In Eight Games different board gamers share the eight games they’d select in eight different situations. The links are given to Board Game Geek listings for you to find out more.
This month the 90 Second Nerd team (Bekah, Jenny, Nick, and Dallas) choose their eight games. 90 Second Nerd started out of a desire for quicker ways to learn about games and other assorted nerdy sundry. They strive to be brief, informative, and hopefully at least a little entertaining.
The 90 Second Nerd Team
1: A game to take to granny’s house:
A family friendly afternoon.
[Bekah] We had been trying to rope the extended family into board games for some time with varying degrees of success. We had tried the party games, the text-on-cards voting games, dexterity games, lightly themed abstract games, co-op games, competitive games, etc., but no game has been as popular as family gatherings as Just One from Repos Production.
Just One is a cooperative party game where the players provide one-word clues to their teammate to lead them to guessing the mystery word. The one caveat is that if any players write the same word, or variation thereof, the word is eliminated, and the guessing player has less clues to aid in their guess. Players are rewarded with correct answers, and penalised for wrong ones, so there is a careful risk/reward balance while keeping the gameplay simple and the mood light. At approximately 20 minutes per game, keeps the attention of the youngest players, and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome with the older ones.
We have played this game several times with players ages 7 to 70 and all have quickly picked up on the rules and enjoyed the experience, so much so that the family requested that we bring it for Thanksgiving…and then again at Christmas…and birthdays. It was so popular that we ended up buying copies for each of our sibling’s families on both sides. That proved to be a good decision as Just One has been one of the easiest games for the family to play together via video conferencing during the pandemic quarantine.
Learn more about Just One in the 90 Second Nerd Holiday Special.
Just One features in The Dark Imp’s Top Ten Family Games for Christmas.
2: A game to take to a restaurant:
Play around the drinks and cutlery.
[Nick] There are a few things that I always have in my backpack just in case – a spare battery charger for my phone, a physical copy of my resume, an extra flash drive, and a copy of Button Shy Game’s Tussie-Musie.
Tussie-Mussie is an 18-card wallet game from the designer of Wingspan about the Victorian-era practice of assigning meanings to flowers for 1-4 players. In Tussie-Mussie, players attempt to score the most points over the course of three rounds, scoring points based on the flower cards they collect. Each flower card has a description of the points it awards (e.g. “This flower is worth 2 points), or a condition for points (e.g. “This flower is worth 1 point for every red-bordered card in hand”).
But beneath its pretty theme is a slick secret-information game that uses a unique “I cut, you choose” mechanism that keeps half of the potential choices a secret from the deciding players.
Tussie-Mussie plays quickly, and requires little table space, but the gameplay seems much bigger than the 18 flower cards would suggest. Packed with tough decisions from start to finish, Tussie-Mussie is the ideal game to play at a restaurant.
See how viscous this game can get in the 90 Second Nerd Board Game Preview: Tussie Mussie.
3: A game to take to a reunion:
Some people you want to chat to, others… not so much.
The Game of Wolf
[Nick] Identify the individuals that can increase your standing within the group, and leave the others to fend for themselves as you rise to personal glory. It may sound like high school, but its also the premise of The Game of Wolf from Gray Matters Games.
The Game of Wolf is a competitive trivia game for 4-12 players, but unlike other trivia-based games, it allows the active player (the wolf), to draft their opponents into their team for the round. Or, if you think you know better than the group, the wolf can go it alone and try to score more points.
The wolf is notified of the topic, such as Baseball, and the determines if they wont to go lone wolf, or draft a player to help them for the round. After that decision, the questions are revealed. There are 5 questions on each card, plus a bonus tie-breaker question. Once all questions have been answered and written on the supplied dry-erase boards, the answers are revealed, and scoring is as follows:
Round 1: Lone wolf wins (2 pts), a pack wins (1 pt), lone wolf loses (-1 pt)*
Round 2: Lone wolf wins (4 pts), a pack wins (2 pt), lone wolf loses (-2 pts)
Round 3: Lone wolf wins (8 pts), a pack wins (4 pt), lone wolf loses (-4 pts)
One thing that I really like about this game is how inviting and accessible it is to different players that otherwise wouldn’t want to play a trivia game:
- You don’t have to be good at trivia, just recognise and draft the people that are.
