For the past few years, we have spent New Year’s Eve with Adele’s family. This year we had some neighbours join in, too. I look forward to these gatherings because they are one of the few times I get to play lots of games with larger groups of people (though I’ve been pretty lucky this year and had more gaming opportunities than I generally do). As always, we had an eclectic group of people, some of which weren’t really gamers or had only been exposed to traditional card games. The night seemed to be a success. The hardcore 5 or 6 of us managed to stay up until 5 a.m. this year, but we still didn’t get to play all the games I would have liked. There was far too much visiting going on :) Below are the games we played and how they were received.

Session Reports

Table-Top Cribbage (info)

Cribbage seems to be the card game that the most people I meet know. My grandpa used to always say that 3- or 4-player cribbage was no game, and I agree, so I got really excited when I encountered this way of playing with 4 players. I taught it to three other non-gamers who had really only played traditional card games. They seemed to really enjoy it and talked about it for a while afterwards. It’s a great way to play cribbage.

Hanabi (info)

Since the table-top cribbage game went so well, I thought I’d try introducing Hanabi. They were a little hesitant, but once we went around the table the first time, everyone seemed comfortable, and the game went well. We made a respectable 17 points, particularly good given we were most first-timers. This has quickly become a favourite game in my collection and one I think any self-identified gamer should pick up.

The Resistance (info; Avalon info)

We played a 9- and 10-player game of Resistance. It’s the first time I’ve played this game with so many players. We actually played the Avalon themed version, but we didn’t use any special powers the first time and only used Merlin & the Assassin the second time. It was great to watch “non-gamers” wrap their heads around the game, and they figured it out really quick. It was too bad we couldn’t play a few more times. It’s a quick, simple game that can be tons of fun given the right group. I personally prefer the plainer, original The Resistance. Resistance Avalon introduces new special powers that really just confuse new players. If you’re buying this game for the first time, Avalon is the best choice because you can simply ignore the special powers when you want. If you own the original Resistance, you can simply sleeve the cards (which I did already) and put a sticker or something on it. Every agent has unique art anyway. They’re fundamentally the same game. The bad guys won the first game and the good guys won the second.

Bohnanza (info)

I’ve talked about this game before and still feel it’s an absolute must in any gamer’s collection. We played with 6 players, which unfortunately is too many. The sweet spot is 4–5. We still had a good time, it just takes a little too long for what the game is. This is a great game overall.

Space Cadets: Dice Duel (info)

I knew this game would be great, which is why I bought it without ever playing it. I was able to break it out for the first time and am so happy I bought it! We had the full complement of 8 players, and it was as chaotic, loud, and plain fun as I expected. It’s a real-time team vs. team game where each team is piloting a space ship trying to destroy the other. Each player manages various “stations” of the ship (helm, shields, etc.), and when you have 8 players, each team has a captain directing the action. Each station has custom dice that you roll like crazy trying to set up the superior position in order to blow your enemy out of the sky. The mechanics are very thematic and the game is just plain fun. We were all sweating at the end of it. People had to go home, though, so we couldn’t play a second game. Everyone said they wanted to play it again, though, and we will definitely break it out again. I suspect that the 6-player game will be superior. While having the captain is great, it does reduce the other team mates to blind rolling. With the 3-player team, you need to all pay attention and work together more. We’ll see, next time we play.

7 Wonders (info)

We’ve played this game a lot, but people keep asking to play it again, so we ended the night (morning) with a 5-player game with both expansions. I really enjoy this game still. The mechanics are simple but the strategy is relatively deep. Yes, you have a limited number of choices each turn, but it forces you to reassess your approach every age and pay attention to what your opponents are doing. This is certainly a game I will hold on to for quite a while.

The Agents (info)

This is the first Kickstarter project I’ve actually received. It’s has a secret agent theme, and the main mechanic is the fact that the cards are different on each end. The orientation of the cards as you play them is the main decision you have to make. It was the first time I played it, and I it was only Scott and I who played, so it was not a slam dunk, but I am still very hopeful that it will click with 3 or more players. I started to see something more as we finished our one game.