This genre is probably my least favorite, mostly because on the whole, I suck at them. But there are still plenty of good ones out there. I’m listing my top 4.
For the purposes of this, I am defining a card game as a table top game played with cards and without a proper board. The genre doesn’t include more standard games (like spades) played with a typical 52 card deck – all the games listed below have cards unique to their theme.
This game made my list for several reasons. It has a high cute factor with lots of flavor text on the cards. The design of the cards themselves is also fun and unique – they are clear plastic, allowing an interesting mechanic of playing cards on top of one another, but using any visible symbols from the entire stack. Each player gets to control a family, played face up on the table in front of them. The point of the game is to make your family the most miserable one in the game, and then kill them off. You do this by playing other cards from your hand either on top of your family cards or the family cards of other players. Sometimes the cards increase a persons happiness, and sometimes they decrease it. There are also cards that cause events and cards that kill family members. There’s an interesting strategy to killing off other people’s families while they are only slightly unhappy (you can’t kill anyone whose happiness value is positive). Here are some sample cards.
This is a pretty fun little game. One of the first reasons I like it is that it can play up to 8 people, and that is just rare in a game. The goal of the game is to build a bunch of buildings in your city and have the most points at the end of the game. The game ends when the first player reaches 8 buildings in their town. There is a card drafting mechanic where, each round, players secretly choose a role card. Each role has a special ability (for example, the architect can build two buildings in a round and the merchant makes an extra gold). It costs coins to build buildings, and players generate coins at the beginning of each turn. At the end, there are a few bonuses available, such as extra points if you have a city with buildings of every color. It’s simple and fun, everything I look for in a card game!
2. Unexploded Cow
Unexploded Cow is a relatively recent acquisition. I just could not resist something with such a silly concept – England has too many cows and there are too many mine fields in France. One problem solves the other! This one can play 2-6 people. Each player starts with $5000, and provides a $500 ante to the pot. From there, players build their herds of cows in front of them in a row – placement matters! Each card you play costs money to do so (the money from purchases also goes in the pot). On your turn, you buy cards and then make a bomb roll with a 6 sided die. This roll determines which cow dies, starting on the rightmost cow in your herd and continuing around the table (through other players herds as well). If a 6 is rolled, you pass the die to the next player and they roll. It continues like this until a cow is killed, or until the die has been rolled by every player at the table once. The player whose cow died, wins the money. If it is your turn and you manage to kill one of your own cows, you get to collect a village card from the deck, earning that village’s admiration for clearing mines (points at the end of the game, also comes with a bonus). Game ends when the village cards run out. At the end of the game, the player with the most money wins (though you have to be over the starting amount of $5000).
1. Drunk Quest
This game was a Kickstarter I heard about through a friend. Got in too late to kick start, but I did buy it, and it is just excellent. If you have ever played Munchkin before, it is similar, except you don’t kill monsters with weapons, you kill monsters by drinking them under the table. The cards are large and readable even for those who might be tipsy.
You gain levels and treasure for killing monsters. Treasure typically helps you to avoid drinking as much. Other cards are pretty much ways to modify the drink value of the monsters. “Oh that monster is worth 3 drinks? Now you have to take 5 to kill him, mwah ha hah hah!” Or there are cards that can force other players to drink with you or instead of you. Like any drinking game the amount of “a drink” here is very arbitrary, so it works for those who don’t drink much just as well as it works for heavier drinkers. The game ends when the first player reaches Level 6 I believe. We brought this when we went to Mexico last year, and enjoyed playing a couple games while we sat in one of the bars at our all-inclusive resort!
The fourth and final post in this series will be coming up soon, so stay tuned!