There’s a timeless appeal to board games. They have been around since at least the Bronze Age, and will probably continue to be a popular amusement in the centuries to come. They are relatively cheap, they provide interactive entertainment for a group, and they don’t require electricity or an internet connection. A horrible board game can suck the fun out of a room and cause unwanted antagonism.
There are a lot of games that have an unearned reputation for being fun. There seem to be an equal number of great games that are forever stuck in the shadows of obscurity. In this list, we will identify five games that you should give a try, and five games that you may have heard were fun but are in fact overrated.
10 Play: Lords Of Waterdeep
Lords of Waterdeep is a fun board game from Wizards of the Coast. This game is set in the Forgotten Realms; which is the most well-known campaign setting in Dungeons & Dragons. The city of Waterdeep is basically the New York City of the Forgotten Realms.
Each player chooses one of the Lords of Waterdeep to play as, and as the lord, it is up to the player to gather resources, construct buildings, and send adventurers on quests to earn points. The player with the most points at the end of eight turns wins. This is a great game – that doesn’t take all day to play. Plus, there are expansion packs that add a lot of new content.
9 Overrated: Monopoly
This game has been around for forever, and most of us probably wish it would just go away. Honestly, how did this game get so popular? A game of Monopoly is typically a five-hour trudge where one player slowly accumulates everybody else’s money and property.
This is a game that feels more like work than fun. In case you’ve never heard of this game, you roll dice to move your piece around the board. If you land on an unowned property you can buy it; otherwise, you must pay rent to the owner. That’s pretty much it.
8 Play: Betrayal At House On The Hill
This is a fun cooperative game with a ton of replay value. The players are a group of friends who are, for some reason, exploring a creepy old house. When a player goes through a blind door, they draw a room card and place it in the direction their character went. This game mechanic ensures that no two games will be the same.
Some of the room cards have a symbol on them; which forces the player to draw a card indicated by the symbol. Eventually, one of the players is revealed to have betrayed the group.
7 Overrated: Quarantine
In Quarantine the players take on the role of hospital administrators. The goal is to admit, and cure, sick people into your hospital before an epidemic breaks out. The sick people are represented by small colored cubes, with the color corresponding to a room in your hospital with the same color. The grey cubes are sick patients that need to be quarantined. If a grey cube is in one of your rooms it is considered contaminated, you cannot send patients into that room until the grey cube is removed. This is a very repetitive game, and the strategy is pretty shallow. Play Pandemic instead.
6 Play: Forbidden Island
Forbidden Island is a cooperative game for up to four players. The goal of this game is to collect four relics from the island. The island is made up of square tiles arranged in a filled-in square. There is a ticking clock in this game – the island is sinking. If a rising water card is drawn, the water rises, and the tiles on the outer edge are submerged.
Players caught in these submerged squares are killed. Each player chooses one of the four characters to play as, and each has a special ability. This is a great game with tons of replayability.
5 Overrated: Tuchulcha
This game, with a pseudo-Etruscan theme, is way too complicated for its own good. Each player has 8 pawn pieces they move around a stone path by rolling dice. There is an area in the middle of the circle that earns a player points if their pawn reaches it. If a pawn lands on a pawn belonging to another player, the attacking pawn may kill the defending pawn. To do this requires running through a mathematical equation that seems needlessly complicated. If a player loses enough pawns they may try to win by killing other players’ pawns. Just find another game to play, unless you like math and/or Etruscan themes.
4 Play: One Night Ultimate Werewolf
This is an excellent game that manages to take an overly ambitious premise and make it accessible for all players. This game takes place in a village, and each player is given a villager to portray. Some of the villagers are werewolves, but this is a kept a secret to the other players.
The werewolves attempt to masquerade as a villagers (and feed on them when they can), while the other players try and figure out who is one of these creatures of the night. This is a great party game, as it allows for up to 75 players. There is thankfully an app that makes a crowded game run a little more smoothly.
3 Overrated: Cards Against Humanity
This game is surprisingly popular for such a simple card game. There are black cards and white cards. The black cards pose a question, and the white cards provide possible answers to these questions. The game is meant to elicit laughs, but often elicits more cringe, and groans, than anything else. The player of the white answer card that gets the consensus as funniest wins the hand. Also, this is definitely not a game for children as many of the white cards have statements that are exceedingly profane. Play this game only with good friends, and you might try serving some drinks before the game begins.
2 Play: Munchkin
This delightful game from Steve Jackson Games is a satirical take on Dungeons & Dragons. The goal is to get your munchkin to level 10; this is done with the small game board. There are two decks of cards in Munchkin – Door cards and Treasure cards. Players draw a door card on their turn.
Sometimes this is a monster; which they have to defeat or suffer the consequences written on the monster’s card. If they defeat the monster they may draw from the treasure deck. Players can help or hinder other players in combat. This is an incredibly fun game that is simple enough for anyone to learn.
1 Overrated: Settlers Of Catan
This game has an enormous fanbase, so there are certainly people reading this and getting perturbed. In my opinion, a better name for this game is “Farming and Tedium Simulator”. The players are settlers on the Island of Catan. There are sections of the island that provide a resource, like wheat or wood, to players with a building adjacent to these areas. The players can also build roads and raise an army for extra points. There are much better games out there to play, but if building roads and growing wheat sound like fun then give Settlers of Catan a try.