Will to game: Card games for a crowd

Party season is here, and that means throngs of people standing awkwardly around a bowl of punch, or trying to keep their drink steady as they wiggle to Katy Perry covers of Christmas songs. If you want to add some excitement to their Festivus, or are looking for some more enjoyable ways to sit down with friends and family, swing by your local games shop and scan the shelves for a couple of exciting, simple, budget-friendly card or board games.

Epic Spell Wars of The Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre

The name may be a mouthful, but Epic Spell Wars is a game that takes all the fun and whackiness of pretending to be wizards with your childhood friends and crams it into a dynamic head-to-head card battle. By drawing and playing spell cards, the Battle Wizards of Mt. Skullzfyre hurl their devastating magics at one another in an attempt to zap, roast, slice, curse, or explode one another for the title of Battle Wizard Champion, all in the foreboding shadow of a cardboard Mt. Skullzfyre.
Players take on the roles of powerful magic users, such as Pisster the Pissed Wizard, Krazztar the Blood‘o’Mancer, and Lady Holiday and her Furicorn—powerful and respected enchanters, to say the least. Each round, players draw cards that represent either the beginning, middle, or end of the incantation for a totally rad spell. By combining these cards as well as determined by the number of cards played, the spell can have a number of wicked effects. For example, “Midnight Merlin’s” “Devilicious” “Power Vortex” can wound your strongest opponent to a power of each dead one, take a chunk of health from the opponent of your choice, and gain you some treasure, all in one magnificent display of the arcane arts.

With its quick, pick-up-and-play rules, uniquely gnarly art style, and tons of spells, powers, treasure, and excitement, Epic Spell Wars of The Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre is a great game to bring out when you’ve got some important wizardly business to settle—like who has to help do dishes after the family dinner.

The Resistance

Resistance is not only one of the best games I have ever played, it is also one of the most visceral psychological experiences I have ever endured. Pitting teams of players secretly against each other in a shadowy game of subterfuge, every evening of The Resistance inevitably leads to a shouting match of “I’m not the spy, he’s the spy!”

Players are dealt identity cards that randomly place them either amongst the glorious revolutionary resistance, or in the slimy grip of the underhanded spy network of a deplorable totalitarian regime. Then, under cloak of eyelid, the spies reveal themselves only to each other. Once this grim alliance has been assured, everyone opens their eyes, and the game is on. Everyone is a suspect, and no one can be trusted.

The bulk of the game revolves around voting. A team leader selects people to go on missions, and everyone votes on whether to proceed under his or her leadership. If the mission goes forward, the chosen players secretly vote on whether or not the mission is a success. A deceptively simple exercise, but as the mission cards are finally revealed, everyone remains silent, eyeing up one another as well as the cards. If, in that moment, any one of the mission cards comes up as a failure, the mission is sabotaged and the truth reveals itself: one among the selected comrades was a spy, and depending on the choices, the group may suspect the current leader as well. Play continues as each side tries to forward their agenda, the resistance by succeeding missions, the spies by foiling them. The real game, however, is in winkling out the spies, whether by logical calculation or gut instinct. Can you really trust your best friend? Does your partner know you well enough to discern your false allegiance? What if the spies turn everyone against you, and no one is willing to listen to your raving warnings not to go ahead with the operation?

The bottom line is: The Resistance is fun. It is the perfect party game for people who have just met, or who have known each other their whole lives. After an evening of The Resistance you will not be able to believe that such intense fear, frustration, and relief could fit in such a small box… nor will you ever see your friends in as innocent a light as you once did.

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