Category Archives: Party Games

A listing of all the party games we have reviewed, with the link to the review and the 2P vs 4P rating.

Love Letter

Overview: Love Letter is a bluffing deduction card game set in a middle ages theme (although there are several different themed version of Love Letter).  Players ultimately want to deliver their love letter to the princess which is done by playing a card that keeps them in the game or knock out other players.  The gameplay is simple, draw a card, then play a card and resolve its action.  Play continues until there is only one player left, or there are no more cards to draw.  In the latter case, whoever has the highest value left in their hand gets a token.  The player who receives four tokens wins.  love letter box

Love Letter is a short microgame that has spread the gaming community like wildfire. The simple gameplay, beautiful art, and deduction strategy are what draws so many to this game.  While there is a fair amount of luck involved (a player may play the guard and guess your card in the first turn knocking you out) but that doesn’t happen too often.  Players do have to be smart about their card plays, especially if someone has seen your card or has traded hands with you. As all cards played or discarded are public, the players can deduce which cards a player may have by the end of a round. Sometimes, a player may not be able to win even with this knowledge which is how the luck factors in.  However, because the gameplay is so simple, having randomness isn’t as much of an issue and is expected.

Another great feature of Love Letter is the small packaging.  A gamer may easily fit their copy in a pocket or purse, and the game itself doesn’t take much space.  This is one of the reasons why Love Letter is so popular, because people can play it on planes, trains, work benches, and desks.  New gamers will be attracted to the Love Letter because it takes about five minutes to explain the game.  It’s accessible to most types of gamers as it’s a great filler game between rounds of more hardcore games, plus a good gateway game if playing with non-gamers.  The only caveat about Love Letter is that it tends to take longer than expected with four players, especially if the opponents are always targeting the player in first. Aside from this, Love Letter is a great addition to every gamer’s collection.

Pictured is the Legend of the Five Rings Edition
Pictured is the Legend of the Five Rings Edition

2 Player Experience

Two player Love Letter is fun and quick although it is less interesting than four player because there is less than a player can do in their turn.  For example, if your opponent has played a protection card then that player may have to use a card on themselves, therefore causing them to get knocked out of the round.  However, because it plays so much quicker than four player, it is fun for a filler game or passing the time.

4 Player Experience

Love Letter with four players is intriguingly  fun.  There are more players to interact with which makes certain roles stronger or easier to use than in two player.  As there are more cards revealed it is also easier to figure out which players have which roles, especially at the end of a round.  Also, it’s harder getting knocked out by dumb luck which can help make the game more pleasant.  However, it does seem to take longer in a four player game than in a two player, especially if players are targeting the first place player.  Love Letter works well with four players if you expect a longer game.

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Boss Monster

Overview: Boss Monster is a dungeon building card game set in an NES-esque retro video game.  As the title suggests, you are the Boss of the dungeon, creating your dungeon via cards for the heroes in town to get lured into. Each player as a set of Room Cards and Spell Cards at the start.  Room cards have treasure and affects on them, which can lure certain heroes into the dungeon.  For example, if a player has the most “cleric symbols” at the start of the adventure turn, then any cleric heroes in town will be lured to that dungeon.  Room cards have a damage number which does that much damage when a hero enters the room.  Room cards can affect other players or boost your own dungeon.  There are two distinct phases in Boss Monster: build phase and adventure phase.  In the build phase, players play one room card face down and reveal simultaneously.  In the adventure phase, revealed heroes are lured to their respective dungeon, based on the number of treasure symbols in each players’ dungeons.  Play continues until one player is last one standing or a player has 10 souls (points).  boss monster box

Boss Monster is a unique card game in which the players take the role of a retro video game Boss, bent on building their dungeon and luring heroes to destroy them.  Lovers of the NES dungeon crawling games will be excited to see all the throwbacks on each card, including Metroid, Megaman, and Mario. While Boss Monster is easy to teach and to learn, its gameplay isn’t too simple.  Once the dungeons get built up (5 max rooms in each dungeon), players will have an opportunity to level up their Boss, giving them affects like “draw two spell cards” or “destroy a room in another players’ dungeon.”  Spell cards turn out to be very powerful, as you can give a hero extra health as they enter an opponent’s dungeon or give your own rooms extra damage for a turn.  Some dungeon room cards yield spell cards but often times one or two players are left with no spells through the end of the game.  This can make it so the player who has the spells can gang up on the winning player and cause them to fall from victory, which can slow down the game.

