If you’re a tabletop aficionado, you might have heard of Button Shy. It’s the smallest of small tabletop game publishers, being just founder Jason Tagmire and a group of like-minded folks working out of a small space in New Jersey. Despite its relatively modest operation, Button Shy has managed to create some of the most satisfying and compelling tabletop experiences that we’ve ever had, and we want to share some of that joy with you. If you’re wondering “what are the best Button Shy games?”, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are the best Button Shy games you can play right now.
Have you grown tired of Scrabble? Do you wish you could play something similar, but with a slightly more complex and creative ruleset? If so, then Handsome will appeal to you. As one of the best Button Shy games out there right now, Handsome is a word game that’s all about coming up with interesting words based on cards you have in your hand. Together with cards that are shared on the table, you’ll need to gain points by using as many letters as you can. This is a great game to play if someone in your party suggests Scrabble and you want a more interesting alternative.
If you ask us, there simply aren’t enough solo tabletop experiences out there. Ragemore is one of the best Button Shy games looking to change that. It’s a game of dungeon-delving in which you’ll amass completed quests and manage resources as you battle through dungeons filled with demons. Each demon you take down will become a hero that is added to your party, but it’s more complicated than that; there are rules for parlay, win conditions, and more. Ragemore is the perfect option for a rainy Sunday afternoon when you’re stuck indoors by yourself.
On the surface, Mint Julep might look like a game of gambling, but it’s not; it’s actually a game about manipulating results to get the outcome you want. You draft cards for your hand, bet on a horse you think will win, then play movement cards to influence the way the horses run in the eventual race. It’s an incredibly simple game to learn and play, but you’ll lose hours to it thanks to the endless variations it offers. If you’ve got friends who are looking to graduate to more niche board games than the typical options, Mint Julep is a great gateway drug.
The inspiration behind Tussie Mussie is delightful. It’s based on the Victorian concept that flowers exchanged between lovers or friends had special meanings. At its core, Tussie Mussie is essentially a game of bluffing and deduction. Players place two cards down at a time, one face-down and one face-up. The opposing player must choose which card they want to take, so the game is all about trying to figure out whether the player offering the card has an agenda in putting certain cards face-up or not. This is a fiendishly addictive Button Shy game.
SpaceShipped is the perfect game to show any of your friends that Button Shy isn’t just about smaller and more compact experiences. While this is still a small game in terms of physical footprint, it feels massive and expansive. You will pilot a spaceship around a dangerous galaxy, buying and selling resources and watching out for marauders who want to take you down. Despite only featuring 18 cards in a single wallet (as is Button Shy’s style), SpaceShipped feels much bigger than it actually is, thanks to the ship upgrading mechanics and different types of cards on offer.
Designed by John Baluci, Antinomy (no, not “antimony”) pits you and another player against one another as all-powerful sorcerers. With each card draw, you’ll choose whether to fly into the past or travel into the future. You must build a hand that will destroy your opposite number and confirm you as the most powerful wizard in the world. You can also battle your opponent in order to wrest cards from their hand, making this the perfect game if you’re looking for something competitive. There’s also an expansion that transforms the game into a solo experience.
The PNP (print and play) version of Liberation is shockingly cheap on Button Shy’s website, and since this is one of the best Button Shy games around, you’d be a fool not to pick it up. Once again, there are only 18 cards, but Liberation manages to feel hundreds of times bigger than its humble trappings would suggest. There are two forces at play: the Liberation and the Dynasty (think Star Wars’ Rebellion and Empire). Will you play as the Liberation and help to usher in an age of freedom, or will you take up the mantle of the Dynasty and crush all who oppose you?
If you love video games like Mini Metro, then Sprawlopolis will almost certainly appeal to you. It’s a game of city-building in which you’ll work alongside other players in order to construct a city piece by piece. You’ll need to maximise the effectiveness of the zone over which you have control, but you can’t reveal your hand to other players. Along the way, you’ll also need to make sure that you’re building as few roads as possible, because as Button Shy says, “the city hates paying for road maintenance”. This is a fun, snappy little game that only takes 15-20 minutes to play. It’ll almost certainly turn into a mainstay if you’ve got tabletop-loving friends.