As concerns over the spread of Covid-19, also known as the coronavirus, continue to spread, it now seems like families will be spending more and more time at home in an effort to self-isolate. Luckily, there are some great board games that can not only pass the time but keep everyone together in a wholesome way.
When deciding which board games to play, two of the biggest considerations are how many players are available and their ages. This is because some games listed below can be played with as little as two players, but are optimal with four, six, or even eight players in one instance. With that in mind, here are TheGamer’s five best board games for a night with the family.
Formerly known as Settlers of Catan, a name still used in shops and by fans of the game, Catan is a great addition to any family board game night. Best played with four or more players, the goal is to build settlements, cities, and roads to strategically acquire resources. Players collect and trade with each other to gain points, which is done by achieving certain milestones before other players, such as having the longest road, the most cities, and more.
As a bonus to this list, Rivals for Catan is an exciting two-player variant and is another fantastic option for when there are fewer players available.
4 Smash Up
Smash Up is a fun, easy-to-learn game that has players create 20-card decks from two factions and add them to another deck of forty standard cards. With these customized tools, players then work to smash Bases, with the goal of outperforming others to win. As players have access to eight different factions, there are several combinations that keep the game fresh and allow for experimenting to find out what works best, or an option that is always fun, being assigned factions at random.
Best of all is that there are several expansions that can be added to keep the fun going. If Smash Up becomes a hit with the family, these expansions can help add replayability, with some great themes to each one, like Munchkin or The Obligatory Cthulhu Set.
For larger families, Codenames is a fun game that rewards creative thinking. The game works well with at least four players, and even better with six or eight. The premise is simple, as a Spymaster lays out a grid of 25 words on the table and must then have the players on their team pick up only the cards that belong to them. This is done through clever uses of word association.
For example, if some of the cards belonging to a team were Tree, Park, and Mountain, the Spymaster could say “Nature”, and players would hopefully associate the three words with the clue provided. Thanks to the hundreds of word cards included, every game feels unique, provides a great chance for creative word play, and is a perfect addition for larger groups of people.
While Codenames is ideal for slightly older children, Labyrinth is great for those who fall on the younger side and may only be learning about board games. The classic game from 1986 has a board that is created with a fixed tile set, while others slide in and out of other rows. This allows for a board that will be in a state of constant change, and players are tasked with adding to the Labyrinth on their turn, collecting treasure, and then returning to their home base.
The premise is simple, and games go by quickly once everyone learns how to play. If, however, the players are all older, and looking for a more mature, challenging game with a similar board-building mechanic, they should absolutely check out Betrayal at House on the Hill.
If the reason everyone is stuck at home is the spread of Covid-19, why not embrace the reality of the situation and play Pandemic. Our poor attempt at dark humor aside, Pandemic is a well-made cooperative management game that tasks players with fighting the spread of disease across the world. Each game can feel unique thanks to the different roles that players can take on, as there are different specialists with a number of roles and responsibilities.
As the disease spreads, players will draw “Epidemic!” cards that will shift how the disease acts, where it goes, and how quickly it can infect an area.
Although the above five games are great options for any family board game session, there are countless others as well. Here are a few more outstanding options that we will not do a deep dive into each, but all of which have extensive reviews and playthroughs online for consideration: Ticket to Ride, Alhambra, Taj Mahal, Dominion, Terraforming Mars, Wingspan, and as always, Android: Netrunner.
Beyond this, there are easily a hundred more to mention, so hop onto boardgamegeek.com and see if something else looks like a good fit for family game nights!
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