- It requires a little more strategy than a run-of-the-mill trivia game. You have to weigh the risk/reward of using players on your team, or going lone wolf. Especially in the later rounds as point values increase.
- It doesn’t take a long time. Some trivia games can seem like marathons, especially if the players are having trouble answering the questions, but The Game of Wolf is just 3 rounds and plays in about 45 minutes.
- There’s constant engagement and players participate with every turn rather than waiting for one player to answer questions.
See more at 90 Second Nerd Board Game Review: The Game of Wolf.
4: A game to take to a primary school:
Arm yourself with multiple copies and take over a whole classroom.
[Bekah] Funny you should ask. The week before we were put on pandemic quarantine, I was invited to speak at a local primary school class about board games and the game I used to demonstrate components, rules, game types, etc. was IceCool from Brain Games.
In IceCool, players take on the role of a mischievous penguin that is attempting to sneak around the school and collect fish without being caught by the hall monitor. Players take turns thumping their penguin figures around/through/over the modular board in order to cross thresholds containing fish of their penguin’s colour. If they are caught (i.e. touched) by the hall monitor, the hall monitor confiscates their ID card. The round ends after either a player captures all three of their fish, or the hall monitor captures all the ID cards. At that point, players get to draw a fish card worth 1-3 points for each ID in their possession and the role of the hall monitor rotates. After each player has had the opportunity to play as the hall monitor, the game ends and the player with the most points on their fish cards wins.
I chose this game for several reasons. First, thematically it is fun and fitting. What kid wouldn’t like to run amok through the school stealing treats?
Also, the modular board does allow some creativity with the set-up. For those unfamiliar, IceCool has a box-in-a-box-system and includes five boxes (including the bottom of the game box) that connect in various configurations to create the school when combined with IceCool 2. That dexterous building, along with the thumping of the figures help players with spatial recognition and hand-eye coordination.
The game is light on strategy which makes it easy to teach, but heavy in laughs.
5: A game to take to a youth club:
Hook in the next generation of board gamers.
[Dallas] When I think of what might interest the next generation of gamers, I think of how swiftly my own children leap from one obsession to the next, often with dizzying speed. Last week it was Dragon Prince, this week it’s Miraculous, and next week it might be quantum physics… who knows?! I also won’t pretend to be the least bit hip to anything trendy or modern, so I wouldn’t know where to start in trying to appeal to their varying tastes.
However, there is one genre that stands transcendent, untouchable by the decay time, the advancement of technology, or even the upending distractions brought on by puberty… This one topic inspires universal awe and amazement, wonder and whimsy. From the youngest child upon his knees with plastic model in hand to the oldest erudite in her scholarly tower, none live beyond the reach of the majesty of Dinosaurs!
For me, dinosaur games don’t come any better than DinoGenics from Ninth Haven Games.
First of all, it doesn’t hurt that ‘worker placement’ is my favourite gaming mechanism. I also find that worker placement games tend to have great appeal with new players. From Stone Age to Lords of Waterdeep, the genre is incredibly welcoming and relatively easy to explain. Perhaps it’s the meeples that directly relate to the number of options you have available, or perhaps it’s the locations around the board that relate they types of actions you can take… whatever the case, I find newer players are open to learning and often eager to return.
DinoGenics blends the accessibility of the worker placement mechanism with the wonder of dinosaurs and stirs them both together into a full-blown, prehistoric-gaming meal.
The components will draw the gaming neophytes to the table as they dream of displaying their own ankylosaurs, tyrannosaurs, and even mutant hybrids to the public. The base game comes with eight different types of dinosaur meeples, imposing grey and yellow electrical fences, and clever little worker meeples with hardhats.
