Snakesss Named the Best Casual Game of 2021 | Casual Game Revolution

Snakesss Named the Best Casual Game of 2021

Best Casual Game of 2021

The board game industry had a bumpy ride in 2021 due to several external forces, yet the creative talent among game designers and publishers did not disappoint. Many great casual games came across our radar throughout the year, including big name releases as well as some hidden gems. But in the end, we could only choose one to receive our Best Casual Game of 2021 award.

As we set out to decide on which game should win our annual award, the members of our team independently nominated 5 different games published in 2021 that could be candidates for the award. We then compared our lists and discovered something that brightly stood out — designer Phil Walker-Harding (Sushi Go, Imhotep, Silver & Gold). What a year this talented game designer has had!

Phil Walker-Harding

Phil Walker-Harding (Board Game Geek profile photo)

Something in Common

Three of Phil's games were nominated for our award this year. In a field of so many games designed by so many different people, this is a remarkable feat. Phil has been hard at work putting together many polished games that squarely fit our ideal of games that are easy to teach, quick to play, original, and incredibly fun. Here are the three nominees from Phil Walker-Harding that made our list:

Snakesss

Snakesss (Big Potato) – Snakesss is a trivia and social deduction game mashed up into one. In each round, a trivia question is posed with three possible answers. Players are assigned different roles, including Ordinary Human, Snakes, and The Mongoose of Truth. After revealing the question, the Snakes secretly peek at the correct answer. Then everyone debates for two minutes — the Snakes try to deceive the other players, while The Mongoose of Truth is a trustworthy source of unbiased information (who players know is definitely not a Snake). After the timer ends, players each select the answer they believe is correct. Ordinary Humans and The Mongoose earn points for guessing correctly, while Snakes earn points for each incorrect answer.

What we love about this game: Social deduction is nothing new, but Snakesss offers a truly unique and elegant mashup. First off, the trivia is just fun in and of itself — there are lots of surprising and fun facts. But throw in the Snakes who are secretly trying to persuade the other players, and it just makes for a good time. It's so much easier to teach than other social deduction games, and it also doesn't feel as stressful for players who aren't comfortable being singled out. There is no accusation phase, per se — just select an answer and see if you're correct.

Super Mega Lucky Box

Super Mega Lucky Box (Gamewright) – Super Mega Lucky Box is a "flip and write" game where each player fills in spaces on individual cards using a dry erase marker. Each player begins the game with 3 scoring cards and obtains more throughout the course of the game. During each round, 9 number cards are flipped from a face-down deck and each player simultaneously crosses out a large number matching the flipped card on one of their scoring cards (sort of like BINGO). When you complete a row or column on your scoring card, you earn a bonus. Bonuses include numbers, question marks, lightning bolts, stars, and moons — these bonuses allow you to either fill in an additional space on one of your cards, earn bonus points at the end of the game, or adjust the value of the numbers drawn. Clever players will strategize to combo multiple bonuses back-to-back — which is where the fun of the game truly lies.

What we love about this game: This is a fantastic roll-and-write-style game that is very accessible, yet offers a good level of light strategy. Filling in individual cards, as opposed to a giant scoresheet, is a fun way to offer bite-sized rewards along the way while also providing variation from game to game. Plus, the ability to create combos that feed off of each other is very rewarding and fun.

Explorers

Explorers (Ravensburger) – In Explorers, each player places 4 different landscape tiles into the frame of their individual game board, along with 3 scoring tiles. Landscape tiles show four different terrain types: grasslands, bodies of water, desert, and mountains. On your turn, you reveal a scroll, which indicates the landscapes you are allowed to cross off. The active player crosses off 3 spaces for the terrain type they choose, while other players can cross of 2 of the same type or 3 of the other type shown on the scroll. Players are trying to plan their exploration across their terrain, earning special actions for each checked box with an object in it — you receive points for provisions and gems, and lost temples can be explored with keys. After four rounds of going through all 8 scrolls, the game ends and the player with the highest total score is declared the winner.

What we love about this game: Explorers boils down a "harder" roll and flip like Cartographers into a fun little package with its own twist. It offers easy to understand choices that will also make people think way too hard about which choice to explore. 

The Winner Is...

These are only some of the games designed by Phil Walker-Harding that were released in 2021. Others include LlamalandNeoville, PlatypusSummer Camp, and Tetris. In the end, we went with the game that received the most nominations of all the games nominated by our team, which is Snakesss. This deviously-simple game is unique, accessible, and has grown on us since the first play. It's a game we want to bring to the table consistently, introducing it to as many people as we can. So, as the winner of our Best Casual Game of 2021, we offer a heartfelt congratulations to Phil Walker-Harding and Big Potato Games on a job well done!

Snakesss Best Casual Game of 2021

We are also happy to announce that Super Mega Lucky Box will be receiving our Revolutionary award, and Explorers will receive our Recommended award. Thus, the biggest winner this year is really Phil Walker-Harding himself. With all the great games he designed that were released in 2021, we consider him the casual game designer of the year!

Phil Walker-Harding Awards

A Very Honorable Mention

One of our favorite games we played in 2021 (but which was actually released in 2020) is MicroMacro: Crime City, designed by Johannes Sich and published by Pegasus Spiele. This Where's Waldo-style game of crime solving was a big hit in our gaming groups and hit the table more often than any other game. In addition, a sequel was released with new artwork and scenarios, plus markings that indicate whether each case is family-friendy. This series is well worth checking out — as a game that has made major waves in the industry and a universal favorite among our team, we are happy to announce that MicroMacro: Crime City will be receiving our Revolutionary award!

MicroMacro: Crime City Revolutionary Award

This game is just pure fun! Of all the party games I own, this is my favorite to introduce to others. It has always been a hit!

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