Almost made it
This is a list of twelve games because I wanted a breadth of mechanisms, difficulties and themes. Despite the more generous allowance, I still had a pile of games I thought about including and just didn’t for various reasons.
7 Wonders was a candidate for a while. 7 Wonders is a better game than our rating would imply but it’s also just fiddly to learn. So many rules and responsibilities and cross-linked cards that the rules explaination takes longer than it does to play through a session of Sushi Go in its entirety. And honestly I think Sushi Go gives you 95% of what you’d get out of the heavier experience of 7 Wonders. The heart of both games is the painful joy of picking cards that work for you and flummox your opponents, and you get that at so much lower a cost of entry in Sushi Go.
Chinatown absolutely would have been on this list if it weren’t perpetually so damn hard to get. Chinatown has so few rules and so much vitality that I couldn’t not have it as a candidate. I believe though that accessibility isn’t just something to take into account in our game coverage, but also in lists like this. Chinatown is difficult to find out in the wild, but if you do find a copy please consider it the hidden bonus 13th option on the list.
Cards Against Humanity has the benefit of being a game that a lot of people will have heard of, and for the first few times its aggressive transgressionism is weirdly compelling. It has appeal through shock value, but the problem is – it’s just not actually a very good game. That’s not a puritanical streak coming through at all – I’ve played and enjoyed playing CAH on occasion. I’ve even written a MUD version of it for Epitaph, and I can assure you some of the bespoke cards in there are nastier than anything that’s been published. But that doesn’t change the fact that CAH is just poorly designed.
Funemployed is the game I recommend over CAH, because it gives people room to be funny rather than for people to play funny cards. But Funemployed is surpassed, in my view, by Once Upon a Time in terms of storytelling games. It’s a near thing really, and if you wanted to have both in your collection, like I do, I couldn’t possibly judge you. I think OUAT is underrated though as an introductory game and part of it is because it asks a lot of people even though it’s extremely simple to play. Personally though I have faith in you all.
Finally, an omission that most people would point out is that Codenames doesn’t appear here. And it doesn’t appear for a simple reason – I don’t actually think it’s a great game. There’s too much staring at cards and frustrated silence. Decrypto is a better choice for team-based, competitive wordplay. Essentially though neither Codenames or Decrypto made the list because in every situation they would apply I’d suggest Wavelength instead.
That List in Full
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|2||Rhino Hero Super Battle|
|4||Sheriff of Nottingham|
|6||Once Upon a Time|
|7||Sushi Go Party|
|8||One Night Ultimate Werewolf|
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