How to Third Wheel February 23 2017

Look, no one likes to be a third-wheel and even moreso, no one likes to make a friend feel like one. But the reality is that it happens more frequently than you'd like and truthfully there's no shame in it. Unlike most dining environments, a board game cafe can be the perfect mediator between your significant other and your close friend. While most places showcase their best two-player games, we thought it would be helpful to put together some games that shine brightest in three's. 

In order to determine what makes a game optimal with three players, we typically look at three key factors: confrontation, time between turns and impact on the end result of the game.


Not all gamers enjoy confrontation and a three-person configuration allows players to avoid almost all direct confrontation, while still maintaining a competitive feel. Two-player games force moves that could be seen as cutthroat. Try to look for games that discourage bullying the odd one out. Games like Seasons and Five Tribes promote competitive play in a more serene playing environment. Both games are prototypical 2 to 4 player games, but definitely feel at their best with 3. 


Time Between Turns

Keeping players engaged at all points is important for any game. The highly competitive players will have no problem focusing on every aspect at every turn, but for others it can become a bit of a chore when a game's average turn time exceeds 10 minutes. And even moreso, adding additional players in a game without simultaneous turns will further extend the gap between turns. 

A game like Smash Up starts to feel like a slog at 4 players, but with just 3 it reduces the downtime quite considerably. Even a cooperative game like Legendary that can go up to 5 players can feel more optimal when you keep things more intimate. It's annoying to see a Hero card you want pop-up, and not even have the chance at it because of too many players. Or worse, having your hand get attacked repeatedly by villains and having a useless hand when your turn finally arrives. 

Impact on the End Result

Whether cooperative or competitive, a player always wants to feel like their are having an impact on the conclusion of the game. Once you add too many players, you can start to feel like you only lost because someone else played poorly allowing another player to win. 

Two really great cooperative games like Hanabi and Pandemic give high importance to every player's role and turns in a three-player game. Extending beyond 3 causes impact to feel diluted, especially in Hanabi if you've been given nothing to work with. 7 Wonders supports all the way up to 7 players, but is hurt by the more you add. Warfare is calculated only by direct neighbours, meaning someone across the table could be dominating, by no fault of your own. And due to the drafting mechanic, you can only really "hate-draft" cards so far in advance. 

Most party games are viewed as big group affairs, but there are still certainly options for 3. A game like Superfight has two players pit their own Frankenstein-like creations in a battle to the death. With three players, you are left with one distinct judge who you can then cater your fighter to. When attempting to appease a jury of folks, it alters your decisions. So with 3 players, Superfight becomes more similar to something like Say Anything or Snake Oil


These are just a few guidelines you can consider when deciding if a game will play suitably for your little gaming menage-a-trois. It's always important to know your group's tastes so you can cater the experience to the people you're with. Try to be mindful to all members of the group, and keep everyone involved. That's the key to making any gaming outing successful. 

FTW Staff Picks - Cockroach Poker February 22 2017

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.


Cockroach Poker

Designer: Jacques Zeimet

Genre: Bluffing Card Game

Player Size: 2 to 6 Players

Game Length: 20 minutes

For fans of: Skull, Resistance, Liar's Dice

The only thing worse than losing, is losing alone. In most games, when one claims victory he leaves the rest in their own pool of shame and defeat. In Cockroach Poker, as your friend's celebrate their victory, you could be the sole, salty failure among a table of kings. Cockroach Poker takes bluffing games to their most intimate. A one-on-one confrontation, where ultimately someone will be caught with the proverbial egg-on-the-face - or in this instance more likely cockroach, or rat, or spider, or scorpion.


The game is simple, there are 8 different cards in the game, 8 of each type. The current player selects a card from their hand hand, places it facedown on the table and pass it to a player, telling them what the card is. The receiver of the card must then decide whether the giver is telling them the truth, or they may peak at the card and then pass it to another player (who has yet to see the card), inheriting the responsibilities now of the new giver. If a player guesses incorrectly, the card is placed face-up in front of them as a badge of shame. If they guess correctly, the card is returned to giver as their own badge. The first to 4-of-a-kind of any type of card in the game is declared the ultimate loser.

