Before then it really was mainly war games (warhammer et al), RPGs, and card games (Magic TG from about 1993 onwards).
There are some absolutely fantastic games out there, but just don't buy from the top X games. Know the size of your play group and buy to suit them.
For example Agricola is a great game, but works best with 3-4 players. My group has 5 players so it's "ok" https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/31260/agricola
Recent games that have surprised us. If you like poker, Sheriff of Nottingham and 5 players is exceptionally good fun in a group prepared to be able to put on silly voices and get into character. https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/157969/sheriff-nottingha...
Also Camel Up is great for parties (up to 10 people with the expansion) and kids love it as well but is a lot of fun in groups of 5 https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/153938/camel
Group dynamic is important in buying the 'right' game but you cannot go wrong with Settlers of Catan if you can get 4 players. https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/13/catan
If you have a local game shop, or even better, a local games cafe, you can usually get a chance to try out a game. Just remember to buy from them. They are your gateway to a whole new dynamic computer games has pretty much tried to destroy.
Board games are so so so good these days, just avoid Monopoly. ;)
According to https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Monopoly_(game)&o... Monopoly was intended as a way to demonstrate that an economy which rewards wealth creation is better than one in which monopolists work under few constraints.
In other words and put much more harshly: Monopoly is played the right way if after a short time one player is happily winning and all the other ones are really angry.
I didn't see the connection until someone pointed it out to me when I was already an adult. All I have from this game is memories of boredom playing it with family as a kid.
...for the monopolist. Everybody else is bored to tears. This makes it a terrible game in its more well-known form.
Played correctly, Monopoly isn't a terribly long game, and (usually) once someone gets ahead, it is a fairly quick steamroll.
The Parker Brothers rules, rather. The game was a folk game before its acquisition by Parker Brothers, and their rules are a slightly simplified version of the Quaker variant learned by the man responsible for the graphic design of the published version of the game. House rules trace their lineages to versions of the game before Parker Brothers published it, and are equally valid. Although money on Free Parking introduces a ton of randomness, lengthens the game significantly, and is bad, it is no less real.
a) mechanisms to make the game proceed faster, and
b) to play the "follow-up" second ruleset, where (AIUI) you use something like Georgist rules (the land value tax) where players are supposed to realize, hey, you can't monopolize under the LVT because monopoly rents just get taxed away.
In the Netherlands, Settlers of Catan was one of those boardgames that you pretty much could not avoid in mid to late nineties, and from what I understand it was even bigger in Germany. It really seems to hit a sweet spot in terms of accessibility and depth.
One of my personal favourites is Citadels (called Machiavelli in the Netherlands), because when your group gets really good at it, the character-draft mechanic turns into in making strategic choices where everyone is basically trying to trick the other players into thinking they've chosen a different character than they have, either by bluffing or making them think they're bluffing. So it actually feels like everyone is trying to pull off Machiavellian schemes.
For a more lighthearted party game version of that, Mascarade (both of these games are by Bruno Faidutti, which explains why their mechanics are somewhat similar). I've played this with ten people and it turns into a wonderfully chaotic game.
However, I've been recently trying to build out my mid-range collection, to have more stuff with appeal to a broader audience, including my 6 year old daughter. To that end, we've really enjoyed Patchwork, Broom Service, Set, and Carcassonne.
For goofy games that play quickly over the lunch hour at work, see Deep Sea Adventure and Witch Trial, as well as various other card games.
I started playing those 1 hour games at work and really like a game that can be played quickly that have some depth, but not "break out the spreadsheet" depth..
Colleretto is my choice for a light quick playing games with some strategy but not too deep. I like Big Points too.
Tzolk'in is really kinda fun (Spinning gears), then some people figured out a "Dominant strategy" for winning consistantly. Making me realize these games are a delicate balance and no matter how much you test..
Tzolk'in is also helped in that you can play it online, to practice— basically, execute the dominant strategy and see if it does as well online as it does in your particular group. See: http://en.boardgamearena.com/#!gamepanel?game=tzolkin
I think whats important is having one or two people "hosting" the events to realize what you've said above and plan accordingly.
Having a plethora of games to choose from and selecting the right one for certain people and group sizes has made a lot of my friends realize just how much fun they can be.