The game play is solid with plenty of depth, but the core concepts are simple to grasp. Players will collect DNA samples (set collection) in order to bring their dinosaurs to life. They then must manage the dinosaur enclosures to make sure that nothing terrible happens on their island, all while trying to attract the most visitors.
DinoGenics will help turn the members of your local youth club into future John Hammonds and Ellie Sattlers. Or at least maybe Elizabeth Hargraves and Stefan Felds.
6: A game to take to a job interview:
Demonstrate your best qualities and answer questions while you play? (This really should be a thing)
[Dallas] I think I might be one of the few people in the world who really enjoys job interviews. There’s this whole underlying strategic element to it that feels like a board game in and of itself. So the idea of using a board game as part of the interview process seems like a no-brainer.
My initial thought was that I would bring a deduction game to the interview. Something like Matryoshka that balances trying to figure out what the other players need while attempting to acquire what I want. Or a game like Death Note: the Confrontation, which is a predictive battle of wits as two competitors attempt to mentally outpace their opponent at every turn. Deduction is the core of a job interview, after all.
But the truer, deeper essence of the interview is to demonstrate your own abilities while accomplishing your personal goals. You’re interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you, after all. For that reason, I decided to go with Shakespeare by Ystari Games.
Shakespeare is an ‘action point allotment’ game for 1-4 players that takes about 20 minutes per player. In it, you are a playwright and director who has a measly six days to put together your play in order to gain the favour of the Queen. You’ll need to hire actors, set designers, seamstresses, and maybe one or two extras in order to bring your vision to life on the stage.
The game takes place over 6 rounds in which you bid your action points to determine what you can do in a round. In essence, the fewer actions you take, the greater likelihood you’ll get to go first. You have four days (rounds) to get ready for the dress rehearsal, and then just two more before the big night. You must also be careful to pay attention to which actors and crew you activate each round, because you must rest all but one of them in the following round, giving your fewer options.
The game is built for efficiency in management. You must choose wisely where to spend your few coins in order to make sure your play is profitable… or that you at least break even. You are not striving for the greatest play of all time, you’re striving for better than everyone else’s… even if it’s only by one point.
The whole production is tied around the familiar theme of Shakespeare and his plays. In fact, all of the actors available to hire in the game are characters from Shakespeare’s plays. It creates a strong, common ground for everyone at the table. Even if you are not a devoted follower of the Bard, you’ll recognise at least a few of the characters as you add them to your ensemble.
For me, the game is the perfect picture I want to present in an interview, especially at the management level. It demonstrates a competency at putting together a complementary team, shows that you know how to succeed even on a limited budget, and that you can achieve your goals on a deadline.
That, and it’s just fun. The game has the feel of a game like Rococo without the steep learning curve or protracted play time.
Shakespeare features in The Dark Imp’s Two Tableau Building Games video.
7: A game to take to a hospital:
No brain-power needed.
[Jenny] No one likes being confined to a hospital bed. The days can get lonely and monotonous without the right kind of entertainment. However, hospitals aren’t exactly the ideal location for a board game get-together. Even if you’re lucky enough to get a table in your room, odds are it will only be big enough for a food tray.
Also, if you’re Type A like me, the idea of bringing a game into a hospital setting can be daunting. What if you lose a component? What if someone coughs and contaminates your game? What if the drugs are making it hard to formulate an epic winning strategy? Just thinking about these hypotheticals is stressing me out! Which is why my choice game for a hospital stay is On Tour by BoardGameTables.com.
In On Tour, you are stepping onto the stage of musical stardom and rocking (or banjoing depending on the genre) your way around the ole’ U.S. of A.
The components are simple. Dry erase boards, a pair of dice, and a deck of cards.
The dry erase play boards are thematically engaging based on different musical genres and are sturdy enough not to require an additional writing surface. Save that tiny table for snacks! The boards are also easy to clean. Which is handy for replayability and sanitation. Win-win!
