Let’s Roast Some Weenies
Summer is upon us. What does that mean for gamers and the games they’ll want to play? I’ve reached out to the Meeple Gamer community, through Facebook, and Twitter to ask for some input on this list to try and bring you the best games for any given situation. However, I got so many response I felt like it wasn’t fair to just limit each place to just one answer. Therefore this list will also include several runners up.
I also want to make sure you know that I haven’t played every game on this list, many of them are here because they were suggested by multiple people from several places. While the final choice in each category was ultimately chosen by me, it was picked from a large crowd of worthy choices. Heck, one of the entries was almost completely written by another Meeple Gamers writer.
With that said, let’s sit back, fire up the grill, and get ready for the games.
App Based Games
I’m going to let Mathew chime in here. App-based games: Mint Works was the first of the Mint series to have its own app. It has a nice interface, you’re able to play with others in the app or against bots. Catan, the granddaddy of the modern games, comes with access to most of the expansions and again you can play with others or bots, with a highly customizable experience. Onitama is a simple game in appearance and it come with all the goodness of the real thing without the hassle of a box; you can play against various difficulty levels or other people with in-game purchases to trick out your experience. Ascension, like Catan, comes with most of the expansions, the ability to play in any combination you like, purchase the expansions in-game, and play against 1-3 bots or real people.
Back to me, I’m also going to add in some non-adaptations. Here we have your Hearthstones for a competitive streak with multiple modes, options, and the occasional Fireside gathering. Armello with tons of options, modes, victory conditions, and the ability to play against bots or other players. If you’ve got a Nintendo Switch system the old standard Mario Party is a great add.
But after talking about several people we’re going to go with Ticket to Ride from Days of Wonder as the best option. The pass and play works really well letting you hand the game across airplane seats, the back seat of a car, or around a table at a restaurant. While the app only comes with the base game most of the expansions are available through DLC. Ticket to Ride also has the advantage because of being a great entry level game that let’s families play together on long road trips, late nights, or being stuck inside through the rain.
Summer Themed Games
Here we have Unfair and the less take that Funfair both of which cover the amusement park angle pretty well. Sports show up in Baseball Highlights 2045 and Bottom of the 9th are both great examples of the game in tabletop form. Hive is an insect themed game that while not something we look forward to in the summer is 100% going to be there. Photosynthesis is a great example of forest building and Wingspan is all about the birds in the fields.
However, if one game stands out as the paragon of summer for me is Parks from Keymaster Games. Parks is an easy to play game about hiking as many national parks as possible. The rules are easy to implement, they have several paths to victory, and the pieces are extremely nice. Additionally, the art is magnificent. All of the cards are based on a series of posters and just look amazing. I even appreciate the little bits of trivia on all of the cards. All of that is why Parks is the best summer themed game.
Cabin in the Woods Games
There are some great low foot print games for limited amounts of space that sit well here. Onitama is a great game that uses heavy pieces that won’t be subject to the weather. The Tiny Epic Games all fit in here, though some of them take up a lot of table and might not be great for this, Quest and Western jump to mind as being to space heavy. However, if space isn’t an issue then those are both great additions as well. Also for a space hogging but thematic game you could go with Last Night on Earth. Nyctophobia is a great thematically dark cabin in the woods game that takes up limited space. Though if you’re looking for something that takes up almost no table space then most roll and writes are a great option with Railroad Ink being a particularly good one and the Welcome To series offers lots of options for players with a limited table presence if you’re not worried about wind. If you’re not worried about the weather as a factor for the game we could even add Parks in here as an option.
However, a great game that gives you good solid pieces, low impact on table space, and enough players to have a few people enjoy it would be Carcassonne from Z Man Games. In Carcassonne you’ll be laying out tiles to help build a small kingdom and laying meeples to claim territory. The base game takes up almost no space and the tiles and meeples are resistant to wind. The game is also fast and easy to play with rules that can allow for anyone to jump in and even the kids will have a good time with this one.
Low Player Count Games
Cooperative games are great games for large number possibilities but play well with fewer players, Pandemic, Forbidden Island, and Horrified are good examples. Some games like Terraforming Mars and Marvel Legendary work well with scaling. Then there are two player games that are distilled versions of larger experiences such as Seven Wonders Duel and Code Names Duet. There are some really great two player games that were designed that way from the outset; like Santorini or Twilight Struggle. Even the previously mentioned Hero and Star Realms fit well into this category. Then there are all the games that play well solo, such as Arkham Horror the Card Game or its larger sibling Arkham Horror the board game. Most cooperative dungeon crawlers will fit nicely into this list; Middara is a personal favorite, Gloomhaven works for this, and 7th Continent is a fun fit. If you’re really stuck for players then So, You’ve Been Eaten is technically for 0-2 players.
For me the best game for this list is Watergate from Frosted Games. I love this game. It’s a quick two player game with enough strategy and win conditions that make replays a fun challenge. It also avoids getting to in the weeds about the topic of the Watergate scandal by focusing on the history of the event and not getting bogged down in motives. The game also features some wonderful historical context and gives you some wonderful color in the rule book.
Party games work great here, games like Just One, Telestrations, and Dixit are all great fun and get people laughing and enjoying themselves. For fun large team based games you can go with Times Up, Wits and Wagers, and Two Rooms and a Boom for when you’ve got that many people. I’m even going to throw it back to the Roll and Writes we mentioned earlier for their ability to play to large groups with enough player sheets. You can also have some fun with Escape Room games like the Unlock and Exit series have a nice place here and allow for people not in the game to offer suggestions and help solve riddles. I’ve also had tons of fun with Box of Rocks and a white board keeping track of whether the folks at the cook out or the rocks were smarter; the rocks won far more often than I’m comfortable with.
