2019 Staff Picks | Story and Party Games
A Year in Games Part 2
Continuing on with the staff results of our Favorite Games of 2019 poll, today we bring you our favorite games outside of the strategy genre. These games mostly fall into the category of party games, story games, or cooperative strategy!
Tune in tomorrow for the final part, revealing our favorite releases of 2019 and our all-time favorites, and don't forget to take the poll yourself for 10%!
Play these games with large groups in social settings!
Staff Favorite | Just One
Easily the most popular game we have received this year, Just One became an instant favorite after some of our staff took it to a Memorial Day Party… and ended up playing for 4 hours with over 30 people. Just One has an addictive simplicity that fits every kind of person and gamer! Teachable in under 1 minute, endlessly replayable, and versatile for player number and play time, we can never play Just One round.
Johnni: "This is my VERY FAVORITE board game. I can confidently recommend this to any type of person or player!"
SOCIAL DEDUCTION GAMES
Hidden identities, secret abilities, and discrete lies - that’s the name of the game in social deduction! You may find allies or be the odd man out - bluff and trick your way to victory!
Staff Favorite | Bang!
In Bang! the Sheriff is trying to outwit the Outlaws, the Deputy defends the Sheriff, the Outlaws want to take down the Sheriff, and the Renegade wants to be the last gunslinger standing! This is a favorite because the roles are simple and the cowboy aesthetic is a sure way to get your friends yee-hawing and yapping!
Johnni: "My go-to party game to break the ice. Nothing gets a group comfortable like talking in a cowboy voice and shooting each other."
Not every game pits players against each other! More and more games each year invite players to work together to solve problems. Check out our recent Gifts of Gratitude blog for some of our favorite cooperative games.
Staff Favorite | Mansions of Madness
Mansions of Madness has been a consistent spooky fave, and you can read more about it in our Spooky Staff Picks blog. This app makes each new mystery thrilling and easy to jump into!
Lauren: "This is a perfect game to play in between D&D sessions or when a player can't show up. The app gets you really immersed with the engaging dialogue and the atmospheric music - I recommend dimming the lights, lighting some candles, and really leaning into the experience.
Honorable Mention | Mysterium
In Mysterium, one player plays a ghost silently communicating with mediums (the other players) in the hopes of solving the mystery of their death. All are working together to uncover the mystery.
Mattie: "It's like Reverse Clue!"
Staff Favorite | Schmovie
Schmovie takes the judge mechanic of Cards Against Humanity all the way to Hollywood. The judge rolls the Genre Die and draws the Premise Cards… the rest is up to you!
Johnni: "This is a perfect substitute for Cards Against Humanity that lets your creativity create the fun!! No movie trivia required."
These games come in all shapes and sizes but all share one thing in common : they are all based on beloved films, books, and other media! These games aren’t good because of the work they are based on, but because clever designers elevated a game with familiar themes.
Staff Favorite | Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth
Runner up in the heavy games section, Lord of the Ring : Journeys in Middle-Earth uses companion app guides you session by session through a larger campaign as you and your friends work together, explore Middle-Earth, and battle the growing threats of evil.
Lauren: "There are two different maps so while one tracks your immediate progress the other shows you this overatching view of your travels through the larger wilderness. It really reinforces the gravity of the specific task at hand versus the overall journey. Journeys gives you this sense of what it might be like to actually travel through Middle-Earth."
Honorable Mention | Harry Potter Codenames
Harry Potter is what you get when you transfigure the Harry Potter series with Codenames Duet! This Codenames title doesn’t require any Harry Potter knowledge, though fans can make the game extra challenging by relying on trivia alone! This cooperative version also adds quests, adding a deeper layer of engagement.
Lauren: "This game is all about the quests. They took Codenames Duet and made it even better by adding these quests that you need to fulfill. You do not need to know Harry Potter either!"
These games worry less about points and victory and focus on telling a compelling story. Unlike roleplaying games, there is still an element of competition but the true joy comes from the unique stories you and the other players craft.
Staff Favorite | Someone Has Died
Someone Has Died represented well in the local category, almost beating out Schmovie! One person plays an estate keeper of the recently deceased - the others are trying to prove why they deserve the dead’s stuff. This improvisational storytelling is much more about playing wacky, horrible characters than actually winning - though that’s an added bonus!
Someone Has Died is the brainchild of New Yorkers Adi Slepack and Liz Roche and is a local favorite! Read our interview with them about the game here.
Lauren: "In this awesome, female-created indie game, winning is secondary to the hilarious and often petty arguments over something as mundane as a quilt. No matter what you are trying to win over, the excuses and objections are unique and the experience is unlike any other voting game."
Construct a character and go on a quest! Roleplaying games have grown to include every type of world, theme, and tone, and as long as you have an open mind and imagination, you can join the fun! Of all of the sections, this is the only one where our staff equally voted for two different games!
(TIE!) Staff Favorite | Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition
The Grand Matriarch of tabletop roleplaying games, Dungeons & Dragons is often the standard by which most game systems are checked. The newest edition of D&D simplifies and opens up the rules, making D&D more accessible than ever! Most of us at Twenty Sided play D&D multiple times a week and still love it! Come play with us to try it out for yourself!
Johnni: "D&D is sort of the grandfather of all my favorite roleplaying games - they wouldn’t exist without it. It’s the game I play the most and think everyone should play it at least once."
(TIE!) Staff Favorite | Microscope
The game about worldbuilding! We used multiple Microscope sessions to develop our World of Mira and can attest to its strength as a worldbuilding tool - and its success as a fun, creative evening! Whether you’re using it for a session zero, to get the creative juices flowing, or to tell an isolated story about a world of your own creation!
Johnni: I’ve always thought worldbuilding wasn’t my forte - Microscope proved me wrong by breaking it down into pieces relating to theme and overarching story points. Surprisingly fun and engaging!
Mattie: When I was in middle school, I was a social outcast who read The Silmarillion during gym class. I make up timelines for fun, some of which stretch back over thirty thousand years. My favorite thing about fantasy books is the part where the author devotes a three-page spread to their hand-drawn maps and mildly incomprehensible histories that have almost no relevance to the story at hand. I can safely assert that I have all of the necessary qualifications to tell you with confidence that Microscope is THE SHIT. This RPG takes everything I love about worldbuilding, mapmaking, and fantasy history and makes it both accessible and fun for everyone! I wholeheartedly endorse it.
Tune in tomorrow for the final part of our Staff Picks, revealing our favorite Magic the Gathering and D&D releases as well as our all-time favorite games!