Little Timmy is so bored he’s not even bothering with his video games anymore. Mom’s eyes have glazed over from looking at Facebook. And you’re at the point where you just can’t nap anymore. Not. One. Minute. More.
Whether you’re self-quarantining with your family against the threat of the novel coronavirus or just trying to be a responsible citizen by heeding public health officials’ suggestion that people avoid congregating in large groups, we’re here to help. We recommend you fill up some of these endless hours you’ve suddenly got on your hands by gathering around the kitchen table with a new board game.
Board games, you ask? Yes, board games. It’s a booming industry and the perfect antidote to coronavirus overload. Your options are plentiful and multifaceted, and regardless of your interests, you can probably find a board game that will pique your fancy. So leave your ancient Monopoly and Scrabble boards on the shelf and check out some of these new, innovative games that will give you something interesting to do for hours (or days?!). We reached out to the board-game experts at Mox Boarding House in Ballard for their suggestions on some of the more inventive board games on the market today. Grouped by themes, here are their picks, starting with a couple that should feel familiar.
“End of the World” games
Pandemic (Z-Man Games): A cooperative game designed by Matt Leacock where two to four contestants play as members of a disease-fighting team who work together to stop outbreaks and epidemics around the world. The group wins or loses together as the pace of outbreaks increases over the game’s 45 minutes. Pandemic is so popular it has inspired expansions and stand-alone adaptations like Pandemic: On the Brink, which adds terrorism to the mix, and Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu. Long reign Cthulhu!
We’re Doomed: The Game of Global Panic (Breaking Games): Designed by M. Horton, this game for four to 10 players (in these times, you should probably err on the side of four) has a devious twist that will seem familiar to fans of moral-dilemma sci-fi. It’s a cooperative game as contestants play the role of the world’s most powerful leaders who have 15 minutes to build an escape rocket. But it won’t be big enough for everybody, so players must also gain influence to make the final passenger list. Let the backstabbing begin.
Catan (Catan GmbH): This game of trading and exploration for five to six players, designed by Klaus Teuber, has sold 30 million units with dozens of expansions and variants fueling its growth in the two decades since Settlers of Catan was released. It’s a game for sophisticated tastes and has become something of a lingua franca in the tech world.
Oceans (North Star): Released in the past few weeks, this game for two to four players is a stand-alone addition to the Evolution board-game series. Oceans began as a Kickstarter game with a goal of $20,000. It raised more than $766,000 from more than 12,000 backers and includes more than 120 beautiful works of art. Designed by Nick Bentley, Dominic Crapuchettes, Ben Goldman and Brian O’Neill, the game allows players to evolve aquatic species in a changing ecosystem, and would be the ultimate game for anyone else who’s fascinated by the water at our doorstep.
Cards Against Humanity (Cards Against Humanity): This one’s for adults — and those older teens who are too snarky for their own damn good. Billed as “the party game for horrible people,” Cards Against Humanity began with a Kickstarter campaign by former high school classmates who raised $15,000 to take their idea to market in 2011. A lot like Mad Libs, only naughty and fast-paced, Cards Against Humanity is a great social lubricator for three to 20 or more. Fans of the game can also make their own set of cards under a Creative Commons license.
That’s Pretty Clever (Stronghold): You know a game is popular when it spreads to the U.S. before the directions can be translated in English. Thus was the case of Wolfgang Warsch’s That’s Pretty Clever, a write-and-roll game for one to four players that will excite your Yahtzee-loving friends. It’s kind of complicated to explain in the space allowed in a modern newspaper article, but there is math and a handful of colored dice and little pencils. What else do you need in life?
Twilight Imperium (Fantasy Flight): You think Monopoly is a time investment? Be ready to kill some serious quarantine time with this monster-galaxy-sized strategy game that will take three to six players four to eight hours to play. That’s still shorter than a season’s worth of your favorite streaming series, and way more of a mental workout. The game, designed by Christian T. Petersen, allows you to take control of one of 17 warring factions and battle your foes in a space-opera-sized war with military, political and economic tactics.
Dune (Gale Force 9): Speaking of space epics, the board game based on Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic novel “Dune” has been rereleased with the remake of the film due soon. The original game was designed by Bill Eberle, Jack Kittredge and Peter Olotka and released in 1979. After years out of print, you can again join the Houses Atreides and Harkonnen in their battle for the spice world.
“Around the World” games
Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder): Designed by Alan R. Moon, this game for two to five players is a traffic planner’s dream. Billed as the world’s best-selling train game, players collect matching cards they use to build rail routes on a map of the U.S. Earn points by building lengthy connections while trying to put together a coast-to-coast route. Not your cup of tea? There are so many variations and expansions, you’ll find your jam. With so many different editions based in different regions of the world, this game will inadvertently improve your sense of geography the more you play.
Tokaido (Funforge): With all this stress around us, it’s the perfect time to daydream about a vacation. Tokaido, designed by Antoine Bauza, takes you on a relaxing trip across Japan. Two to five players journey across the East Sea Road using strategy to meet new people, eat new food, collect beautiful items and visit temples and wild places during their journey. Sounds dreamy.