My Favourite Board Games

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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.

GO SET. Wooden. Folding Board. Table Design.

Go

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

Monopoly

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).

Hasbro Risk Board Game

Risk

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.

Carcassonne New Edition Board Game

Carcassonne

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!

Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan

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

Stone Age

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!

Hey, That’s My Fish!

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.

20th Anniversary Absolute Balderdash

Balderdash

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 Family 25th Anniversary Edition

Pictionary

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!

Do you enjoy playing any of these?

What is your favourite board game?


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44 Comments

  1. Charlie says:

    I’ve played Pictionary but not for a long time. Go is great and Monopoly is fun, too. I’ve not heard of the others besides Risk which I hadn’t played. Love that board games are interesting for the whole family.

    1. Jackie says:

      Charlie, It is great to see that you know how to play Go – not many people have heard of it :-(

  2. Jeanne says:

    As your kids get older, you may like playing Lie-brary. We don’t play it as a board game, though; we just go around with the cards.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jeanne, I’d not heard of Lie-brary, but I’ve just looked it up and it sounds like a game we play already. We just pick a random book off my shelves and then everyone invents a first line. These are then read out, along with the real one and everyone has to guess which is correct. My boys are too young for it at the moment, but I can see that they’d enjoy it when they get a bit older.

  3. lucybird says:

    I love Monopoly but nobody ever wants to play with me. The boyfriend says it’s because I always win, which is not true, he’s just never beaten me. He’s never played my Mum, she really is brutal

    1. Jackie says:

      lucybird, I know exactly how you feel. We have trouble getting people to play with us. That is the downside of playing too much – once you understand the strategy it is hard to be beaten. Hope you find someone good to play against soon!

  4. When we did the Trans-Siberian, during the four days inside the train (Irkutsk-Moscow) we spent hours and hours playing Settlers. To a point where if we closed our eye we would see the board and our dreams were filled with ore and wood exchanges :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Alex, Sounds perfect! I’d love a trip like that :-)

  5. I like Settlers of Catan a lot! I also really enjoy Ticket to Ride (especially the Europe edition), Dominion, and Puerto Rico. Recently I learned Rallyman, a fun racing game and another racing game I don’t recall the name of but involved dogsleds. Gaming is fun!

    1. Jackie says:

      threegoodrats, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Ticket to Ride, but never played it. I’ll have to see if anyone I know has a copy I can try. The other games you mention are all new to me. *heads off to look them up* Thanks for the recommendations!

  6. olduvai says:

    My favourite is Pandemic! It’s a cooperative board game where all the players work together to stop viruses from destroying the world.

    1. Jackie says:

      olduvai, I’ve heard of Pandemic, but never played it. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever played a co-operative game before. I’d love to try that one day.

  7. Sandy says:

    I haven’t even heard of most of these! But you toured the country playing “Go”??? That is totally one of those facts that you can bring up that would surprise people! I think our family’s favorite games are Yahtzee and Apples to Apples. They aren’t necessarily board games, but they are fun.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, We enjoy playing Yahtzee, but Apples to Apples is new to me. I’ve just looked it up and it does sound great for a larger group. Thanks for drawing it to my attention!

  8. Word Lily says:

    My family enjoy Carcasonne and Settlers. Pictionary is one of the ones we play with my husband’s extended family at some gatherings. There are quite a few others in that type that are part of the regular rotation (when we get to game-playing), too. I like the rail games (China Rails, Euro Rails, etc.), which are different, but fun.

    1. Jackie says:

      Word Lily, It is great to see another Settlers fan! I’m going to have to try one of rail games. If only there was somewhere to borrow them from. They are all so expensive to buy it would be great if it was possible to rent one for a while.

      1. Word Lily says:

        Yeah, renting them would be very nice!

  9. Louise says:

    I’m the only child of parents who hate board games so didn’t grow up playing many board games which is a shame because I love them. Favourites include Monopoly (which I’m not allowed to play as my competitive spirit can get me carried away), Risk (I’m rubbish but enjoy it) and Pictionary. A fun game is Who’s In The Bag which a group of colleagues played on training weekends – always guaranteed to bring the house down, especially after a few bottles of wine.

    1. Jackie says:

      Louise, Sorry to hear that your family don’t enjoy board games. :-( I’m sure you’d be great at Risk with a bit more practice! Who’s in the Bag sounds like a fun game. I’ve played a few similar ones, but not that exact version. I hope you find someone to play with soon.

  10. Mome Rath says:

    I’ll second Ticket to Ride as mentioned above — it’s a good family game. I get together with friends for a bi-weekly game night, so I’ve played most of the ones you’ve listed above, save for Go, which I really want to try now. I’m impressed you competed in Go tournaments! I hope you can find some good opponents so you can get back into it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mome Rath, I wish I had a regular games night. I need to try to persuade some people join me. I’m going to try to locate someone with Ticket to Ride. Thanks for the tip. :-)

  11. Yay for board games! I discovered Carcasonne and Settlers last year and love them both. For Christmas my brother bought me and Tim the game Tsuro, which is really simple and quick and still fun after many many repeats. At the other end of the scale, we have attempted to learn mah jongg and that’s fun but very far from simple (or quick)!

    Have you watched any of the Tabletop online videos (http://tabletop.geekandsundry.com/episodes/)? They pick out a great selection of games to demo and of course Wil Wheaton is engaging and funny.