But for me the best game to play at a cook out is Spyfall or Spyfall 2 from Hobby World. Spyfall is easy to learn, can facilitate a decent sized group, and gives a time limit making the rounds go by quickly. You’ll be laughing your way around the table in short order. With players trying to determine who among them is a spy or the spy trying to deduce their location by asking questions makes the game this fun mismatch of people trying to ask specifically vague questions without blowing it.
Paranoia is a great con level tournament though it takes a lot of organization ad set up it can be quite fun. Most miniatures games fit nicely into this category with all the Warhammers being popular choices. Others that jump into this lane are Marvel Crisis Protocol, Star Wars: Legion, and Super Fantasy Brawl. Then there’s the granddaddy of all tournament games, Magic the Gathering, which probably hosts the largest tournament scene for good reason. Though games like Key Forge, Net Runner, and Marvel Champions are moving in that direction.
But for me, with Magic changing its format I’m leery of putting it as Number 1 until I’ve seen it in action. Which is why I’m going with my old favorite, Malifaux from Wyrd Games. Mix together a fully developed world, wonderful characters, and a set of well tested rules and you get a pretty good afternoon. You also don’t need much more than a starter box and a deck of cards to really jump into a game. Yes, if you want to be competitive you’ll need to invest a bit more, but that’s true of every game on this list. In the end some of the best times I’ve had in the past few years were through Malifaux tournaments and that’s why it’s top of this list.
If you’re looking for an old classic like you grew up with then Clue stands out as a good one. Though great updated versions are Monopoly Gamer as a decent update to the original and the updated Stop Thief from Restoration Games. Any of the Villainous games are fantastic if your kids enjoy Disney or Marvel. Code Names is a fun team game for parent’s vs the kids. Chronicles of Crime: Welcome to Redvale is a great cooperative mystery game. To that end the Scooby Doo Escape from the Haunted Mansion is a great family fit.
For my money we’re going back to Restoration Games and Fireball Island: The curse of Vul-Kar. You each play a tourist trapped on the titular island and are desperately attempting to get enough postcards to secure passage on the Hello-copter. The game features an amazing 3 dimensional board with tons of nooks and divots. These are all used to channel the games Fireballs, a series of marbles that are dropped into the top of the large idol in the center of the board. The marbles race down the slopes knocking over ladders, bridges, and any unlucky adventures they come across. The game is frenetic and the spectacle of the marbles rolling down the hill is impressive. It helps that the longer the game goes on the more marbles will be rolled at one time making it difficult to escape Vul-Kar’s wrath.
Back to Nature Games
There are lots of options for this category. The Mint games are great space savers fitting inside a small mint sized canister, but some of them might not make great games for the trail. Star and Hero Realms are a deck of cards with a few extra bits. Skull is a wonderful game played with coasters that would slot nicely into a back pack. I’ve even played games of Coup and Welcome to the Dungeon sitting in a circle with a small tray as the table.
However, I think a great game that doesn’t get nearly enough love is Tussie Mussie from Button Shy games. The game is a small deck of cards that fit in a credit card wallet and takes up almost no space. It can be played easily sitting in a circle, on a blanket, or airplane tray table. The game fits neatly in a pocket and take up almost no space when making those packing decisions. The game goes from 2 to 4 players and features fast gameplay with interesting decisions and I split you choose mechanic. Very much worth your time.
Rainy Day Game
Lots of legacy games fit here I enjoy the Pandemic Legacy Series, Betrayal Legacy, and Clank Legacy. Campaign games also fit here, Gloomhaven, Arcadia Quest Descent, and Lord of the Rings: Journey’s into Middle Earth are all excellent options. It’s a good time for games with a lot of replay options like The Others, Smash Up, and Cosmic Encounters have tons of modular options that give tons of variation from game to game. Even a good Role Play Game can set here really nicely; Dungeons & Dragons, Blades in the Dark, and X Crawl are personal favorites.
However, if you want a game that takes all day, has tons of variety, and gives you lots of different player counts then I’d go with Twilight Imperium 4th Edition. You get tons of races, powers, technologies, and set ups. It offers interesting decisions, fun gameplay, and great mechanics. The draft for turn abilities that takes place every round forces you to look at long range plans and back up plans. Yes, the game takes between four and eight hours to play, but if you go in knowing that and plan for it you will have an amazing day.
Social deduction games fit nicely into this category. With games like Coup, Resistance, and Mafia De Cube being really great games for this setting. Certain Role Play Games are great for this. Games like Fiasco and Baron Munchausen play well around a camp fire or fire pit as players try to tell an ever more dramatic story; Fiasco even has a couple of play sets that fit the summer campfire setting.
For me the best game for this setting is Ultimate Werewolf from Bezier Games. A fun social deduction game that adds the storytelling found in late night ghost story. Even with play elimination, the setting of being around the campfire helps ease that problem. Add to that the different roles, factions, and player counts and you’ve got a pretty decent evening around the fire. Plus each person only holding a single card freeing up their other hand for a drink, a marshmallow fork, or to hold the hand of someone close by then you’ve got a pretty good evening.
Well, what do you think? We’re there any categories we missed or games you think we should have talked about? What are some of the games you’ll be playing this summer? We’d love to hear your thoughts down in the comments, or over on our Discord.
Until next time, stay safe and be well.