animatorbeneath words: homedesigner

the game closet

To my mind, there are few things more enjoyable than gathering around a table with a group of friends or family and playing games. So much entertainment today requires a passive audience. Television, movies, concerts bring entertainment to the audience. Games are active. The players have  an active role in creating their own fun. Games encourage interaction, both in the form of competition and cooperation. Put simply, games are a brilliant way of marking out both time and space for informal social entertainment. I have a wacky group of friends that gather once a week for this very purpose. Some games are certainly more popular than others with this crowd, but that we play each week is more important than any one game or any one player. Because of our game night, we know we'll see each other every week. We can catch up on each other's lives, as well as enjoy an evening's worth of laughs and fun. I strongly encourage you to start a game night with your friends or family. 

To help anyone interested, I have compiled a list of all the games currently in my closet. Game night doesn't have to mean another endless night of Monopoly night or Chutes and Ladders! There are literally hundreds of fun, easy to learn, and affordable alternatives to the standard Milton Bradley or Parker Brothers fare.  My game closet list is by no means comprehensive, but it is substantial and ever-growing. In fact, by year's end, the games will spill over into another closet! Over time, I may write short reviews for each game in the closet. For now, the list should suffice to get you started. If you have any questions about starting your own game night or any games on the list, feel free to contact me.

Click on the game title for more information courtesy of Funagain Games, one of the best online sources for fun and hard-to-find games.

 Rio Grande Games

In the last 5-10 years, no other game company has come close to matching the quality, quantity, and beauty of Rio Grande games. They specialize in importing and translating German board and card games. Aesthetically, the games are very colorful. Most of the board games come with painted wooden pieces. And as games, they are without peer. Challenging and unique game mechanics make each one stand out from the typical American board or card game. The average board game runs in the $30 to $45 range and the card games range from $10 to $20. To my mind, any game on this list would be a worthy investment and will provide many hours of enjoyment. 

Rio Grande Board Games
title # of players
Aladdin's Dragons 3-5
Andromeda 3-5
Cape Horn 2-5
Cartagena 2-5
El Caballero 2-4
El Grande 2-5
El Grande Expansions 2-5
Elfenland 2-6
Evergreen 2-6
Fossil 2-6
Java 2-4
Kahuna 2
Lord of the Rings 2-4
Lord of the Rings: Friends and Foes 2-5
Lord of the Rings: Sauron 2-6
Lowenhertz 2-4
Mammoth Hunters 2-4
Medieval Merchant 2-6
Mississippi Queen 2-6
Mississippi Queen: The Black Rose 2-6
Niagara 3-5
Ra 3-5
Reiner Knizia's Samurai 2-4
Richochet Robot any
St. Petersburg 2-4
Samarkand 2-4
Taj Mahal 3-5
Through the Desert 2-5
Tikal 2-4
Torres 2-4
Vino 2-5
Rio Grande Card Games
Balloon Cup 2
Bohnanza 2-7
Druidenwalzer 2
Hera & Zeus 2
Katzenjammer Blues 2-6
King of the Elves 2-6
Klunker 3-5
Knights 2-6
Lord of the Rings: The Duel 2
Lost Cities 2
Money 3-5
Odin's Ravens 2
Space Beans 2-6
The Reef 2
T-Rex 3-5
Trick 'r Treat 3-6
Days of Wonder

A relative newcomer to the scene, French company, Days of Wonder has become the benchmark for European style board games. DoW itself on extremely high quality artwork and game components. Oh, and the games themselves are challenging, varied, and yet simple to learn.

Memoir '44 2+
Mystery of the Abbey 3-6
Pirate's Cove 3-5
The Queen's Necklace 2-4
Shadows Over Camelot 3-7
Ticket to Ride: Europe 2-5
Other Board Games
Abalone 2
Acquire 2-6
Age of Renaissance 3-6
Arkham Horror 1-8
Awful Green Things from Outer Space 2
Axis & Allies 2-5
Babylon 5 Component Game System 2-6
Battleball 2
Betrayal at House on the Hill 3-6
Blokus 2-4
Carcassonne 2-5
Carcassonne: Inns and Cathedrals 2-5
Carcassonne: King & Scout 2-6
Carcassonne: The Count 2-6
Carcassonne: Princess & Dragon 2-6
Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers 2-5
Carcassonne: The Castle 2
Carcasonne: The Discovery 2
Dragon Delta 2-6
Ebola Monkey Hunt 3-6
Ebola Monkey Hunt: Power Monkeys 3-6
Formula C Minus 2-6
Formula De 2-10
Halunken and Spelunken 2-4
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys 2-4
Heroscape 2+
The Hills Rise Wild 2-4
Hoity Toity 3-5
Kuba 2
Lionheart 2
Lone Wolf and Cub 2
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation 2
Mission Command: Air 2
Mission Command: Land 2
Orcs at the Gates 2-5
Peg Poker 2-4
Pirateer 2-4
Robo Rally 2-8
Robo Rally: Armed and Dangerous 2-8
Robo Rally: Grand Prix 2-8
Robo Rally: Radioactive 2-8
Seafarers of Catan 3-4
Seafarers of Catan: Expansion Set 5-6
Serenissima 2-4
Settlers of Catan 3-4
Settlers of Caten: Cities and Knights 3-4
Settlers of Catan: Expansion Set 5-6
Starfarers of Catan 3-4
Talisman 2-6
Talisman: Dungeon 2-6
Talisman: Expansion Set 2-6
Talisman: The Adventure 2-6
Talisman: Timescape 2-6
Tigris & Euphrates 3-4
Udder Madness 2-4
Xena: Warrior Princess 2-4
Yeti Slalom 3-5
Yote 2
 Cheapass Games

Another favorite game company. Cheapass Games produces board and card games, usually printed on card stock and packed in plain white envelopes or boxes. The games consist of a board or deck of cards and a sheet of rules. And that's it. The Cheapass philosophy is to design great games but not drive the cost up by including expensive components like pawns and dice or color printing. In other words, you'll have to borrow pawns or dice or money to play their games. We have a lot of fun coming up with wacky pawns for each game. Not only are the themes  completely loony, but the games themselves are challenging and fun even after multiple games. And, perhaps, best of all, the games cost between $3 and $8 (they do have some deluxe color versions that run $10-12). Even if you buy one you don't like, You're only out a few bucks. 

