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My Favorite Board Games! pt. 2

Hello, gamers and hobbyists! I want to wish everyone a happy Friday as we get revved up for the weekend. Today I resume with part two of my Top 12 Favorite Games, pulling from board games, tabletop games, and card games. To quote Roald Dahl, “Life is more fun if you play games.”

5.) Mountains of Madness

3-5 Players

Based on H. P. Lovecraft’s notorious novella At the Mountains of Madness, this game of twisted cooperation can quickly devolve into insanity. The premise is this: a group of university professors and academicians take an expedition to a previously undiscovered mountain range in the Antarctic with the goal to find and obtain ancient hidden knowledge through found data and artifacts. The game board consists of tiles tiered from Coast levels, to Mountain levels, to City levels, and finally at the top of the board we find the Edge of Madness. The goal is for the group of expeditioners to reach the Edge of Madness and escape in their airplane with enough supplies to make equipment checks and minimal injuries. Each player is dealt a hand of equipment cards, which include crates, tools, weapons, and books, and the tiles on the board range from fewer required equipment at the Coastal level to many more required equipment at the City level.

There’s a catch though. Two catches, really. The first is that players only have 30 seconds to discuss who has what cards to throw in together to meet the requirements once a tile is flipped over revealing what is needed. This is the ONLY time players can state what cards they have to use. The other catch…is that some players may be afflicted with madness as they try to elucidate what cards they have to use. For each failed equipment check, players can either choose to roll the penalty die, which ends up very detrimental for the party the more that is accumulated, or a player can accept a random madness. There are three levels of madness, and someone already afflicted must take on a more challenging madness if it comes down to that. Players are not allowed to state what their madness is, but their actions often reveal their crazed frame of mind. I won’t state many, because it’s fun to encounter them in person at the game table, but some madnesses entail having to shake other players’ hands before being able to speak in the 30 second time window, others entail having to pet another player’s face while speaking, and yet another requires a player to stand up and circle the group of players while speaking. You don’t realize how fast 30 seconds goes by until you’re having to obtain so many specified equipment cards from a group of lunatics!


There are several ways in which you can end the game. One, if all leadership tokens (an aspect I have not mentioned yet, but these have many purposes including discarding for an extra 30 seconds for discussion, discarding for another roll of the penalty die, discarding to replenish the equipment deck, etc) are discarded, then the game is lost. It’s chalked up that your expedition succumbed to the wilderness and was lost forever. Two, if you are required to draw an injury card as a penalty and the injury deck runs out, you lose the game, having been overtaken by injuries inflicted in the wild. Three, if your group makes it to the third and final Escape tile after the Edge of Madness, then you did it! You survived the mountain! But at what cost? There are twofold consequences depending on the amount of data (relics and such) and the amount of injuries the group has by this point. 1.) If the group has more injury cards than data cards (combined from the equipment deck, equipment discard pile, and all players’ remaining hands) then the game is lost. Your group escaped the mountain with their lives, but they have nothing to show for all their struggles and toil. 2.) If the group makes their escape with more data than (or breaks even with) injury cards, then the game is officially won! Players return to the world of Academia showered with accolades for their discoveries. I can safely say that as many times as I’ve played this game, we’ve had maybe one flawless victory. All other times, we were lost to the madness of the Antarctic and the Eldritch Unknown.

2.) Letters From Whitechapel

2-6 Players

Okay, okay, so is it a little morbid to play as Jack the Ripper on the run from the law in the streets of Victorian London after a fresh murder? Maybe just a little bit…but I guarantee this game is a blast, especially when you play as the infamous killer and keep evading the ever shrinking circle of Police. Here’s a quick rundown: One player portrays Jack the Ripper, and all other players portray the police detectives of London who are stationed across the board. The game is played in four rounds, or four Nights. Terms for winning the game: Jack the Ripper must secure five victims across the map of Whitechapel by the end of the fourth night, hastening back to his hideout at the end of each night; or, the police detectives must make a successful arrest before Jack slays his fifth victim. The rules are slightly complex at first and may seem convoluted with its many phases within each round, but the longer you play the game, the easier it becomes. The person who plays the killer also has a bit of setup to do. The killer keeps track of his movements by recording them on a special game sheet behind a screen, that way the detectives remain none the wiser. This game is both one of cooperation as the police detectives must strategize together in their movements and arrest attempts, as well as one of competition as the killer tries to evade the manhunt and not leave behind many clues as he makes his kills. I have played this game once, but it became a favorite instantly. Maybe because I played Jack the Ripper and won, who knows, hahahah!

3.) Last Word

2-8 Players

Last Word quickly devolves into a raucous spew of randomness as players strive to be the last one to utter a word before the timer goes off, scoring the point. This fun party game uses a deck of letters of the alphabet and a deck of subjects. Each player has a hand of subjects, for example cities, things found in a toy store, Olympic sports, etc. and each round starts when a letter from the letter deck is turned over. If a player believes they have a good subject card for that particular letter, their card gets to be in play if they’re the first to slam down their card and state the subject to the group. At that point, the timer is started (and it’s randomly timed, inconsistent to keep the suspense fresh) and then a free-for-all of wordplay commences. For example, if someone played the subject Cities on a letter L, in no particular order players may yell out “London!” “Lisbon!” “Lima!” “Los Angeles!” and so on until the buzzer sounds. The last person to utter a word gets the point and moves up a space on the game board. It’s not purely that simple, however. Some letters in the letter deck are “Hot Potato” letters. Once someone slams down a subject card on a hot potato, starting with the owner of that card, players must go clockwise around the table giving a word for that letter and subject. Whoever was left faltering for a word when the buzzer goes off has to move back a space on the game board. This game is extremely fun with a full group of people and oftentimes things get a little wild and raunchy with far-reaching words. I guess I should state that I don’t actually own this game. I’ve had it borrowed from a friend for ages and he’s been so kind as to not be bothered that I’ve had it for so long and probably play it more than he does. Thank you, friend, you know who you are!

4.) Catchphrase

2 Teams of Players

Okay, this little circular piece of plastic with its electronic screen is one of my most treasured of party games. If there’s a family function or a holiday gathering, this little device made by Hasbro is coming with! Essentially, there are two teams, which means even a large group of people can play together. Groups can be split however you want: Guys vs. Gals, Kids vs. Adults, Odds vs. Evens, etc, but everyone sits in a big circle, alternating between Team 1 and Team 2 players. The goal is to be the first team to score 7 points. This game purports to be the Grab it, Guess it, Pass it game, so when a topic is decided (Everyday Life, Toys and Games, Variety, just to name a few) and a Team 1 player starts the timer, they have to get their teammates to guess the word on the screen by describing things related to that word. When their teammates guess the correct word or phrase, the player hands it to the Player 2 next to them. Player 2 changes to a new word or phrase and tries to get their team to guess correctly. The pattern continues until the timer beeps. Whichever team was left holding the game does not get a point, and the other team gains a point. Much like Last Word, playing this game usually results in an excitable group yelling out nonsense words, and the ticking of the timer makes for a very intense atmosphere. It can become chaos as those points add up, but it’s chaos that I love. Word chaos.

#GameNight #BoardGames #TabletopGames #MountainsofMadness #LettersFromWhitechapel #LastWord #Catchphrase

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