

While I enjoyed it one on one, I think this one in particular was much better with 3+ players.  Really cool concept, a simple game that gets everyone involved instantly.  Like it a lot!

Score: 3 christmas_starchristmas_starchristmas_star

This Knizia classic is actually one of the few games from this designer I like.  While its a bit mathy, I think I like it because its very intelligent while being very easy to teach so you can introduce it to a group of non-gamers and they won’t feel like idiots.  It rely’s less on your skill as a gamer and more just on plain old fashioned intelligence.

I don’t like math, but this game somehow manages to make it fun.

It makes a good “camping” game, as it takes up very little space (at least the old version which I have).  Always really liked this one for non-gamer gaming.

Roll For The Galaxy
Score: Full Review Coming Soon

Man I feel like I’m talking about this game all the time right now, but it really hit on all pistons for me.  Its really hard for me to say exactly what it is about this game that “does it for me”, but I believe its kind of a combination of simplicity, science-fiction theme, dice element not driven by luck yet with strategic depth that really requires a lot of exploration.

One of the biggest surprises for me in a very long time.

I loved the game it was based on “Race for the Galaxy”, but I always struggled with that one mainly because its such a bitch to teach.  Roll for the Galaxy captures all the same elements of Race For The Galaxy, yet manages to be far simpler to teach, yet still has that “impossible to master element”.

Just a fantastic all around game, so much more then the sum of its parts.