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Awesome Board Games You Should Play

Board Game Collection 2014Ever since I became an active board game enthusiast, I’ve noticed that lists are an extremely popular way of communicating the games people think are worth playing. Thanks to recommendations from others in list form, I’ve been able to discover a lot of cool stuff. Though I’m fairly new to the scene, I’m creating this list in hopes of paying it forward.

This list only contains games I’d personally recommend to others and I hope to keep this regularly updated with new titles that are worth your time. I’ll keep a change log below so you can see what I’ve added and removed. It’s also worth noting that these games are listed in alphabetical order for ease of navigating the page. If for whatever reason you want to know more about the board games I play and what I think about them, you can find me on Board Game Geek!

UPDATES

09/21/2016 – It’s been over 9 months since I’ve updated this page. But fear not! An update should be coming soon! There’s at least one game I know needs to be on this list. Stay tuned!

01/03/2016 – Added T.I.M.E Stories. Removed Last Will.

12/23/2015 – Added Pandemic: Legacy.

10/28/2015 – Added Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. Removed XCOM: The Board Game.

09/14/2015 – Added Codenames. Removed Coup.

07/15/2015 – Added Hanabi.

04/14/2015 – Added Dead of Winter. Removed Camel Up and Forbidden Desert. More big shake-ups are coming soon!

03/10/2015 – Added Freedom: The Underground Railroad.

02/24/2015 – Added Power Grid.

02/11/2015 – Added Sushi Go. Removed Blokus and Dominion from the list. Those games had great runs on this list!

02/07/2015 – Added XCOM: The Board Game.

Without further ado, here’s my list of awesome board games that you should play!


Bang! The Dice Game

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Ages 8 and up
3-8 players
15 minutes

Having first seen the light of day as a card game over a decade ago, Bang! returns as a fast-paced dice game. I love how well the game translates its wild shootout theme into the gameplay. It’s also a lot of fun packed into a short amount of time. Each game feels satisfying on its own, though you’ll likely want to play it again and again. For the fun factor and low price point, there’s no reason why you should pass this one up. Works best with at least five players so that the hidden roles are more ambiguous.


Codenames

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-8+ players
Ages 14 and up
30 minutes

Two teams race against each other to identify their comrades in the field based on hints given to them by their respective spymaster. This one is sort of like a mix of Guess Who? and Battleship, though that’s selling the game a bit short. This is a fantastic deduction game that works extremely well in a party setting, while still being engaging enough for more discerning gamers. Games come and go from this list, but I have a hard time seeing Codenames slip anytime soon. I highly recommend this to just about anyone.


Dead of Winter

Buy Dead of Winter Now From Amazon.com

2-5 players
13 and up
45 to 180 minutes

Set in a world ravaged by zombies, Dead of Winter is basically a Walking Dead board game that’s better than any Walking Dead board game on the market today. Players must work together to overcome a plethora of different challenges, from the ever-present threat of getting your brains eaten, to scrounging up enough food to make it through to the net day. The most dangerous threat of all through are the same players you need to work with, as each player’s personal agenda is likely to conflict with the greater goals of the group.

This game strikes a wonderful balance between theme and story. With so much to do and so few actions that a player can do each turn, you really need to make the few moves you make count. Furthermore, the Crossroads deck of cards does a tremendous job of dynamically injecting story beats while giving players even more difficult decisions to make. I am smitten with Dead of Winter and you probably will be too if you give it a chance!


Dice Masters (series)

Buy Marvel Dice Masters: The Uncanny X-Men Now From Amazon.com

2 players
Ages 14 and up
15 minutes

To-date, Dice Masters features two different product lines: Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men and Marvel Dice Masters: The Uncanny X-Men. Scheduled t be released this year are installments that cover DC Comics, Yu-Gi-Oh and Dungeons & Dragons; all of are compatible with one another.

In the Dice Masters series of games, players assume the role of warring masterminds who have brought with them a group of heroes with them to battle. Using a combination of cards and custom dice, players draft heroes onto their squad before sending them off into fight against the opposition. It takes a bit of time to wrap your head around how to manage the different states your dice can be in, but after that, it’s a fast a fluid dice game that is sure to please.

I’m usually not one to fawn over components, but the custom superhero dice are awesome. I went especially deep with collecting the Uncanny X-Men set, as my fiancee bought me an entire gravity feed to get me that much closer to completing the set. With the right colours and symbols, you immediately get a sense of who they’re supposed to represent. If you like the collection aspect of games like Magic: The Gathering, this game also scratches that itch as well. If you happen to have at least two starter sets, try out the official doubles rules!


 photo 5(2)Formula D

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-10 players
Ages 8 and up
60 minutes

When I used to think of racing in board games, my mind would gravitate towards the likes of Snakes and Ladders and Candy Land. As kids, it’s fun to roll the dice and move your character around, but the chance-based gameplay does not hold up as you get older. Thanks to the ingenious use of multiple dice, a gear shifter and the concept of “Wear Points”, Formula D is a racing game that magically provides the experience of actual racing. As you make your way through the track, you need to be extremely mindful about what gear you’re in, your driving line, the cars that are within proximity, as well as how much damage your car has taken so far.

