The title of this blog post might seem a little contradictory “5 board games for people who don’t like board games”…..
Why am I reading this if I don’t like board games?
Why am I even on this website if I don’t like board games?
Why are you about to start recommending board games to me if I don’t like board games?
Well, that’s sort of the point, you see, in some circles board games have a bit of a bad reputation. Perhaps this is based on the annual Christmas family Monopoly-meltdown, backed up by an elderly relative trying to patch things up with a restorative game of scrabble. For the record we have absolutely nothing against either Monopoly or Scrabble, in fact we love them both, but this isn’t about us it’s about you. And you might be one of those people who dreads the sight of them being brought out of the cupboard.
We’re here to convince you otherwise. And the first thing to say is there are a whole load of board games out there which aren’t Monopoly or Scrabble. Literally thousands. But for one reason or another they aren’t very well known. Some are long, some are short. Some are funny and some are serious. Some are easy to pick up and play whilst others take a few days to read the rules and understand what purpose the 500+ pieces serve. You might not like every kind but if you’ve ended up reading this then we are willing to bet that you will like a few of them.
Maybe this blog post should be titled “5 board games for people who have been put off by repeatedly playing the 3 or 4 board games that everyone knows about”. But that isn’t very catchy now, is it?
So here are a handful of board games that are all great in different ways. Again, there are a lot of other games out there which might turn you into a board game lover and this is by no means a definitive list but it may just point you in the right direction and kickstart a hobby that you can enjoy for life.
If you think dice need to have numbers on them then think again. This game uses dice in a way that may be unfamiliar to newcomers. Each dice has 6 simple drawings on it which represent a different section of railway or road. Each player has a board which will become a network of roads and railways. When the 4 dice are rolled players must draw those sections onto their map. The game is drawing them in the right place so that you end up connecting parts of the map long continuous roads/railways.
Each player works on their own map and scoring is worked out at the end. The game is essentially a little logic puzzle that will leave your brain whirring. The dice rolling mechanism helps to add a certain amount of randomness. But above all, Railroad ink is beautifully simple game where you can focus on your own strategy without any risk of your rival wading in and wrecking your plans.
2. Downforce. 2 credits, ages 8+, 2-6 players
Everyone is familiar with racing games. Roll a dice and move your character along a track, first to the finish line wins.
Right??? Wrong!!!! Downforce is a racing game with a twist.
Firstly, there are no dice. You control the movement of your car by playing cards. But every card will move your opponents cars as well as your own so you need to think extra hard about which card to play and when to play it.
Secondly, during the race you bet on cars to win the race, not necessarily your own one. This, as you can imagine, creates all sorts of hidden agendas within the race. If your bet comes off you win money and the winner is the player with the most money at the end.
Part of the magic of this game is how anyone can join in and pick it up instantly. There are some race games which use similar mechanisms and are equally fun but this one is done brilliantly and it’s very easy to get the hang of. This is definitely a game for families who have a competitive streak and enjoy the race to riches.
3. Forbidden Dessert. 2 Credits, ages 10+, 2-5 players
If you’ve spent any time at all reading about modern board games you have probably come across co-operative board games. And once you’ve played one it’s hard to imagine that there was a time before they came along. As the name suggests, you work together with other players to secure victory and you either win together or lose together.
Forbidden Dessert is designed by Matt Leacock who is the man behind Pandemic, one of the stand out games of the last 20 years. But as that game already appears on a few of our top 5 lists, not to mention that some people might understandably be put off that one by the current state of global affairs, we have chosen Forbidden Dessert as an introduction to Co-operative games.
Forbidden Dessert involves working as a team to recover the various parts of a legendary flying machine and ultimately escape before you are all left stranded in the desert. The game itself plays the role of your opponent by throwing inconvenient things at you such as brutal sand storms an unbearable heat. The beauty of this game (and other similar games) is the way that the difficulty level and tension increase throughout the game so things always get interesting just when you feel like you have it all under control.
As with all Co-operative games, Forbidden Dessert is a novel and unforgettable gaming experience. It is a must-play for thrill seekers who prefer to play with their friends rather than against them.
4. Disney’s Villainous. 3 credits, ages 10+, 2-6 players
Disney fans rejoice, this is a board game that pitches your favourite Disney villains against each other. But don’t be fooled this is not just a money spinner to flog to kids in a gift shop somewhere. This is a proper board game. The gameplay is a lot more advanced than you might expect and the game has an age rating of 10+ so it’s not really for young kids at all.
You play as one of several Disney villains and one thing that makes this game really interesting is that each player is trying to complete a completely different objective to win the game. These are specific to the character you have chosen. Without a dice in sight, it’s a great introduction to some of the more interesting mechanisms that are used in modern board games. On top of all that, the artwork is jaw-droppingly good and will definitely satisfy the Disney lovers.
If you have a different obsession (perhaps a certain child wizard or a record-breaking, American TV series with dragons and other fantasy things) there are some equally good board games based on them too.
5. Chronicles of Crime. 3 credits, ages 14+, 1-4 players
If you’re the sort of person who prefers to do your gaming on a screen fear not, the board game world has you covered.
There is a growing collection of board games that use technology as a key part of the game and Chronicles of Crime is one of the very best. The game pitches you as a detective trying to solve various cases and uses a cleverly devised app to reveal clues along the way. Every clue allows you to reveal a card which may be a person, object or location that is linked to the case. The cards feature QR codes which, when scanned by the app, allow you to delve deeper into the investigation. The technology is simply astounding with entire scenes that you can explore by moving your smart phone around. This game is so immersive that writing about it simply doesn’t do it justice. You’ve got to give it a try!
So there you have it – 5 contrasting games that all come with the Lazy Horse approval!
Hopefully they can be an introduction to the wonderful world of modern board games. And if you don’t get the bug straight away, there are hundreds of others to discover. Take a look at the other Lazy Horse blog posts for some more board game recommendations.