I love board games. They’re a huge part of who I am. I used to play complex board games with myself for hours on end, perfectly content (my win-loss ratio was impressive). I would even redesign board games—and sometimes I would just invent my own board game from scratch. Immersing myself in an in-depth strategy game…that was how I loved to spend my afternoons.
But every now and then, I love goofy board games. Ones that aren’t that competitive—but fun for a group. And there’s everything in between. My wife and I play pretty much everything (though we prefer co-op—keeps our marriage healthy).
Here are my ten favorites:
1. Eldritch Horror (co-op)
For me and my wife, this is the best board game ever made. The storytelling, strategy, and co-op combine into perfection. Every game, you and the other players work together to save the 1920s world from an ancient evil that is about to end all life. It’s based off H.P. Lovecraft’s works, so you can expect some enemies like Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth. Every character has their own backstory, and a new story occurs with every game. As a novelist, I can’t get enough.
We’ve bought every expansion and play it on an almost daily basis. We have a permanent spot in our small apartment set up for the board so we never have to put it away. After all, what could be better than saving the world from an ancient eldritch horror with your loved one?
2. Redemption: The City of Bondage (competitive co-op)
My best friend and I would spam this game ad nauseam. Eventually we took a break from it—but years later, it’s just as fun. As players, you walk into an abandoned city and have to rescue the lost souls trapped in it. You never know what you’ll find in each house. It exudes mystery and surprise—but without mitigating strategy.
3. The Lord of the Rings Board Game (co-op/competitive)
I’ve reinvented this game so much, it’s barely recognizable from the original. I also have all the expansions. It’s hard to say how many hours I’ve put into the quest for Mordor…but wow, is it fun. Trying to get the ring all the way to Mt. Doom and destroy it is harder than it seems.
4. Axis and Allies (competitive teams)
The classic WWII game: one side is Germany and Japan (axis), and the other side tries to stop them and save the world (the allies). This used to be my favorite boardgame, but now no one will play it with me. I guess it takes too long? That, and I keep winning…
5. Ticket to Ride (competitive)
Our standard family game. Place train cars down to get from point A to point B. Do it better than your opponent and you win. We have several expansions, and I prefer the Pennsylvania one because it has a greater depth of strategy thanks to picking up train stocks whenever you lay down a car. (Whoever has the most of each stock gets points.)
6. Imagine If (“competitive”)
This is my goofy group game that I love doing. We write our names on the sides of the board, then read aloud cards and liken each person to different options on that card. We usually fill in names of famous people in the blank squares, so we can have fun imagining what the current president or Moses would do in any situation.
7. Chinese Checkers (theoretically competitive)
This is the game I play with myself. Or at least, I used to—all the time. I came up with approximately four hundred different special abilities that you could select when playing a color. I would spend lazy Sunday afternoons playing all six sides, planning hops and executing strategies to see who would win.
8. Dragon Territory (competitive/working on a co-op)
The best (and biggest) game I ever invented. You go around an RPG world slaying dragons. Ridiculously simple rules, but a whole host of options to keep you occupied for hours on end.
Unfortunately, it has some finishing to do. I just can’t motivate myself to finish it. More beta testing is required—but who has the time for that?
Well, maybe one day. Game creation is amazing. 🙂
9. Prey and Predator (competitive)
Another game I invented. This is a short game I would play in my days at YWAM Woodcrest with my friend Jessi. You start out with chips that represent wolves. In the center of the board is the meadow, where your sheep frolic. You have to try and guard your own sheep while attacking your opponent’s sheep. Wolves can also kill each other. For having such simple rules, it’s a lot to juggle.
10. Settlers of Catan (competitive)
We don’t even play this game anymore. But when my wife and I were dating, we would play it all the time. So there are some nice memories. We would each set up our own board (we were dating long distance), and use Facebook chat to keep track of our moves. One time she made all my boats face the wrong direction on her board just to annoy me ‘cause I was winning.
3 Honorable Mentions:
Portals and Prophets (competitive)
Ever wanted to go on a tour through biblical events? With Portals and Prophets, you’re a tour guide trying to rack up as many events on your tour as possible. Everyone else is competing against you, so you’ve got to get to the Red Sea first (so to speak). We love this game, and it’s emerging as a new family favorite.
Terraforming Mars (competitive)
Colonizing Mars in real life is just a thought in the distance—but Terraforming Mars is here to help you imagine how colonizing might go. The twist is that mega level corporations are involved, and they’re all competing for Mars’s resources. This game is a fun twist on one of mankind’s ambitions.
San Rico (competitive)
This is a game I invented which combines Puerto Rico and San Juan (my favorite card game) into one game. You build up your economy in both Puerto Rico and San Juan by taking roles (builder, producer, etc.) that affect both. It’s a perfect game. Too bad I can’t get anyone to play it with me besides Andrew (who’s in DC). That, and my wife and I are way too busy playing Eldritch Horror.