Best LAN Party Games in 2019

We had our LAN party and it was grand. Online play can only replicate so much of the experience of gaming together. There are still plenty of good LAN games, here’s what we played:

Alien Swarm – A great 4 player co-op game from the Left 4 Dead team, we had 2 games going. It’s free and it’s old enough that will run on a potato, so there’s no excuses. There’s plenty of depth, too with lots of levels, unlocks, and multiple classes. Plus, it’s a sleeper so most people will get to discover it together.

CS: GO – Danger Zone – love love loved this. Counter-Strike is also free now and they added a Battle Royale mode and map designed for 16 players. We had half that but it was still a lot of fun. The game moves at a great pace. The only downsides were that starting a private server is a bit wonky, and we couldn’t spectate after we died. Luckily, it’s a LAN party so we could walk over and spectate IRL.

Rocket League – 4v4 private matches were great. It would be interesting to have people bring a Switch to play as well.

Xonotic – FOSS Quake 3 clone. As it turns out, the Quake 3 engine still has some good gameplay left in it. I was surprised at how well this worked, although the levels felt a bit small in this day and age.

LAN Party Game Suggestions?

What are the best PC games for LAN parties right now?

I am #blessed to have a group of friends that gets together for a yearly LAN. There is a magical synergy that occurs when everyone is playing the same game together, with no splinter factions. I would love to get any suggestions on cheap/free games that are fairly easy to pick up.

Below are some of the games we’ve played in the past, but please please please comment with some new suggestions

Team Fortress 2 was a solid choice for many years. Free-to-play, easy to hop in and blast people, but also a lot of depth. You can run a local server, meaning that you don’t run into problems with lag or bandwidth saturation. Did I mention free-to-play? Herding cats into buying a game for a once-a-year LAN is an uphill battle, so free is nice in coalescing around a game.

The Mann vs Machine mode in TF2 was a nice cooperative game too, but unfortunately capped at 6 people. There’s a lot of fun to be had teaming an entire LAN party up together.

Xonotic was a fun surprise last year. It’s basically Quake 3 with new maps, but Free (as in beer and as in speech). It turns out that I still have a lot of muscle memory from Quake 3.

As an aside – in the year 2000 I found myself with Quake 3 on my Dreamcast with a keyboard, mouse, and Ethernet adapter. Reader: that combination was basically cheating when playing against people on dial-up with their clawed hands wrapped around a Dreamcast controller.

Don’t Starve Together was solid when my friends and I last gave it a try. It has a local, dedicated server option. It looks like it only supports 6 players though.

Rocket League is great, but pretty much requires a controller, maxes out at 6 players. I don’t think it has a local server option either.

Town of Salem is basically Werewolf so let’s just play Secret Hitler or Resistance instead of lugging our computers over.

Left 4 Dead 2 has some solid co-op and vs modes, and has a local server. The humans-vs-super zombies mode can be fun, or just getting 4 people in the same room against the hoard. The downsides are that game sizes are either exactly 4 or 8 people and not everyone appreciates jump scares.

Counterstrike: GO works locally with bots to fill out the teams. The only complaint I heard was the realism – quick deaths, no respawns, and wild bullet patterns make the game less accessible for people who don’t play much.

Once upon a time there was a dungeon master who really loved the world-building aspect of the job. He would create intricate lore for all the NPCs. Every object had a complete history that the DM could rattle off from memory. The players would wince every time they entered a room, as the DM started rattling off what they saw.

"The stones on the north wall of the room are darker than the rest, implying that they were not gathered locally (since there is no nearby volcanic activity) but instead brought from the mountains. However they are cut in a style of the king's stonemason, so you suspect that they were brought here as part of the mason's expedition recorded 40 years ago, in which…"

The players all made low intelligence, low wisdom fighters in retaliation. Every perception check failed. When one player made a natural 20 on a history check, the rest abandoned her to refresh their snacks and maybe play a couple rounds of Street Fighter.

The DM, seeing his beautiful world being ignored, became cruel. His NPC villains were awful, but the DM would torture both PC and NPC alike. No one was safe. A PC is having a wedding? Kill everyone. A player finds an escape from the prison? Actually that was the villain's plan all along.

The players, fed up, leave the game. The DM still has stories to tell though, so he starts writing them down. Or at least that's how I like to think Game of Thrones got started…

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Carcassonne and Boss Builder

Last night was game night!

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First game was Carcassonne, a city builder. Jenny got this for me as a gift and I’ve been itching to try it out. The game is really quick to pick up and play, and moves quickly. I think I like this better than Catan. There was some deal-making at the table, and there’s something satisfying about building out a landscape. I think it scratches the same itch as jigsaw puzzles – order emerging from chaos.

One strategy that was identified early-on was that you could get 4 quick points by connecting 2 small city tiles (like the 2 cities just left of the big road loop in the pic above), which felt cheap. We checked the rules and it was legal, but it still bugged me. It turns out those cities used to be only worth 2 points, but the rules changed (maybe due the expansions?).

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Second game of the night was Boss Monster. The first thing I noticed were the pixel-art graphics on all the cards. Gorgeous! In this game you are the boss at the end of a dungeon, and you have to set your rooms up to beat the heroes. Each room has abilities.

This requires a little more strategy than Carcassonne, but I was lucky enough to get some cards that worked well together. We used an expansion deck to accommodate all 5 of us. It also went a little slower, but I think with fewer people it would be smoother.

Aside from the games, the highlight of the night was Tim’s Old Fashioneds, but that’s because he’s an amazing bartender.

MacBook Pro Gaming PC

This is kind of amazing: using the Thunderbolt connector on a MacBook Pro to connect 2 desktop gaming GPUs! An upgradable gaming PC at home and a portable MacBook Pro on the move, it’s the best of both worlds. Right now it’s very much a DIY not-ready-for-consumers thing but external GPUs are the future.

What a time to be alive.