    1. Jackie says:

      Nose in a Book. I’ve tried Mah Jong a few times and own a lovely set that I bought in China, but I think I need an expert to teach me as I’m sure we don’t really understand all the subtleties of it.

      I haven’t come across those videos. *heads off to look* Thanks for drawing my attention to them!

  12. stujallen says:

    I like risk and Poleconemy (a sort monopoly based in business world ) mainly today not so much board games but words with freind on the phone and occasional game of chess ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I agree. You can’t beat a chat with a friend!

  13. Wow, you were a Go champion! My husband used to play chess (at county level, or almost that, I think) and he still goes to a chess club.

    I used to play A LOT of Monopoly, especially with one friend, who’d come and stay in the holidays and we’d play for whole days. I’d always lose but she’d let me borrow money which made the game endless and me immensely heavy in debt!

    I also play Risk with the boys sometimes but I find it a bit slow. My favorite board game is Scrabble, although I also love Cluedo.

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, It is good that your husband is still able to play chess. Most people end up stopping when they leave school. I wish I had a go club nearby.

      It is great you were prepared to continue playing monopoly, even after running out of money – most people just give up! That shows how much you love board games :-)

      .

  14. A refreshingly different post – love it. Scrabble and Risk would be my favourites with Escape from Colditz being a fun third choice. I never mastered Go, but did experiment with Chinese Chess, Mancala and various other games at one time – I have a great book by the games guru Sid Sackson, called A Gamut of Games which introduces a whole lot of strategy games from around the world. I must confess that at uni I was the only girl in the Wargames society, and spent many a night playing Dungeons & Dragons and Diplomacy amongst many others!

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, It is good to know you enjoyed the post. Warcraft has always intrigued me. Hopefully I’ll learn once my boys get a bit older. Chinese chess and Mancala are other games I’ve wanted to try. If only you lived around the corner you could teach me all these things!

  15. Jenners says:

    My parents played Go after living in Japan but they never taught us. I have heard it is very challenging. Have you ever played a game called FITS? It is pretty neat … hard to understand at first but once you get it, it is really neat. And kids can enjoy it too. Qwirkle is another one we like. I’m also a huge fan of Taboo!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, Go is quite easy to learn, but difficult to master. You could pick it up in an evening and then play it happily with someone else who’d also just learn. Learning all the complex tactics takes a long time, but most people don’t worry about those. I guess it is similar to chess in that respect.

      Qwirkle and Taboo are great games. I’ve never heard of FITS – I’ll look it up. :-)

  16. Christy says:

    I like a bunch of the games you’ve listed, such as Carcassone. My mom’s side of the family were very much into games. Risk was very popular when I was younger. I’m not sure what it says about our family that so many of us were so eager to take over the world. Ticket to Ride is now quite popular in the family though I’ve never completely warmed to it myself. Apples to Apples is one of my favorite games, but I’ve noticed that it can be a love it / hate it game. I also like Bohnanza and Mamma Mia which are both from the same game company, and have creative ideas. I’ve noticed Mamma Mia (which is a memory game involving completing pizza orders) is fun for kids too.

    1. Jackie says:

      Christy, Don’t worry – I have lots of friends who wanted to take over the world – it’s perfectly normal ;-) Bohnanza and Mamma Mia are both new to me. It is wonderful to have so many great suggestions. Thank you!

  17. It has to be Beatles Monopoly…every time. Although ‘GO’ sounds pretty darn ace.

    1. Jackie says:

      The Willoughby Book Club, I’ve not seen Beatles Monopoly, but any Monopoly is fine with me :-)

  18. JoV says:

    I can’t put one at the top but I was really good at Othello (or Reversi some would call it). I love Monopoly and Scrabble too. I’m don’t know how to play Go! :( I’m trying to learn Mah Jong, if you can call that a board game! lol

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, Good luck learning Mah Jong! I’ve tried a basic version, but got lost when they tried adding more rules. I’m sure it is a great game if you have the right teacher.

  19. Athira says:

    I also got to play a bunch of board and card games with my family over the holidays I love Monopoly – it’s my favorite Board game ever. I also enjoy Scrabble quite a bit.

    1. Jackie says:

      Athira, I enjoy Scrabble, but find I don’t know enough high scoring words. I need to sit down with a scrabble dictionary and learn all the X, Z, Q words!

  20. Jeane says:

    You’ve got some here I haven’t heard of. I do like Settlers of Catan, never played it with an extension- we usually only had three or four people. My seven-year-old used to play with us! I never could get through Monopoly, that game was tedious to me. I like Balderdash and also Apples to Apples. But my all-time favorite is Scrabble.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jeane, My 7-year-old loves Catan too :-) We normally play with 3 or 4 people and that number works well with the extension. I recommend you try it sometime as it does improve the game. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other extensions soon too.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I’m afraid I was more of a Dungeons & Dragons and RPG geek as a boy. Loved Monopoly, Cluedo and Risk though. I think Escape from Colditz was my favourite though.

  22. mee says:

    Great list! I love board games, and so is my family. At one point we played Clues for days! (literally. we just stopped for food and bathroom break) I love Settlers of Catan, Carcassone, Monopoly (though Monopoly is more of a childhood thing). I played Risk once but didn’t like it though – I thought it depends on chance too much. Have you tried Ticket to Ride? I like that one!

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