Video games are great and all, but sometimes you just gotta unplug yourself. That’s when you load up on beer and chips, lasso a bunch of friends, and sit down to enjoy a board game.
It’s easy to think of video games as a digital “replacement” for toys and board games, which, in turn, are sometimes regarded as lumbering relics from the past. Truthfully, board games are still a popular way to pass the time amongst a family or a group of friends, and many of them even boast the depth of modern video games.
Here are ten board games every enthusiast needs to play at least once.
Elder Sign — Many of the best board games are published by Fantasy Flight Games, and revolve around the slithering horrors that supposedly lurk under the sea and beyond the curtain-thin barrier that separates normality from madness–in other words, Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Elder Sign is one such game, playable by one through eight players. Players utilize dice, cards, and a little roleplaying as they investigate a collection of occult artifacts that threatens to tear the shroud between this world and the unspeakable. For horror-hunters on the go, an iOS version of Elder Sign, called Elder Sign: Omens is now available on the App Store.
A Game of Thrones — The Song of Ice and Fire book series is currently the hottest thing in fantasy, particularly its first entry, A Game of Thrones. Now’s a good time to get into the board game based on A Game of Thrones and all it offers, including war, negotiations, diplomacy, war, and good old fashioned back-stabbing. The premiere of A Game of Thrones on television has made the game easy to find.
The Settlers of Catan — Initially released in Germany in 1995, The Settlers of Catan and its multiple expansions remain one of the most popular in-depth board games of all time. Up to four players compete to dominate the island of Catan by building roads, cities, and controlling resources.
If you simply must infuse video games into your board games, and if you understand Japanese, consider buying the limited edition Settlers of Cantan: Rockman Edition.
Arkham Horror — Another game that revolves around the Cthulhu mythos, Arkham Horror is probably Fantasy Flight Games’ best-known title. The game’s setting is 1926, in the shadow of the Great War. Mankind’s darkest hour is far from over, however, and a group of investigators (that’s you, and hopefully some of your pals) must find and close gates that threaten to spill abominations from beyond the stars.
Arkham Horror has received multiple expansions across the years, including Black Goat of the Woods, Miskatonic Horror, Kingsport, Curse of the Dark Pharaoh, and Lurker at the Threshold. The game boasts enough content and extra content to keep you awake and horrified about mankind’s potential fate for years and years.
Cadwallon: City of Thieves — In Cadwallon, two to four players rule over their own gang of thieves and compete for the best hauls of loot. It’s a fast-paced game that requires speed, skill, and a devious streak. The winner gets rich, and the losers don’t get a happy ending.
Monopoly — And here we take a break from human-gobbling Elder Gods and belly-slitting thieves to remind everyone that Monopoly remains one of the best-selling and most recognizable board games of all time. You buy property, build on it, and then gouge your friends for hotel fees when they trespass on your turf. If houses and buildings bore you, consider one of the hundreds of themed Monopoly games that are on the market.
Mansions of Madness — Now, back to board games featuring monsters that want to claw your eyes out and leave you screaming in the dark. Mansions of Madness is a dark, story-based game that can be played between two to five players. Dark horrors are lurking in and around Arkham, Massachusetts, and when they blend with the locals, they don’t do them any good. The players, as “investigators,” must play through a series of stories and solve the black mysteries before they go insane.
Mansions of Madness has several expansions, including Forbidden Alchemy, Season of the Witch, The Silver Tablet, and ‘Til Death Do Us Part. Play well.
Risk — Ah, but when it comes to games of domination and conquest, few board games can touch Hasbro’s Risk, a classic that dates back to 1959. Unlike many of the games mentioned in this list, Risk doesn’t have a huge mess of cards, dice, and player pieces to shuffle around. However, that doesn’t mean the game is simple. This one is for the whole family, and is enhanced greatly by a roaring fireplace and a big bowl of popcorn.
Lost Cities — Lost Cities is a card-based adventure game that can be played between two players. Adventurers explore up to five lost cities. Expeditions don’t fund themselves, however, success is only found with a brisk pace and profitability.
Trivial Pursuit — Another family classic, Trivial Pursuit is ideal for Thanksgiving, festive holidays, and other events wherein a lot of family members collect and show off their intelligence. Up to a whopping 24 players challenge one another with trivia questions, some easy, and others obscure. Truly a behemoth of a board game, even if it’ll make you want to gut Uncle Phil and his smug answers by the time it’s all done.