Last week (on a Thursday because the office was closed on Friday the 4th), we played four games of Coup. We had five players, one of them being new. The new player, he told me, was very excited about this idea but can't normally attend because he teleworks on Fridays. So he was very happy to be there. He even won one of the games of Coup, and loved it so much he promptly purchased the game for his family after lunch.
This week, we played one game of Avalon and three games of Coup. We had five players again, though the aforementioned new guy was on telework.
Avalon, quite frankly, sucks as a five-player game. Without the ambiguity of numbers and the chaos of interpersonal politics, the game degenerates into a logic puzzle. That may not be a bad thing for people into puzzles, but Avalon is at its best when paranoia and scheming are in abundance. Worse still, with the numbers at three good guys and two bad guys, the Assassin has a fairly-decent one in three chance of just randomly guessing Merlin. I suppose you could take out both Merlin and the Assassin, but it seems like that would just make the game boring.
Coup once again made a strong argument for being the best small group game I've ever seen. I am about a dozen games into it, and no one, including myself, seem to be growing tired of it. As I've said before, it's a fairly-deep though simple-to-grasp game that plays in about ten minutes. It's complex enough that a hardcore tabletop enthusiast such as my myself can be satisfied playing it, but simple enough that a random office co-worker can wander into the conference room, learn to play in minutes, and play several complete games within a single lunch hour.
I do want to expand the selection, though. Everything...including Coup...grows old in time, and if I want to keep this office experience flourishing, I'm going to need a stronger rotation than just Coup and Avalon. As I've said before, I've also got Panic on Wall Street, but that plays optimum with 6+ players. A game that's ideal in the 4-6 range is what I need. I've done some research and am looking into the following candidates:
Space Alert: This is a cooperative game specifically designed to be played in 30 minutes, real-time. It sounds tense and exciting, and plays up to five (six, if I sit out and teach). The quiet conference room would make a good place for the sounds that apparently are needed while playing it, too, which has always been my objection to purchasing it in the past (the Landing, my main venue, would be way too loud to play this game).
Libertalia: This game looked great to me from the moment I put eyes on it. The rave reviews from Sit Down & Shut Up, plus its pirate theme, would make it a very spirited game, I think.
Tokaido: This game looks goddam gorgeous, plus I don't have a whole lot of experience with Japanese games, so this might plug a whole in my collection for me. This game also has the same reputation of being "simple on the surface, complex once you dig into it" that Coup has.
7 Wonders: Hailed by many as the king of quick strategy games, I've played it several times and can personally attest to its quality. However, I have two small problems with it: one, being a pseudo-Euro game, I'm afraid it may turn off more casual gamers; and two, on a meta level, many boardgamers in my groups have this game, so I'm afraid buying my own copy would be redundant, something I try to avoid when adding new games to my collection.
Dominion: Another common game that gets thrown around in discussions of quick, casual strategy, I have been very close to pulling the trigger on this granddaddy of deck-builders for a long time. I have two problems with this game, too, however; one, with a hard limit of four players, that's a little awkward since my average group size is five; and two, I've recently gone cold to card games because I don't like the maintenence involved. Anyone who's played my boardgames knows I can't be bothered to do simple things like keeping the box neat or the cards together. In a game of nothing but cards, that box will turn into a disaster quickly (as my boxes of Legendary, Arctic Scavengers, and Thunderstone will attest). I've gotten to the point where I'd rather just play something with easier setup, takedown, and maintenence, than setting myself up for failure with a game that requires that kind of TLC when I'm not willing to do it. I'd rather just let some of my more anal-retentive friends buy it and play their copy!
Anyways, that's all I've got for now. I'll blog about next week's session...well, next week!