Your liberal arts degree may not have secured you a job, but it probably equipped you with some mean debating skills. Brew some coffee, gather your frenemies, and unleash your intellect with these debating games.
Image Credit: Superfight
As far as popularity goes, Superfight reigns over tabletop gaming’s storytelling genre. All players do (“all” being a mark of pride, since the more rules-heavy a game is, the more constrained its storytelling) is pair character cards with attribute cards to create a fighter and then argue about which creation would win in a fight. This modular minimalism exemplifies what these games do best: showcase player argumentation with just enough structure to remove arbitrariness. Like Cards Against Humanity, the content in Superfight is topical, irreverent, and fun; offering characters such as “Obama” and “Boy band” along with attributes such as “Hasn’t slept in three days” and “Had tiny T-Rex arms.” As players add random attribute cards to their fighters, the narrative challenge rises with the hilarity.
Image Credit: Indie Boards and Cards
In keeping with the Mafia and Werewolf tradition of social deduction games, The Resistance tasks players with sniffing out the traitors in their midst, this time in a cyberpunk dystopia. The game begins by secretly assigning players with a role: you’re either a freedom fighter combating a fascist regime, or one of its spies sabotaging the rebellion. Rounds consist of “missions” to bring down the government, which succeed or fail depending on how its team members vote (if a mission fails, you know someone on that team was a spy). Rooting out the rats requires strategic team assignments, elimination logic, and careful observation of your shifty friends. Accusations fly in all directions, and somewhere in that chaos is the truth. Did Becky’s voice jump an octave for no reason? Out her as a likely spy, but beware the attention you incur by making the choice.
Image Credit: Buffalo Games
This didn’t try to be a debate game. In fact, the debate you’ll have, without fail, every single time stems from insufficiency in the game’s design. That should exclude it from this list in theory, but that debate is itself interesting, and, whether intentional or not, a key route to victory. In each round of Last Word, the table gets a category – something like “All about beaches” or “Professional sports teams” – plus a letter of the alphabet; while a random timer runs, players shout members of the category that start with the given letter, the winner being the last valid entry shouted before the timer runs out.
Validity, as Last Word‘s designers failed to regulate, is a nebulous thing, and spirited defenses of clear and egregious garbage will demand refutation. The rhetorically skilled can use their powers in Last Word for good or for evil, thwarting pedantic entries or defending their own. It takes wit, social awareness, and at the illusion of consistency.
Finally, it’d be wrong of me to omit my own offering to the storytelling genre: check out Roots: A Game of Inventing Words, for the creatively inclined.
What did I overlook? This isn’t the biggest genre, but I left out some gems. Let us know your favorites in the comments below.
Image credits: filmfisher.com/12 Angry Men