There is of course more to the game than the intense duel of wits. Seeing the cards on the table, as well as those in your hand can provide much needed information to make proper educated guesses. But sometimes when your friend is staring you in the face, telling you to your face that the card he just gave you is a spider and you're currently sitting their with 3 spiders in front of you, you just want to slap the card away and yell emphatically, "YOU LIE!" And of course, you would be wrong and lose the game (and more importantly a large chunk of your pride). But that's the joy of Cockroach Poker. It mixes emotion, deduction and mind-games into such an unassuming package that you'll keep telling yourself "Just one more game..."  



Most Anticipated Games - February Edition February 02 2017

Each month at For The Win Board Game Cafe, we're going to be taking a look at a few future releases that we're really excited about. From new games, to expansions, to Kickstarters we'll be covering it all monthly.

Quadropolis: Public Services

Well that didn't take very long. Days of Wonder wasted no time getting an expansion out for their 2016 hit Quadropolis. In Public Services, players will have the option to choose from an array of different types of public service buildings that can impact your city throughout the game. It's just a small expansion, offering 24 public service tiles and 4 helpers at just $15 USD. But for one of our favourite offerings last year, more is always better.

Quadropolis: Public Services is expected in North America in June 2017. 


Star Wars: Destiny - Spirit of Rebellion

On the topic of capitalizing on hot 2016 releases, the second booster set for Star Wars: Destiny is already being previewed. Given the success of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it was a given that they would eventually showcase the new characters of the ethos. Dedicating Spirit of Rebellion to Rogue One is the right move here. We can't wait to get our hands on Chirrut Îmwe and K-2SO.

A lot of the artwork from the base set was just reused illustrations from their other Star Wars games, but this is our first time seeing the Rogue One characters in this style - and they look great. If you've got any interest in this one, be sure to either pre-order or be there on the day of release as it will likely sell out quickly.

Star Wars: Destiny - Spirit of Rebellion is scheduled for Q2 2017.


Rhino Hero: Super Battle

And now for something not directly related to a 2016 release, we bring you Rhino Hero: Super Battle. If you read our FTW Staff Picks series, you know we love the original and the successor looks to crank the intensity to 11. Joining our beloved Super Rhino this time around are Giraffe Boy, Big E and Batguin. 

If seeing the game in action doesn't already excite you, we can't be friends. Just kidding, we're still good. But you're not invited to any of our games nights anymore. 

Rhino Hero: Super Battle was just recently announced and is simply scheduled for some time in 2017.


Dice Forge

Describing a new dice game as innovative is becoming so common that it's almost no long innovative to attempt. And yet Dice Forge once again challenges our idea of dice games. The gimmick here is that players can modify the faces of their dice with interchangeable pieces.

 With the success of Mystic Vale and its card crafting system, and now Dice Forge and its dice forging system we may be seeing a new genre of game emerging. Of course Dice Forge still has to prove that the actual gameplay is solid before impressing the masses. Developed by Régis Bonnessée (of Seasons and Lords of Xidit fame), there's a lot to be excited about.

Libellud has announced that Dice Forge will be available sometime in 2017.


SUPERHOT: The Card Game

SUPERHOT was an indie smash hit in the video game world. It's an FPS, puzzle game where the main gimmick revolved around time only moving when your character moved. In just a little over a year the developers have translated their video game to the tabletop realm. It's an interesting premise and one of the defining aspects of SUPERHOT was always the aesthetic, which translates very well to the cards. 

Here the developers have chosen to frame the game using a deck-builder. It's a cool, thematic way to implement the video game's premise of using the enemies weapons against them. Supporting up to 3 players, there are a variety of modes to play such as Solo, PvP, Cooperative vs. Game and Cooperative vs. Player. 

Click here to visit their Kickstarter page. Backers should expect to receive SUPERHOT: The Card Game in July 2017.