Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

The board game buyer’s guide

Are you looking to buy board games, but you’re not sure what to get? As the giving season comes upon us, it can be hard for those who know someone who would like a board game, but aren’t sure how to select a good one.

These recommendations are based on questions I frequently find myself answering, and hopefully these answers can help you too.

I want a game to get my young kids into board games

We all have memories of board games at family gatherings that just seemed to go on forever, more like an endurance event than something fun. This fate can be avoided though.

Recommendation 1: Connect 4

For younger kids Connect 4 represents quite a challenge. Planning ahead, pattern matching, and understanding the interaction between your opponent’s move and your next move. Plus learning to see diagonal patterns. Connect 4 has it all, and is played and set up quickly. Great for the 4-8 age group.

Recommendation 2: Pictureka

Another game for younger kids. You don’t need to be literate to play Pictureka, which is great when you’re 5. The game challenges you to find specific pictures on board tiles filled with the. This game creates a nice challenge, and like Connect 4 can be set up and packed away in less than 5 minutes.

I want a game to play with my children – without getting bored!

Getting your children into board games is all well and good, but while young mister six may enjoy 20 games of Connect 4 in a row, you may not emerge unscathed.

Recommendation 1: Dixit

Dixit will keep you and the children engrossed for as long as it lasts. A game about the giving and understanding of clues, Dixit is another game that doesn’t require literacy on the part of its players. Playing this with younger children I find the main difficulty is holding the large cards in little hands.

Recommendation 2: Tsuro

Tsuro is a quick game that requires some focus. The aim of this game is to be the last player remaining on the board. To achieve this you lay down tiles and move your piece along a meandering path. This game also allows you to interact with other players by setting up moves that keep your piece on the board while running your opponents off it.

I want a game to encourage my children to cooperate when they play

As the little terrors get older, it’s nice to know you can set them up with a board game and walk away. Sometimes these competitive games can get a little too competitive and by the time voices are raised it can be too late to intervene

Recommendation 1: Pandemic

This games challenges players to save the world by working together to defeat a series of infection diseases. Each players takes on a different role which enables them to help the team in a unique way. They won’t win if they don’t cooperate and plan ahead.

Recommendation 2: Forbidden Desert

In Forbidden Desert the players find themselves lost in a fatal landscape. Their only hope is to work together gather the pieces and construct the flying machine which can take them out. Again each player has a unique role, but this game is hard enough that even with good planning and cooperation, luck can turn victory into defeat.

We have non board gamer friends coming over. What to pick up?

A slightly different question, but sometimes you get to leave the kids and hang out with other adults. Board games can pass the time pleasantly, but most people aren’t ready to make board games the focus of the evening.

For best results I find it’s good to get a game that’s quick to play, quick to learn, and easy to teach. The following two games tick those boxes.

Recommendation 1: Splendor

In Splendor you take on the role of a master jeweller seeking noble patronage. The first player to 15 points wins, and the poker-style chips hit the table with a satisfying clunk.

Recommendation 2: Azul

Azul is a game of competitive tile placement. It seems inscrutable at first glance but is actually easy to understand. Once the game ‘clicks’ I find people immediately want to play again. Great for a pleasant evening that happens to involve a board game.

I want something to keep my older “angels” busy for like… a long time

If you’re having friends over, it’s also good strategy to give those lovely children something to keep them busy for as long as you need. These next two games will do just that, and the best part is they won’t really notice.

Recommendation 1: Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven is by far the most complicated game in this article. It’s very popular though, and for good reason. Gloomhaven is made up of close to 100 scenarios, each taking an hour or two (or more!) to play. Continuity comes as the game can change between scenarios depending on player actions, and players can gather new equipment to take with them on their next adventure.

Recommendation 2: Lords of Waterdeep

I almost recommended this as a game to play when friends come over. It’s good for this purpose, but is maybe more important as a way of keeping any younger guests or residents busy. In Lords of Waterdeep you take on the role of one of the eponymous lords, moving towards your hidden goal. Other players will be focused on their own goals as you send your agents around the city to further your plans. A fun game, and very replayable too.

These are my go-to recommendations for now, but I’m always looking for something else to recommend for the common questions I get asked. How about you? Do you have different games you recommend to others?

One comment on “The board game buyer’s guide

  1. Bookstooge
    December 1, 2019

    Sorry and Parcheesi are my go-to board games. When I play like once a year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on December 1, 2019 by in Board Games, Tabletop and tagged , , .
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