Perhaps the ultimate bluffing game, Liar's Dice challenges players to look into the eyes of their opponents and make outrageous claims with complete confidence. On a turn, a player predicts how many of a particular number has been rolled on all of the dice around the table -- but he only know what's on his own dice.
The goal of this game is to move your spy into good scoring positions -- without other players figuring out that you're doing it. No one knows whose color is which until the end of the game, and you win bonus points for deducing your opponents' identity.
3. Incan Gold
Players dig through mines, trying to find gems while avoiding dangers like cave-ins and explosions. Incan Gold (previously published as Diamant) is all about managing risk -- should you leave the cave with the gems you have, or should you keep digging for more? Taking big risks can win you the game, but it can also assure a last-place finish. The theme also appeals to me -- Diamant conjures a little bit of an Indiana Jones vibe. Diamant takes about 20 to 30 minutes per game.
Dwarves are mining for gold, working together to find the best path to make sure they can get the gold back to the surface and divide it. Unfortunately, some of the dwarves might be saboteurs, looking out for themselves instead of the group. After three rounds of digging for gold, the player with the most is the winner in this card game. I usually carry this game in my car so that it's always available.
Collecting sets of antiques is the goal in this family-friendly game. Each turn includes two rounds. In the first, all players simultaneously decide whether they're going to the castle or the auction house; in the second, they decide what action they'll take in the building they chose. It's best to pick a building and action that no other player chooses. Adel Verpflichtet won the 1990 Spiel des Jahres, Germany's award for Family Game of the Year.
6. Shadow HuntersFor 4 to 8 players (best with 7 or 8 players), ages 10 and up. Designed by Yasutaka Ikeda, published by Z-Man Games.
In my experience, this interesting board game never fails to entertain. Players are randomly -- and secretly -- assigned to one of three groups of characters (shadow, hunter, or neutral) and simply try to survive until the end. Players work to figure out who is on their team, and to achieve victory. For the hunters, victory means killing all of the shadows. For the shadows, victory means killing all of the hunters or killing three neutrals. The neutral characters each have unique victory conditions.
7. Balderdash / Beyond BalderdashFor 2 to 6 players, ages 12 and up. Designed by Laura Robinson and Paul Toyne, published by Mattel / Parker Brothers / Schmidt Spiele.
In this party game, the player whose turn it is reads a litte-known word, and everyone else writes down a definition that at least sounds possible and turns it in. All of the definitions, including the correct one, are read and players vote on which they think is correct. Every vote for your (fake) answer earns you points. I always have fun playing Balderdash. (If you have a choice, I recommend Beyond Balderdash over the original -- it adds new categories, such as movies, people, dates and acronyms.)
Werewolf takes place in a village infested by two or more werewolves (depending on the total number of players). Each player is secretly assigned a role, which in the baisc game could be werewolf, villager, or seer. At night, the werewolves kill a villager. During the day, the remaining villagers choose someone they suspect to be a werewolf and lynch that player. Werewolves win when there are an equal number of villagers and werewolves; villagers win when they have killed all of the werewolves.
9. Cash 'n GunsFor 4 to 6 players, ages 10 and up. Designed by Ludovic Maublanc, published by Repos Production / Asmodée Editions.
Players are all criminals trying to divide the loot from a robbery. Players simultaneously point their guns at each other and are then given a chance to run away and avoid wounds -- but doing so also means they won't share in the loot. Adding to the tension is the fact that one player is an undercover cop trying to notify the police to raid the gang's hideout. Cash 'n Guns takes about 30 minutes per game. This was my pick as the #5 board game of 2005.
10. RajFor 2 to 5 players (best with 5 players), ages 8 and up. Designed by Alex Randolph, published by Ravensburger / Winning Moves.
A simple game to understand, but not so simple to play. Each player begins the game with an identical set of cards. They bid on scoring tiles (positive and negative), but they have to be pretty good at guessing how their opponents will bid in order to win. Raj was also published as Beat the Buzzard, Catch Up!, Hol's der Geier and Mini Hazard.