Even with this possibility, Boss Monster is still quick and can be played in under 30 minutes. Boss Monster is a great gateway game as it is very easy to teach.  However, because of the heavy reliance on theme, players with little to no knowledge of classic video games may not be as interested in the game.  However, if you grew up with these retro video games, Boss Monster will be an awesome throwback to your childhood (or adulthood). Boss Monster is perfect for fans of retro dungeon crawlers who have always dreamed of being the Boss.Boss Monster Gameplay

2 Player Experience

Two player for Boss Monster is an epic adventure.  It is one of the few games that works better with two players versus four player.  One huge advantage to two player is the fact that you don’t have to constantly keep track of who is ahead in a particular treasure.  You just have to look over at your opponent and it’s easy to calculate who will get the heroes from town on that adventure phase. Spells are still powerful in two player, and are expected at any time of the game.  However, two player actually feels less cutthroat, because you don’t gang up with other players to attack the winning player.  Boss Monster is an awesome two player experience.

4 Player Experience

Boss Monster with four players is very different than two player.  It’s much harder to keep track of who is winning in each treasure, which can make the build phase less straightforward.  Heroes aren’t as guaranteed in a four player game, which can be frustrating if players aren’t drawing the room cards that they need.  Also, players tend to gang up on the winning player if victory is close, which slows down the game and makes it less strategic.  The winner is often the player who had the most spells/rooms to attack other players.  For these reasons, four player is not as enjoyable as two player, but still worth playing.

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Clubs

Overview: Clubs is a trick taking card game similar to Great Dalmuti, Hearts, and Spades.  Players take turns laying down a set or run, then their opponents try to beat out the set or run. For example, a player may place a set of three fives and their opponents may pass or place a set of three sixes or higher.  Only the club suits have points on them, which are added once every player except the last has played up all their cards.  Cards are 1-15 where 15 is the highest and automatically wins the hand.  Players also get bonus points for going out 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc, whereas the last player gets zero points for the whole round.  Rounds continue until one player has 50 points.  clubs box

Clubs is an awesome trick taking card game for those who love card games like Hearts or Great Dalmuti.  Instead of just playing one card like in Hearts, players can choose to start with either a set or run, but must keep with that until the round is over. In normal Clubs, if a player does a run of 1,2,3 (3 cards), the opponents must keep with a run of three cards, so 2,3,4 would beat the previous run. Cards are 1-15 with 15 being the highest and an automatic win on the round. The only cards with points on them are the Club suit and the lower the number, the higher the point value.  Even if winning tricks doesn’t yield very many club cards, players will see the advantage with going out quick because of the bonus points.  In a four player game, the bonus points go from 8, 5, 2, and 0 with the last player in the round getting zero points no matter how many club cards that they took.  In a two player game, the player who went out gets a 5 point bonus and no zero point card is given to the last player to help balance out the game.

Clubs also comes with a variant called “Crazy Clubs” which changes how tricks can be beat.  Like in the previous example, if a player does a run of 3 cards (1,2,3), in Crazy Clubs, a player can then beat that with a run of 4 cards (1,2,3,4).  If a player does a set of two 15s, then in Crazy Clubs, a player can beat that with 3 ones.  This makes the 15 cards not as powerful, and keeps the game less predictable.  It is worth playing Clubs the normal rules first, but Crazy Clubs does seem to add more fun into the game, and more strategy as bigger sets/runs are more powerful than individual cards (like 15s).  No matter which version you decide to play, Clubs is a quick and enjoyable trick taking card game that the whole family (or gaming group) will play.Clubs gameplay

2 Player Experience

Two player in Clubs/Crazy Clubs works very well.  Unlike in games with more players, the last player in the round does not take zero points, there’s only a 5 point bonus for going out first.  This balances out the scoring in the game and makes two player fun because no one wants to get zero points in just a two player game.  Gameplay is quick and getting to 50 can take about 20-30 minutes.  For players who like trick-taking card games like Hearts or Great Dalmuti, Clubs is awesome because you can play with only two players, unlike in the games mentioned above.

4 Player Experience

Four player is quite enjoyable in Clubs and is very balanced.  The bonus points make for players to strategize their plays, as they don’t want to get stuck with nothing to play at the end, and thus get zero points.  Crazy Clubs might be more fun with four players once the gamers get a handle on the normal Clubs rules.

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Quarriors!

