Growing up, board game nights with the family generally consisted of whipping out a battered Scrabble board or throwing Yahtzee dice from a McDonald’s Batman and Robin tumbler. While this is all good fun, it can be easy to get caught up with classics and miss out on an exciting world of gaming.
With this list, we ask that you spice up your life and take a walk on the tiled side. For now, put aside Monopoly and Life and try one of these on for size.
This game wants you to lose. Don’t take it personally. These monsters just really want you dead.
As an investigator, you are tasked with solving mysteries, sealing gates and stopping the servants of H.P. Lovecraft’s Ancient Ones. You can even square off against Cthulu himself.
The game assumes that you already have some level of familiarity with the mythos, but the game is just as enjoyable if you don’t—you just wont know what an Elder Thing or a Shoggoth is.
Arkham Horror is complex, and the game can run for a long time, but the intense pace and the constantly shifting environment keeps you actively engaged. You’ll fight for hours, but in the end, you’ll probably lose. The game feels like it’s constantly working against you, because it is. These are Eldritch Gods. Of course they’re going to work hard to kill you.
Takenoko is the greatest board game with a panda you will ever play.
As a farmer for the emperor’s panda, you must cultivate, water and grow three different types of bamboo. The player who grows the most bamboo and keeps the panda full wins.
While the game is easily accessible to players of all ages, it isn’t just for children, and the replay value is high. Simply put, Takenoko is silly, fun and stinking adorable.
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game
If you’re looking for a game that will make you feel as devastated as when George R.R. Martin chopped off Eddard Stark’s head, this is the game for you.
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game is essentially Risk on steroids. When the Seven Kingdoms go to war, you and up to five of your friends assume command of one of the noble houses as they fight for control of the Iron Throne. The game encourages you to use strategic planning, brutal tactics and diplomacy, but urges you to never trust an ally. You never know who might want to stab you in the back, but it’s safe to assume the answer is everyone.
The goal of Gloom is simple. Make your family as miserable as possible before killing them. This gets tricky, because other players are out to make your family happy before offing them. You don’t want your family to be happy.
Event cards have happiness and misery points that can aid or hurt you in your downward spiral to death. It’s your job to weave a story to explain how that event happened. You can play up the creative storytelling aspect as much as you want—you can be boring as hell or you can spin an epic yarn, it’s up to you. All that really matters is that you think negative thoughts and drop the axe—literally.