Wednesday, 2 October 2013


Out of all the great board games out there, there are some that just stand out from the rest for me. For some, it’s because they are classics, others are memorable because they started an entire genre and some games are just so good at what they do, so it would be a shame to miss them out. So, here is a list of ten games that I think everyone needs to try at least once:

Ticket to Ride:
This game is elegantly simple and can be learned in just 5 minutes, and appeals to both families and experienced gamers. The goal is to collect and play certain matched train cards in order to place your pieces on the board, attempting to connect cities on your ticket cards. Points are earned both from placing trains and completing tickets but uncompleted tickets lose you points. There is a few expansion maps available now, my favourite is the Switzerland map, with its compact map and numerous tunnels. Also the Africa and Asia maps are equally good. Never played the America map but not sure I am missing much as this was the original game and has developed a lot since then.

Agricola :
I like playing this game, but have never manage to master it, as I always end up having problems at the end of each harvest as I get bogged down in certain aspects and forget others until its too late. The game is basically about players trying to use limited resources to build up their farms with fences, livestock, crops, and stables. While doing all this, they also have to make sure there is enough food to feed their families at the end of each harvest. It’s a bit more complex than most games, but it provides a great deal of depth and replayability. Agricola also appeals to most beginners, because even if you lose it’s just plain fun to watch your farm go from nothing to thriving business by the end of it.

Settlers of Catan :
The Settlers of Catan was one of the first German-style board games (Euro) to achieve popularity outside of Europe and if you ask most board gamers, they more than not state it was indeed one of the first Euro games they played, so for that reason alone I have nominated it, if you for some reason you haven’t had the chance to play Settlers, you owe it to yourself to at least see what the fuss is about.
The game is easy enough but has some luck with the dice needed sometimes to get certain building cards, players assume the roles of settlers, each attempting to build and develop holdings while trading and acquiring resources. Players are rewarded points as their settlements grow; the first to reach a set number of points is the winner. And as with most Euro games these days at no point in the game is any player eliminated.

Twilight Struggle : This game is king in my opinion, ranked number 1 on the Board Game Geek site and I have no problem believing them as its my personal favorite as well - its a 2 player game that is all about the struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States after WW2 that lasted over forty years being the Cold War. . It is a quick-playing, low-complexity game in that tradition. The game map is a world map of the period, whereon players move units and exert influence in attempts to gain allies and control for their superpower. As with other card-driven games, decision-making is a challenge; how to best use one's cards and units given consistently limited resources?

Puerto Rico: A highly awarded game that I frankly don't get to play very often, but love playing it when I do. Its a 3-5 player game but is best with 4 players. The game is essentially all about building up your plantation and selling the commodities to off shore shipping merchants. It looks rather complex at first but soon becomes easy enough to grasp. The game system lets players choose the order of the phases in each turn by allowing each player to choose a certain role from those remaining when it is their turn. No role can be selected twice in the same round. The player who selects the best roles to advance their position during the game will win. This was one of the first Euro games I had played way back in early 2000's.

Race for the Galaxy:
This is a great game, and can be very addictive to boot. If your new to playing board games its quite daunting at first with all the different symbols used in the gaming cards, but once you get the hang of it you will be playing over and over. It can be played within 1/2 an hour or less and has an excellent repayable factor about it, as you try to combine the different planetary developments with the different worlds. I have only played it with 2 players as such but would like to play it with more. Another game with the similar mechanics is Citadels and equally as good, with the theme set in medieval days. Not quite as complex as race for the galaxy game either, so good for beginners.

Love the simplicity of this game, can be played by all the family and is easy enough to learn. It came out in early 2000 and has had many add-on's since then, the best is the princess and the dragon as you get to eat other meeples. The game board is a medieval landscape built by the players as the game progresses. The game starts with a single terrain tile face up and 71 others shuffled face down for the players to draw from. On each turn a player draws a new terrain tile and places it adjacent to tiles that are already face up. The new tile must be placed in a way that extends features on the tiles it abuts: roads must connect to roads, fields to fields, and cities to cities.

Pandemic: This is an unusual game because it is one of a very few cooperative games, where instead of playing against each other, they are working together in an attempt to “beat” the game system. In this case, four diseases are spreading throughout the world, and it’s up to the players to find the cures. Each player has a different role that allows them to help in a specific way; whether it’s the Dispatcher who can move the other players around the board, while the Scientist can actually find the cures more easily. Pandemic is a must-play because of the great sense of satisfaction that comes with working together with a bunch of mates to accomplish a common goal.

Elfenland: This is my favorite 5 to 6 player game at the moment, The game is set in the mythical world of the elves. A group of fledgling elves (the players) are charged with visiting as many of the twenty Elfencities as they can over the course of 4 rounds. To accomplish the task they will use various forms of transportation such as Giant Pigs, Elfcarts, Unicorns, Rafts, Magic Clouds, Trollwagons, and Dragons. Players can play to help each other to set their goals but can very well turn against you the next turn if you seem to get in their way and backstabing can happen more often than not to achieve victory- which makes it a lot of fun.

Risk:  Well this classic board game has to be played and if you haven't - shame on you !
 I played this a lot back in my late 20's but now have moved onto the more recent versions such as Risk: Lord of the Rings and Risk :God storm which are interesting takes on the classic risk, they are both rather more complex than the original and if your not familiar with certain event cards they can be very cut throat gaming

So there you have it , feel free to leave any other suggestions you think are up there for great board games.


  1. Nice post and some great selections there Mark. I run a board game club at the school I work at, and the kids love Catan, Carcasonne and Ticket to Ride (Europe map is better than the US one, much more interesting). One cooperative game that has been really popular is Forbidden Island by Gamewright. It takes a lot of communication and planning to win, and the tension builds throughout the game to an almost unbearable point. Does anyone remember Diplomacy? That's another classic I have fond memories of playing.

  2. Heard good things about ticket to ride, though not played it yet. Settlers used to get a lot of play here when I was younger... Played Pandemic one evening and that was interesting too. Risk - the old classic and in its myriad forms too. Cant comment on the rest...

    I do like FFs War of the Ring, but it takes a fair ol' time to play... MiddleEarth Quest is interesting too ( can you guess I'm a Tolkien nut!?) ... I am keen to check out Mansions of Madness too...

  3. Have you played Nexus Ops, Mark? It is the game that makes Risk obselete in my not particularly humble opinion.

    1. Forgot about Nexus-ops, so yep - played it with Andrew, Anne and Jarred once or twice
      your probaby right - much better than Risk