Kill Doctor Lucky
Designed by James Ernest, Kill Doctor Lucky is sort of an inversion/parody of Clue. The basic concept of the game is that each player is trying to kill an elderly man named Dr. Lucky. They do this by playing a weapon card (such as a letter opener or a chainsaw) while their pawn is in the same room as Doctor Lucky and out of sight of the other players. Each weapon card has a numerical value which can change depending on what room you are using the weapon in.
The other players, not wanting the attacking player to win the game, can play failure cards to thwart the other's murder attempt as long as the failure cards' value equals that of the weapon card. However, the other players must do this in clockwise order and only have one opportunity to play cards. When a character's murder attempt fails, they receive a "spite token". This token adds a bonus point to all future murder attempts made by the player and can be spent to aid in causing another player's murder attempt to fail.
While the game does have a little bit a learning curve, there are a lot of strategic elements in Kill Doctor Lucky and its incredibly fun trying to thwart your friend's attempts to kill Doctor Lucky so you can take the bastard out yourself. There's a sequel game known as Save Doctor Lucky, but I have yet to play it.
Tsuro is a tile-based board game designed by Tom McMurchie. I discovered this game through Will Wheaten's Youtube webseries Tabletop and decided to find it and give it a true. The rules of the game are rather simple. Each character controls a colored marker that is supposed to be a dragon flying through the sky. You also have a number of tiles on them. You play these tiles on the board, creating the path that your marker will follow. The object of the game is to follow the path that you have chosen without flying off the edge of the board. You win the game by being the last marker on the board.
As I mentioned, the rules are really simple and are very easy to teach to new players. Because of the simplicity, you can pull Tsuro out at a moment's notice and have everything set-up and ready to go within seconds. However, there is a lot of strategy to the game as well. You want to be really careful about how you lay your tiles and it can be fun to lay that tile that will cause another play to go flying off the table on their next turn. If you are looking for an easy game that has some strategic elements to it, I'd suggest giving Tsuro a try.
Red Dragon Inn
While Red Dragon Inn is a card game, not a board game, I still think it deserves to be mentioned. The basic concept of the game is that you are a group of adventurers who have just returned from a fantastic adventure and have decided to relax in the titular Red Dragon Inn. Each player chooses to play one of four adventurers: a warrior, a thief, a priestess, and wizards and receives a deck tied to that character. As you play the game, you will play cards to help yourself and cause your fellow party members to spend gold, drink some fine ale, and do a few more things while relaxing in the tavern. If your character is the last one conscious and still has some gold, you win.
Like the previous games that I've mentioned, Red Dragon Inn has a lot of strategic elements to it and its entertaining to just toss a monkey wrench into the cogs of your fellow player's plans in an attempt to get them drunk or to spend all of their gold. Also, the game is rather humorous and for those who love fantasy and know the typical tropes, you will probably have a blast with Red Dragon Inn.
While these three games are all fun to play, there are numerous other games you can pull out and play when a gaming session goes south for one reason or another. So, here's a question to you dear readers, what are some of your favorite board games? What's the basic concept of the game and why do you love it so much?