You’ve been hearing a lot about this whole ‘ board games ‘ thing. And we aren’t talking about the classics dug out from the cupboard for family night. Your friends are all hankering to try something fresh, and they’ve nominated YOU as host for board game night! The big question is… What are you going to play?
We’re living in a proverbial golden age of board games, and with a market flooded with readily available, unique mechanics, beautiful artwork, and expansions upon spin-offs upon expansions, that first trip to the local board game emporium can be a bit overwhelming!
But don’t fret! Here are a mix of 5 road-tested party pleasers to get your board game collection off the ground (and into a meticulously organised shelf):
Settlers of Catan
Designer: Klaus Treber
Game Stats: 3-4 Players Ages 10+ 45-60+ minutes
Settlers of Catan (or simply, Catan) is a staple in any board game collection. This is the game to transition you from the “classic” board game, into the veritable smorgasbord of “modern” board games which are available today.
The game board is made up of randomly organised hexagonal tiles, with each tile representing one type of resource, and having a randomly assigned dice roll value. Players then take turns to place their town tokens on the map, with each town sitting at an intersection of up to three resource tiles.
Once everyone has placed their towns, players take turns rolling the dice. When the number(s) for your tile comes up, you collect the resources you’re touching. When you have the right combo of resources, you spend them to buy towns and roads which will earn you points. The first person to accrue 10 points wins the game!
The game is easy to learn and difficult to master. Shuffling the hexagonal resource tiles and dice number tiles ensure each game is unique. If you’re ready to spice things up, Catan has three large expansions, and several smaller spin-off games, each giving their own twist to the core mechanics. For example, the Seafarers expansion splits the map into smaller islands, or the 5-6 mini-expansion provides the additional cards for additional players.
Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
Game Stats: 2-5 Players Ages 8+ ~15 minutes
This wonderfully adorable pick-and-pass card game is perfect for even the most stoic of “non-gamer” types.
The game begins with each player having a hand of sushi cards. Each player chooses one card from their hand to keep, and when everyone has made their choice, you all reveal your cards together. Players then pass the remainder of their hand to the person on their left, pick up their new set of cards (from the player to their right) and picks out another cute sushi to attempt to create combos and rack up the most points! For example, collecting the most Maki Rolls per round will get you six points, or if you’re able to collect three Sashimi cards, that’s ten points for you! But make sure you keep an eye on what’s been passed and collected by other players, if you don’t collect enough cards to make up a combo, you get zero points! The round ends after all cards have been passed and picked, and the game ends after 3 rounds.
This game is quick, easy, and bound to get a few smiles, if only for admiring the superbly sweet artwork. Who could be sad after looking at the little Egg Nigiri’s face?
The Resistance: Avalon
Designer: Don Eskridge
Game Stats: 5-10 Players Ages 13+ ~30 minutes
Now for a big change of tone, The Resistance: Avalon is a game of arguing, lying, some mild friendship ruining, and overall, a huge amount of fun.
Avalon is a King Arthur themed version of its predecessor, The Resistance. Avalon introduces unique “character cards”, which provide fun, or diabolical twists!, to the mechanics of play. Both games are entirely standalone (you don’t need The Resistance to play Avalon), but they can be combined together. The Resistance also has its own expansion, Hidden Agenda, which introduces new mechanic to the core game.
Each player is given a Loyalty Card (which they keep to themselves), determining whether they are one of the good guys or one of the baddies. For Avalon, they are either Arthur’s Loyal Servant or a Minion of Mordred.
From there, the first player determined as the Leader will choose a number of players around the table to go on a “mission” (this number depends on how many total players are in the game). All players then vote on whether they approve or disapprove of the Leader’s choice of people. If the vote fails, the Leadership Token moves to the next player around the circle, and another group of people is chosen.
If the vote succeeds, the mission-goers secretly vote on whether to “Succeed” or “Fail” the mission, by placing the respective card face down into a pile. The cards are then shuffled and revealed. Based on the results, the mission is either deemed a Success (a win for the good guys), or a Failure (a win for the bad guys). The first team to get three wins is the overall winner.
Once you get the hang of the basics, in come the Character Cards. Avalon‘s Merlin has the ability to see which players are the evil Minions of Mordred. However, Merlin has to keep a low profile. If the Minions of Mordred figure out who Merlin is at the end of the game, they win! Percival, Morgana, Mordred, and Oberon, each bring their own twist to the game, and can be introduced as needed, to give each game a different spin.
Roll For It!
Designer: Chris Leder
Game Stats: 2-8 Players Ages 8+ ~20 minutes
Roll For It! is a dice rolling game. It’s quick, easy, and perfect for when you’re travelling with the family.
Roll the dice and match the values to one of the three ‘target’ cards laid out on the table. If you get a match, you get the points. If you don’t get a match, you “allocate” dice towards the card(s) of your choosing, and hopefully, you’ll be able to make up the difference on your next roll. Just keep in mind, though, that other players might be vying for the same card as you, and a good roll from them could end up sniping the card out from under you! When a card is claimed by a player, another card is drawn to replace it. The first player to collect 40 points wins.
Roll For It! is available as a Red or Purple box, with each box containing different decks of Target Cards and four different colours of die. The Roll For It Deluxe Edition combines both sets, bringing the total number of players to eight, a velvet baggie to hold all of your die, and an embossed tin to keep everything together.
The amount of mileage you get out of the game will surprise you. Roll For It is a perfect in-between game, ideal for a wind-down from more stressful games like Catan or Avalon.
Designer: Vlaada Chvátil
Game Stats: minimum 4 players Ages 14+ ~15 minutes
The final, and youngest board game on the list, is the hugely successful Codenames, winner of several accolades including the prestigious 2016 Spiel Des Jahres (German for “Game of the Year”).
Codenames has no limit to the number of players, except for however many you can fit in your living room.
The board consists of a 5×5 grid of random words, each representing the codename of a secret agent. Of these 25 words are the codenames for Team Red, Team Blue, some innocent Bystanders, and the deadly Assassin. Two players are designated Codemasters, one for each team. Their goal is to provide one-word clues to try and point their teammates towards one or multiple codenames on the board, and to steer them clear of accidentally choosing the codenames for their rival team. Or worse, if a team accidentally chooses the Assassin codename, the game is over and they lose!
With the provided cards alone there are countless combinations of words to play with, but if you so desire, you could play with your own words, household items, really anything you can make a 5×5 grid from.
Did you find this list of board games helpful? Which game mechanic do you enjoy the most? Let us know how your first board game night went in the comments section below! Keep in touch with BLOT Gaming for news on all things gaming and you can also follow our tags.
Sources: The Guardian, Catan.com, Gamewright, Board Game Geek - The Resistance, Board Game Geek - Avalon, Board Game Geek - Codenames, Calliope Games