A quick look at crowd-funding websites or online stores such as Amazon will reveal a curious trend.
Board Games are seeing a massive revival in this mobile and digital age. A Surge in popularity as families try to overcome gadget addiction and spend more time together.
I’m not just talking about the Hasbro or Mattel staples such as Life, Uno, Cluedo, Taboo, Scrabble, Monopoly, Battleships or Risk. Neither am I talking about abstract games such as mahjong, backgammon, chess and checkers. Both these categories have in their own right proven their timelessness by being a constant in most households (albeit usually bought for kids) and at community clubs (most often played by seniors and hardcore enthusiasts).
I am talking about the newer more unusual names that are beginning to make their mark and showing up in speciality cafes, social gatherings and game-nights. Games that boast of rich themes and great production values. Games that challenge, excite and stimulate at once great camaraderie and fierce competition.
The games in this emerging almost new category often take longer to learn and play and include names like Settlers of Catan, Carcassone and Pandemic. Then there are the party games that need more than four players to play and enjoy such as Resistance, Coup, Werewolf and Bang.
It can be really daunting to try figure out where to begin because most top-ten lists don’t agree and community websites such as boardgamegeek.com are often-times too confusing and geeky.
How do I know? …because I went through this self-same turmoil a couple of years ago.
So I have compiled a list of 5 games I can heartily recommend for families just beginning this journey now.
5. 7 Wonders
This is probably the most complicated and involved game on this list. You start with an ancient civilisation and must progress up the ages to build a wonder. If your family can play this game then every other game on this list will be easy.
This game belongs to a category of games that are called drafting games and require players to pick cards from a series of decks and place them in their hands.
The tension comes from the combined rules that you can only pick a limited number of cards every turn and any cards you don’t choose will be passed to the player next to you.
Do you want more stone or more wood. More importantly does the player next to you need paper? Should you keep the cards you need or hold back a card they need? Think fast because the first player to complete their wonder wins.
4. Formula D
If your little ones are fiercely competitive and like to race like mine do then you cannot go wrong with Formula D.
This car racing game has all the ingredients of a very exciting race and does a great job at recreating the tension and high octane energy of a real life Formula 1 race.
Players change gears to get multi-sided dice. Yes they have 4 sided, 6 sided, 8 sided and 12 sided dice representing ascending gears that let you roll higher numbers and zoom ahead on the race track.
Slow down on corners or risk totalling your race car. This is a game everyone can learn in minutes and play for hours.
3. Small World
Don’t let this gorgeous game fool you. It looks complicated but is really simple to play and loads of fast paced fun and mayhem.
Like in the game Risk, players are trying to gain and hold territory. But its a literally a very small world which will soon become overcrowded with many opposing armies conquering, reconquering and re-reconquering the same spots in a frantic manner.
The armies have unique abilities that are randomly paired with more unique powers ensuring that no two game sessions are exactly alike.
I can whole heatedly recommend this game for all ages.
(This is the game I set as the cover page of this post with my daughters deeply engrossed in negotiation.)
Do you like pirates and high seas, treasure and cannon battles? If the answer is yes then this is the game for you. Take control of a trade ship and a pirate ship and begin your twin careers as a merchant and a marauder.
On your turn, send your trade ship to distant ports to collect goods and your pirate ship to raid another player’s trade ship. If the other player’s pirate comes close you can ask the neutral navy ships for help.
Just remember that the navy ships listen to the player who’s turn it is and may turn around and sink your pirate ship on the other player’s turn.
The production quality of this game is top notch and it comes with real metal coins and beautiful plastic miniatures of the sail ships paired with a really well illustrated board.
1. Ticket to Ride
I saved the best for last!
We have, as a family, played this game more often than all the other games on this list combined. It is a long game which seems simple but involves a lot of deep thinking and devious strategy.
It is easy to begin playing and promises hours of fun. The base game comes with a map of 1900’s USA but we went ahead and bought expansions like India, Europe and Switzerland too. We will probably soon also buy the Africa and South East Asian expansions as well.
What is most surprising is that my wife loves this game almost as much, if not more, than my children. A definite must have for any collection.
Choose tickets and connect cities with train cars to earn points. Block the routes of your opponents and make sure that the lines remain open to your destination. The game starts with the whole map open and as turns progress the tension mounts and options just seem to evaporate.
A new edition has just been released titled Rails and Sails, which looks really exciting as well.
There you have it. A top 5 list you can use. One pro tip is that if you order these games on Amazon (much cheaper there than in stores in Singapore) be sure to make the combined order more than US$125/- to enjoy free shipping.
Happy Board Gaming Everyone!
By – Siddharth Jain,
Creative Director, Playware Studios PTE LTD