Sometimes game night just doesn’t go to plan. Whether it’s too many rules, a lack of interest, or late guests (you know who you are); sometimes it’s important to break out some quality filler and make the most of the time with your friends.
So, here are eight games to stick in a glass case in case of emergency. Starting with-
8. Schummel Hummel (2017)
Don’t worry, cheating is allowed
Or ‘Lying Bee’ in English – this is a great replacement for Cockroach Poker which, despite being brilliant, can run the risk of outstaying its welcome in many groups. Clean and simple, players are given a hand of cards into a central pile – with certain powers and combinations lending you an extra degree of strategy. Except, everyone is able to cheat. Hide cards in your shoe, tuck them into your dog’s collar, throw them away; everything is legal. The first person to clear their hand without being caught and penalised by the watchman wins, making it a perfect pick for antics throughout the night.
7. No Thanks (2004)
You gotta say no sometimes
Take a card or play a chip. That’s it. A beloved auction game, players are tasked with managing their hand of cards to hold the lowest value set at the end of their session. But a wrinkle or two really makes this shine. Each players pool of ‘no’ chips is limited and acts as a powerful resource for other players – letting them take a damaging card but replenish their range of options. Runs also count for the lowest scoring card in the set, meaning the tactical or obstructive plays are king – making every hand matter and balancing the game on a knife edge. Great for poker night style fun with the right table, this is an essential emergency trump card that can quickly become a standard for your group.
6. Biblios (2007)
Who knew trading manuscripts was this fun?
What’s more fun than monks? That’s right, auction monks! A game of two halves, Biblios starts with players sharing out valuable scrolls, books, and materials and aiming to end the game with the best (re: most valuable) library possible. But here’s the thing, it’s absolutely brutal. The second half involves an auction game where players bid on items to add to their existing repertoire, with each set’s value governed by the number of pips on a set of dice…that can be changed at any moment. This results in a rules-light cutthroat experience that never overstays its welcome.
5. Inis (2016)
All the right ingredients for deep gameplay
Sitting just on the edge of acceptable complexity for a light game, Inis is an exceptional example of what happens when you create a game and take out everything that doesn’t absolutely, positively have to be there. Set in a quasi-mythological Ireland, Inis sets players out as tribes clashing with each other to be declared king. Except instead of dice and empire, the game uses card drafting and multiple win conditions to allow players to plot a route to victory. With a set number of actions per turn, two times round the table is enough to understand how the game’s cards work. And with an average playing time of just over an hour – it’s the perfect pick for a short session or to become a regular part of your play.
4. Funemployed (2013)
Job interviews are always fun, right?
What’s more fun than starting your evening with a probing job interview? That’s right, nothing. Taking the internet by storm since its release in 2013, the game asks players to interview for real jobs such as a stockbroker, factory owner, or Prime Minister using your…’unique’ set of skills. Nunchakus, fire-breathing, light-accountancy; all these skills become cards in your hand, and you have to blag your way to the landing the job. A more creative alternative to the overplayed Cards Against Humanity, Funemployed lets your group flex its performative muscles and bend the rules of the game to fit your unique playstyle. Sparking creativity and innovation, it belongs in every collection and is the perfect pick to break out when the chips are down.
3. Red7 (2014)
Take that, tactics!
At Rathskellers we love games that not only offer interesting decisions but are beautifully simple. And if you’re looking for a game that punches well above its weight when it comes to its components, Red7 should be at the top of your list. Famously simple, the game involves set collection with the rule of ‘the highest card’ wins, with players eliminated if they are not ‘winning’ at the end of your turn and the winning ‘rule’ changing with every card dealt. This makes for pacey, play that anyone in their family can enjoy. But – if you want to turn the screws – it’s time to switch things up to Advanced rules. This adds additional tactical discard rules and adds point scoring to the mix. This works by eliminating cards from the game and helps to add extra tactical nuance and options – elegantly making a budget game simple to pick up and playable by groups of any persuasion. A truly colourful delight.
2. Flip Ships (2017)
Flipping ships is as easy as flipping coins
It’s been a long day. Everyone’s tired and what you play next is a coin-flip. So, why don’t you make that the game. Combining space invaders with palm-sweating dexterity, players work together to ‘flip’ your starfighter coin onto the steadily advancing alien horde. Demanding a genuinely surprising level of skill (and just a little bit of luck), the game demands a surprising amount of strategy when torpedoing enemies, carefully planning your next shot, or landing your on the mothership before it atomises the place where you keep all your stuff.
1. Escape: The Curse of the Temple (2012)
Can you make it out in time?
Ever wanted to be Indiana Jones? What…all of you? Then the only option you have is to pick up Queen Game’s masterpiece that challenges you to get in, nick some stuff, and get out. Except, there’s a catch. Played on a timer, your team rolls dice in real time – running the risk of ‘locking’ your movement, getting separated, or struggling to roll the keys or collect the crystals you need to make your way out. And if one of you doesn’t escape, none of you do. Pure, simple, and pulse pounding; Escape is an exceptional experience as well as a solid game that can be set up and broken down with ease – making it the perfect go to game when your evening decides to go off the rails.
Do you have any other “light” game to recommend in case of an emergency?! Share it in the comments below 🙂