Five Games to Replace Flappy Bird

Did you “miss out” on Flappy Bird? Fear not! Here are some super-casual games that you should check out.

Temple Run 2

templerun2

This endless runner is endlessly addictive! The controls are simple: swipe left and right to turn, up to jump, and down to slide. Collect the coins and gems to buy power-ups. Best on iPhone but also playable on iPad.

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Canabalt

canabalt

Another runner, this time with fancy “old school” black and white graphics. Only one single control here, JUMP! It’s mindless but fun. Equally good on iPad or iPhone.

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Words With Friends

words

OK yes, it’s Scrabble. Everyone I know plays this! This one is awesome on iPad but can be hard to see on iPhone’s smaller screen.

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Angry Birds

angrybirds

If you haven’t heard of Angry Birds then you probably just turned three. But here it is, and you should give it a try. The goal of the game is to knock down buildings full of pigs by flinging birds (angry ones) at them. I recommend playing this on iPad as there is just too much going on for an iPhone screen.

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Peggle

peggle

Pachinko! The goal in Peggle is to hit all the little dots (or pegs, most likely) with ten marbles. There are some special powers and stuff, but that’s essentially it. The simple premise is good for at least 20 hours of play before you’ve seen it all. Don’t even try this one without an iPad.

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Know Your Dice

dTitle

Tools of the Nerd Trade

In just about every game–board game, video game or otherwise–there comes a time when a random number is required. What’s the best way to generate that number? You do it with DICE!

I am obsessed with dice. One could say I have a fever, and the only prescription is more dice. I’ve got hundreds of them. My kid even has a set of 3″ foam dice. Certified non-toxic, of course.

If you don’t mind being exposed to a little geekery, please allow me to present a quick primer on the most popular types of dice used in games around the world. You can thank me when you nail that question about dice on Final Jeopardy some day.

d2 – a.k.a. “call it in the air”

d2

This handy thing isn’t really a die (you may have noticed), but can be useful when you want a number from 1 to 2. Classy gamers have been known to use quarters.

d4 – How do you roll this thing?

d4

This little guy is the oddball of mainstream dice. While the pointy pyramid shape lends more to being an actual weapon than a die, a four-sider can be useful to find the health of a wizard or the damage from a Magic Missile.

d6 – Plain old boring dice

d6

If you’ve been following along, you’ve probably guessed that this one has 6 sides. Thrown on craps tables and used in Monopoly, this is the one everybody knows. Fun fact: those dots are called “pips.” Ask Wiki, they’ll totally back me up.

 d8 – Like a d6, with a +2 bonus

d8

You can use this to pick a direction on a compass, do damage with a long sword or choose a finger on your wood shop teacher’s hand. See what I did there?

 d10 – Playing the percentages

d10

The coolest thing about a set of these is that you can actually roll a number from zero to 99. Neat! Ever need to know “hey on a scale of one to ten…?” Roll one of these bad boys.

d12 – Dodecahedron

d12

Despite its cool name, the d12 is not commonly used anywhere. A few role-playing games use it for stats, but not many. However if you want to pick a random month of the year this might be just the thing for you!

d20 – Gaming Icon

d20

The granddaddy of all dice, the 20-Sider defines modern gaming. There’s even a game system called literally “D20.” This die resolves combats, dictates skill usage, divvies up treasure, moves space ships, tallies scores… you name it, the d20 is used for it. They’re also fun to stack when it’s not your turn.

d30 – So, this exists

d30

I’ve never seen one rolled in a game, ever. But it’s out there, waiting for somebody to figure out what it’s used for.

Other Cool Dice

dOdd

There’s a d100, seriously.

dColor

There are dice for everything. d14, d18, d34, d60, d100. Even dice with shapes, icons, colors, words or body parts (#naughty). If there’s a strange case out there, somebody has made dice for it.

10 Best Games for Non-Gamers

It’s Just Like Risk!

or

It’s Nothing Like Risk!

We game nerds have this “test” for non-gamers when introducing a game. Just ask the person, “Do you like Risk?” Then based on their answer, give one of the responses above.

But seriously, are you tired of Monopoly? Does your idea of board games stop with Clue? Here are my top picks for getting that uncivilized noob to finally play a real game!

Pit

This commodity trading game is loud and crazy. You have a hand of eleven different types of product: wheat, corn, gold, etc. The goal of the game is to trade one, two or three cards at a time in order to be the first player to make your hand contain one and only one type of good. There are no turns in Pit… everybody shouts out their trade offers at the same time! When you have “cornered the market” you need to quickly ring the bell and close the market.

