Over the Christmas period I played a lot of board games with my family. We recently started following the Spiel des Jahres in order to discover more unusual games and so I thought now would be a good time to share my favourites with you.
As a child I was a big fan of the Japanese game Go. I ended up getting very good and toured the country playing tournaments. It is easy to learn, but is said to be one of the trickiest games to master – it is one of the only games in the world where a computer has yet to beat one of the top human players. It has been a long time since I played (mainly due to lack of an opponent!), but I still think of it fondly.
Monopoly has always been a favourite. I remember playing it for days at a time as a teenager. The novelty has worn off a little bit, but I’ll never refuse a game and can’t wait to teach my children how to play (the children’s version just isn’t the same).
I still haven’t worked out how to beat my husband at Risk, but I love trying! Games can take hours (or even days!) so we often revert to the shorter “missions” version, but this is the perfect introduction to the strategy games I love.
This was our first introduction to one of the more unusual games and we fell in love. The great thing about it is that you can start off on a really basic level (ignore the farmers and five-year-olds can play) or you can add an increasing number of expansion packs until even the most skillful player is confused!
This is my favourite game at the moment. It can feel frustratingly slow at the beginning, but I love the way every player is involved in every turn. There is a lot of strategy and the fact that the set up is random means that no two games are ever the same. I bought my husband the Seafarers of Catan expansion for Christmas and it makes the game even better. Recommended to all strategy game fans! Has anyone tried any of the other expansion packs?
Stone Age is similar to Settlers of Catan in that you have to collect resources . It is better in that there are numerous different tactics you can use to win, but the disadvantage is that it can take a while for everyone to have their turn. It is also quite complex to learn so isn’t a good starting point for this type of game. I find it a great alternative for when I’ve played Settlers of Catan too many times in a row!
Hey, That’s My Fish! is a recent discovery. It is one of those rare gems that children love (even my five-year-old enjoys it) but it also works well for adults. It is a bit fiddly to set up, but requires a great deal of strategic thinking to win.
Balderdash is the perfect game for all word lovers – especially if you have a larger number of people (6-10 works best). We also play our own version which involves picking a book and getting people to guess the first sentence. I haven’t played the expanded version pictured, but the original is a firm favourite.
Pictionary is another good game for a larger group. It is great for both adults and children and is especially amusing as my family aren’t very good at drawing!