Visit us on Social

RC’s Top 7 Brain Burner Games

Recently I’ve been playing a lot of asynchronous games on Board Game Arena. Most of these I am able to take a quick turn, then move on to the next game. Sometimes I have to stop and put quite a bit more thought into my turn.

Just as there are many different levels of heat in spicy foods, board games can have their own Scoville rating. Some spices burn upon putting them in your mouth, some hit on the back end, some mild, some hot, some are diablo.

Since Seven Day Games is gearing up to release Fugue (our own brain burner), I thought now would be a great time to share the top 7 games that burn my brain.

You may look at my list and think these games are mild or hot, but let me tell you, these games can burn my sensitive palate.



You wouldn’t think a game about stacking orbs would make smoke come from your ears, but when you have to make sure that the white ones don’t touch the orange ones. Then the green ones can’t be under the blue ones. Also you can’t have more white ones than the blue ones. Add the fact that you have a timer counting down, it turns up the heat.

It’s a basic logic puzzle, but it has a mild burn to it, and I love it.



This is the newest game in my collection. I’ve only played it three times now, and my brain is little bit seared from this hidden movement game.

I’ve only played as the Rogue Agents who are searching for the Recruiter, and have lost on all three plays. I look forward to exploring this game and finding out more about the Shift system, as I am more than likely going to lose a few more times.

Escape Room style games

This entry is for all the escape room style games I’ve played: Escape Room the Game, Unlock, and Exit. Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles.

The mechanism of these games is not exactly what burns the brain. It’s all the variety of puzzles and the pressure of a timer. It’s also the amount of puzzles. Each game is a collection of puzzles that you must solve to find the code needed to escape.

I’ve played some that were so easy they were a waste of time. Others that ground my brain down to a halt. We technically lost those, but we did eventually figure them out with some extra time and it felt good.


Escape From the Aliens From Outer Space

Another hidden movement game, but instead of one person hiding their movement everyone is sneaking around. Some players are secretly aliens trying to find the other players, while the others are trying to be the first to get to the escape pods.

Whichever side you are on, you will be anxious trying to figure out where everyone is and who’s chasing you. It’s just terrible when you are about to get on an escape pod, just to see your friend take off in it. He probably thought you were an alien. Oh wait, your other friend was and he just caught you.

This game not only burns my brain, it also puts my emotions on a roller coaster. Anxiety, fear, and joy of escape. Or if you are an alien, there’s the thrill of the chase. Are they going to escape, or can I catch and turn them into an alien?


Oh, the memories! They are the first to go. Sorry, I mean the memory is the first to go. This game has you holding a hand of cards facing away from you. You are giving clues to each other trying to get them to play the right cards in the right order. For me the memory element fires up the flames around my brain. “No, I don’t remember which card you said was the yellow 3. So, let’s play this one. Oops, my bad, a blue 4.”


Ah, the sizzling haven of gloom. This immensely popular dungeon crawl has one mechanism in it that causes me burning agony.

Each player has a limited amount of cards in their deck. Each turn you are going to play two of those cards. At a certain point you will need to recall cards into your hand. When that happens, you must make a decision. You will lose a card in your minuscule deck. This is what makes me not love Gloomhaven as much as I want to. Loss aversion.

Nobody likes to lose things. Like eating a pepper that overpowers your taste buds for the rest of the meal, that is what this one mechanism does to me in Gloomhaven.

The Crew

Take a standard trick taking game and make it cooperative. Throw in missions for each player to complete and sprinkle in some spicy silence. You have the recipe for a full on brain burn.

Have you ever tried to win a trick that contains the highest value in it, but you don’t have that card? How do you communicate that information to your friends without speaking? Every time I play this it takes me a few rounds to get my brain wrapped around it.

To do well, you have to get in the trick taking headspace. In college and early on in my marriage, I played a lot of Euchre. I could read the table easily. I had a knack on knowing who had what cards. In the Crew, where it’s very important to know who has what, I’m lost in space. Sometimes I can’t figure out how to get someone else to win the trick.

Honorable mentions: 

Anachrony, Caverna, Agricola, Through the Ages

I love a game that leaves my brain inflamed. I know that many of my games are not the top tier in terms of complexity, but that doesn’t mean they don’t leave a burn on my palette. I would love to play some of the more complex games, just so long as someone else teaches me. Which is why I love playing on Board Game Arena. Where I learned games like Beyond the Sun, Caverna, It’s a Wonderful World, and others.

So friends, what makes your brain burn? Is it your memory, time pressure, overload of choices that cause analysis paralysis, loss aversion, or it’s just a new game that hasn’t clicked yet. Whatever it is, please, let us know!


RC is Lead Game Designer and Developer for Seven Day Games. He has been in the hobby game world since 2013, but has been playing games since he was 4. He has hosted a monthly game night for many years. His favorite games are Carcassonne, Castles of Burgundy, and Clank! He has many designs in the works ranging from party games to roll and writes and deep strategy games.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *