Each player tries to convince foreign governments to embrace their own ideology in this intelligent card game. Each player has six agents, each with its own ability, to help win objectives. Using those abilities at the best possible time is a key to victory. The master spy, for example, flips the objective around so that the loser actually wins. The assassin kills his opponent's agent, but the objective goes back to the bottom of the pile. Each objective is worth a certain number of points. The first player to earn 100 points is the winner. Cold War: CIA vs. KGB takes about 30 minutes per game.
Caylus Magna Carta, a card game based on Caylus (my pick as the #2 board game of 2005), is an impressive creation. The goal is to earn the most prestige points, which can be done by building, making offerings to the castle, and collecting money, gold or resources. Caylus Magna Carta, which packs most of the strategic feeling from the board game into a much shorter time frame, takes 45 to 60 minutes per game.
Chosen as Games Magazine's Best New Word Game for 2007, Unspeakable Words is a must-buy for players who would enjoy some luck tucked into a word game. The goal is to score 100 points by spelling words; letters are valued based on how many angles they contain (so a T is worth 2 points, while a C is worth 0.) The twist is that after you play a word, you must roll a 20-sided die as a "sanity check" and risk losing your Cthulu pawns. Despite the Cthulu theme, players don't need to know anything about H.P. Lovecraft to play. Unspeakable Words takes about 30 minutes per game.
Players try to acquire the most china for their shop before a bull comes running through in this card game, which was named Games Magazine's Best New Family Card Game for 2007. While spending money to buy china in different colors, players also need to plan for the bull's inevitable arrival. Bull in a China Shop takes about 30 minutes per game.
Each player is dealt a crime card (arson, blackmail, forgery, kidnapping, murder, robbery, or vandalism) and has a deck full of alibi cards for the six crimes he did not commit. The extra crime was committed by the Crime Boss. The goal of the game is to identify all of your opponents' crimes, or the Crime Boss's crime. To get there, players accuse each other of crimes. If someone correctly accuses you, you're eliminated. Criminals takes about 30 minutes per game.
A similar game is Covert Action, published by R&R Games. Each round, players are given a secret role (agent, sniper, cleaner or mole). The goal is collect the plans for a submarine.
Cutthroat Caverns finds players searching a cavern for treasure. Standing in their way are some terrible beasts -- and the greed of the other players. Players need to work together in order to defeat the monsters, but helping out might cause an opponent to benefit more than you when the treasure is won. The flip side is that not helping out might cause all of you to die. Cutthroat Caverns will appeal to those who like the idea of a dungeon-based roleplaying game but don't have the time to commit to a full RPG quest.
7. Jet Setters
This is an interesting and quick-playing card game. Players try to collect sets of city cards which match cards in the "travel agency" area. The tension of the game comes from the fact that while you want to collect cards, they only gain value if they wind up in the travel agency. Jet Setters takes about 20 minutes per game.
This clever card game challenges you to collect valuable stocks and sell them off in pairs while making it difficult for your opponent to do the same. Every card in the deck is placed on the table face-up at the start of the game, so players always make informed choices. Ka-Ching was previously published in Europe as Combit. Ka-Ching takes about 15 minutes per game.
Trying to build a machine that consumes your opponents' resources is the goal here. Players are goblin bodgers using items like wind-up accumulators, radiometric disrupters and vicious siphons to contruct their creations. An expansion, Infernal Contraption 2: Sabotage!, is also available. Infernal Contraption takes about 60 minutes per game.
10. Three of a Crime
In this quick deduction game, players are detectives trying to determine which gang members were involved in the crime. One player secretly looks at a card to determine the three guilty parties, then turns another card face up for everyone to see. The player who knows the guilty trio then puts a marker on the face-up card, indicating if 0, 1 or 2 of the guilty parties are pictured. When one of the other players announces the correct suspects, she earns a point on her way to becoming a master sleuth. Three of a Crime takes about 15 minutes per game.