PunchBoard Media: The Big List of Games (Party Games)
The Punchboard Media Big List is an ongoing series highlighting some of the many board, card, and tabletop games that the contributors at Punchboard Media feel are important enough that everyone should experience playing, with some insights into each title from various contributors as to why they are notable.
Monikers designed by Alex Hague, Justin Vickers
Nominated by Draft Mechanic
Danielle Bock (Draft Mechanic): Monikers is, at its heart, a game about creating a shared language. Like other iterations of the party game Celebrities, Monikers takes place over three rounds and has 2 teams each trying to guess the clues on the cards, first using open description, then in one word, then with only wild flailing. What really sets Monikers apart for me is quality of the words on the cards. Monikers pulls from obscure turns of phrase, pop cultural references, and even illustrations to give the teams a challenge. Fear not if you are not up on the dankest memes, each card gives a thorough and hilarious description of what the target word is. Half the fun of Monikers is seeing which crazy cards your group has decided they should be able to guess, and the other half is distilling those crazy ideas down each round to the takeaway moment for the previous rounds. By the end, everyone has devolved into uncontrollable laughter as one team member tries their best to mime “The Bechdel Test”, “The plums that were in the icebox”, or “The girl who interrupted her dad’s interview on the BBC” to hilarious results.
Patrick Hillier (WDYPTW): Many people don't know that many of our current hobby board games are evolutions of old parlor games. I knew Monikers as a party game where you threw names written on paper in a hat and played three rounds. Round one is full description with body language, round two is one word only, round three is charades only. You reuse the cards over each round so the hand motions from round one might come in handy during the charades round. Monikers adds more defined rules and some text on the card to help players understand the word they are giving clues on. We played this at BGG Con and James Nathan became known for his Monikers stance. Like a runner ready to start a race, bouncing on his toes with excitement for the next card to be flipped so he can get his team to guess.
Bruce Voge (On Board Games): Monikers at its core is the next in a long line of games based on the idea of starting with limited communication, and making it even more limited as the game goes on. However, as the same clues are given again and again a meta-communication is created that makes difficult ideas easier to convey through repetition. Monikers is the new, hip version. Time's Up was the last popular iteration, and both are great. The system of play is tried and true, and the folks behind monikers did a GREAT job updating and curating the deck with fun references that border often on racy or controversial without actually hitting that ground. This is a great example of party game, in a post Cards Against Humanity world.
Links to PBM Reviews of Monikers:
Wits & Wagers designed by Dominic Crapuchettes
Nominated by Open Seat Gaming
Marti Wormuth (Open Seat Gaming): Wits and Wagers is one of those universal games that really checks off a lot of marks for many, many people. We have the fancy Vegas mat and, every time we bring it out, people’s eyes light up (but, you definitely don’t need it to have a ton of fun). I believe the best part of Wits and Wagers is the fact that it’s a trivia game that doesn’t make anyone feel stupid - since it’s about “getting close” and the questions are absurd, it actually does the exact opposite. Stand up moments, people pushing in all their chips because they’re confident (sometimes too much so), and high fives everywhere. It’s the perfect game for a big group. We bring it to every large group game night we go to, because it plays amazingly at large player counts. So, in summary: Wits and Wagers is essential for any gaming collection because you can teach it to anyone, it makes people feel smart, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
Bruce Voge (On Board Games): Wits & Wagers is the trivia game for people who don't like trivia. Players are asked questions they do not know the answers to, but could make what they feel is a reasonable guess. Think “What is the weight of Dr. Bruce Banner as The Incredible Hulk?” You have probably seen a movie with the Hulk, you how weight works, so you have a guess, but you're probably wrong. It takes trivia and makes it OK to be wrong, great to be close and looks like your cheating if your right. This creates a fun, low pressure trivia game, that keeps the veneer of trivia so your aunt Linda will play it. It has a strong gambling component, so everyone experiences a lot of “action”, it feels and times like a TV game show, in the best way and hits a sweet spot for A LOT of folks. It also plays A LOT of folks, being as strong a game at 21 players as it is at 4 player (probably more so).
Patrick Hillier (WDYPTW): Wits and Wagers came out in 2005 and I was first attending Origins with my then 9 year old son. We spent a lot of time in the North Star booth playing family games and took this bright yellow box home. The beauty of this trivia game is every answer is a number and knowing the answer isn't necessary how you win. Everyone writes their best guess on marker boards and then they are placed on betting lines in sequential order. Players then bet on which answer is the correct one. Getting points if they bet on the right answer, even if it is not theirs.The trick here is to figure out who is the smartest in the group, usually my wife, and bet on them.
Links to PBM Reviews of Wits & Wagers:
Anomia designed by Andrew Innes
Nominated by What’s Eric Playing
Eric Yurko (What’s Eric Playing?): Anomia, to this day, remains one of my favorite party games. I occasionally refer to it as a word game, because it’s not really a trivia game, but it’s sort of neither. It’s more about quickly coming up with examples of a given category, but the stress of doing so causes your brain to pop something a little dumb out of your mouth. Players flip cards with symbols and categories on them, and when a match occurs I yell out an example of your category before you can yell out an example of mine. This leads to instances like yelling “banjo” for “orchestral instrument”, which, while technically correct, definitely got voted down by the group. It’s fast-paced, bright, colorful, simple, and out there, which is always the exact kind of game that’s up my alley.
Links to PBM Reviews of Anomia:
Funemployed designed by Anthony Conta
Nominated by Cloak and Meeple
Brian Everett (Cloak and Meeple): Funemployed makes the bland “pick a card because it’s funny” element of judging-style games and gives you free rein to interpret them how you want (or need to). With each player vying for the job presented to them, they have to pull out all stops to give the most memorable interview. Sometimes you are a drunk ninja applying for that barista job or you are a southern bell with a peg leg just trying to become a telemarketer. With the variety of cards you get in the game, there are so many possibilities that no 2 games will ever be the same. Since the games require some acting it makes it far more entertaining than Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples. This game is always a hit with a large group of friends to end the night in tears and roaring laughter. This game has made some great memories, like the time I was applying to become the next weatherperson. I played out my cards slowly and with a plan. Revealing at the very end of the interview that the reason why I talk, blinked, and moved so slow was because I was actually a sloth.
Bruce Voge (On Board Games): Funemployed is one of a small sub genre of party games I call “pitching” games. In these games you are given a prompt or situation and you have to create a pitch to answer, these are usually judged by the other players in some way. The first of these I encountered was “Snake Oil” in which you pitch odd products to answer a customer need. In “Funemployed” it's trying to get a job and having certain advantages or disadvantages while on the interview. The key to this game is making your shortcomings positives (just like a real job interview). If you like to improv, or have friends that like to improv this game is great, and is a fun way to end a night if gaming.
Links to PBM Reviews of Funemployed: