If you’re like me, you secretly hate all of your friends, but only secretly. If they ever found out you hated them, you’d go, “no I don’t,” and then buy them some ice cream. Well, if you’ve ever wanted to know about the kind of games to make them start secretly hating you too, then you’re in luck.
1) Shadows of Camelot
Style: Full co-op
Number of Players: 3-7 (5+ Recommended)
Learning Curve: 2 out of 5
Game Length: 60-90 minutes
Each player is a knight of the fabled Camelot, and is attempting to simultaneously defend the kingdom on 5 different battlegrounds. Each of these objectives has a reward for winning, and a punishment for losing. Winning the objective places a white sword on the fabled round table, losing places a black one, and then the objective resets. The game has premature, total failure conditions (like letting too many siege engines attack Camelot,) but surviving the game does not necessitate winning. If the players end the game with equal or more black swords in play, they still lose. This game is not “easy” and winning requires the proper handling of each player and their unique abilities.
The reason your friends will hate you: At the very beginning, all the players draw cards from a loyalty deck. These cards do nothing whatsoever, except for the one marked “traitor,” which bestows a victory condition, called make your friends lose. The traitors can do this a number of ways, but my favorite is just being “slightly unproductive,” yet ambiguously suggest that other players are making “bad, no… traitorous” actions. You cannot ignore this player, since not calling him/her out nets you bonus black swords, while accusing a loyal knight also gains you a black sword.
So, basically, you have to find the traitor. The real kicker… it is technically possible to not have a traitor. The loyalty deck is always X+1 cards, where X is the number of players. So, if you played with four people, there’d be 20% chance that no one drew the traitor… but could you live with that? No! Thusly no matter how loyal someone looks, no matter how badly you want to believe that everyone is loyal, you know better. This game ruins friendships in the best way possible.
2) Battlestar Galatica
Style: Full cooperative
Number of Players: 3-6 (5+ Recommended)
Learning Curve: 4 out of 5
Game Length: 120-180 minutes
Now, I know that I don’t need to explain the plot of Battlestar Galatica, but the game is a surprisingly accurate/interesting translation of the show. The players choose their avatar based off of their favorite Galatica characters, and each is skewed with both abilities and handicaps based on their personality. Saul Tigh, for example, taps into his hatred for Cylons, but is crippled by his being an alcoholic. Also cool to note, the game includes the positions of high power, like President and Admiral of the fleet, and uses a long list of successors to figure out who will start the game as either. However, in game… you can hold political revolts or declare martial law… heh heh heh
The game in its entirety is the crew’s attempt to reach Earth, via a slow, painful progression. The race is that Galatica has a very limited amount of resources (fuel, food, population, morale), and if any of these resources reaches zero, the players immediately lose the game. Since they are basically no ways to restock them, the closer you are getting to endgame, the closer you are getting to oblivion.
The reason your friends will hate you: Similar to Shadows, Galatica includes a counter agent into a full co-op game. After the game is decided, but before it starts, they distribute another loyalty deck, which tells you if you are a Cylon or not. The objective of the ingame Cylons is to ensure the fleet does not reach earth, but halfway through the game all players draw from the loyalty deck again. I cannot stress how excitingly paranoid it makes players knowing that even the most loyal of them can “become” a Cylon.
As Admiral Adama I began throwing people in the brig and started making a considerable amount of “short sighted decisions.” Since I had been so pivotal a leader for the first half, the crew was unwilling to outright suspect that I was, in fact, a toaster! So much fun!
Style: Colorfully competitive, free for all
Number of players: 2-5 (3+ recommended)
Learning Curve: 0 out of 5
Game Length: 20-30 minutes
Gloom is quick, easy, and pretty much any other nice word for a prostitute. A full card game with art reminiscent of Edward Gory, every player controls an eccentric family. Each family fits into a colorfully homicidal theme that would seem ripped right out of a Roald Dahl book, or A Series of Unfortunate Events. After making that clear, the objective of the game is to make your family incredibly miserable, then kill them.
The game includes several types of cards, including modifier, event, and murder cards. Simply put, you play modifiers (like, “Was Mauled by Midgits” or “Broke all his Bones”) to augment their happiness, and then play murder cards to kill them(“locking” their points) Obviously, a large part of the charm is storytelling and flavor, but the visuals play a big part.
The cards are a thick, clear plastic, and were designed so that they all lay on top of each other, only covering particular zones of data on the card. This super simplifies the game, and gives it a creative aesthetic, since no matter what happens to your person, all you need to do is “look” at them to know everything about them.
The reason your friends will hate you: As any competative game goes, the players will constantly be attempting to thwart your objectives, and considering your goals… that means saving your family. There are positive modifiers, like “Found Love” or “Won the Lottery,” that will thwart your machinations of making the most pitable family around.
It’s sheer brilliance, no longer are you trying to screw the other players, you are “concerned,” and what only good things to happen to them (i.e. bad.) Little will they know that the entire time that you are actually a rat fink who secretly hates his friends.