There seems to be a trend right now where more and more adults are getting back into board games. For lots of people, board games ended around 8 to 10 years of age. Games like Battleship, Chinese Checkers, Stratego and other classics make way for new hobbies and interests. While I can’t say for sure what has sparked the board game renaissance we see ourselves in now, I can say for certain that buying board games can be daunting.
With loads to choose from, I’ve narrowed the list down to 10 games that I believe anyone looking to start or grow their board game collection should pick up. These are casual games that blend strategy and luck in a pleasing fashion. Before your next game night, check out the list and grab one of these sure-fire hits!
Players: 2 to 4
Time to Play: 30-45 min
In Azul, each player takes turns drafting colored tiles from suppliers to their player board. Later, players earn points based on how well they’ve decorated their palaces. Bonus points can be scored for creating specific patterns and completing sets while squandered resources harm the player’s score.
The Moors introduced Azul, formerly known as Azulejos (originally white and blue ceramic tiles) to Portugal, which were fully embraced by the Portuguese when their king Manuel I, while on a tour of the Alhambra palace in Southern Spain He was entranced by the magnificent beauty of Moorish decorative tiles. The king, captivated by the Alhambra’s interior beauty, immediately commanded that his own palace in Portugal be decorated with similar wall tiles. You’ve been tasked with adorning the walls of Evora’s Royal Palace as a tile-laying expert.
This is a beautifully designed game that is easy to learn yet hard to master. Incidentally, most of the games on this list will share this trait!
Ticket to Ride
Number of Players: 2 to 5
Time to Play: 30-60 min
Ticket to Ride is a game that can be picked up quickly, usually in about 15 minutes. Players collect railway route cards of various types of train cars and use them to capture routes in North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. The player with the most points is the winner, regardless of whether or not they fulfill Destination Tickets – goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who creates the longest continuous route.
What’s fun about this game is how you can alter the level of competitiveness with some simple house rules like whether or not you’ll go out of your way to disrupt someone else’s train line. Ticket to Ride is a large format board game from Days of Wonder that continues the company’s tradition of high-quality graphics and components, including an oversize map of North America, 225 custom-molded train cars, 144 unique cards, and wooden scoring markers.
Number of Players: 2
Time to Play: 30 min
As much as we all love 4 or more player games, 2 player games are amazing too. What better game to include in your collection than Lost Cities: A fast paced, 2 player game with lots of twists and turns.
The aim of the game is to earn points by conducting successful archaeological digs at the various locations shown on the colored suits of cards.On a player’s turn, they must first play one card (either to an expedition or by discarding it to the color-appropriate discard pile) before drawing one. Cards can be drawn from either the draw or discard deck, allowing for some subtle stategy.
Every card has a number on it and players win points by placing cards on the various colour matched expedition sites. Once all the cards have been played, points are totalled and a new round begins. After 3 rounds, a winner is declared.
Lost Cities has won numerous awards since its release way back in 1999. Anyone looking for a solid 2 player game should consider this game a serious contender.
Number of Players: 1 to 5
Time to Play: 40-70 min
How a board game plays, like the mechanics and rules involved, are of obvious importance to success. The visual impact of a game, while maybe less important to some, can still be a major decider in which game gets pulled out and which game gets left on the shelf.
Wingspan has both. Stunning artwork and colour palettes are matched with a fun, unique gaming experience.
You’re bird lovers, researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors looking to attract the greatest birds to your wildlife preserve network. Each bird has a set of abilities that exist in one of your habitats.
The main goal of the game is to do the following: Use custom dice in a birdfeeder dice tower to earn food tokens, lay eggs using beautifully hued egg miniatures and draw from a deck of distinct bird cards and utilize them to your advantage.
While this game does offer a somewhat unique solo play mechanic, being able to play with up to 5 people makes this a great party game worthy of any game collection.
Number of Players: 1 to 8
Time to Play: 15 min
A champion of fast, easy, party games, Codenames is a must have for the collector who needs games that can handle 6 or more players. So get your gang, split them into groups, choose your leader (Spymaster) and let’s dig in!
To start the game, place 25 cards on the table. Each card is represented with different words and colours. These are the tools the Spymaster will use to try and direct their team to victory. By providing clues to their teams, it’s a race of wit and critical thinking to try and have their team discover all their words first!
