These are the games that make me frustrated, incensed, frenetic and just plain mad.
Here are my top 5 heated games in in no particular order.
Survive! Escape From Atlantis : Survive is an extremely cutthroat game where the goal is to get your high-valued meeples off a slowly sinking island while also navigating sea serpents, whales and sharks. What makes this game so vicious is that you can literally send sea creatures to eat or upend your opponent’s meeples while they swim for safety. During one game night, I killed off so many of my friend’s meeples that she legitimately got mad at me (whoops). But she loved the game so much that she went out and bought it for herself. So, I would call that a win-win situation (and yes, I did claim victory that night). Survive! Escape from Atlantis plays easily and appeals to just about everyone.
Carcassonne: This game sounds serene – it’s a tile placement game where players draw tiles and strategically place them to build a beautiful French landscape while scoring points. And sure, it is that… but it’s also about the rage that slowly builds inside me when my brother keeps attaching tiles to my half built high-valued cities in order to claim them for himself. In Carcassonne, if a player is strategic enough, they can work with opponents to build a city together but then sneak in with a second meeple and claim all the points for themselves. You can also do this on people’s exceedingly long roads. I hate it. But I also love it.
Lifeboats: This game is pure negotiation through and through. In Lifeboats, every player is attempting to get their pawns to safety while dealing with leaking lifeboats and possibly drowning. During each round, players must contend with only one boat moving forward, forcing a pawn out of each boat (and hopefully moving into another) and finally, one boat springing a leak. All incidents in this game are negotiated and voted upon. Every single one. Convincing others and negotiating bargains are essential. And pleading. Lots and lots of pleading. And backstabbing. You’re not going to make friends while playing this game. You might also lose some.
Catan: This was one of the first games I ever taught my family. It’s a game that everyone (but me) always wants to play, especially my brother. At it’s core, Catan is a game where you collect and trade resources to build up your island. But when NO ONE will trade with you or your numbers never get rolled, you want to flip the table in frustration. Also, screw that robber. However, I will say that in the last few games we have implemented a house rule where no one is allowed to barter or negotiate when deciding where to place that damned robber. This has significantly cut down on the sheer number of arguments while playing this game. I highly recommend it.
Cosmic Encounter: In this game, each player is the leader of a wildly asymmetric alien race where the goal is to establish five colonies in other players’ planetary systems. To do so players must negotiate strategically, build alliances and then ultimately betray their allies. Cosmic Encounter is a perfect mix of bluffing and negotiation. While there are moments of pure fun, it can also be frustrating when no one will ally with you because you are so close to building your 5th planet. Also, you can have a tied victory and who likes that?!
At the end of the day sometimes you just want to negotiate, bluff and screw your friends over. These are the perfect games to do so!
* I would like to give an honorary mention to A Game of Thrones and Diplomacy because I’ve heard these games invoke the above-mentioned emotions but I’ve never played them and I’m pretty positive I never will.