The dice are a pair of oversized d10’s and are easy to find should one roll under the bed. Or, better yet, grab that bed pan and use it as a dice tray! Just kidding. DON’T. Gross.
As you roll the dice you are flipping over cards that indicate which regions (North, South, East, West, Central) you are allowed to “book a tour” in that round. You do this by simply filling in the circles on the states on your board with the number of the dice result. The regions on the cards have certain states that will give you a bonus point for booking their state that round.
At the end of the game, you connect as many numbers as you can in numerical order. The more you can connect the grander your tour will be!
Alternatively, if the idea of taking your own game into a hospital environment is still giving you’re the heebie jeebies, On Tour is now available on iOS. This virtual version operates the same way as the box game with a few added perks.
Perk #1 – Everything is compact and safe in the palm of your hand.
Perk #2 – The system will track your tour for you at the end of the game.
Perk #3 – Share the game code with your friends and enjoy experiencing the same game play with your loved ones who are outside the walls.
Whatever ailment or situation landed you in an adjustable bed surrounded by drips and beeps, grab your imaginary guitar and show America how you rock with On Tour!
8: A game to take to a cabin in the woods:
You have lots of time and lots of space.
[Jenny] Anytime an opportunity arises to sneak away from society and get some quality AND quantity game time, the first game that comes to mind is T.I.M.E Stories.
T.I.M.E Stories falls into the realm of ‘legacy games’ – meaning you play with the same party over several sessions.
In T.I.M.E Stories, you and your team are introduced to new technology that allows you to travel through time in order to fix some type of world ending event. You do this by body snatching persons from that particular time and using them as avatars to investigate your surroundings and come up with a solution. The catch is, you only have so much time to solve the mystery and complete the mission before you time capsule calls you back to your own body. Each choice you make, from places to visit on the map to how you handle each encounter, impacts your timeline.
If you fail your mission the first time, you get to try again, but with an altered time schedule.
What I love about T.I.M.E Stories is that there are already 8 expansions to the base game with infinite possibilities for more. Ancient Egypt, Zombie Apocalypse, Pirate Ships – the worlds you visit will all be unique in theme. Each expansion is its own story within itself. However, there are sometimes special items or assigned characteristics that you carry over from game to game – keeping an extra layer of story alive throughout each play session.
If you love deduction games with strong themes and a chance to meld into a character and enact some role-playing, rent that cabin and immerse yourself in the adventures of T.I.M.E Stories!
About 90 Second Nerd
90 Second Nerd is a quirky quartet, a terrific tetrad, a fantastic… well, you get the point. 90 Second Nerd started out of a desire for quicker ways to learn about games. They strive to be brief, informative, and hopefully at least a little entertaining. Their primary focus is board gaming, but they occasionally stray into other realms of nerdery.
Bekah is a gaming goddess grown on the ambrosia of the Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Brothers. She enjoys worker placement and point salad games with multiple paths to victory, and her current favourite game is Paladins of the West Kingdom. When she’s not rescuing princesses, she spends her time saving real lives as a nurse.
Jenny is a home-school educator, an empath, an otaku, and more than a little bit feisty at the board game table. She will bake you an apple pie and then cut your throat if you cross her in a Take-That game. She loves abstract and spatial orientation games, and her current favourite game is Noctiluca. She is also a young-adult paranormal author with her second book on the way.
Nick might seem the least nerdy of the foursome at first glance. He’s a former power-lifter, a trail-runner, and an avid sports fan. But his gaming roots go deep. He loves a good mid to heavy, dry Euro and his current favourite game is Castles of Burgundy.
Dallas is a mighty Marvelite, a Mandalorian (after the Clan of Traviss), and a dungeon master of two decades. His current favourite game is Star Wars Rebellion, and he loves highly thematic games. He’s written three fantasy novels and has just started a new 6-book series.