A good lightweight game should be light in almost every possible way: inexpensive, portable, colorful, pleasantly themed, quick-playing, low complexity, and playable at any skill level. Here are the games from 2020 that slid as easily into our lunch breaks as they did our game nights.
Don’t forget to cast your ballot in our 2020 Fan Favorite voting.
We’ll be announcing the rest of the nominees over the next few weeks; then check back on Friday, February 19, when we announce the winners of the 3rd Annual Diamond Climber Awards. Now without further ado, on to the nominees.
Zombie Teenz Evolution
In 2018 Le Scorpion Masque released the second game in the Zombie Kidz series, Zombie Kidz Evolution. Billed as the first cooperative legacy game for kids, it was a romp through the halls of a school as players attempted to defeat hordes of zombies. Along the way, players open sealed envelopes and earn new abilities and characters. In 2020 the next sequel was released: Zombie Teenz Evolution. This game features a new setting (a downtown city block), new characters, and far more content. No spoilers, but Zombie Teenz Evolution will have you and your kids on the edge of your seats with anticipation and delight.
Unmatched: Cobble & Fog
The Unmatched series, a 2 or 4 player tactical miniatures skirmishing game from Restoration Games, took the hobby gaming world by storm in 2019 with a flurry of unlikely asymmetric characters (King Arthur, Alice in Wonderland, Medusa, and Sinbad). In 2020 Restoration unleashed new pairings from the Victorian Age (Sherlock Holmes, Invisible Man, Dracula, or Jekyll & Hyde). Play cards from a custom deck unique to each character and attempt to defeat your opponent.
Hanami refers to the traditional Japanese custom of “enjoying the transient beauty of flowers”. In Ohanami the card game, 2-4 players will grow up to three personal gardens by drafting cards, and placing those cards into numerical order in each column. The card colors dictate how cards will be scored at the end of the game. Come for the light card game, stay for the beautiful artwork, simple gameplay, and clever use of the box for scoring charts.
Gudetama: The Tricky Egg Card Game
Kawaii (or the “culture of cuteness”) has so thoroughly overtaken Japan, and other Asian countries, that they produce teapots with ears and noses, railings in the shape of rabbits, and now lazy eggs with butt cheeks. Gudetama: The Tricky Egg Card Game is a trick-taking game for 2-7 people with a clever twist. Take as many tricks as you like, except for the last one, which will score you points equal to the card that won the trick. Gudetama is brightly colored, wickedly clever, and might just make you rethink the phrase “sunny side up”.
Peer Sylvester had quite a 2020, with the release of Polynesia and the second edition of The King is Dead. But it was the unassuming Village Green that stole our hearts, its gorgeous artwork hiding a surprisingly knotty puzzle. Players are trying to build 3×3 grids of garden-themed cards, whilst also creating their own scoring criteria for each row and column. Sounds simple but be careful or else before long you’ll find yourself holding a handful of roses with nowhere to put them. With simple rules, a quick playtime and a forgiving flexibility, Village Green is one of the sleeper hits of the year.