I agree to some extent - group size is just one factor. There's also mechanics and play-style to consider. Casual vs. Heavy, party vs. strategic, themed vs. abstract etc.
I wholly agree that monopoly should be avoided though :). Sure, maybe if you play with certain rules it's okay, but even then there are so many better games!
Meanwhile, Exit winning the Kennerspiel frustrates me. It's a solid design, and the escape-room-in-a-box can be quite fun, but it's hardly a gamer's game and the other nominees were incredible.
I guess my takeaway is that the SdJ is built up too much and doesn't reflect my segment of the hobby very well.
Magic Maze has the whole no-communicating bit going against it, although it does look interesting and I would like to play it. I'm surprised it got the nomination, and the nomination alone will bring a lot more attention to that game, so that's cool.
I totally agree that non-communication is a disappointing game mechanic; it almost always ends up being quite... impure design-wise? It still ended up feeling like the most dynamic of the 3 games for me, though admittedly my opinion of El Dorado is only from one play and word of mouth.
Also, a lot of games have a lot of empty space in their box. I've been able to fit 6 games in the space of a Targi box, for example (great 2 player game that's deep but small, btw). I think I managed to put Targi, Tides of Time, Lost Cities, a Smash Up expansion (playable at 2 players), and a couple others in there.
I'd also recommend a 6 Nimmmt! or a Rage deck (has 6 suits numbered 0-15, suitable for a lot of modern card games). There are a whole bunch of games you can play with those decks and they take up no space at all. Also 6 Nimmmt! is a blast with 6+ players, in my opinion.
Also I'm a game designer, and I find myself bringing out a Rage deck pretty often to prototype new ideas. It's very versatile. Just did it again for a new idea yesterday.
6 Nimmmt: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/24313/games-playable-deck...
Some smaller footprint but deeper games I'd recommend are Arboretum, Akrotiri, Kahuna, Targi, Bohnanza, Noir: Killer vs Assassin, Tichu (can be played with standard playing cards and 4 marked up jokers, or with the aforementioned Rage deck.. super deep partner game), Biblios, Armadora, 12 Days, R-Eco, Condottiere, For Sale (playable with 6 Nimmmt! and some tokens), The Game (playable with 6 Nimmmt! deck).
Condottiere is also a great small game!
Takes about 5 minutes to explain and plays in 30 min or so (After the first game). It has a nice mix of random/strategy, etc.
Edit: The box is way bigger than the contents, so a custom foam solution seems to be popular with some people.
Side note: I'm processing BoardGameGeek.com data, and one of the goals I've set is around finding a game similar to these two. My best candidate at the moment is "Potion Explosion".
I'm mostly in the same boat traveling a lot for work. On my last trip, me and several coworkers/co-travelers started playing a lot of chess together and are continuing to have a blast.
I've been wanting to try to get into it for a while and I finally just did it. Don't read a bunch of stuff and psych yourself out. Just play and realize you're going to lose. A lot. You're _supposed_ to lose since somebody has to and there is no luck. Just learn from your mistakes.
It is a perfect travel game, though. It has essentially infinite depth, very easy to learn the few rules, and there are countless sizes and prices. It also adapts exceptionally well to digital and asynchronous versions.
For example, our group has been sending moves back and forth with chess.com's site and app. It's like communicating without having to think of things to say. I feel like I know these people better just by playing against them.
EDIT: also, it's simple enough that you could easily create a makeshift set if you don't have one available.
EDIT2: I've also had some luck adapting some games to work with playing cards and other simple pieces. A lot of games come with little thematic goodies that aren't really necessary in order to play. You should still consider buying the game if you like it to support the creator, though.
And you'll find people to play with even when you don't speak a common language; I have very fond memories of playing all of the staff of a bar in Copacabana, Bolivia, until sunrise (just knowing the little Spanish(es) I had picked up in the 6 months before) :)
Also, Dominoes, though a good set is rather on the heavy side.
it is a complex game with a very simple ruleset (i.e. one-operation per turn, every turn is the same)
There is an ipad version which is better than the physical one (easier to learn since it only allows legal moves, automatically keeps score, automatically shuffles) Plus no clean-up.
If you don't have internet and are alone, you can play against an AI and still have a good time. If you have internet you can play 1v1 with ranked matchmaking opponents and continue to get better.
