It looks like this:
Some people have a fireplace ... ;)
Board games are our main hobby now. We have one for every occasion (and, sometimes, we make up new occasions just to be able to play them). If we have friends round nowadays, it's almost unthinkable that we won't actually play a board game.
From little ten-minute card games to epic three hour marathon games with fifty-page rule booklets, we have ... a lot. Different genres, different gameplay styles, different themes. We're pretty sure we can match anyone we see to a board game they will like at this point.
To give you a quick run down in case you haven't heard about it, board games are absolutely booming in popularity right now. The website Board Game Geek holds a database of over 84,000 games with in-depth reviews, and a thriving community of over a million users, discussing tactics, arranging meet-ups, and swapping games. There are some big YouTube channels and podcasts dedicated to board games (The Dice Tower, Shut up and Sit Down, and Watch it Played are good places to start). Meanwhile, there are board game cafes popping up all over the place.
(In fact if you're in Bristol I highly recommend visiting Chance & Counters if you can. The staff are really friendly and knowledgeable, they have great food and drink and an absolutely huge selection of board games to choose from - and if you're not sure about the rules, the staff will explain everything to you. We've been a few times now and really enjoyed every visit).
What I like about board games is the sense of community - they are by their nature a social activity, and the online community seems particularly friendly to me (in comparison to other online communities!). But what I love about sitting down to play them is the excuse to have a get together that doesn't involve screens or technology in any way (unless you count my husband taking pictures for his Instagram). Just a table and a game and some snacks. Total time out with people you love, in a life of non-stop buzz and activity. Tempers sometimes flare, and competitive personalities come out, and sometimes you end up surprised at how easily one person can lie to everybody else round the table if needs be ... but it's always a fun experience.
There's just ... something about it. I can quite happily play games with my closest friends on a girly catch up night, and we can have dinner-followed-by-games wind-down evenings with our fellow friends with little kids (after we've finally wrestled all our stubborn kids into bed). We play games with my mother in law after a Sunday roast. We play complex, ongoing games over weeks and weeks with groups of our most dedicated gaming friends. We play games with the kids in our family, we play games with our three year old (alright: she plays with all the pieces and makes towers from dice).
Plus, nearly everyone we have played games with have gone on to buy and play games in their own time, too. It's sort of infectious. Like a lovely disease. Maybe it's a combination: of the power of an activity that draws people together and allows you to interact with people you love in new ways, and the high quality, love and care that game creators pour into their work in order to create the best possible experience for people.
I get a lot of blank stares followed by 'what, do you mean Monopoly?' when I tell people about our board gaming
Wanna save the world?
Pandemic is a co-operative game, so you will be working together to journey across the world, curing diseases before they outbreak and the world collapses into chaos. It can be really flipping hard and frustrating at times, but you will keep trying until you beat it just to get that sweet taste of accomplishment. And then you will play it again. And again.
In the total opposite to the last game, King of Tokyo sees you taking on the role of a monster invading Japan. Except you'll have to fight the other giant apes, robots and aliens to gain control ... a fun game that our niece and nephew really enjoy and pretty competitive too.
Ticket to Ride is a modern classic of a board game: a lot of people I know who are into board games started with this one. Your goal is to collect cards of a certain type, which allow you to build train routes across North America. You get extra points for having the longest track, and for connecting certain cities - it's super easy to learn (and teach others) but there's quite a lot of strategy involved. Plus it feels like a calm game you can chat over, but occasionally you get the opportunity to really screw over another player, which is fun.
If you've got a kid interested in platforming videogames whom you're trying to tear away from the screens this Christmas, this might be the game for you ... each player is given a sheet of clear acetate and an erasable pen. You look at the stage in front of you, and then you attempt to draw a line on your acetate, collecting treasure, and avoiding bad guys. When the time is up, you take it in turns to lay your acetate down and see if your spacial awareness/fine motor skills are as good as you think they are!
This game is surprisingly tricky at times but has loads of replayability because of the multiple levels - and again, a brilliant game for families.
If you like Cluedo this one might be for you ...
You are called to investigate a murder, with one opportunity to communicate with the ghost, desperate to tell the true story of his death. One player is the ghost, only allowed to communicate via handing out clues and occasionally knocking on the table. The others have to work together to figure out the clues the ghost is giving them, trying to figure out the suspect, the murder weapon, and the location.
Mysterium has the added bonus of looking beautiful - the artwork is lovely. We play this a lot with different groups of friends and it always goes down well.
And a few more ...
Throwing in a few more recommendations: for a party game that always ends in laughter, try One Night Ultimate Werewolf. For a quiet, calm, game-over-a-coffee-and-a-chat, try Splendor. For some more modern classics, try Carcassonne or The Settlers of Catan. Takenoko is an adorable game that's great for families involving a little tiny panda (what more can you ask for?). And for a quick 15-minute fix, try Bang! The Dice Game or Biblios or Love Letter.
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