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Nobody doesn’t love a board game. Sure, the concept seems antiquated in an era of curved monitors, VR headsets and game consoles you can play on the toilet, but nothing brings a room full of family and friends together than an interesting concept and the thrill of rolling a die.
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While there’s nothing wrong with the classics like Monopoly or Clue, there are tons of hidden gems available for even the pickiest players, along with new spins on old favorites. Nothing beats the clarion call of a board game than a holiday get-together. It beats arguing over politics, in any case. This goes double when the temperatures dip into the low 30s and all you want to do is enjoy a cozy evening at home tossing dice and building Jenga towers. Here are some of our favorite board games that are perfect any season, and for every kind of player.
1. For retro gamers: Super Mario Jenga
Board games don’t get much tenser than the strategic tower-building challenge Jenga. You can play competitively or co-operatively, with a group or even alone. This version not only adds a smack of Nintendo charm to the game but also another layer of strategy and chance. Players must build a Jenga tower while climbing it as one of four characters (Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad) and ultimately topple King Bowser, just like in the classic video game series.
2. For all ages: Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza
This card game is equal parts addictive and adorable, and friendly for just about all ages. Learning to play takes about a minute, and rounds can quickly become hectic and exhilarating. Up to eight players slap cards while reciting the titular words. Once a card matches with the word spoken, players must rush to slap the pile of cards and claim it as their own. A simple and inspired concept, and way more fun than it has any right to be.
3. For cutthroat competition: Ticket to Ride
Train travel doesn’t have the allure of flying through the skies, but I’d like to see any plane-related board game be half as fun. Ticket to Ride pits two to five players against each other as gilded-age rail barons, who must strategically build railways across the map and become trans-continental travel kingpins. Trust me, it’s way more engaging than it sounds. Ticket to Ride is truly one of those games that don’t click until you’ve played a round or two. Once you do, you’ll undoubtedly see what all the fuss is about.
4. For G-rated Fun: Sushi Go Party! Deluxe
Strategic pick-up-and-pass card games are nothing new, but Sushi Go Party! Deluxe adds anthropomorphic Japanese food into the mix, making it an instant favorite. Not only are the cards kawaii as heck, but there’s a convenient efficiency to the game, which lays out scores on the game board so everyone knows where they stand during any given round. Unlike busier offerings, this board game is low profile enough for those with limited space.
5. For hilarious moments: Cranium
At this point in board game history, Cranium has easily earned a spot on the Mount Rushmore of greats alongside the likes of Monopoly and Uno. Cranium splits players into teams to compete in mind and body challenges. These feats include drawing, acting and even sculpting, with some brain-melting trivia tossed in for good measure. Unlike games with built-in humor like Cards Against Humanity, Cranium’s hilarity comes naturally and hits a little harder because of it.
6. For super sleuths: Scooby-Doo! Clue
It’s only natural that one of the most iconic murder mystery games eventually teamed up with the equally iconic crime-solving Great Dane Scooby-Doo. Every game practically feels like an episode featuring Mystery Inc, which must use the process of elimination to discover the particulars of an abduction in Mrs. White’s mansion. The only thing missing is a villain complaining about meddling kids, but players can always toss that in themselves.
7. For sneaky saboteurs: The Thing: Infection at Outpost 13
Jon Carpenter’s The Thing remains one of the most chilling pieces of science fiction horror. Now, you can capture the tension and threat of an alien interloper in a board game. Players must work together to accomplish various missions while trying to deduce the saboteur amongst them. (Think of it as an incredibly lo-fi version of Among Us.) The game even features the same classic characters from the film, including MacReady, Palmer and Blair.
8. For a new spin on a classic: Monopoly Ultimate Banking
There are countless versions of Monopoly, and they all more or less run together, save for the different brands they are representing from Game of Thrones to Jurassic Park. Monopoly Ultimate Banking replaces all that cumbersome cash by issuing two to four players their own credit card which can be charged with money at will. Investing in real estate has never been so streamlined. Best of all, going plastic should make it harder for your dad to cheat too.
9. For kaiju fans: King of Tokyo
Anyone who’s ever stomped sand castles on the beach knows how appealing becoming a city decimating Kaiju monster can be, and King of Tokyo allows two to six players to do just that. Every game pits monsters against each other and the world, in a strategic game for players 10 and up. Each game can be played in as little as 30 minutes, allowing for all manner of devastating possibilities.
10. For immersive competition: Catan
You can’t build an empire without cracking a few skulls, or at the very least, bruising a few friendships. Three to four adventurers must compete to settle the Catan, harvest valuable resources and make strategic trades to develop the fledgling isle into a robust new outpost. Like the Civilization series, no game of Catan is like the last, and once you learn to play, you’ll likely learn new strategies to break out on future play-throughs. Be careful: As enriching as a playthrough can be, the competition can get white hot.
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