8 board games to try if you’re not sure what to play next
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Whether it’s strategically conquering an entire galaxy, cooperatively investigating Lovecraftian madness, or simply building a simple railroad route, these board games are all essential ingredients for a fun game night.
There’s always some pressure when it comes to deciding which game you and your party want to play next, so to make things a little easier, we’ve put together another list of board games that deserve a spot. on your shelf.
This article has been updated since its original publication.
We cannot stress how much we appreciate wingspan. Released in 2019, this engine building card game is all about creating the best wildlife sanctuary by strategically assigning birds to certain habitats. It’s a simple premise (especially compared to some of the other games on this list), but nonetheless engaging as hell.
The rules are pretty easy to understand and the game only lasts four rounds, so you’ll be done in about an hour. Fortunately, the 170 bird cards, each with its own set of effects, give the game plenty of variety and replayability. If the look of a board game is particularly important to you, wingspan also features some of the most beautifully illustrated cards in any board game we’ve ever played.
If you decide to take up birdwatching as a new hobby after playing this, we don’t blame you. If you are a fan of digital board games, the digital edition of wingspan also worth your time too.
In Cosmic Encounter, you play as the leader of an alien race and intergalactic conquest is the name of the game. Your goal is to expand your influence across the galaxy, establishing colonies in other players’ planetary systems.
This board game has been around since 1977 and it’s easy to see why it’s been loved for so long. Strategy is both fun and rewarding, with the various game cards available allowing for enjoyable variation in tactics.
One of the greatest draws of Cosmic Encounter are table policy. The gameplay forces you to form alliances and negotiate deals with other players to help screw up other players – while potentially setting up your “ally” for a masterful double-cross.
If you dig the world of Dungeons & Dragons, but want something that requires less commitment than a long campaign RPG, try Lord of Waterdeep. It’s a game where you play as one of the titular lords of Waterdeep and try to gain the most influence over the City of Splendor.
The game works by placing your faction’s agents in various locations that will help you gain resources, such as gold or various types of adventurers, and then dispatching those resources to complete quests. The object is to collect the most victory points from the various quests you’ve completed over the game’s eight rounds. Add a few Intrigue cards that can give you a much-needed hand (usually at your opponents’ expense), and you have a great strategy game.
If you have never played J&D before, don’t worry. Lord of deep water requires no prior knowledge of franchising. And if you’re a longtime fan, you’ll appreciate the familiar faces.
Tokyo Kings is a board game that is very easy to learn and very fun to play. You choose one of six giant monsters to play and your goal is to become the king of Tokyo by battling with your opponents. That’s it, that’s the game.
It’s a king of the hill game that uses a combination of dice rolls and strategies with the power-up cards in your hands to claim your claim to the Japanese capital. The goal is to be the first to 20 victory points or to be the last monster standing.
If you really like this game, there are a bunch of different king of tokyo expansion packs currently available. They’ll give you new monsters and power cards to fight with, so there’s an option to add even more content to this game to keep it fresh.
Based on the video game series, Fallout: the board game is a fairly faithful adaptation. Start by choosing a scenario and then set off to explore the desert, complete quests and fight the various monsters, mutants and marauders that cross their path.
If you’re a Bethesda fan Fall games, this thing is great. It retains the RPG elements of the source material, letting you spend points to level up your character’s skills and customize your loadout. It even manages to retain the TVA system, with dice that allow you to target specific body parts of your enemies. It does a good job of ticking the boxes of what we love about Fall. There is also an extension set, New California, which adds two scenarios, as well as a bunch of new quests, companions, and items.
If we have a big criticism to make Fall, is that the game moves much slower when playing with four people. There’s a delicate balance as more players help increase the fun, but the threat of game fatigue is real.
This resource management game does exactly what it says on the box. In Terraform Mars, each player takes on the role of a different society and is tasked with making the Red Planet habitable for mankind. As you work together on the whole terraforming process, the goal is to see which player has the most contributions.
You build various projects, earning income and resources that you can spend on other productions. Once Mars has the appropriate temperature, oxygen levels, and amount of ocean, the game is over.
Terraform Mars is very card-heavy, and you really need to keep track of what you’re holding during any given turn. It’s also one of the most aggressive resource management games we’ve played, as there are plenty of cards you can play that directly target your opponent.
mansions of madness is a cooperative board game inspired by the works of HP Lovecraft. In it, you play as investigators tasked with exploring a cursed mansion to solve the mystery of a chosen storyline. This edition of the game uses a companion app that tracks your progress and also supports random monster spawning, event triggering, and mansion layout randomization.
It is very easy to immerse yourself in Mansions of Madness’ spooky atmosphere, and we had a lot of fun investigating and trying to solve the puzzles of the scenarios we played. If you are someone who loves a good game piece, mansions of madness‘ The monster figures are fantastic. Being able to throw a giant Cthulhu figure onto the board really helps sell the enormity of the threat.
A single playthrough will take a few hours, so make sure you have plenty of time to adequately lose your mind over some eldritch horror. The app lets you save your progress, so you can easily jump back into a game you couldn’t complete.
If you’re still not convinced, you can check out our in-depth review of Mansions of Madness.
If you like European-style gameplay of something like Settlers of Catan and what to pick up something similar, then you could do a few kilometers of Ticket to ride. The object of the game is to be the player who can build the longest continuous train, claim routes and connect cities.
Ticket to ride is an incredibly easy game to pick up (especially compared to some of the other titles on this list) and isn’t too strategy-intensive. Each player is randomly assigned Destination Tickets at the start of each match, giving you target towns you need to reach.
There is a saving in knowing which cards you should play or store, as you need those specific cards to claim certain routes. The last thing you want to do is lose the route that will connect your assigned destinations.