Playing with the basic rules is a blast and easy for almost anyone to learn. If you want to go really deep into the simulation rabbit hole, you can simulate other elements such as weather, drafting and even damage on specific parts of your car. I don’t even like racing much, but this game is awesome to play. With support for up to 10 players and scaling rule sets, you can tailor the experience to fit any crowd. Once you’ve mastered the curves of the game’s two tracks, there are at least four other expansions out there with two tracks each.


Freedom: The Underground Railroad

Buy Now From Amazon.com

1-4 players
Ages 13 and up
90 minutes

Designed around a very touchy subject, Freedom: The Underground Railroad is a game about the Abolitionist movement in the 1800s. You and your fellow abolitionists are tasked with guiding slaves out of the plantations and up north to Canada. This won’t be easy though, as Slave Catchers are constantly on patrol, key events in history will set your cause back, and the slave market seems to move new slaves into the plantations faster than you can get them out.

Handling this subject matter is inherently difficult, but this game manages to do it tastefully while providing a masterful cooperative board game experience. It’s going to take a lot of teamwork and brainpower to abolish slavery, and the thematic overtones of the game add a ton of emotional weight to this one. Trust me on this one; Freedom: The Underground Railroad is an amazing cooperative game and certainly worthy of a spot on your table.


A Game of Thrones: Second Edition

Buy Now From Amazon.com

3-6 players
Ages 14 and up
180 minutes

Set in the world of Westeros, players command rival armies and battle it out for supremacy. In very loose terms, A Game of Thrones: The Board Game is like a mix between Risk and Last Will. Part of the game involves you commanding your troops on the battlefield. The other side of it centres around the politics of Westeros, as you’ll constantly be vying for control over various aspects of the game.

This is a deep and complex strategy game that I wouldn’t recommend if your a casual board game player or are just new to the scene. However, if you’ve got some designer board game experience under your belt and a few friends that do as well, A Game of Thrones is a phenomenal experience, even if you know nothing of the source material.


Hanabi

2-5 players
Ages 8 and up
45 minutes

In Hanabi, players are playing the role of absent-minded pyrotechnicians that must work together to prepare the perfect fireworks show. This is done by arranging cards in a particular sequence. The problem is that you aren’t allowed to see your own cards. Instead, players have a limited number of hints they can use to try and signal others to play the right cards.

In order to be successful, teamwork is key. Everyone has to know when to give clues, when to discard cards, when to play cards and memorize what they have in their hand. Otherwise, the fireworks show will certainly end in disaster. There’s so much fun to be had as you go through the process of optimizing your communication that it’ll keep you hooked for a long time!


King of Tokyo

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-6 players
Ages 8 and up
30 minutes

Kaiju attack Tokyo and each other to prove that they are the one true king. Players in this dice game will try to be the first to 20 points to win, but the game comes down to more than just rolling for points. You can try to attack and kill your opposition, power up to collect cards that boost your abilities and heal yourself before a monster strikes you down for good. Also, there are bonuses for players brave enough to terrorize the city, but they can’t heal while they’re in there and the other monsters are teaming up to knock you out. This battle of giants makes for a great party game with just enough depth for more experienced players.


 

photo(19)Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-5 players
Ages 14 and up
45 minutes

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is my favourite deck-building game and one of my favourite games overall. However, it doesn’t necessarily come easy. Setting this game up is always unwieldy, as there are a lot of different cards that need to be in very specific places and decisions that need to be made before you start. Also, while this is a deck-building game, there are a number of game-specific mechanics that will take some work for experienced deck-builders to grasp. Because of this, it is definitely not a game for board game newbies.

However, when you’ve got a group of players who have at least the basics down, Legendary is awesome. The game does a tremendous job of creating a thrilling battle between good and evil while constantly forcing players to make some tough decisions about the well-being of themselves and their teammates. With a good mix of recognizable heroes, villains, masterminds and schemes, the game can feel very different, even when the core mechanics are the same. If you’re willing to overcome its setup and learning curve challenges, this is an excellent game to try out. Furthermore, with all of the expansions in play, as well as Legendary: Villains, you can pretty much create any sort of dream Marvel battle for the ages. From the Infinity Gauntlet, to Secret Wars, to Days of Future Past, or whatever your crazy mind can come up with, it’s pretty much all possible in Legendary.


