So we've been playing some of the games I've accumulated over the years. Including my most recent purchase, 'Red Dragon Inn', which is just fun. The basic premise is that you are one of a party of adventurers who has just returned from an epic dungeon crawl, replete with gold and high on life. As such, you do what adventurers everywhere do when they're full of cash and on an adrenalin high...you go to a tavern and you gamble, carouse and brawl until you pass out or get kicked out.
In this case, that's literal. Every character starts with a stash of cash, a Fortitude score of 20, and an Alcohol Content of 0. Every turn, you play cards that help you win (or cheat) at gambling, (probably) accidentally injure your friends, and keep you (marginally) sober in the face of a seemingly endless supply of drinks given to you by your friends/opponents. If you ever run out of gold, or if your Fortitude score ever equals your Alcohol Content, you are either kicked out or pass out. Winner is the last one standing.
The mechanism is clever; each player uses their own deck, custom-made to reflect that character's strengths and weaknesses. Gerki the Sneak has plenty of cash-grabbing cards, and unsurprisingly he's the best of all of them at gambling (and cheating.) Deirdre the Priestess has healing magic that keeps her Fortitude up, but isn't really that good at staying sober. Fiona the Volatile is tough and hearty, but loses money quickly; while Zot the Wizard is a well-balanced character with a little of everything (and a psychotic rabbit familiar named Pooky.) The sequels, which can be combined freely with the original game, add other characters to the mix.
But what's best about the game is the sense of fun involved in the design. The art is spectacular, giving each character a personality that seems to come right off the cards. The card names give you a vivid idea of what's going on in the game; countering a drink with Fiona's "This is just the thing to polish my armor!" or injuring someone with Deirdre's "Oops! Sometimes my healing spells just wear off!" evokes the sort of punishing camaraderie you see in a role-playing group. (Or, in the case of cards like, "Oh no! Pooky's on a drunken rampage again!", just how freaking weird roleplaying games can get sometimes.)
It's a perfect "end of the night" game, best played among people who aren't too competitive, and we'll definitely be picking up the sequels. If for no other reason than one of them actually lets you play as Pooky.