Top 5 Favorite games to lose
It is often said that the journey is more important than the destination. This small bit of wisdom can easily be seen traveling the world of board games. Playing the game is the journey. Winning or losing is merely the destination. It’s important to have a destination but the majority of the fun happens along the journey.
I have often tried to explain to my daughter, who is now 6, that playing the game is the fun part. Winning is fantastic and should always be the goal (unless maybe you are teaching a game or maybe playing with wee ones), but if you can’t have fun losing the game, you are going to run out of people to play games with. For me, it often works out that if I lose a game I am more likely to want to play again right away. My brain will take in the loss and start working harder on puzzling the game out. What went wrong? What should I do differently?
That being said, losing some games can be more fun than losing others. And, it seems, some games, I swear, are almost more fun when you lose. Almost.
Here are my top five games that are fun to win but just as fun losing.
Race for the galaxy
Most games that have a good race mechanic built-in have a tendency to get tense. Losing race games can be pretty exciting because of that tension. Race for the Galaxy starts with a nice slow burn as the game moves along, but the closer it gets to the end the more frantic it feels. The last couple rounds are always exciting for me as I am trying to count up my points and everyone else’s to see how close things are and to see if I can pull something off. I love seeing it slip through my fingers. The bonus is that it is a fast enough game that I can demand a rematch and lose again in no time.
Rhino Hero is all about the loser. The excitement happens when someone loses. Everything everyone does is building to that finish where the loser is crowned and it is fantastic for that. Few games have such an exciting finish as everything comes tumbling down. (I have yet to play Super Battle, I imagine it is even more exciting).
There is fun in the comradery of co-op games. That co-operation adds to the joy of victory when you all win together, but it also softens the blow of losing. Forbidden Desert plays so quickly and smoothly with the tension constantly ratcheting up as the game goes on. So many of our games have ended in spectacular defeat with doom closing in on us from every possible direction at once as we close in on our goal. Going down in flames together is always a fun and memorable experience in the desert.
Clank! (or Clank! In! Space!) is great fun to lose because you have a few stages of losing. You can get stuck underground and completely lose scoring nothing. Or if things go a little more your way, you can lose above ground and still get to score. There is always the race element to Clank! that makes losing that little bit more exciting as you try and get back out and get those bonus points before it’s too late.
Champions of Midgard
I honestly think Champions of Midgard is at its most exciting when everything is going wrong. The battles feel so much more important and losses feel so much more devastating. When nothing has gone your way, winning just one battle feels like such a glorious victory that coming in 30 points behind no longer matters. (Of course, turning it all around and pulling a victory from the ashes is the optimal way to go but that’s not the point here.)
There are so many runners up for this list. Any game with a lot of end game scoring where everyone is really close as the scores are tallied and no one can tell who’s going to win until the last point. Fast games like Fantasy Realms where you can just laugh your loss off and play again and again. Jenga is always a fun game to lose as is Cockroach Poker. I am so bad at Dixit that I know longer consider winning an option but I will alwyas play.
For me, the best way to lose is by a single point. Close games are the most exciting. I also love losing games that have a final scoring round that can really swing the scores. I love those surprises at the end. Luckily, I have a group of friends who love beating me at games. They are all formidable opponents, my wife especially, so I get to lose all my favorite games, often. As much as I play to win, it’s the playing that I enjoy and pulling off a win just adds to the fun.
What’s your favorite game to lose?