(5-10 players; 20 minutes; ages 9+)
Avalon is the best game for 5-10 players.
Just less than half of players are secretly part of the evil team. They know who they are, but the good players are mostly in the dark. It is fast to play, and a real winner with many non-gamers.The packaging claims ages 13+, but much younger children learn about bluffing relatively fast, and a large fraction of 9 year olds that I’ve played this with have rated it their favourite game. It is good both for those who like pure deduction and for those who are experts at reading people’s faces.
Men are liars. We’ll lie about lying if we have to. I’m an algebra liar. I figure two good lies make a positive.
Runnerup Game of the Year
Jon Perry's Air Land & Sea impressed me immediately with its inspired rule that allows players to withdraw from a battle at any time. The game improves with play as the first games will be slowed down because each card has critical text... however there are only 18 cards in total. This game is a gem for those with a limited budget.
Game of the Year
Elizabeth Hargrave's Wingspan does not have the most innovative mechanisms, but it is infused with natural beauty like no other game I've played. Unlike all previous winners, the game did not "wow" me on the first play, but over many plays, I came to love the anticipation of each new bird entering play. It is a sumptuous game.