Violent Games


We had friends over for dinner and games the other night. Upon reviewing the selection of games we had suggested, one of our friends commented on how violent our games were. We had chosen Werewolves, a family favorite, and Guillotine (thanks, Owen, for introducing us to this one!) as our top picks for the evening.

Werewolves, also known as Mafia, is a story-telling game that revolves around a pair of eponymous werewolves that systematically slaughter residents of a small village every evening. The villagers in turn enact mob justice by day on suspected werewolves. Sometimes the villagers get it right and kill a werewolf, but more often than not they get it wrong and kill an innocent villager. The game has a number of permutations to account for groups of different sizes, and we’ve found the game to be extraordinarily fun at various family get-togethers. I’m often asked to be the moderator for our games in large part because I know – and can succinctly explain – the rules of the game to new players. I don’t usually mind, because it’s fun to watch the group dynamics evolve through multiple game sessions, as well as watch long-time players adapt their strategies with new players in the mix.

Guillotine is a card game that uses the French Revolution as a backdrop, and the objective of the game is to collect the severed heads of various French nobles. It sounds much more gruesome than it is. The cards are cute, and the action is entirely family-friendly. It’s a big hit in our house, which makes it a bit of a rarity: we often have a hard time settling on a game because our individual tastes vary so much. Strategy games appeal to the boys, while more social games appeal to the girls. Anything involving a lot of calculations or resource management is preferred by the boys, as are slower to develop games, while faster, more casual games are generally preferred by the girls. Guillotine strikes a very nice sweet spot: the game mechanics are easy to understand, and allow for both casual and cut-throat playing styles.

This weekend we played Bullets and Barbecue, an a la carte murder mystery game. It was a little contrived, and our younger players had some difficulty with the role playing aspects, but on the whole we found it to be very enjoyable. We found the game at a thrift store for $2 so it provided an awful lot of bang for the buck. I’ve looked for similar games, but the prices seem considerably higher than I’m willing to pay for a one-play-only game. Are there any user-generated murder mystery party games available? I’d love to find some!

Other games we enjoy that have overt or subtle violent contexts include Munchkin (in all its forms), Small World, Talisman, and Axis & Allies.

We’re not an entirely violent lot, though. Quelf is probably the game that has provided us all the most entertainment of late, and it’s one we can all agree to play pretty quickly. It’s silly, and requires players to do any number of ridiculous tasks, and we end up with a couple good belly laughs each time we play.

Feel free to suggest other games we should try: we’re always interested in playing new games!

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