Visit their web site for more information

Cheapass Board Games
Ben Hvrt 4-8
Bitin' Off Hedz 2-8
Deadwood 3-8
Deadwood: Horror 3-8
Deadwood: Space 3-8
Deadwood: Musical 3-8
Deadwood: Kung Fu 3-8
Devil Bunny Hates the Earth 2-5
Devil Bunny Needs a Ham 2-5
Escape from Elba 3-6
Get Out 2-8
Huzzah! 3-8
Vegas 3-6
Kill Doctor Lucky 2-8
Kill Doctor Lucky: Craigdarroch 2-8
Parts Unknown 4-10
Safari Jack 2-4
Save Doctor Lucky 3-7
Starbase Jeff 2-4
The Great Brain Robbery 3-7
Cheapass Card Games
Before I Kill You, Mister Bond 2-6
Bleeding Sherwood 3-8
Change 2-6
Give Me the Brain 3-8
Lord of the Fries 3-8
Renfield 4-7
The Big Idea 3-6
Unexploded Cow 3-6
Witch Trial 3-7
Other Card Games
Alien Hotshots 2-4
Alpha Blitz 2-6
Anarchy 3-5
Battle Line 2
Bell-Bottomed Badasses on the Mean Streets of Funk 2-6
Bucket King 3-6
Canasta Caliente 2-6
Castle 2-5
Chainsaw Warrior 2
Chez Geek 2-5
Chomp 2-6
Coloretto 3-5
Colossal Arena 2-5
Corsari 2-4
Cows Can't Dance 2-5
Danger 3-5
Democrazy 4-10
Dino Hunt 2-6
Dragonmaster 3-4
Duell 2
Dungeoneer: Tomb of the Lich Lord 2
Elixir 3-6
Filthy Rich 2-5
Five Crowns 2-7
Flea Circus 3-5
Fluxx 2-6
Frog Juice 2-4
Gang of Four 3-4
Gloom 2-6
Go Wild 2-6
Grand Prix 2-5
Green Thumb 2-5
Groo 2-4
Groo: Expansion Set 2-6
Guillotine 2-5
Havoc: The Hundred Years War 3-5
Illuminati: Deluxe Edition 2-4
It's Mine 3-5
Labyrinth: The Card Game 2-6
Lowendynastie 3-6
Mhing 2-6
Nuclear War 2-6
Odd Ball 2-4
Once Upon a Time any
Pack of Flies 2-5
Pigasus 2-6
Pivot 2-8
Poison 2-4
Powerpuff Girls: Villains at Large 2-4
Queen's Necklace 2-4
Rat-a-Tat Cat 2-6
Samurai 3-6
Scallywags 2-4
Trailer Park Gods 3-6
Tribbles 2
Twitch 3-6
 Word Games
Apples to Apples any
Apples to Apples Expansion Crate any
Bali 2-4
Bethump'd with Words any
Dictionary Dabble any
Huggermugger any
Password any
Quiddler 2-8
Scattergories any
Thrice any
Tri-Virsity 2-8
Webster's New Word Madness 2-6
Wise and Otherwise any
Word Yahtzee any
 Classic Games
Acquire 2-6
Aggravation 4
Backgammon 2
Bridge 4
Canasta 4
Checkers 2
Chess 2
Chinese Chess 2
Civilization 2-7
Civilization: Advanced 2-7
Cribbage 2-3
Deluxe Boggle any
Diplomacy 2-7
Euchre 4
Mah Jongg 4
Monopoly 2-8
Pente 2
Poker 2+
Rook 2-4
Scopa 2
Scrabble 2-4
Shogi 2
Trivial Pursuit any
Uno 2-6
Wizard 3-6
Yahtzee any
 Trivia Games
In Pursuit any
Pop Up Video any
Trivial Pursuit any
Ubi any
 Dice Games
Cosmic Wimpout any
Dice Master: Cities of Doom 2
Dice Master: Wilds of Doom 2
Eagle Kingdoms any
Fill or Bust any
Kits and Caboodle 2-3
Knights 2-6
Knights Brave and Bold 2-6
Phase 10 Dice any
Up to my &*% in Alligators any
 War Games
Advanced Third Reich 4
Axis & Allies 2-5
Battletech 2+
Clan War 2+
De Bellis Antiquitatis 2
Star Fleet Battles 2+
 Role Playing Games
7th Sea




Dungeons and Dragons


Legend of the Five Rings


Rune Quest


The Call of Cthulhu


 Collectible Card Games
Illuminati 2+
Legend of the Five Rings 2
Magic: The Gathering 2
Middle Earth: Lidless Eye 2
Middle Earth: The Wizards 2
Mythos 2
Star Trek 2


sconway@subverbis.com    Stephen Conway   1721 Marian Dr. Indianapolis, IN 46240   317-843-9744