Codenames is a very quick game for people to pick up and play which makes it perfect for seasoned gamers and newbies alike. If you’re interested in Codenames, make sure to check out their expansions and spin-offs. Lots of choice and fun to be had, for sure.
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Time to Play: 45 min
The Pandemic series has spawned several iterations of co-op, win or lose as a team madness but today, we’re looking at the game which started it all. The O.G Pandemic! In Pandemic, several deadly illnesses have broken out simultaneously all over the world! The players are disease-fighting specialists who must first cure disease hotspots before researching cures for each of four plagues.
Players must devise a plan that works with their specialists strengths in order to defeat the illnesses, taking on a one-of-a-kind position within the team. Some characters specialize in building research stations while others are more adept at curing diseases and handling outbreaks.
As the game progresses, the various viruses begin to accelerate their spread adding to the suspense. To win, your team must fight back the spread of infection while also searching to cure the 4 growing plagues. Pandemic is a true co-op game that will test your ability to work as a team. There’s usually some arguing as opinions vary and tension adds a delicious amount of stress to the team chemistry. This is a really fun game for families and friends alike!
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Time to Play: 30-45 min
Sonora is like kinda like Crokinole but with a cool desert theme twist. In Sonora, players flick wooden discs onto a game board that depicts several different colorful environments from the region’s vivid dunes. This is one of those activities where players must be skilled in aim to succeed. To play in the area of your choosing, you’ll need a deft hand and some good aim! But beware of other players who want to hit discs to score points for themselves.
Because this game has a more kinetic vibe to it (flicking discs and whatnot) there’s a certain chaos that is to be expected. Sonora is the perfect game to play for people who want to relax and don’t want to be super focused on the game itself. It lends well to groups who want to use a board game as a way to add some flavour to the room without dominating it.
Lord of the Rings: Journeys Into Middle Earth
Number of Players: 1 to 5
Time to Play: 60-120 min
If Sonora is the epitome of a relaxed, casual game, then LotR: Journeys in Middle Earth is somewhere close to the other end of the spectrum. This co-op, RPG style game sees your party wage war against the forces of darkness. Each mini-adventure is part of larger campaign and along the way you’ll suffer wounds, find magical equipment and have a lot of fun in the process.
One of the cool things about this game is the solo option as there aren’t many games on the market for introverted gamers. The artwork on the landscape tiles is appealing while the game mechanics are deep but not so deep that it’ll take hours to learn how to play. So gather your Fellowship and start adventuring!
Isle of the Skye: From Chieftan to King
Number of Players: 2-5
Time to Play: 30-50 min
Isle of Skye, located in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, is one of the world’s most beautiful places. The scenery on Isle of Skye is breathtaking and attracts people from all over the world.
In Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King, 2–5 players take on the roles of famous clans’ chieftains and try to build their kingdoms as high scorers—but only four of the sixteen scoring tiles will be scored in each game.
The scoring tiles help to randomize the game, meaning each playthrough will have a different feel. This helps to push players to use new tactics and strategies to win. At it’s heart, this is a game of managing resources and money as players try to get the most money they can for their tiles.
If you’re a fan of Scotland, Braveheart, or board games involving money and bidding, then Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King is right up your alley.
Settlers of Catan
Number of Players: 1 to 4 (or 6 with expansion)
Time to Play: 45 min
Settlers of Catan has become such a universal game that I’d be surprised if it wasn’t already in your collection. It’s been around for so long and played by so many people that, at times, it’s almost sort of forgotten or overlooked. I am here to tell you, Catan is just as amazing as it ever was and the mass amounts of Catan sequels is a testament to the strength of the core game.
Finding a balance between skill and luck is hard but Settlers of Catan does it well. Every game looks different and dice rolling adds the spice of luck that is so appealing when not over-utilized. Each player starts with 2 settlements and is surrounded by tiles with varying resources. Players take turns rolling dice, gathering clay, wood, wheat and so on and then using those same assets to build new roads, settlements and so on.
This is a game with a lot of replayability. It’s easy to pick up and offers new layers of strategy and skill for those who decide to dive a little deeper. If you don’t have Settlers of Catan in your collection, it is time to go out and grab it now. Or, maybe better yet, get the Star Trek version of the game. It uses ship captains, all with unique abilities, to add some new spice to the game. Enjoy!
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