Lords of Vegas

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-4 players
Ages 12 and up
60 minutes

Set on the plot of desert that would eventually become the Las Vegas Strip, you and your group of budding entrepreneurs are tasked with building it into the gambling capital of the universe by claiming land, building casinos and stacking cash. As a player, you must strategically manage your properties and money in a way that gets you the most points while outmaneuvering your opponents who will try and screw you over at every turn.

I love the fact that this is is a highly involved game where every action incites drama, from paying out winning casinos at the start of each turn to players jockeying for control of a casino through remodels or reorganizations. Not necessarily the best game for newbies or casual players, but for players wanting a mix of deep strategy and exciting elements of luck, Lords of Vegas hits the jackpot. Easily one of my all-time favourite games and one that you shouldn’t overlook!


photo(12)Love Letter

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-4 players
Ages 10 and up
20 minutes

Contained in a velvet pouch, don’t let Love Letter‘s unusual packaging and small size fool you. This game about wooing the princess manages to convey a lot with only 16 cards and simple gameplay mechanics. It also manages to deliver a highly entertaining experience that works in bite-sized chunks or as the feature game at your next board game night.

Best of all, the game is really easy for anyone to learn and enjoy. For a game that is usually sold for around $10, you’ll really get your money’s worth with it. Because of it’s low price, low barrier to entry and high entertainment value, I highly encourage anyone with an interest in board games to play it.


photo 1(8)No Thanks

Buy No Thanks Now From Amazon.com

3-5 players
Ages 8 and up
20 minutes

No Thanks makes for a great appetizer or palette cleanser from meatier board game experiences. Cards are numbered from 1-to-35 and shuffled into a deck. Nine cards are then removed from the bottom of the deck. From there, cards are revealed one at a time until every card has been claimed. While the goal of the game is to have the lowest score, there are reasons where collecting high-numbered cards can be beneficial, or other scenarios where you have no choice but to take them. It’s a simple game to learn that has just enough chance and strategy to make things interesting over the course of multiple sessions. It also doesn’t hurt that the game usually is sold within the $10 range, which makes it a fairly affordable option.


PandemicPandemic

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-4 players
Ages 8 and up
45 minutes

In Pandemic, you and your friends must save the world from four diseases that are threatening humanity. It’s unique selling point is the way in which players have to work cooperatively in order to beat the game. If you don’t, you’re certain to lose. Heck, even when you try your best, odds are you’ll lose then too. Still, this game about disease control is amazingly fun and one of the more unique board gaming experiences out there. The moment it hits our table, we have a hard time putting it away!


Pandemic Legacy

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-4 players
Ages 13 and up
60 minutes

Pandemic Legacy ups the ante of its predecessor by adding a distinct layer of permanence to the game. Unlike the original, where the game world resets after each play, you partake in a campaign that spans a year of disease fighting. Everything that happens in the game is permanent, from characters dying, to cities being completely wiped off the map. All of this is done with stickers that mark up the board and player cards, dossiers that reveal new information and a Legacy deck that guides you through the entire story. If you’re looking for the next big step for the Pandemic franchise, this is it.


Power Grid

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-6 players
Ages 12 and up
120 minutes

Players in Power Grid act as the heads of competing power companies that are trying to serve energy to the most cities in the USA or Germany. Along the way, you’ll be responsible for buying power plants at auctions, buying fuel for those power plants, placing your power plants in different cities and then using the fuel to provide energy in exchange for money. Thematically, Power Grid didn’t do much to catch my interest. But when I actually gave the game an honest try, I was genuinely blown away at how smartly designed it was. The ways in which all of the game’s economic parts seamlessly move together is brilliant and a lot of fun to explore the different ways in which you can expand your empire. If you’re looking for something like Ticket to Ride with a bit more teeth, Power Grid is the obvious choice.

Besides classic Power Grid, there’s now a Power Grid Deluxe: Europe/North America, which is the one I own. The core game mechanics are the same, though there are numerous differences that almost make it a different game. If you want the somewhat extra trim level, go with the deluxe version. For full compatibility with the existing expansions at a notably cheaper price, go with the original. In either case, both are great.


Splendor

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-4 players
Ages 10 and up
30 minutes

Trying to explain Splendor based on its thematic trappings is almost a disservice to the game itself. If you follow the manual, this is a game where each player is trying to build up their gem trading business. That in itself doesn’t sound fun at all and it doesn’t actually tie into the gameplay all that well. In the simplest of terms, you’ll collect gem chips to buy gem cards, then use a combination of gem chips and gem cards to buy more valuable gem cards that have point values associated to them. If you’re the first person to 15 points, you win.

