We hear a lot about two-player only games, but less about three player only games. Many folks with three players at their game night choose a 2-4 player game to satisfy the player count. However, I have found three player only games really hit the spot because they were designed specifically with three players in mind. Now, these types of games are pretty unique and rare because they can be only used in certain situations. I feel like they can round off a solid board game collection and be brought out in certain situations where they will shine. Below are six three player only games you should check out!
Besides the appropriation of different east Asian art styles and characters along with the Greek mythological Chimera, Chimera is a three player only trick-taking ladder climbing card game (such as Tichu). I personally really enjoy tick-taking and ladder climbing mechanics and Chimera is no exception. At the beginning of each round, players must bid points on if they think they will win the round. Once a player wins the bid, the othe
r players now must stop the other player from winning. Gameplay is pretty simple: the person leading the trick plays an acceptable hand – one card, a sequence of at least five cards, three consecutive pairs, etc. To stay in the trick, a player must follow, playing a higher value hand of the same format. There are also special ‘trump’ cards. Points are awarded at the end of each round and the first player to 400 is the winner!
In Trieste, players take on different roles in a city: the Merchant, the Thief, or the City Watch. Each role has their own deck and players will be choosing actions to play simultaneously. The different roles have variable player powers and different victory conditions. This game mixes in take-that mechanics as players fight for control over the costal city of Trieste!
Three Kingdoms Redux
Up until now, the previous games on this list have been shorter card games, easily digestible. Three Kingdoms Redux (designed by two Singaporean designers) is set in China during the conflict between the Wei, Wu, and Shu states. Each state starts off in a different position with the goal of gaining power in order to re-unify China. Each turn, players will bid to take actions which include developing farmlands, trading goods, recruiting military, improving relationships with boarding peoples, and influencing the Emperor. Players score VPs for various things and the player with the most at the end of the game (12 rounds max) is the winner!
After the Flood
A Martin Wallace game from 2008 pits three players controlling and influence civilizations in Sumeria over the course of ~1500 years. Players can trade goods, start empires, expand empires, build cities, and eventually force these empires into decline. Controlling different cities and regions gives players bonuses and victory points at the end of the game. This game is out of print, but you can find a copy of the secondary market if you wanted to give this one a try.
Star Trek: Ascendancy
The new Star Trek game from Gale Force Nine and has the board gaming world a buzz and also left wondering why they chose to make it a three player game. As I am writing this, I believe Gale Force Nine has come out with a plan to make this game more than three players. BUT originally this was released as three players only. Each player takes on a different faction: the United Federation of Planets, the Klingon Empire, or the Romulan Star Empire. Using an action point system,, players will explore new planets / space systems, encounter new civilizations, and influence other systems under your banner. The game itself looks really neat. Start Trek: Ascendancy has a modular board, where players construct space lanes and find new planets in different areas each game! A must check out for any Star Trek fans out there.