Gamewright! When it comes to great family games, Gamewright has been putting out plenty of fun options for 25 years now. To celebrate, I wanted this company to be my first to highlight with their own top 10 list.
That said, there are many more of their games I have yet to play than the ones I have — and some of their new 2019 titles have me very interested (can you say Roll-and-Writes!)
Let’s jump right into the top 10 list:
#10 – Stowaway 52 (2015, designer Floyd Pretz)
With Stowaway 52, Gamewright took a trip into pattern recognition story-pathing. Your ultimate goal is to figure out the perfect story path to complete the entire story. In this game, though, instead of a book to flip back-and-forth with, you are given individual story cards. You may do poorly your first few plays, but if you can remember what items you need to have acquired before you make certain decisions, you will see your overall score soar over time. A unique game experience and fun to breakout now and then.
#9 – Sleeping Queens (2005, designer Miranda Evarts)
In 2005, Gamewright published its first kid-designed game, Sleeping Queens. Over the past 8-some-odd years, my daughter and I have enjoyed playing this game in which odd kings wake up beautifully-themed queens. Along the way, players must do some basic math to acquire new cards and be prepared to fight off dragons and avoid sleeping potions. Sleeping Queens is a very simple title, light on strategy, but the artwork really makes this a fun play.
#8 – Rory’s Story Cubes (2005, designer Rory O’Connor)
These days, there are quite a few options for story-telling games, but Rory’s Story Cubes was one of the originals that find a simple, but really fun way of getting kids and families together to create silly, wild, and sometimes ridiculous stories. I personally like playing Story Cubes because it gives me a chance to stretch my creativity muscles. And when I play with my kids, it is a fun challenge to see if I can take their random story bits and wrangle them back into a cohesive tale. Regardless of what happens, we always end up smiling and laughing.
#7 – Forbidden Sky (2018, Matt Leacock)
In 2018, Matt Leacock took his Forbidden series in a slightly different direction with Forbidden Sky, adding in elements of physics and mechanical engineering to the cooperative gameplay that many have come to enjoy. In the end, the rocket (and getting it to work) is a fiddly part of the game and doesn’t always provide the ‘oomph’ expected. The core mechanisms of the game are still enjoyable, though. The puzzle of trying to make sure that you can make a useful contribution on your turn while also trying to stay safe — avoiding lightning and positioning yourself for big winds — was the highlight of the game for me and enough to bring me back to the Forbidden Sky in the future.
#6 – Go Nuts for Donuts (2017, Zachary Eagle)
Let’s not dance around the obvious in this one. The game is about donuts and I love that — I try to stay healthy and avoid donuts in general these days, but this game gets me hungering for them. Go Nuts for Donuts is a great gateway game into the world of card drafting/auction and set collection, with light elements of ‘take-that.’ The card draft each round is fun because it forces you to try and consider other players’ needs/desires and whether you want to be aggressive, risking no reward, or playing it safe and at least getting something.
#5 – Rolling America (2015, Hisashi Hayashi)
I am beginning to really appreciate the gameplay that comes with roll-and-write titles. Everyone has the same data to work with and it all comes down to how we take what is given to us (the roll) and make it work most efficiently. In Rolling America, you have a colored map of the United States, broken into six sections, with states outlined within each section. The trick is that some states border several other states — those are the ones that can really mess you up as you try and place the die-rolled numbers onto your map, but neighboring states must have the same number or only be off by one digit. The game is colorful, including the fun multi-colored dice, plays quick and is a bit of a mind-burner.
#4 – Cube Quest (2013, Oliver and Gary Sibthorpe)
My oldest two kids and I will get this game out a few times each year and have a blast flicking cubes across the mats as we try and sneak into enemy territory and take out the opposing king. There are several types of cubes and they come with their own “value” — like you’d find in a war game. You build your ‘kingdom’ using a max value system and then choose how you want to line up all your cubes on your half of the mat space. As in many flicking games, the best part is when you are setup for what feels like a perfect shot and absolutely blow it! Cube Quest also allows players to have a ton of fun designing different defensive configurations. Will you spread out your squad in an offensive/defensive mix? Go aggressive and put most of your guys near the middle? or wall-up vertically in an all-out-protect-the-king strategy? The component quality of the cubes in this game is nice and I love that Cube Quest comes with three roll-up mats instead of a game board.
#3 – Sushi Go! (2013, Phil Walker-Harding)
Gamewright hit it big with Phil Walker-Harding’s Sushi Go! title. This has become one of the quintessentials for a gamers’ library. The card drafting is well done, interesting set collection, and cute sushi artwork. This past New Year’s Eve, I managed to play the Party version of the game with a group of 8 players. It was a blast, seeing how different personalities played the game and made it very clear that the person sitting to your right matters a lot in a big group.
#2 – Qwixx (2012, Steffen Benndorf)
This roll-and-write really hits the spot. I love that each time it is your turn, you get a slight bonus by getting to utilize two dice. The press your luck is light and well-done, too. Everyone obviously wants to fill in all their boxes, but you can’t rely on perfect rolls. When do you pass on a middle-of-the-road number or go ahead and skip a few spaces to make sure you can keep moving forward? I was surprised at how much hooting, hollering, and bellowing came from players when that perfect roll did (or in many cases did NOT) come up.
#1 – Forbidden Island (2010, Matt Leacock)
First off, let me admit that I have only played two of the Forbidden titles (so, nothing personal Forbidden Desert). Every time I play Forbidden Island, I consistently enjoy the game design. The pending doom is always present and foreboding, but the game allows for enough opportunities to work around it or to mitigate the potential damage. Forbidden Island also does a good job of being a cooperative game that truly creates communication and teamwork decisions. The variable player powers are fun and important as well. There have been many cooperative games that have been produced since 2010, but I personally think Forbidden Island still stands out as one of the best.
What is your favorite Gamewright title? Are there any 2019 games from the company you want to acquire or get to the table?
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