Overview: Quarriors is a dice rolling “deck” builder strategy game. Players buy dice using quiddidy (currency) which give different abilities and powers depending on the roll.  Players start with 4 assistant die and 8 basic quiddidy and draw 6 dice out of the bag per turn.  After players roll, they may buy creatures, spells, or portals (one dice bought per turn). If a creature is rolled, then players pay the summoning costs and attack their opponents.  Players choose which creatures (one at a time) in their ready area to defend with and any creatures destroyed goes into the discard. At the beginning of your turn, creatures who have not been destroyed will be scored according to their glory.  Play continues until four creature dice pools are empty or a player gets to the allotted victory points (depends on # of players).  Whoever has the most victory points, wins.Quarriors box

Quarriors is a quick and fun dice rolling game with a deck builder mechanic.  Unlike Dominion, however, players build a dice pool instead of a deck of cards.  These dice can give quiddidy (currency), creatures, spells, and other powers.  Cards which represent the dice are laid out randomly at the beginning of the game.  Three spell cards, seven creature cards, and the three basic cards are laid on the table.  The respective dice are then placed on top of the cards which is ultimately what the players will buy and put into their dice pool.  The cards describe each face of the die, as well as any special powers that may come along with it. The custom dice are quite fun to look at, and are in various colors such as speckled black, swirled green, or shiny orange.  The dice are smaller than average, which does make looking at the faces harder, but they are still readable.

Writer’s Note: In the Quarmageddon expansion, there is an “expert culling” rule in which players must cull (put dice back to card) any creature that they score.  For the sake of this review, we will be referring to that rule. It does balance out the game as someone can’t keep scoring the very powerful and sometimes immune creatures, they must buy creatures again after scoring them.

Quarriors is very enjoyable because of its quick play which can be done in under a half hour.  While there is randomness to dice rolls, this is balanced by various powers such as re-rolling or drawing more dice.  The dice rolls keep the game lighthearted because sometimes you simply just get bad rolls and your opponent may get very good rolls in any given game.  Quarriors has good replay value because creatures and spells are drawn randomly which makes for many combinations.  This makes for varying strategies since each game may have different creatures and spells, all with new powers.  The expansion Quaramageddon is highly recommended as well, since it introduces expert culling as well as introduces new cards which help the replay value greatly.  Quarriors Gameplay

2 Player Experience

Quarriors works excellently with two players.  The game is very quick, usually done in 15-20 minutes which allows for more games in one session.  The swiftness in 2 player Quarriors is partly due to creatures being able to stay alive by your next turn, since only having to deal with one attack verses a possible three attacks in four player.  Expert culling is a must in 2 player, so that one player doesn’t get too far ahead because of a couple lucky rolls.  Two players is lighthearted, quick, and fun.

4 Player Experience

Quarriors is also fantastic with four players.  While the gameplay is a tad longer, it still goes by quick enough for multiple rounds or as a filler game.  It is harder to keep your creatures alive for scoring, which is why getting creatures with good defense is very important. The strategy is therefore deeper in four player, because of having to worry about three other players attacks instead of just one.  Overall, four player with Quarriors is an awesome medium strategy game for people who love to roll dice.

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Great Wall of China

Overview: Great Wall of China is a strategy card game set in Dynastic China.  Players take turns playing from their hand of cards on a wall in order to beat out their opponents for points. The cards have numbers on them to indicate power, as well as various specials such as “take a free action.” Each wall has a pair of points that can be won by being in the lead at the start on the player’s turn.  Play continues until one player has played every card in their deck and hand, or tiles run out.  In case of the former, each player gets one more turn.  In the latter, the game ends immediately.  Whoever has the most victory points, wins.

great wall of china box

Great Wall of China is a fantastic gateway strategy card game. The gameplay is simple, as players can either draw a card or play a card using two actions.  First action is to always resolve wall points before starting ones turn.  Great Wall of China can easily turn into a blood battle as players fight for a big range of points.  For example, one wall may have an 8 points & 1 point token on it.  A player certainly doesn’t want to waste cards to just get one point, so it’s easy to keep battling in order to gain the big advantage.

Don’t underestimate the simple gameplay, however, as Great Wall of China is perfect for new gamers and seasoned ones for a quick and fun game.  There’s enough strategy to pique most gamers’ interest, but not too complicated as to steer away novices.  The replay value isn’t spectacular, and the game can get stale if played too often.  However, if used as a gateway game or filler game, Great Wall of China works well.  Great Wall of China Gameplay

2 Player Experience

Great Wall of China works well with two players for light gameplay.  Two player games tend to be more cutthroat as no player wants their opponent to gain a 7 or 8 point round easily.  Great Wall of China also goes quite fast with two players, so it can be a good filler game or for travel as the box is small.  The replay value isn’t high with two players, but if played semi often, Great Wall of China is still enjoyable.