I know this doesn’t sound all that thrilling, but you’ll have to trust me on this one. Splendor is awesome to play. Managing your resources so that you take the biggest steps towards your ultimate goal is always exciting, while the game’s inherent design allows it to stay interesting after many plays. Despite its thematic issues, I’d recommend this one to almost anyone.


Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-5 players
Ages 12 and up
90 minutes

Star Wars: Imperial Assault lets you take part in the franchise’s signature lightsaber and blaster battles. If you’re playing with just one friend, you can partake in a Skirmish mode battle where each side can bring customized armies to battle. Or, if you’ve got the whole gang with you, play through the game’s beefy Campaign.

Imperial Assault does right by its Star Wars namesake by being a fantastic sci-fi dungeon crawl. Every character is carefully crafted to behave like a Star Wars character, while the combat and role-playing elements are top-notch. Best of all, the Skirmish and Campaign modes are so fleshed out that this is basically two games in one. Easily one of the gems in my collection and one I’d recommend to anyone wanting a meaty strategy and role playing game.


Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-4 players
Ages 14 and up
60 minutes

Take part in epic dogfights with a series of signature spacecrafts with Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. Part of the game’s appeal are the incredible figures. Painted out-of-the-box, built to scale and intricately detailed, these phenomenal ships are hands-down the best board game pieces on the market today. These are so good that I would put these ships on display solely for decorative purposes.

More importantly, this is a great game. Using an innovative ruler system for movement and firing, the game plays just like how you’d imagine a Star Wars space battle would unfold. Since Fantasy Flight wants you to go out and buy more ships (of where there are a plethora), the core game is light ships and ultimately light on content. That said, after one play of the core game, it’ll be hard to resist buying up a whole fleet.


Sushi Go

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-5 players
Ages 8 and up
20 minutes

Who doesn’t like sushi? Well, I actually don’t, but I can empathize with the theme of creating the most delicious meal. In Sushi Go, players will place cards down in front of them to create their meals and then pass their hand to the player beside them. This process continues until all of the cards are gone. At the end of three rounds, the player with the most points wins.

Besides having a great theme and cute art, Sushi Go is a simple and neat set-collection game that has enough tactical bite to it. You’ll never have the opportunity to score points in every way during the course of a round, so you’ll need to make some interesting decisions about which card to play each time you get a new hand. As a light filler game for experienced gamers or as the focal point for newcomers, Sushi Go is a winner.


photo 1(4)Ticket to Ride

Buy Now From Amazon.com

2-5 players
Ages 13 and up
45 minutes

Ticket to Ride is a modern day classic. Players are tasked with claiming train routes across America. Longer routes gain you more points, while bonuses are rewarded for completing specific routes on your Destination cards. Coming to grips with its mechanics can be done in a matter of minutes, though the game holds up remarkably well over countless plays thanks to the level of strategy required each time. The most dramatic moments occur once players begin competing for the same routes and certain people are forced to change their plans on the fly. Ticket to Ride is as safe of a board game recommendation as it gets because it’s great to play with just about anyone while being enjoyable even after many play sessions.


T.I.M.E Stories

Buy T.I.M.E Stories Now From Amazon.com

2-4 players
Ages 12 and up
6 hours

As a member of an organization that is essentially the time police, you and your group travel to different areas of time and space to stop evildoers from breaking the space time continuum. Your first mission takes place in a 1920s asylum, though communication between you and the base broke up before you got your instructions. Now stuck in the past, it’s up to you all to piece together what’s going on and to stop the threat before it’s too late.

T.I.M.E Stories translates the adventure video game experience to the tabletop. Traveling around the asylum, you’ll pick up clues that will aid you in moving forward, get into fights and encounter surprise after surprise until the game ends. While its experience is limited to just one playthrough, it’s one phenomenal playthrough that you’ll fondly remember long after its done. Also, with one expansion already out and more on the way, this might just be an incredible start to something that could grow much bigger.


photo 4(1)Yomi

Buy Yomi: Complete First Edition Now From Amazon.com

2 players
Ages 10 and up
30 minutes

Yomi is basically Street Fighter in card game form. Pitted in a one-on-one battle to the death, you must use the cards in your deck to beat your opponent into submission. However, randomly throwing cards out there won’t get you very far. Instead, this is a game that rewards you for understanding all of the variables at play and dishing out the perfect series of moves to counter your opponent’s actions.

As a huge fan of the fighting game genre, I think it does an outstanding job of bringing the best elements of fighting games to life to the tabletop. This has become a big hit with my coworkers and we play during our lunch break. Finding or training up enough local opponents to keep the game interesting may prove difficult, but if you can get your own fight club going, this is a fantastic game to add to the collection.

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