Top 10 – All Good Meeple
If you are new to the world of games and are not sure about what to buy, here is a top 10 of our favourites to help you decide. Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and Cluedo are not the only options you have, and there are many new board and card games being created all the time. Our store aims to keep supplies of the most popular ones. The overall purpose of a board game session should be to get people you know in real life, friends and family, together in person to play the game and interact with each other, share some food, drink, and conversation, and generally get away from the routine of sitting in front of the TV, playing a solo computer game or gaming over the internet with random gamer folk. The games below have broad appeal, you can’t go far wrong with any of these and they would form a sound basis to your board and card game collection.
Schools – if you are running a board game club these would be ideal additions to your library.
CLICK ON THE GAME NAME TO GO TO THE STORE PAGE FOR EACH GAME.
Easy to learn tile laying game where you are striving to build roads and cities and lay claim to the best ones before your opponents do. Lots of strategy involved, going for odd points early on, or looking for larger builds, monasteries and farms, that can score you more points later in the game, or a bit of both. You can also thwart opponents’ plans by connecting one of your cities or roads to theirs, and sharing the points. Only takes about 30 minutes to play, for two players upwards, and suitable for kids too. Lots of expansions and variations so you can always find ways to vary the basic game.
If you are fed up of playing Monopoly at every family get-together (and this blog article sums up why this might be the case), try Catan instead. Here you are trying to colonise the island of Catan and vying with your opponents for scarce resources such as wood and brick, in order to build roads, settlements and cities. You will have to trade your resources with other players to achieve your goals, whilst trying to upset their plans to build the longest road or control the largest army. Periodically the robber will appear and cause players to lose some of their hard-won resources too. Another game suitable for all ages, takes about an hour to play, and again there are a number of variations such as the Seafarers version, to keep the game fresh. There is less luck and more strategy involved than with Monopoly, it’s quicker to play, and nobody is eliminated from the game early – in fact the scoring ensures that nobody can be entirely sure who is in the lead until they declare that they’ve won!
We play the European version of this game as it a bit more relevant in terms of helping the kids to remember where our neighbouring cities are, and there are some neat additions to this version that add more variety to the basic USA version. In this game you are competing against other players to build rail routes across Europe, connecting all the major cities. Of course there are times when you need to build a route in an area already occupied by another player so you have to change your plans or maybe consider blasting an expensive tunnel or using a ferry route to go another way. If you compete the longest route there are bonus points at the end of the game. Suitable for all ages and plays in about an hour. There are some other map variations too.
No top 10 board games list would be complete without some co-operative games where you play with the other players, not against them, so everyone wins or loses together. If you’ve not played a co-operative game before you will find it a very pleasant experience. The game board is a map of the world and you are a team of specialists trying to rid the world of four virulent diseases – each team member has special skills and you have to work out how best to use these to stamp out the viruses before they become a pandemic. Send medics in to quickly clear up an outbreak, a quarantine specialist will prevent disease spreading in the area they are currently based, and use the dispatcher to quickly send players to an area where trouble is brewing. You can play the game on different settings, so start with the easiest and then ramp up the difficulty for later games. Game length varies but allow about an hour, and is suitable for age 8 and up.
This is another co-operative game where the players act as specialists trying to save four valuable artefacts from an island which is sinking into the ocean. As the game progresses more areas of the island are lost and your job is to shore up the areas that have the artefacts on them, whilst not getting cut off by the rising waters yourself, and getting a team member to each of the tiles to collect the artefacts. There is a hand limit of just five cards and you need four of a kind to save an artefact, so being able to swap cards between players is important. Most players need to be on the same land tile to do that – often inconvenient when an artefact is on the verge of sinking at the other end of the island. Once the artefacts have been rescued, everyone needs to get to the heli-pad and play a helicopter card to escape. Allow about 45 minutes to play, suitable for all ages. There is an equally good variation “Forbidden Desert” where you are recovering parts to a lost flying machine before it is lost to the desert sands or before you die of thirst.
6. Love Letter
Love Letter is a bluffing and deduction game with a poker-like feel to it. You are trying to get a love letter to a princess, which you do by playing and/or discarding cards from a deck of just 16. Each card has a number from 1 to 8 on it and at the end of each round, the person with the highest numbered card left in their hand, gets their letter delivered to the princess. When you have had four (or more depending on number of players) letters delivered, you win the game. Some cards let you peek at other players’ hands, or force them to discard their card and take another. Others offer you the chance to put players immediately out of the round by either directly accusing them of holding a certain card, or allow you to duel with another player, on a highest card value wins basis. After a few turns you will start to form ideas of who is holding which card, information you can then use to your advantage. Suitable for all ages, takes about 30 minutes to play.
This easily makes our top 10 board games list, a very unusual game where each player takes turns as “storyteller”, describing one of the illustrated cards they have in their hand, in a not-too-cryptic but also not-too-obvious way, so that not none, but not all, of the other players guess it correctly. You are trying to make a connection with just a few of your opponents. Other players then put down cards which might make opponents think their card is the storyteller’s card. After everyone has played a card, a secret vote is held and players score points for correct guesses, as well as for tricking other players into voting for the wrong card. There are several expansion packs of cards so you have potentially hundreds of images you might be faced with trying to describe. Suitable for all ages, allow 45 minutes to play, and if you have Dixit Odyssey, up to 12 players can take part.
This game revolves around penguins catching fish from a hexagonal disappearing ice floe. Every tile you move to has a number of fish on it, but you only get to have those fish when you move off the tile, so each time you move – in straight lines only, and no jumping gaps – you take the tile you were on, off the board, which means holes start to appear in the ice and you can strategically cut other players off from the best tiles. Player with most fish captured at the end of the game wins. Very good for kids but a nice strategic brain challenge for grown-ups too. Plays in about 20 minutes.
This is a lovely game and easy for anyone to learn. Ideal for taking to the pub or a nice ice-breaker for a games evening involving more complex games. As in Scrabble, you are laying tiles, not to make words, but to make rows of matching colours OR shapes. There is no game board, you play on a table top so it’s more like dominoes in that regard. Lots of strategic placement is involved, as if you leave a row of five tiles on the table, someone else can complete a full row of six and claim six bonus points for a “qwirkle”. If you like the Scrabble format but words and spelling aren’t your thing, try Qwirkle. Plays in about half an hour.
10. Once Upon a Time
Finally in our top 10 board games, Once Upon a Time is another co-operative game but with a slight competitive twist. Here the players are trying to tell a fairytale, using the words that you have in your hand of cards, making a plausible story that follows on from what has gone before, and without too much hesitation. Although everyone is working on the story together, each player has a secret “ending” card which they are trying to steer the story towards. Players can interrupt and take over the story, with a view to introducing elements from their own cards, so that the story can satisfactorily conclude with their version of the story ending. Suitable for ages 8 and up, allow 45 minutes to play.
Of course these are just our current favourites and anyone else’s top 10 board games is likely to be different – there are many more you can look through in our store.