At the Man Crates headquarters, it’s common to see stacks of product samples piled high. We don’t just conjure up epic gifts for men out of thin air. No, no—this is a laborious, passionate process. We spend hours poring over hot sauces and hunting gear, bacon and booze, meat and...dried meat. There is blood, sweat and tears in our methodology (The tears are usually hot-sauce related).
So when we set about finding the world’s best board games for our Game Night Crate, we called a very serious, all-hands-on-deck meeting. We marched into the conference room. We busted out about a dozen of the hottest games. No one was leaving until we had separated the life-altering ones from the bunch.
We howled in laughter. We screamed in protest. We hugged in glee. We fought WWE-style. And we snacked, oh...we snacked. Ultimately, in the ashes of our game night inferno, we were left with only three winners. Here’s a rundown:
This game is so hot it could burn a hole in toast and call it a bagel. 2015 Golden Geek Best Party Board Game Winner. 2015 Meeples' Choice Winner. 2016 SXSW Tabletop Game of the Year Nominee. And most importantly, the prestigious 2016 Spiel des Jahres Winner. Yes, this team game that involves lucky guessing, a silent partner and one lurking, deadly assassin has arguably more hype than anything in the board game industry today. Preeminent board game review site Shut Up & Sit Down seemed to think it was warranted, too. “Codenames is a deep game with simple rules,” their reviewer wrote. “It’s tense and silly at the same time, and it’s fun when you’re winning and even better when you’re losing. Maybe now you see what the fuss is about, eh?”
Who are we to argue with that?
Remember that game, Mafia? You know...the one where some secret, murderous dons choose who to kill, while the doctor, sheriff and townspeople just try their damnedest to stay alive? Well it’s been reinvented here, but without player elimination and with even more chance for sabotage.
This game is guaranteed to make you yell-laugh at your family members, and it’s perfect for large groups. One important thing to remember: You can’t bluff a bluffer.
Boss Monster is “inspired by classic video games,” which coincidentally was also the runner-up to become Man Crates official slogan. This 8-bit beast of a board game can handle anywhere from 2-4 people, and it’s all about multi-tasking: Each turn, players must either choose to beautify their treasure dungeon, where they can lure other competitors and get one step closer to victory, or defend their Boss, who can only withstand five wounds before he dies. And what’s the best way to build a treasure dungeon? Well, with money! Each construction move turns into a bidding war to keep things interesting.
Fun fact: This game was bootstrapped by raising over $200,000 on Kickstarter. (We think they coulda can made a pretty dope treasure dungeon instead.)
Just in case these three iconic games aren’t enough (trust me, they are), we’ve thrown in some snacks on snacks on snacks. This isn’t half-hearted average game night food either. Did you know they make cheesy puffs that have asiago and black pepper seasoning? Also, this popcorn has SEA salt, not just regular salt.