Playing Games

Looking at other personal finance blogs it seems that board gaming is a popular hobby. I think this is because it keeps the mind active, it only requires a one time investment and brings families and friends together.

We are no different, we love board games and try and play them several times a week either as a family or just the two of us during the week (especially during winter when we can’t get out that much).

When I was growing up board games usually meant Monopoly or Clue(do); however over the last 20 years the world of board gaming has changed significantly. Firstly with the rise of Eurogaming  and  deck building card games. The next evolution that is taking place right now is the advent of collaborative games, solo games and legacy games.

For those not very familiar with the world of board games let me explain some of the terminology involved. Firstly Eurogames, these are are games that typically don’t have a standard board. You either create the playing space as you play or a randomized board is created out of tiles at the start.

Deck building games usually involve players creating a deck of cards using various in game mechanics to create a powerful but streamline deck, usually to create a character or an environment. These are not the same as games such as Pokemon or Magic, which require players to buy mystery packs in order to create their own deck to play/fight with other people.

Collaborative games are exactly what they sound like. Games where you work as a team to try and win the game. The whole gaming group either wins or loses. As such this is a great way to play games if you are not competitive or want to teach children (and adults!) team building skills.

Solo games are games which play a traditional board game but the mechanism is such that it can be played by one person. This will usually involve trying to beat a scenario or make an objective in the game. While this is not as social as other games, it is a great way to learn a new game to teach to other people. Also chances are there are always times when one person wants to play but others don’t.

Finally the latest craze is legacy games. These are games where each time you play and win the game the rules change slightly; for example there might be new cards in a sealed envelope. These games will typically tell a themed story over the course of the multiple plays. Obviously this does mean the game may have more limited play than a traditional game but this is offset by having a new game each time you play.

As this is the holiday season and peak game playing time I thought I would go through our current top ten favorite games over this post and a second later in the week.

Pandemic

Probably the most popular collaborative game. This requires you to be part of a team of scientists trying to cure a global plague. It’s important that each player discusses with the other players to determine the best course of action as you are working together. There are several expansions which allow you to expand the game. There is also a very popular legacy version for more advanced players.

As it is collaborative it does mean that smaller children (say 10+) can play as they will not have to make a lot of decisions by themselves.

Ticket to Ride

This is a very popular game that requires you to build a train network across the US. This is not a high strategy game and is a good introduction to modern board games for people who are not big games players. There are several other versions that have different variations on the rules that require you to build in other parts of the world such as Europe, Africa and Germany.

We have had great success giving this game as a present to non gamers to get them into gaming.

Dixit.

This was originally a French game and when it came out was a unique but very simple concept. The game uses beautiful art to drive the mechanics. One player each round is a storyteller and tells a short story (one or two sentences) or phrase based on one of their cards. Each other player puts a card in that they think could match the phrase. Then everyone guesses which card is the storyteller’s. The clever thing here is that the storyteller gets no points if either nobody guesses their card or if everybody guesses their card. This means the skill is in coming up with something that can be guessed but not so easy that everyone guesses.

This is a great game for large groups who are more of an artistic bent than a usual gaming group.

Seven Wonders

This is the king of the “play and pass” game. Each player is trying to build one of the seven wonders of the ancient world with resources while at the same time trying to improve their science, military and political base. This is a very simple game on the surface but has a deep strategy with several decision points and a requirement to be able to think on your feet to change strategy. Again several expansions are available to deepen the game.

There is also a two player version with slightly different mechanics.

Catan

The grandfather of modern Eurogames this game took the world by storm when first released 20 years ago. It is still probably the best game of its type and a great gateway into modern games. Players buy and trade resources to build up their villages and towns in order to become the most powerful force on the island of Catan.

Multiple expansions are available which add in such themes as pirates and knights.

I’ll write about another five games later in the week.

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