Your memory of board games probably consists of dad cackling in victory on the sofa, mom looking like she’d rather be anywhere else, and your siblings still trying to figure out the point of the game while you sit there cursing rookie mistakes and arrogance. But now, board games are very much in. They are perhaps more in than they have ever been. All across the country, there are bars and cafes that contain all types of board games from cooperative to one-on-one, to team battles to even solo board games if you don’t trust anyone else and have decided you’ll just do it yourself. If you need an escape from reality that other avenues just can’t offer, consider board games as your next favorite hobby, and step into a whole other world.
Roll and Move
These board games are likely the ones you grew up with playing against your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins over Christmas or Thanksgiving or any time of the year that prompted large family get togethers with your family board games. Out of all of the board game types, these are the most common and arguably the easiest to understand.
The process for these games is simple: you roll the dice, you move the set number of spaces. The total amount of spaces you can move depends on how many faces your die has and how many die you actually use. In some games (like everybody’s favorite relationship-ruining game, Monopoly) you will get to roll twice in a row if you achieve double numbers.
These roll and move games are considered the classic type of board game and are probably the go-to idea of a board game that most people have. However, as board games have become very much in vogue, their popularity has waned due to a belief that the outcomes of these games are based more on luck than any skill or strategy. Even those that do have a strategy have often exploited problems in the gameplay, which make it a less-than-fun experience for everybody else involved.
The Best Time for Roll and Move:
When you have exhausted all of the newer board games, feel nostalgic, or are trying to end a relationship but haven’t quite figured out just how to do it yet.
Monopoly, Clue, Snakes and Ladders, The Game of Life, Zombies!!!, Sorry
Worker Placement Games
If you love telling people what to do, then worker placement games might just be for you. These games require strategy and patience and an ability to think of your workers less as people and more as cogs in your machine, whatever kind of machine that might be.
Games such as Agricola involve you trying your darndest to put opposing players out of business and ruin their crops for the season (you monster), but if doesn’t satiate your thirst for your fellow man’s destruction, perhaps you should try it out first, be warned though, things can get very heated very quickly.
The Best Time for Worker Placement Games
When practicing for your next promotion at work as you get dragged further into the corporate mire.
Agricola, Stone Age, Charterstone, Cytosis, Lords of the Waterdeep
These types of board games try to eliminate all of the stress and unfairness of the classic board game approach by encouraging the players to work together, as opposed to against one another. Cooperative board games give you a goal to reach before winning the game and rely on your ability to work as a team to achieve this.
Some examples of this include Pandemic, which while not being the first of its kind, is considered the best, as well as its subsequent spinoffs. In this game, you and your team work together to save the world from a worldwide pandemic (hey!) of fatal diseases. Others include Arkham Horror and Lord of the Rings, which were early examples in a genre that was just waiting to pick up steam.
Normally, these games require the most precise coordination to win the game. They sound easy, but it is no surprise to discover that many heads working together to solve a problem is not always straightforward.
The Best Time for Cooperative
When you are desperately trying to save friendships and demonstrate your worth, trying to get to know people without making you all hate each other, and with people who just love to debate which is the best thing to do.
Pandemic, Arkham Horror, Lord of the Rings, Forbidden Island / Desert, Mole Rats in Space
Those who enjoyed endless hours of Yu-Gi-Oh as preteens or experienced the brief wonder of Pokemon cards before they were banned in schools across the country will remember just how enjoyable deck building games can be. Deck Building games have evolved since the 90s and now are much more than merely buying booster packs and hoping for the best.
Now, these games come with the ability to level up card as the game progresses. This includes things such as reusable in-game currency which can be redeemed to get your hands on more powerful cards. Through engine building, players do their best to get the best out of each hand and, eventually, emerge victorious.
The games are typically fast-paced and, while you won’t be an expert at first (who ever is?) learning the intricacies of the game and how different cards work in tandem with one another is all part of the fun.
The Best Time for Deck Building
When you are getting withdrawals from obtaining the best card, which is usually something like ten or so seconds after picking it out.
Dominion, Clank!, Roll for the Galaxy, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, Concordia, Above and Below
For the imperially favourable among us, Area control games let you indulge in your inner colonialist. As a kid, you more than likely spent a few hours learning how to play Risk, before actually trying to play Risk and giving up soon after. These games task you with controlling as much of the board as possible through sneaky manoeuvres or all out attack, whichever level of subtlety is more you.
