Since I (ahem) gave Joe this idea for the top ten list for DICE TOWER EPISODE 16, I thought I’d respond with my idea of the top ten funniest games.
Lists are pretty subjective, and usually I stay away from them, because I can usually find something else to supplant some of my choices if I spend enough time gaming. In addition, much of what we rate a game highly for is based upon your own personal gaming experiences.. what’s funny to you isn’t so funny to other groups of players. So, for now, the current “classic ten” are:
(backwards to forwards, like Dave Letterman’s top ten list)
10. Tom Wham’s SNIT CYCLE (mostly TSR Games). This is SNIT SMASHING, SNIT’s REVENGE, or whatever Steve Jackson games calls it these days. The game mechanics are actually nothing to write home about, but I’m a sucker for Tom Wham game art, which always makes me laugh.
09. Suburban Slasher by Ragnorak Games/Ysgarth Systems. This seems like a dark choice for a game but keep in mind the era it was published in initially. I found this game in a comic book store in Washington DC. The initial edition had production values that would have been an insult to desktop publishing these days. Still, it was huge fun, dark and hilarious. Great for four or more players, playing the role of the antagonist of all those 1980s slasher flick games. It probably would be a lot more mean-spirited if it were published today, so I’ll stick with my memories of this game..
08. Guillotine by Wizards of the Coast. This is a card-based, trick taking style game with strong production values. The humor is in the situation itself (not much of a theme, I know), which is you are managing a line of individuals moving towards the guillotine during the “The Terror” during the French revolution. You play cards to move people back and forth in the line. It can be very funny indeed, with the right poeple.
07. Nuclear War, by Flying Buffalo. What? I’m rating it so low? In truth, I’ve only played it a few times, and had a blast each time. I just haven’t played it in forever, so naturally it’s slipping a bit.
06. Kings and Things by Tom Wham (published by TSR, Games Workshop and Pegasus Press) Another Tom Wham game, far superior to SNITS in every way. This is an expand and build game that kind of reminds me of a combat version of settlers. The game is always uncertain, the rules pretty clear, and the components are hysterical. Sadly, this is out of print in English.
05. Apples to Apples by Out of the Box games. Some games on this list are designed to be silly, some arrive thre sideways, like Apples to Apples. This card game is ultimately meant as a family confrontational game with an element of dexterity. The end result is hilarious, but again, the sharper and faster the players, the funnier it will be.
04. NanoFictionary by Looney Labs. This game has elements very similar to “Catching Zzzzzz” mentioned by Tom Vasel on the last episode of the Dice Tower. You are dealt a hand of “elements” that build stories. You create a story, then tell it. The folks around you judge it and give you an award card. The mechanics are pretty soft (I would have approached this subject very differently) but the card elements are totally hilarious, especially when the player is challenged to bring them together into a story. I love storytelling games (and that’s not a huge niche anyhow) and Nano would be the top of that short list.. as a humor game, it’s top notch.
03. Bang! by da Vinci Games. Just to show you I’m not prejudiced against recently published games, I rate this one VERY highly indeed. The group dynamics are superbly designed. Cards play off each other effortlessly. I don’t think Emiliano Sciarra was trying for anything other than an homage to the Spaghetti Western with this game; the result is multiplayer mayhem. It’s hilarous as is, but the expansions just make it better.
02. Illuminati by Steve Jackson Games. NOT INWO, by the way. This game, originally published in a three box set by SJG back in the early 80s, has always hovered around 1 or 2 in this imaginary list of mine. Best played with a group of 6, the game lends itself to a little creative tinkering and dramatic play. The image of the Boy Sprouts controlling the Mafia as they fire their Orbital Mind Control Satellites at the Secret Masters of Fandom is pretty hilarious. There are many versions out there; I’m partial to the Deluxe (black and white) Illuminati published in the 90s.
01. Cosmic Encounters by Eon Games/Mayfair/Avalon Hill (Eon version shown in the picture link). You will only see a game like this once in a generation– a game that is consitently funny, clever, and intricate. One of the few succesful nomic style games where changing the rules of the game is the KEY to victory. I cut my teeth on the old Eon edition with its many expansions, but never owned it (and now regret not seeking it out back then). I own the Avalon HIll version but find it somewhat disappointing. The interplay between cards is extremely funny in this game. Who hasn’t had a game where the Silencer went up against the Dictator?