Top 10 Press Your Luck Games

Today is the day. Finally, Avengers: Endgame is here. Tonight, my family and friends will be gathered together in our local IMAX screening room to see how this story concludes.

Despite Marvel’s encouragement to ‘not spoil the endgame,’ despite obtaining an early Thursday evening showtime, there is still concern about coming across a spoiler for the movie. Especially on the Internet. In fact, getting on social media sites AT ALL this week has been like a tense, scary game of Press Your Luck.

So, in light of having a few more hours to hope for “No Whammies,” today would be a great day to list my Top 10 games with a Press Your Luck aspect.

#10 — H.I.D.E. Hidden Identity Dice Espionage

You could argue that H.I.D.E. focuses more on bluffing and deduction, but any time you choose to pick a die that goes on top of your screen — and thus make an assassination attempt, you are definitely pressing your luck by revealing important information about your own identity.

#9 — 1572: Lost Expedition

This is a Print-and-Play solitaire game with dice-rolling to determine which actions are available each day. Over time, you have to manage feeding your party, dealing with angry natives, and surviving the changing terrain. Knowing when to take an aggressive action over a defensive one is pivotal throughout this game as the 6-week clock is ticking to get to shore. This game is tense, but in a highly enjoyable way.

#8 — Bargain Basement Bathysphere

This is the 2nd of two PnP solitaire games on this list. I have only recently started playing Bargain Basement Bathysphere, but have enjoyed its gameplay from the beginning. In any game, there will be a lot of tension and difficulty in getting all the way to the ocean floor and back to the surface without running out of oxygen (or suffering too much damage to your sphere). The Press Your Luck comes into play with how you manage your dice. Do you use a low roll (1 or 2) and thus increase your probability of stress on the return trip or do you use up oxygen more quickly by focusing on high movement rolls? I’m looking forward to pressing my luck more in this campaign game.

#7 — Codenames

For my family, the preferred version to play is Codenames: Disney Family Edition. The luck-pressing in this game is well-done with the way clue-giving is performed. I really want to give clue “A” because my teammate could potentially make three correct guesses, but I’m in danger of a wrong answer being guessed because it fits in just as well. Do I give simple and obvious clues (but progress slowly) or do I get adventurous and trust my partner to “get me?”

#6 – Dungeon Roll

Dungeon Roll is the first game on this list that is truly a Press Your Luck game at heart (as many dungeon-themed games are). The game is all about successfully rolling yourself as far down the dungeon as you can each turn without failing. The character cards add some slight variable player powers to increase the theming and fun. With a short playtime, this game rolls in as a well-done PYL game.

#5 — Flip City

Flip City: Wilderness (time to move out of those Trailer Parks)

My family has played both Flip City and Flip City: Wilderness. The two titles are equally fun and force the same Press Your Luck decision-making on each turn. The goal is to achieve 8 ribbons in one turn. Step 1: gather enough coins to buy the cards necessary. Step 2: get those cards in play together on one turn. The trick is that frowny faces on cards threaten to bring your turn to a halt — and some cards with frowns are required to be played if on the top of your deck. Thus, every turn the question arises: do I flip one more time to get another coin or two?…is there still a residential area in my deck?…how many of those do I still have now?…

#4 — Megaland

Another dungeon crawler, this one happens to come with the pretty and playful artwork of Ryan Laukat and Noah Adelman. The theme is silly which helps make it great for the whole family. What I love about the PYL element of this game, the dungeon-delving-dilemma, is that you get to watch your fellow dungeoneers start dropping out around you. Staying in is a nice pride boost (if done successfully) but it sure hurts to lose your loot and see your opponents make purchases because they were less foolhardy.

#3 — Clank!

At its heart, Clank! could be considered a deck-building game (in fact, Renegade put deck-building in the title!). Proper route and resource management is also an important aspect of this game. That said, along with overseeing your deck construction and finding good paths to explore, there is a pervasive question lingering in every player’s mind throughout the game: “When should I get out?” In many dungeon-dive games, how far I press my own luck is irrelevant to my opponent’s luck-pressing decision. In Clank!, every turn I dig deeper = more treasure, but getting out early = safety for me and pressure on my opponents. Love it!

#2 — Zombie Dice

Thank you for that helmet for Christmas, Santa — it is sure helping me take out more of these zombies.

Zombie Dice is 100% Press Your Luck. That’s the mechanism — and when I want a quick 5-to-10 minutes of that kind of gameplay, this is my go-to.

#1 — King of Tokyo

While Zombie Dice may be solely about pressing your luck, King of Tokyo is a better and more enjoyable game overall — and the tension created by the PYL element is superb. Stay in Tokyo and you can earn victory points much more quickly; stay in Tokyo and you have the ability to deal damage to all your opponents at once; but that decision can come at such a high cost! A wonderful game overall with a beautiful take on the Press Your Luck mechanism. Thanks, Richard Garfield.

Well, that’s the top 10 from my list of played games. What am I missing? What games should I consider for my next Press Your Luck fix?

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