Who needs sleep anyway?
One of the (literally and metaphorically) darkest joys of gaming is playing til the wee, small hours of the morning. Whether you’re partying with your massive gaming group, battling against opponents across the table, or locked in a one-to-one duel with your nemesis – finding a game that gives the joy of an ‘event’ is a true joy for collectors everywhere.
So – whether it’s looking for ‘one more turn’, you’re too scared to sleep, or you’ve just forgotten time exists…here are eight of our favourite games that you should consider adding to your collection.
8. City of Horror (2012)
Will you survive the horde?
If pointing and screaming is your thing, you’re in for a treat. First released in the ancient times of 2012, City’s gorgeous 3d map and beautifully designed standees made it stand out. But what made it sing was its recreation of the best bit out of every zombie movie – the moment when the humans turn on each other. Turns involve players manoeuvring their characters around the map and avoiding making too much noise and attracting the horde that surrounds you. Because, if you do, they’re going to need to be placated. And by placated, we mean having another player thrown to them. Which involves the game’s famous voting mechanic where the group collectively turns and physically points at the person who’s going to be eaten. Before long, you’ll be negotiating and bargaining well into the night to avoid being munched – or convincing others in order to get your own back on Dave.
7. Inis (2016)
Claim the crown
Do you want to play a game that finishes quickly and smoothly or one that evolves into a byzantine game of strategic plays and knife-edge victory. Or do you want an option the does both? This masterpiece from Matagot lets up to four players (or more with the expansion) compete to become the ruler of ancient Ireland by uniting the disparate tribes that fill the region. In reality, this involves a game of hand management, tactical plays, and attempting to accomplish of the game’s three, interconnected victory conditions. Games can be quick and decisive, or long and agonising. Either way, players will be sitting up til the dawn for ‘one more go’ or slowly pushing their way toward a decisive victory.
6. Diplomacy (1959)
So you choose diplomacy
For those who want to play til all hours and then never speak to their friends again, have we got a game for you. As beloved as it is long-lasting, Diplomacy is just that – a game about brokering alliances with other players based on verbal agreements and deals. This sees units moved across the map with the ultimate goal of controlling a majority of the map. In reality, this involves a lot of late-night backstabbing and negotiating as you try to get one over on your friends before they do the same to you or protect yourself from the worst that your opponents have to throw at you. And, just like politicians emerging from any peace summit, you emerge into the daylight – bleary eyed and wanting nothing more than a coffee, cigarette, or death. Preferably in that order.
5. Dead of Winter (2014)
Work together or perish together
For those that find City of Horror a little too simplistic, Plaid Hat has you covered. Part of their ‘Crossroads’ line, DoW puts you in the snow-shoes of the survivors of a zombie apocalypse trying to lead their faction of survivors to victory. Except, that’s what everyone else is trying to do to. Throw in limited resources, conflicting personal goals, and the constant threat of the moaning dead and players come into conflict very quickly. What starts as a game of number crunching and survival soon escalates into your own personal TV show as players struggle to achieve their personal goal and avoid being backstabbed on the way. Compelling, fraught, and tense in a way that has to be played to be understood – there’s simply no better option for the zombie afficionado.
4. Twilight Struggle (2005)
Will you rewrite history?
East vs. West. Capitalism vs. Communism. Jane vs. Phil. Some the greatest gaming experiences involve deadlocked, competitive play where every move hangs in the balance. And with Twilight, this is what you get and more. A highly tactical, exacting game – players recreate the forty-five years of intrigue, spycraft, and politicking that made up the cold war. And without direct conflict, the game becomes and epic – albeit indirect – struggle for the ages. Combining simplicity with depth of choice, games of Twilight start over lunch and bleed well into the evening as moves are calculated and pored over. And, after a short break, you swap sides and do it all over again. Or, if you’re pressed for time, you can give its little brother a go too.
3. Arboretum (2015)
Build the most beautiful garden
Of course, games don’t have to be baroque or epic to gather attention. It can be a case of offering streamlined, simple play that leaves players wanting to go again. And again. And again. And again! Designed by Dan Cassar, this trick taking masterpiece finishes in 30 mins and balances perfectly from 2 – 4, asking players to manage their hand size and form ‘runs’ of trees to maximise their scoring potential. However, tricksy scoring mechanics means that – even though you may end up controlling a high scoring forest – your opponent can use the cards they’ve secretly held in their hand to scoop them up when you least expect it. Combining mind-games, tactics, with moreish play…you’ll be playing this til the sun comes streaming through the leaves outside your window.
2. Star Wars: Rebellion (2016)
Destroy the Rebel scum or Stop the evil Empire
Whether you’re an unapologetic prequel fan or believe that the Last Jedi was the best one in the series since Empire – we all have our opinions about how the films should have been handled. So, here’s your chance to set things right. Covering the first three movies in the series, Rebellion lets you and three other friends (though it’s best with two) go head to head. Play as the Empire and crush the Rebel scum while rooting out the location of their secret base. Or lead the Rebellion and move from a minor threat to an Empire-stopping band of heroes. And with a four-hour play time on most games, you may be exhausted, but you’ll stop your opponent clawing their way to victory. Even if you have to vaporise every last planet in the solar system to do it.
1. Blood on the Clocktower (2021)
Can you find the demon?
Bursting into being with a glowing – albeit controversial – review from SUSD, Blood is not only a popular favourite, but a game that will keep you and your group up all through the night. Offering a God-tier version of Werewolf, your group has to band together to identify the demon hidden in your midst through a combination of social deduction, bluffing, and unique player powers. Designed to be the perfect party game – no player is eliminated, the DM is able to influence and complicate events, and even late guests can be brought in as mysterious ‘travellers’ with their own unique motivations and secrets. Just be sure you’ve strung up the right creature by the time the sun comes up…
What board games would you choose for a night full of gaming? Tell us in the comments!