4 Player Experience

Four players is quite fun with Great Wall of China.  While players can be just as cutthroat, it’s done as the expense of another player being able to snatch up points on another wall while two players battle it out.  The strategy is a bit deeper with four players because there is more choice on whether to join a battle on a wall or get small, easy points throughout the game.  There is also more replay value because each game plays differently depending on what players decide to do.  Great Wall of China is a great four player game to bring to the table.

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King of Tokyo

Overview: King of Tokyo is a dice rolling strategy party game for 2-6 players.  Monsters fight to get into the city of Tokyo in order to gain victory points or knock out monsters.  Players start with 0 Stars (VP) and 10 Hearts, if any player gets down to zero hearts, they are knocked out.  Victory condition is 20 VP or last one standing.King of Tokyo Box

King of Tokyo is a strategy party game that is popular with both kids and adults.  Each player gets to choose a monster that they will fight with, whether it be Cyber Bunny or Meka Dragon.  In the Base Game, the monster choices don’t change the gameplay, however, in the Power Up Expansion, each monster has a different set of evolution cards they can earn throughout the game.

The dice rolling mechanism is similar to Yahtzee, where you get one roll plus two re-rolls to finish out the turn.  With these dice rolls, you can either heal yourself (if you aren’t currently in Tokyo), attack other players, gain energy (currency in the game) or earn victory points through three or more of a kind (1, 2, or 3).  While the dice rolls do make the game more random, it’s balanced by the fact you can buy cards with energy, which can give you more re-rolls, extra damage to other players and many other powers.King of Tokyo Gameplay

King of Tokyo is recommended as a gateway strategy game that can be played with kids or new gamers.  Seasoned gamers will enjoy this game as well if they don’t take it too seriously.

2 Player Experience 

King of Tokyo is a decent 2 player game, but is truly designed to be a larger group party game.  In 2 player, it’s hard to knock your other opponent out, especially if you aren’t rolling attack dice.  Also, many of the cards benefit from more players, so these are not very powerful or helpful in 2 player.  It’s difficult to get the player to yield Tokyo, which makes for a slow and predictable game of waiting to see who can rack up the most victory points.  While 2 player can give practice to new players, we recommend you play with at least three to make the game more interesting.

4 Player Experience

King of Tokyo is very enjoyable four player, as there are many different players to interact with.  It’s harder to stay in Tokyo in four player, making the game go smoother as many people get shifted in and out allowing for no one to dominate too easily.  Also, the cards you can buy with energy are more balanced and interact better with more players.  Four player plays quick if someone does get knocked out, that to jump back in on another game shortly (as opposed to a 5 or 6 player game).  We highly recommend you play with 4 players in King of Tokyo, as it is the most balanced and interactive of all the choices.

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Smash Up

Overview: Smash Up is a Deck Building strategy party game that puts Sci-Fi/Fantasy creatures against each other. Each player is dealt two factions in which they build their deck.  Is Pirate Ninjas the most powerful combo, or will Robot Dinosaurs come out on top?  Each player takes turns building on bases to try to break the base and get the highest score.  Smash Up Box

Smash Up is one of those games where party and strategy games meet.  It’s goofy enough to be called a party game, as even the rules don’t take themselves seriously.  However, there is a good amount of strategy involved, as one must adjust to each turn as an opponent destroys your minions or moved them to another base.  This is one game where expansions are paramount, because that way in four player, one person isn’t stuck with a faction like the Tricksters, for example.  More expansions means more choices of factions for the players, as some combos are more powerful than others.

While Smash Up isn’t a heavy strategy game, it still is enjoyable if played with the right crowd.  The hope is that each player targets the winning opponent and doesn’t attack another player just out of spite.  It’s a game that works best if people are hindering their own opponents while still benefitting themselves. It’s important to not take the game too seriously, as some faction combinations just don’t work nearly as well, which is one of the downfalls of the game.

If you have enough of the expansions, one way to counter this is to deal out a couple different factions for each player, that way they may choose a combo of their liking. Otherwise, just make sure each player gets to experience different faction combos if you have time to play a couple of rounds.Smash Up Game Play

2 Player Experience:

Smash Up does not work as well two players, because it can take much longer to break a base.  Also, destroying cards is not as powerful, because if you destroy too many of your opponents cards, you may be breaking that base all your own, which may take too long.  Two player would work much better if the players agreed to play to only ten victory points or halved the amount of power it takes to break a base.

4 Player Experience:

Smash Up works very well four player because there is more chance for interaction on your turn.  Destroying cards is more powerful because you can destroy cards in order to jump up a placing on a base, allowing yourself to score more points.  Also, the bases break much faster since usually three or more people are working on the same base at the same time.  Only downfall with four player is with only the base game, a player may get stuck with a poor combo. Expansions are highly recommended if wanting a balanced four player game.

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