Games for three couples

by Peter Riedlberger

If you have got lewd thoughts reading this headline, this article is not for you. Rather I am sharing some thoughts about having a successful board gaming time with your significant other and two other couples.

It is difficult enough to find a playable game for six players. First of all, there are few German games which are designed for more than five players. More often than not they don't play well because people have to wait way too long before it is their turn again. Waiting time in games equals boredom, at least for me and most people I play with. Therefore, do not recommend some huge war game to me as the ideal solution for six players. Apart from the downtime, there is the game theme issue as well. Not everyone feels comfortable with war games, and females possibly less then males. In short, I wouldn't recommend History of the World for your cosy gaming night.

Successful six player games need to address several issues. They need to keep downtime short. This can be accomplished by leaving only a limited number of choices to the player whose turn it is. Another efficient gaming mechanism is auctions - they keep all players busy. Another important factor is rule complexity. Probably not every one of your three couples is an experienced player. Therefore, explaining complicated rules might be too much, boring the advanced players and overwhelming the inexperienced ones. Therefore stick to easy rule sets (again, this disqualifies sophisticated war games). I feel that playing several games is better than spending the whole evening on the same game. If someone doesn't like a game or isn't successful at all, s/he might enjoy the next offering. Therefore, quick games are better than long games.

For the reasons outlined above, there is not a single full-blown boardgame I would recommend. Only perhaps "Traumfabrik" might be such a candidate; it is easy to explain and understand, it plays in less than one hour, and due to its auction mechanism, everyone is involved all the time. However, "Traumfabrik" is for five players maximum which is a pity indeed. I really would love to have an updated six player version.

These are the games I can really recommend for your hot pot three couples night:

BLUFF - As always, indispensable. Incredibly easy to explain, and no matter how often you play it, it's constantly fun. Since playing bluff successfully means you need to know to how bluff, not only mathematics nerds can be winners. Bluff is actually the more fun the more players you have. A game takes about 15 minutes.

ZOFF IM ZOO - Since the rules are explained in two stages, it is fairly easy to understand even for non-players. The two player teams add additional fun for couples. Not only females like the cuddly Doris Frank animal artwork. A game should be finished in 30-45 minutes.

HAVOC - Yes, I am about to contradict myself. Havoc has a war game theme but in fact, it's pretty abstract. Havoc takes a long time to play (90+ mins) but it is so much fun that this is still acceptable. One big advantage is the rules which can be readily understood since you can use the basic poker knowledge almost everyone has. Additionally, I like the fact that everyone's sense of achievement gets boosted: If you don't enter some fights, you'll surely win the next. No-one is completely lost.

I wish I could recommend more games, but I cannot at this time. On the other hand, these three should be enough for an enjoyable time, and they have proven to be on more than one occasion.

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