Losing at Board Games – Playing Games when I’m tired.

It has been two weeks since I wrote the last “Losing at Board Games” column. Those weeks have been the kind of weeks that seem to be worn at the seams; where a state of perpetual tiredness is sealed in and surrounded with a fog of exhaustion.

But of course, I’m still going to game.

So this week, my question for all of you is:

What games do you play when you are tired?



These aren’t the moments to try large-scale worker placement games or area control games.

This isn’t the time to try to play a quick round of Twilight Struggle. (That was a joke. My last game of Twilight Struggle went a brutal 6-7 hours.)

 Games I play when my mind is overloaded and my body should probably be sleeping instead:


What it is:

A card game where you send nobles to the chopping block.

The goal:

You get points by executing the best known nobles.

How you play:

You play cards that allow you to rearrange the order of the nobles that are ready for execution, allowing you to collect “Marie Antoinette” (5 pts) while your opponent collects “Hero of the People” (-3 pts).

Why it works when I’m tired:

The game-play is somewhat basic, but still entertaining.  And one of the cards is called “Piss Boy”.

Why I still lose:

I’m not good at basic math and am much worse at it when I’m tired.


Pick-a-Pig / Nerts / Dutch Blitz

What they are:

Speed-based games where cards have to be picked up or played rapidly.

The goal:

Playing the most cards in the shortest amount of time.

How you play:

Nerts (using regular playing cards) and Dutch Blitz work off similar ideas. You play cards in ascending order in the center of the table in order to remove them from your playing area. Both games benefit if a specific talent:

If you can quickly play solitaire while a children’s birthday party is attacking a piñata over your head (and then candy and confetti drop in front of your line of vision while you continue playing solitaire at a breakneck pace) then you will excel at this game.

It should be mentioned that I’ve played this game with a large number of people that have “house rules” where players get punched or pushed over for misplaying cards. This is like adding weapons to a video game where you win by rolling a monster truck over a line of small cars. It is wholly unnecessary, but somehow makes it even better.

Pick-a-Pig (and its twin brother, “Pick a Dog“) work using a different principle. In these games you have to grab as many cards in sequence as you can, and if you make a mistake you lose all your cards from that round of play.

Why they all work when I’m tired:

The gameplay is simple, and if I can achieve a zen-like calm in a general area of destruction I can excel at it.

Why I still lose:

I’m not coordinated. I’m easily distracted. I don’t like being punched.


Are you going to drink this coffee?
Pick-a-Pig, leaning leisurely against some much-needed coffee


What it is:

A “shuffle-building” game where you mix two different staples of geek mythology and then fight against opponent(s) who have done the same thing.

That’s a complex way of saying that yesterday my Ghost-Pirates beat the tar of a merry band of Steampunk-Ninjas.

The goal:

Points are scored mainly by playing cards on central cards, called “bases”.

Why it works when I’m tired:

It is oodles of fun, and even if you’re losing it gives you the chance to realize that Alien-Killer Plants might be a great combo if your opponent is using the Zombie-Dinosaurs.

Why I still lose:

I don’t pay enough attention to how many points my opponent has and give them the victory by scoring a base. (A situation where I score the most points for placing first on a base, but where my opponent is able to win by placing second on that same base.)


Is this your card?
Is this your card?

Love Letter

What it is:

A game of bluffing and deduction played using 16 cards.

The goal:

Getting a love letter to the princess by holding the highest value card possible at the end of the round.

Why it works when I’m tired:

It only has 16 cards.

Why I still lose:

I’ll quote the Political Mastermind:

“Jon! why are you guessing that anyone still has the Baron in their hands when both of them are already on the table! think!”

In other words: when I’m tired my already bad powers of deduction and observation become laughably bad.




What games do you play when you are tired?

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