Iain’s ‘Alternatives to the usual’ game list

It’s that time of year when we sit around with our family and try not to murder each other over the outcome of a roll in Monopoly. Surely I can recommend you some better games to play then the usual fair? Without further ado:

So you want to play Monopoly….meet Lords of Vegas

Lords of Vegas was on my list last year and it remains a firm favourite with me, and I think a great gateway game. A tense, push your luck battle for Vegas before it was Vegas as you rush to claim the best plots to build your fabulous casinos. This game really feels like you are gambling all the time, and tempts you to take that risk with the glittering prizes on the other side of the dice roll.

So you want to play Cluedo….meet Mysterium

Still the most attractive looking game in my collection, I mean just look at this thing:

Mysterium is a beautiful game where you all play psychics meeting at an old scottish manor house to noodle out how the ghostly occupant was killed. One of you will play the aforementioned victim, handing out psychic clues in the form of tarot cards showing strange, ethereal images on them. The others will try and guess what the ghost could possibly be on about and there may be a real murder as the Ghost tears their hair out trying to make themselves heard. Oh yeah, the Ghost doesn’t speak throughout the process.

So you want to play Scrabble….meet Codenames

A brilliantly subtle and clever game, I’ve covered Codenames before in this review and since then a Pictures version has come out which I still haven’t got my hands on. I’ve heard the sequel takes the game to another level and I look forward to hearing about it from relatives who I have gifted it to.

So you want to play Trivial Pursuit….

I actually have very little experience with alternate Trivia games. I’ve heard good things about Wits and Wagers and the Timeline series looks interesting and has recently had a Star Wars one added.

So you want to play Snap…..meet Dobble

Dobble was my game of Expo 2015 and that tiny box still delivers a lot of fun and laughs. Several games exist inside it’s metal shield and they are all great. This is cheap as chips as well so do yourself a favour and pick it up

So you want to play Charades….meet Mafia de Cuba

Ok so these two games aren’t really similar but you are looking to entertain a large number of people with a single activity then Mafia de Cuba is the game for you. Lush presentation in the extreme helps everyone get into this game of gangsters on the take and the best thing is you can choose how involved you get in a particular round by the role you choose. Outrageous accents mandatory.

There is nothing wrong with the classics if you enjoy them, but I urge you to try and sample some new games, maybe the ones above or ones from the excellent column in the Guardian or suggested by the always entertaining Shut up and Sit Down. The best games leave you with stories to tell and it is this aspect, more than any other, that keeps my collection fresh as I try to shape it for my group. Try one of the games above, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Merry Christmas


Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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