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Apples to Apples

Also known as “Know Your Friends.” In this game, you’ll have a hand full of red apple cards with various nouns like A PartyMiddle School,Al GoreOuter Space, etc. The judge will put down a green apple card with a description, something like Comfortable. To score a point, you need to throw down the card in your hand that best matches Comfortable. The judge now picks which card they think did a better job describing Comfortable and that player wins the point and becomes the judge for the next round. And for all you lawyers out there, it’s allowed and even encouraged to try to sway the judge with your best argument!

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Wits & Wagers Party

Remember liking Trivial Pursuit but hating it because your parents kept kicking your butt every time you played? Well here’s your game! There are seven rounds, each starting with a question that has a numerical answer like How many people are there in the world? Each player writes their best guess on a card and they are placed in ascending order. Now you get to choose which answer you think is right! Everyone who guessed correctly gets a point, and the person who actually wrote that answer gets a bonus point. Hilarity often ensues when people do things like putting the French Revolution in the 1960′s. Dude, seriously??

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Guillotine

Speaking of the French Revolution, let’s chop some heads! In this very simple card game, players are all “Rival Headsmen” trying to collect the most prestigious collection of… well, people. Each turn, you can play a card to manipulate the order of nobles standing in line. Then CHOP! Collect the person at the front of the line. There are 3 days of action, with 12 nobles each day. After 3 days, the player with the most points wins. Nobles are all worth different scores, and there are actually several “innocent victims” in line that will score you negative points. That’s where the line manipulation part becomes very important.

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Ticket to Ride

Diving right into the first “real” board game on the list, Ticket to Ride has you building railroad lines across the USA. On your turn you can essentially do one of the following: draw two colored route cards or place a train line on the map. Drawing and placing is a great mechanic that’s both simple and complicated at the same time. Orange lines require orange cards, red lines require red cards, etc. Placing a train line on the board scores you points based on the length of the train. Do you want to place a ton of small lines quickly or work on a few super long but slow lines? The choice is yours!

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Castle Panic

Slightly more geeky, yet still absolutely beginner-friendly is this tower defense game. The players are all defending a castle from a (nearly) endless horde of monsters. During your turn you can play a card to launch an attack at a monster, attempt to repair a wall, or even cast a mighty spell. Then the monsters move closer! A cooperative game, everyone wins if the castle survives and everyone loses if the castle falls!

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Forbidden Island

A semi-cooperative game. The players are a team of explorers who suddenly find themselves on an island that is sinking into the ocean! The team needs to quickly find all four treasures and Get to the Chopper! Each player has a special power that allows them to break or bend a certain rule; hold back the water, move extra spaces, draw extra cards, etc. Every turn part of the island sinks and is gone forever, so you’ll need good team-play and smart strategy. I call it semi-cooperative because while you can technically win the game yourself, it’s very unlikely to happen unless everyone works together. Also, when you go under it’s customary to shout Noooooooo!!!

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Incan Gold

A very popular push-your-luck game, Incan Gold has the players “exploring” Incan temples. And you know, if we happen to find gems and gold just laying around it’d be a shame to just leave them there… Each turn you need to decide whether you’re going to explore further or return to camp. Exploring can get you gems but can also get you thrown into a snake pit! Falling victim to a trap causes you to lose any gems you have found. Returning to camp is the chicken’s way out, but you do get to keep those precious gems that somehow “fell into your pocket” during the day. So it’s a contest of do I or don’t Iand what are the other players doing? After five temples, whoever “finds” the most gems wins!

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Carcassonne

In this game you draw tiles at random and place them on a map. Building roads, cities and farms wins you points based on how large the given feature is. When the tiles run out, the game is over. Easy to play, hard to master!

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Settlers of Catan

The most advanced of the beginner games, Catan is an island waiting to be civilized by you. Each roll of the dice gives you precious goods like clay, wood, bricks, sheep and grain. You can then use or trade these resources to build roads and towns to score points. Ten points wins the game! There’s more to it, but that’s the central theme. The game can get dicey (heh) toward the end as land starts to run out. Sure, I can trade you this brick… but then might win. So, make it four sheep plus promise not to build a road this turn and you have a deal!

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I personally own and highly recommend every one of these games if you’re looking for your first (or next) game to play!

Serious Playtime