A lot of us, at the moment, have reached that point in quarantine where we’ve experimented with a wide range of activities, whether that’s cleaning, gardening, baking or simply catching up on your Netflix to-watch list. And, as a result, are stuck in a situation where we’re not really sure what to try next but are wanting to switch it up a bit – which is where board games come in. They’re a perfect way to get the whole household together and pass the time in an enjoyable way, providing no family fallouts of course (we all know that one person who gets a bit too competitive and takes the game too seriously – I must admit that I’m liable to be that person at times.)
My family are pretty into board games and have accumulated a diverse collection over the years (though I wouldn’t say we’re as obsessed as some), so I thought I would devise a list of our favourites to recommend for you to get stuck into these coming weeks.
Quick and Simple
These are the board games to get out if you want to play something fun and easy to get to grips with (no complicated rules here). A lot of them have short rounds as well, so can be played for as long (or short) as you desire.
Players: 2-5, Time (per round): 15 minutes
Exploding Kittens is a turn-based card game (imagine Uno maybe?) where players play and pick up cards until an exploding kitten is drawn, at which point that person either “explodes” (i.e. is out the game) or “defuses the bomb” if they have the card to do so. There are other cards in the deck which you can play strategically in an attempt to avoid picking up an exploding kitten and the aim is to be the last person surviving.
I was first introduced to it on Christmas back in 2018 when it was brought over by my cousins and it’s been a firm favourite with both my family and friends since (so much so that two of my friends and I all got it as a Christmas present last year!).
Players: 3-8, Time: 10 minutes
Pit is another card game, this time focused on trading various commodities – Barley, Corn, Coffee, Oranges, Oats, Soybeans, Sugar and Wheat (the number of players determining how many are in use). Instead of having turns, everyone plays at once and trades cards with one another, the aim being to have all 9 cards of a single commodity in your hand.
As you would expect, the game can get very hectic very fast, which adds to the fun of it, though maybe leave it out if you don’t want to get noise complaints or disturb the neighbours!
The board games we all know and love.
Players: 2-6, Time: 30-60 minutes
Someone’s been murdered and you’ve got to figure out the who, what and where in order to solve the case. Colonel Mustard in the dining room with the candlestick? Or Mrs Peacock in the study with the dagger? There’s only one way to find out.
Players: 2-6 (more if you have teams), Time: 60+ minutes
Monopoly might be the classic game to play if you want to create family tension but I think Trivial Pursuit comes in at a close second. It’s the original general knowledge quiz game and if your household is anything like mine, you’ll have a several decades out of date edition lying around, disadvantaging anyone under the age of 30. All in the name of fun though, I guess?
These next ones require a bit more thought and are generally more time-intensive too (although not quite into the realms of the never-ending saga of Monopoly) – the kind where it takes 20 minutes just to get through the instructions. However, it does pay off and they’re probably some of my favourite to play.
Players: 3-4, Time: 60+ minutes
The premise of Catan, previously known as Settlers of Catan, is that you’re a settler on new land and need to establish yourself by building towns, roads and gathering the required resources in order to do so, with the aim of the game being to acquire 10 victory points. There’s a lot of nuances to get to grips with and possibilities to make the game more complicated through adding extra rules or introducing expansion packs, but I’d recommend starting off easy.
Players: 2-4, Time: 45-60 minutes
Pandemic is a collaborative board game, set in a world in which four diseases have just broken out and it’s your job as a team to cure them before either the time runs out or the conditions of the game declare that the diseases have spread too far. Each player is assigned one of seven different specialisms, dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher, operations expert, contingency planner, or quarantine specialist, that have distinct abilities to help you win the game, which occurs when you discover all the cures.
It’s perhaps one of the most topical board games to play right now, but good fun nonetheless, and I’m happy to say that my family came out victorious when we played the other week.
Have you played any of the board games featured in this list? What’s your favourite? If I’ve missed it out then drop a comment below – I’m always looking for new ones to play.