Thursday, February 27

Best Board Games: Vol 1

For the past couple years, pretty much since leaving the nest and moving into our own place, Nick and I have been hosting game night. It's not the kinda game night where we sit around and watch sports, it's the kinda game night where we write character bios and sit around with bags of colour coded die. Sometimes we tone down the nerdiness and lately, we've really started getting into board games.

We've always been lovers of the board game, but since Christmas things have really ramped up. Nick recently confessed he had been slightly "let down" by his Christmas presents of mostly practical socks and that was why he treated himself to the purchase of several new board games. Moral of the story, buy your guy a board game even if you've agreed not to buy gifts for each other.

I've compiled here a list of some of our favorite games and a short synopsis/reasoning below! If you're interested in upping your game (harhar) you won't be disappointed by any of these!

I've put things in order of difficulty to play, the ones at the top have many components and can be a little daunting when you're learning the rules, the boardgames at the bottom are ones most easily introduced to your grandparents. I've added a few helpful review videos by one of Nick's fav youtubers. ;)

1. Tales of the Arabian Nights: This one has got to be one of the most fun, most complicated games I have ever endeavored to play. Originally produced in the eighties, this game has since been revamped and re-released with a somewhat streamlined look. Don't be too daunted when you un-box the game only to find a thousand little cardboard pieces to punch out and what appears to be a rule book the size of a bible. This game plays similarly to a roleplaying game and can accommodate up to six people, but I would recommend a group of 3. I like it that way because the turn structure involves 3 people to accomplish, so no one is left out. Person 1 will role a die and add a number based on their position on the board, that determines what paragraph is read from book A (by person 2) then person 1 chooses a response which determines what paragraph is read from book B (the bible sized book which contains over 2000 scenarios) by person 3. Does that sound over complicated? Sorry, you really aught to try it.

2. Space Cadets: OK, this one isn't as complicated as the first, but it does take a bit to learn all the steps because it's one game made of many many mini games! Each person plays a role on a space ship (engineer, weapons officer, helm, etc) and that position comes with a unique mini game. It's awesome because you're a 'specialist' and after a couple of turns you really do become the only person who knows how to do that specific job! This one is pretty fast paced and fun as can be to play with a larger group (up to six people I believe) but it also has lots of small pieces so people with children (and dogs) beware.

3. Betrayal At House on the Hill: This is a great horror themed game and, much like Tales of Arabian Nights, it comes with a pretty thick book full of scenarios which makes for endless re-playability. This used to be one of our only board games, so I may have reached over saturation with it, but we have yet to play through even half of the different scenarios. Each player is an adventurer exploring a haunted house by flipping tiles and building the board. You encounter various spooky apparitions, rooms and items and at some point the 'haunt' will begin and one of the players becomes a 'betrayer'. After that, the betrayer gets his own set of rules and the survivors must try to escape or kill their opponent. Sometimes it's fairly easy, and sometimes it's impossibly hard!

4. Tokaido is my new favorite game. Maybe because I win it with more frequency than any other game, in fact, I won three times in a row at one point. Nick is a pretty smart board game strategist so if there's any game where I can beat him I'm suddenly much more invested. Of course it helps that the game is also serene and beautiful! Each player is on a pilgrimage along the "East Sea Road" in Japan. Along the way you can gather points by visiting beautiful scenic views, resting up at a hotspring, meeting an interesting fellow traveler, or eating a beautiful meal!

5. 7 Wonders: In this game you try your best to build an empire and gain points by outbuilding your neighbors! This one is a bit complicated to start, but once you get going it's pretty simple.

6. Killer Bunnies is an old favorite. It takes a bit to learn, but if you're a fan of Munchkin you already have a head start. The main issue with this game is that, at the end, the winner is decided totally randomly! The point of the game is to collect as many carrots as possible while keeping your bunny alive. Other people will try to kill your bunny, and at the end the winning carrot is picked at random. You improve your odds of winning by collecting the most carrots.

7. Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space. This game is sooooo cool. I love it. The art alone for this game is super creepy and more than a little awesome! In this game each person has a secret board in front of them which they can move around on. You write down which square you're on after every move and you draw a card from a deck determining if you must announce to the other players where you are. Some players are aliens and some are humans, and the humans are trying to get to the escape pods and get off the ship! Those of you who are easily stressed should beware, It can get pretty tense when you're trying to sneak around!

8. DIXIT is a fun game anyone can play. I like to call it a cross between Apples to Apples, Scattergories and Art History Class. There are a deck of cards, each card is a work of surrealist art and you must use a card from your hand to inspire a phrase or idea. That idea has to be obscure enough that not everyone will guess your card, but specific enough that someone will. Next, each player chooses a card from their own hand that might embody your phrase or idea. Everyone votes on which card they think is the original inspiration. Each person gets a point if their card is chosen by someone, or if they choose the correct card, but if your card is chosen by everyone, no one gets any points!

9. Tsuro is a super fun game to play with just about anyone. It takes all of two seconds to learn, and everyone from great grandma to little Suzy the six year old are gonna be able to participate.It's a tile laying game, each tile having on it a tangle of possible pathways that when played, magically lines up with all of the other tangled pathways. You choose one path to follow and at any time your path might careen wildly off the board. The last person on the board wins!

10. Lastly, Carcassonne! This is another favorite of mine because I have been known to occasionally prevail. Each person draws a tile and builds the next part of the board. You can build cities, lay farmland, concentrate on roads, and you get points for each. This one takes up a lot of room, but not a lot of time, and can go from being strategic to just lazy fun.

Gah, that was a lot of information! Haha. I hope you've discovered at least one board game that screams "I need to play that!".

What's your favorite board game?

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