I have loved video games ever since I was a little kid, but over the past 12–18 months, I’ve been replacing my video game time with tabletop games. It started back with Secret Hitler, I think. I backed the game on Kickstarter, they provided a print-and-play version during the campaign, and one night I got 5 or 6 friends together and we played for five hours. It was a blast, and from that, my newfound love of tabletop games began. My little group of friends is filled with Game of Thrones (and A Song of Ice and Fire) fans. One of us bought Game of Thrones: The Board Game and we played it every weekend for a few months. The issue we ran into was that it required at least three players but unless you have 5 or 6, the game gets a bit stagnant. In order to fill a gap where we couldn’t play anything with just two players, I bought A Game of Thrones LCG. At first, we just played with one core set, but as I began to see the strategy avialble if you had multiple core sets and all the expansions, I quickly bought into the rest of the game.
For times when we need to accomdate large play groups or people not into Game of Thrones’ world, I picked up a few other games like Salem and Tortuga. Salem is very similar to Secret Hitler, but actually has a bit more strategy involved (and more understanding of English required). Tortuga is a fun game for large groups that has an element of strategy and social deception, but has relatively simple rules and is easy to teach to new players (but once again, the cards require a lot of English reading skills). I mention English because I live in Japan and if we include non-English speakers in our game days, things like English comprehension have to be accounted for.
A game I played recently that doesn’t require any language knowledge and has some elements of social deception (something that I love) is Saboteur. If you’re looking for an inexpensive card-based social deception game, it’s a good choice.