My favourite deduction board games
Games for your brain
Everytime I go home for the holidays, my siblings and I spend days solving puzzle games together. So I thought I would share with you some of my favourite mind-tickling games, because who doesn’t want fun, enjoyment, laughter, and headaches? Today’s focus is on board games and card games to share with friends and family.
Now sit down, everybody, because we absolutely need to speak about MicroMacro. There are currently two editions of this game, and they’re both excellent. This detective game comes with a giant map of a city full of crimes, and a series of cases in adorable little envelopes. To solve a crime, work together and follow the victim across the city, find the suspects, follow them, and reconstruct the story. For an extra level of difficulty, try to solve each case without using any of the hints in the envelopes. The concept is brilliant and we had a lot of fun solving the different cases. There are many adorable details and stories to follow, even when you’re done with the official investigations. The game works best for 2 or 3 players, aged 8+, and you will need a large table and good lighting. Each case can be solved in 5 to 15 minutes. If you’re curious, you can play a digital demo on their website.
Another one of my favourite games is Hanabi. I always have a copy in my backpack. Hanabi is an interesting logic game where you cooperate with your friends to win against the game, using logic and/or mind reading. The first cool thing about Hanabi is that you don’t see your own cards, only the cards of the other players. Through a system of tokens, you can give hints to the other players about their own cards, so that, together, you assemble beautiful sequences of fireworks. The rules are very simple, but depending on the cards you get and who you play with, each game turns out very differently, with various strategies towards success, fame, and glory. You can play from 2 to 5 players, and this will also strongly influence the game. The recommended age is 8+. Each game lasts for 20 to 30 minutes. Although based on colours, the cards also have symbols to make the game suitable for colorblind players.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Enough of this kind and warm camaraderie! Here comes bluff, deceit, betrayal, and broken friendships! The next game on my list is One Night Ultimate Werewolf. If you played Les Loups-garous de Thiercelieux, forget everything you have learnt: this version is much faster, and based on logic and bluff over roleplay. In One Night Ultimate Werewolf, each player gets secretly assigned a role. There are two teams: the villagers and the werewolves. The goal of the werewolves is to survive and save their own kind. The goal of the villagers is to kill at least one werewolf (poor werewolves).
The game happens in two phases: night and day. During the night, everybody keeps their eyes shut, and, in turn, players perform a specific action based on their role, such as looking at the card of another player, mixing cards around, or falling in love. During the day, all the players are wide awake and debate for a few minutes to savagely eliminate a member of the village. Although probably the meanest game on my list, this one is also the one that makes us laugh the most. The rounds are very short and last around 10 minutes. The game can be played from 3 to 10 players, but you can always get extensions to add more players and make it more chaotic. My favourite games are with 5 to 6 players. The recommended age is 8+. You will need an app to play the game and guide you through the night.
If you love escape games and similar riddles, you should check out the Unlock! games. I tried a bunch of escape-like games and these are my favourite. Each Unlock! box contains a tutorial and three stories to solve. Each story is composed of a deck of numbered cards, face down. As you progress through the story and solve the different puzzles and riddles, you get to reveal more cards and continue your exploration. There is only one rule really: as soon as you find a number, reveal the corresponding card. What I love about these games is that each story comes with its set of very unique and diverse puzzles and game mechanics. I love that it accommodates different ways of thinking, so no one is bored, even the least experienced players. The games come with a companion app that keeps track of your time, but also includes some digital parts specific to each story such as a time-machine, a piano to communicate with ghosts, or an Augmented Reality lamp torch to reveal hidden secrets. Be ready to think outside the box. With Unlock!, nothing is out of the playfield, and no two puzzles are alike.
Each story lasts between 60 and 90 minutes. These games are for players aged 10+ but there is also a version for kids. I think the best configuration is 4 players, possibly with different ways of thinking, but you can play alone or with all of your friends as well. You will need at least one player with good eyes, to catch these hidden numbers. To make sure that everybody gets included, my siblings and I like to split the cards among ourselves, but you can also just have a big batch of cards on the side. If you want to start easy, the Star Wars edition is the simplest one (you will need a separate companion app for this one). All the hints are written in bold, so you can just follow along and start getting an idea of the concept. Among the other boxes, my favourite stories are “Lost in the time warp!” from Timeless Adventures, “Mission #07” from Epic Adventures, and “The Adventurers of Oz” from Secret Adventures. I also particularly enjoyed the Game Adventures box, as it contains stories based on the universes of three of my favourite games: Ticket to Ride, Mysterium, and Pandemic (and also it feels great to defeat a pandemic…). If you are curious, you can also download a demo kit.
The Search for Planet X
The last game on my list is a new addition to my collection. This game is for people who love logic rules and deduction, people with a nerdy side, and academics. The Search for Planet X is a game where players compete against each other to find Planet X first. To do so, you are given a few facts about the sky, such as “There is no asteroid in sector 7”, as well as some logic rules, such as “Planet X is not next to a dwarf planet”. When your turn comes, you can decide to look at the sky to get more information or to go to conferences to learn more rules. To gain points, you should submit papers (yes, yes, like in academia), and if your paper is correct (that is, accepted by peer-review), you earn some points. This is a much more serious game than the others on this list, you will be very focused and not joke around as much, but if you love logic puzzles and torturing your head, you will really enjoy it. The game includes a normal mode and an expert mode, depending on the challenge you want, and each player can also get their own difficulty level (beginners will get more information). The Search for Planet X can be played by 1 to 4 players, aged 13+, and each game lasts 60 to 75 minutes. The game also comes with a companion app, to randomise and generate the information.
And this is our list for today! Did you enjoy this article? What are your favourite puzzle games? Will you try any of these games? Drop me a message as I would love to do more of this!