5 Reasons You Hate Board Games (and why you’re wrong)
By Tahlia Kirk
Lots of people had bad experiences with board games as a kid and don’t realize how much gaming has evolved since the days of Monopoly and Risk.
* The difficulty levels I assign are designed around newbie board gamers. “Easy” means a game is dead simple to learn. “Intermediate/advanced” games are still newbie friendly, but they might require a little more patience and appear more intimidating your first time playing.
- They’re too long (Bad experience from: Risk or Life)
Counterpoint: There are plenty of short, fast paced board games that can be played in 15-30 minutes. Better yet, many of these games allow players to jump in between rounds or even mid-game.
Suggestions for Commitment-Phobic players:
- No Thanks (easy level) = Simple no frills push-your-luck game that fits in your palm because it’s just cards and chips. (Time to learn = 5 minutes / Time to play = 15-20 depending on how many players).
- Love Letter (easy level) = Another game that fits easily into the palm of your hand. While I can teach this game in under 30 seconds and each round only take approx 5 minutes, it’s a surprisingly deep game that involves deduction.
- Escape (easy – intermediate) = Every game only lasts 10 minutes because that’s how much time is on the clock. This game is a guaranteed adrenaline rush as everyone works together to escape an Indiana Jones-style temple that is crumbling around you.
- They’re too thinky (bad experience from Chess, Balderdash, or Scrabble)
Board games definitely have a history of being enjoyed by intellectuals. It can feel like the only way to win is by calculating probability in your head or, in the case of Balderdash, by being brilliantly creative. Sometimes you just want to sit around and laugh.
Suggestions for fluffy party games that won’t strain your brain:
- Fluxx (Easy)
Sidenote: There are like a million flavors of this game, from Monty Python to Wizard of Oz, so you’re sure to find one that fits your personality).
- Exploding Kittens (easy) OR it’s similarly themed cousin “Kittens in a Blender”
Sidenote: If you buy the 1st edition of Exploding Kittens , the box actually meows when you open it https://www.explodingkittens.com/buy).
- Dixit (easy) = Like Apples to Apples, but using quixotic illustrations instead of words (Link to
- Cash ‘n Guns (easy – intermediate) = You get to point foam guns at each other. What else do I need to tell you?
- Say Anything (easy) = Like Balderdash, but requires less creativity and finesse
- They’re Too Cutthroat (bad experience from Monopoly)
Maybe you’ve had a family member flip the board in a fit of rage or maybe you’re just ultra competitive and despite trying to be a gracious loser, your day is secretly ruined every time it happens.
Well, I’ve got some great news for you. The latest craze in board games right now are cooperative board games where all the players work together to defeat the game itself. No backstabbing, no clawing your way to the top, and no holding grudges.
Suggestions for Pacifists:
- Forbidden Island (for easy/intermediate level) and its sister game Forbidden Desert (intermediate/advanced)
- Hanabi (easy to intermediate level)
- Tales of the Arabian Nights (early intermediate level) = Looks heavy and intimidating, but I swear it’s not complicated. This one is not co-op, but it’s so story driven and non-confrontational that I guarantee nobody will care if they lose.
- Pandemic (intermediate/advanced) = Especially recommend the spinoff games in the series: Pandemic Legacy and the dice version, Pandemic the Cure.
Protip: Sensitive players should avoid the game Munchkin at all costs. Just trust me on this, okay?
- There’s too much chance involved (Bad experience from playing Poker or Yahtzee)
Does gambling leave you empty and bored? Do you like a sure thing? Do you like planning for the future? Does it try you crazy hat so many people like games that offer almost ZERO control over your success. If you think games are just dice rolls and card draws, without any skill, you’re going to love these options (P.S. This is my favorite category).
Suggestions for Control Freaks:
- Dominion (early intermediate) –
- Small World (intermediate)
- Splendor (easy) – http://www.shutupandsitdown.com/videos/v/review-machi-koro/
- Concept (easy)
- Reading the rulebook before playing a new game is sooooo tedious (bad experience from trying to play any game for the first time)
Suggestions for Lazy Players (aka, most of us):
- ALL THE GAMES!
Ways to avoid the dreaded rulebook reading phase:
- Play with a friend who is familiar with the game already. If they’re a good teacher, you’ll be able to jump right into the game while they explain it along the way.
- Get the app ahead of time. Almost all popular board games nowadays have a mobile app or online version. Get familiar with the game on your phone or computer before committing to the hard copy.
- Watch a youtube tutorial before starting. It might not cover every tiny rules, but there are some highly entertaining videos that will cover enough to get you started. I recommend Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop channel or Shut Up and Sit Down (all of the links in this article go to one of these locations because they’re that good).