If you want to play in a group, you can play a local game passing around the ipad. I've played this way with a group of people who had never played the game before, everyone finished knowing not only the gameplay rules but with inferred nuances about strategy.
* Deep Sea Adventure — A tiny push-your-luck game that blends theme and mechanics perfectly, is easy to explain, and is a ton of fun without being too thinky. It also scales perfectly from 2 to 6 people. Expensive if you're just counting components, but the value of the game and the fun it brings makes it worthwhile.
* Celestia — Also push-your-luck style, but with a bit more production (and, oddly, cheaper than Deep Sea Adventure).
* Patchwork — A great little two-player game where you're making a quilt. That sounds silly, but it's like Tetris that's powering a small economical engine. Really fun.
* For Sale — Good for 3-6 players, a really simple little card game where you get properties in the first round and auction them off in the second. Plays in 15 minutes, fits in a small box. (I think they even make a travel version.)
* Santorini — the retail version is a big production, but if you get it, you could easily make a smaller version of it. Takes 30 seconds to learn and is hard to really master. Comes with a ton of God power cards that make a bunch of replayability.
* Smash Up — the base set comes with 8 factions. Each player takes two factions (of their choice, at random, etc.) and smashed them into a deck. You then compete against others to topple bases and score points. A lot of fun with the right crowd. I think they've released about 50 factions total so far, with 8 new ones released each year currently. All totally optional.
* Star Realms — great little two-player deck builder. It's space themed, if you want another theme, they have other versions that work similarly. It's just one deck of cards, plus expansions if you like it.
* Dixit — I love Dixit. I've never played it with anyone that didn't have fun. The box really spreads things out, and is mostly holding the scoring track, but you could replace that with something smaller easily. A deck of amazing art cards, a couple of voting tokens, and a way to keep score. Could fit into a sandwich bag if you create a smaller scoring system.
It's best played with a set of Icehouse pieces, which pack pretty small and can be used for a whole bunch of other games too. You don't need Icehouse pieces, though, you can also play Zendo with coins, matchsticks, etc.
But fundamentally it is an incredible game in whatever form you play.
1. Jaipur: 2 Players only, acquire different goods to trade in the market.
2. Coup: Multiplayer, lots of bluffing
3. Monopoly Deal: Simple, fast paced game (with little resemblance to Monopoly)
- Haggis (2-3)
- Dominion (2-4 players, box is nice but you can just have a stack of cards)
All the other suggestions are good, but it's nice to have flexibility with player size.
My wife and I play this at coffee shops on small tables with no problems.
It's a simple enough game to learn, but can become quite complex the more you get into it.
Most common play form is the Schieber where you play a 2 vs 2.
To reduce the "luck component" I'd recommend dropping the melds and the factor for the different trump.
"Paperback" is about the size of a small speaker, and is sort of but not really Scrabble as a deck builder.
"Captain Sonar" is regular size and utterly fantastic, but for best experience you really want 8 players; every player down is noticeable. It's cooperative / competitive and real-time.
Digital games (mobile or computer): Ticket to Ride, Star Realms, Jaipur, Splendor (I'd recommend the physical game but it is a bit too much air in the box to buy physically for a nomad), Patchwork.
EDIT: added more specific description of what I liked about it, in an attempt to up the quality of my comment.
We immediately ordered a second scenario after completing the first. The price was worth it for us.
Most people dont go for movies outside those constraints if ever. Movie is rather expensive choice people normally don't do.
I bought a card-based "escape room" game that was the same way. The description makes it sound a little like you'll get multiple plays from it, but in reality it's just a set path. The "cards" aspect was just them cheaping out, instead of making something re-usable.
I plan to let some family play it (and the other escape game we bought) but I still think $15 is too much for a single 1-2 hour play session.
My only house rules are to remove the bonus points for a full board and centered castle, and to allow someone to declare a broken board and discard a tile at any time (instead of discarding their last tile).
I think my copy is going to get played quite a bit in the years to come, and I don't think I'll be getting rid of it for a long, long time.
- Love Letter (any flavor; draw a card and play one)
- Condottiere (bidding/bluffing game to take over italy)
- Citadels (drafting)
- Masquerade (hidden-ish roles; better at two than Coup is)
- Portal of Heroes (scales well up to 5)
- Star Realms (deck-building)
- Splendor (similar to Jaipur but chips rather than cards)
- Codenames: Duet