Since Risk, there have been countless imitations and evolutions that range from Cold War-esque political intrigue in Twilight Struggle, to letting you try your hand at controlling all your favorite universes such as Middle Earth (War of the Ring) and a galaxy far, far away (Star Wars: Rebellion)
The Best Time for Area Control
When you feel your personal space has been invaded for the last time and you need to lash out at something or someone to maintain some sanity.
Risk, War of the Ring, Star Wars: Rebellion, Twilight Struggle, El Grande
There is little better way of ruining friendships (or making them stronger) than through the secret identity board game. This is certainly not a game for the paranoid among us, and can leave you scrutinizing every move, even of those who might not even be playing.
In recent years, games such as Secret Hitler and One Night Ultimate Werewolf have been prominent forerunners of the genre. But there is such a wide variety of unique and enjoyable games that you are sure to find the perfect one for you and your friends. Use deception, your poker face and even technology to make the most of this remarkably enjoyable little genre.
The Best Time for Secret Identity
When you want to really mess with your friends, love watching them sweat, and enjoy cackling maniacally to yourself in private.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Two Rooms and a Boom, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, Donner Dinner Party, Mafia
Essentially a choose-your-own-adventure book in board game form. Legacy games are a an innovative, thrilling and potentially wholesome genre of game that have only just stepped into the spotlight and brought with them a love and appreciation for so much more than moving pieces around a board or secretly plotting to kill one another.
Through these games, you can live out long-term stories, experience all the highs and lows that makes a good adventure and even fall in love with the concept of the game itself. They can be emotional, exciting and above all satisfactory. You might lose hours while playing, but you won’t care. If anything, you’ll never want to leave the world you step into.
The Best Time for Legacy Games
When you are aching for a good story but can’t seem to pick a book from your vast library.
Risk Legacy, Android: Netrunner, Gloomhaven, First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet, Quickfight: A Legacy Game
We get that you’re probably thinking that party games could, really, be anything depending on what you and your friends consider fun. But, some board games can prove a challenge to organize and, as such, eliminates the more complex games on this list. When deciding on board games for your next game night that might overlap with a raucous party (depending on your definition of raucous nowadays), the ideal party game needs to be easy to understand and, more importantly, fun.
Things such as gateway games allow new players to ease themselves in to the fun and doesn’t give others too much of an advantage, so this is something to consider. You might also want to consider your audience. If you are filling your home with friends from uni, still trying to hold onto youth, then Cards Against Humanity is always a winner. If you feel that it is perhaps time to grow up, then maybe Scattergories or Trivial Pursuit more your scene now.
The Best Time for Party Games
When you’re planning a party. Duh.
Cards Against Humanity, Scattergories, The Chameleon, Secret Hitler, What Do You Meme?
Puzzle games are sick. They require concentration, problem-solving ability and, above all patience. People who play puzzle games love to think outside the box and won’t be satisfied until they have figured out what is before them, even if it takes them all night.
These games provide riddles for you to solve, lateral thinking dynamics and patterns that require recognition, eventually, to help you get to the bottom of the puzzle. Games such as Labyrinth are the ones that will get you into puzzles, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Best Time for Puzzles
When you have been banned from every Escape Room in the state.
Labyrinth, Quixx, Patchwork, Santorini, Torres
Pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, combat games involve you battling against your fellow board-gamer not with wits, but with brute strength. These give you a chance to unleash your inner Hulk, orc or whatever and involve using weapons (within the game, lets make that abundantly clear right now), and try to deplete their health bar so that they can continue no more.
Like video games, these games can get heated. Also like video games, you might finish the game thinking that life just isn’t fair. Combat games have a slight overlap with Area Control board games, but with much more blood, guts and gore, which as far as we’re concerned makes them just a little bit more fun.
The Best Time for Combat Games
After a bad week, when you need to let someone know exactly what you think of them, or just generally demonstrate your dominance over all your friends.
King of Tokyo, Paths of Glory, Stratego, Coup, Diplomacy
Something to Remember
Remember guys, it’s just a game! While it is always nice to win, and there is nothing wrong with a competitive spirit, you don’t want to ruin the game for everybody else by bragging, complaining, or generally throwing your toys from the pram, or in this case pieces from the board (literally) just because you didn’t get the result you wanted.
Board games are supposed to be about having fun with friends and family and a little trash talking never hurt anyone, so there is no need to take it personally, and even if you do, there is always next time to get back at them and leave them crumpled in a pile of tears and regret. They won’t think about crossing you again.