Sunday, December 27, 2015

5 Lesser-Known Badass Board Games


Looking to update your family board game night? Or perhaps you want to start one? Or maybe you just want to get a group of friends together to drink and play games? Boy, do I have some suggestions!  

My husband and I love board games. We play with friends and we play with family. In my family, it’s a tradition to play board games at holiday celebrations. With my husband, we play whenever we have the opportunity. Here are a few of our favorite lesser-known Badass Board Games:


Qwirkle - This is a fun game of matching tiles. The tiles are slightly bigger than Scrabble tiles with six different shapes and six different colors. Your goal? To get a line of six - either all the same shape, each in a different color; or all the same color, each in a different shape. You get varying points each turn depending on how many of the tiles you can put together this way. In a way, it’s similar to dominos. The person with the most points at the end wins. We like this game because it’s fun competition without getting too heated - there is always a way to earn points. 

Suggested Ages:  6+
Number of Players:  2-4
Approximate Game Play Time:  30 min
Takenoko - Or, as we fondly call it, “feed the panda.”  In this game, you play a groundskeeper hoping to impress the Emperor by either helping to feed his prized panda, or improving his garden.  Each player draws cards that have goals he or she needs to try and meet. Examples: Growing three bamboo stalks 3 parts high each. Or feeding the panda a piece of bamboo of each color. Or growing the garden to a certain formation of colors (feng shui, anyone?). The person with the most points accumulated from completed tasks wins! We love this game because the panda is so cute, and it’s just silly and fun with the right amount of tactics and luck involved. There’s even an expansion out now that has a female panda. You can make babies!!

Suggested Ages:  8+
Number of Players:  2-4
Approximate Game Play Time:  45 min
Amazon

Dixit - Probably one of my favorites, this game is all about words. Each player is given a hand of cards that only have pictures on them. The pictures, by the way, are easily the best thing about this game. They are so whimsical and beautiful with a slight hint of M.C. Escher to them. Just wonderful.  The premise of the game is that the active player chooses a card from his or her hand and comes up with a word or a phrase that describes the card. Then each of the other players chooses a card from their hands that they think best fits the word or phrase from the active player.  Each slides their card face down to the active player, who shuffles them without looking, then one by one reveals them.  Each player other than the active player votes on the card that best fits the description. Points awarded at the end of each round allow the players to advance their tokens, which are in the shape of different colored bunnies, down the race track. First person to 30 points wins. My husband and I love this game, because even though the cards are the same every time, the phrases are not. And my mom, who is an avid reader and great with words and phrases, really enjoyed this when we introduced it to her, which was a huge win in my book.

Suggested Ages:  8+
Number of Players:  3-6
Approximate Game Play Time:  30 min
Amazon

Ticket to Ride - This game is about trains and railways. Like Takenoko, the players draw goals they need to achieve for points. The board is a map of the United States with key cities marked out as railway stations. Goals are various routes to make. For instance, a route from Los Angeles to Boston.  Other goals are to have the longest circuitous route, or to block other players from completing their own routes. Players pay for their building of their routes by train cards of different colors drawn from the supply deck. Certain routes can only be paid for by certain color cars. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins. This game is lots of fun for its tactics, strategy, and luck. There are even several expansions that have maps of different countries. It also has an added benefit of being educational, as the maps are geographically accurate.

Suggested Ages:  8+
Number of Players:  2-5
Approximate Game Play Time:  30-60 min

Amazon

Flash Point - This game is about fighting fires. You and your friends are a group of firefighters called in to save people in a house caught on fire. Players can take on various firefighter jobs to help save the people. Each job has a certain amount of Action Points they can use to put out fires, smother smoke, or save people, as well as job-specific things they can do. For instance, the Hazmat Tech can get rid of hazardous materials in their square, whereas a normal firefighter has to take the material out of the house entirely. The Imaging Technician can identify Points of Interest in the house, no matter where he is, for one Action Point, whereas any other firefighter must move into that square to do so.  My husband and I and all of our friends and family love this game, possibly the best out of all of our board games at the moment (and we have a lot!), because it’s a cooperative game with everyone working together toward the same goals. We can coordinate our efforts, and either everyone wins or everyone loses. And it’s just a lot of fun to come up with reasons for why hazardous materials are in the living room, or why what we originally thought would be a person to save really was a coat rack (because sometimes your Points of Interest are blank, which means it’s a false alarm, so naturally, being the smart alecks we all are, we need to find a reason for why we were frantically making our way there).

Suggested Ages:  10+
Number of Players:  2-6
Approximate Game Play Time:  45 min
Amazon


Honorable Mention: Fluxx - This is actually a card game, but it’s a lot of fun because the rules are constantly changing. One can learn the way the game works in 2 minutes or less, and people can drop in and out of the game as needed, which makes it a perfect game to play on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or any other holiday where someone is always cooking, but still wants to play. The goals of the game change as constantly as the rules, so there are endless ways to win.  And sometimes, it’s just as fun to thwart someone else from winning as it is to win yourself.

Suggested Ages:  8+
Number of Players:  2-6, or however many you want
Approximate Game Play Time:  10-40 min
Amazon

So there you have it, Janes! Some board game options to replace the normal games of Monopoly, Sorry!, and Scrabble. What do you think? Are there board games you prefer to play with your friends and/or family?  Let us know in the comments!

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