As a preface to this list, these are not my top ten favorite games, but they are games that have broad appeal and pretty much everyone will love them. Many of these picks are very common on similar lists, but here we go… (Note: this list was originally created for an American audience, I do not think Wits & Wagers has the same international appeal, maybe someone can suggest a game to take its place, also the publishers listed are the American counterparts)
01. Ticket to Ride by Days of Wonder (2-5 players in 45 minutes)
Players are leaders of train companies building railroads in the US. Players see who can achieve the goals they set out to do and get the most points, while doing so. This game is beloved by everyone, very simple mechanically with much of the game being based off of the family card game of rummy and with very easy to learn rules, but still provides very interesting decisions. One of my fondest memories of board games come from blocking my girlfriend from getting her railroad into Miami and her pouting the rest of the day. A must own game!
02. Pandemic by Z-Man Games (2-4 players 60 minutes)
Players are different professionals such as the Medic and Scientist hired to work together and cure the world of the four diseases spelling out imminent doom for the rest of the world. This game is great at introducing players to cooperative board games, where you feel the tension and need to work together to save the planet. This game is in my personal top ten favorite games for that great tension and satisfaction of winning as a team.
03. Wits & Wagers by North Star Games (4+ players 25 minutes)
Here is what Trivial Pursuit should have been. Have you felt stupid in a trivia game? Yeah, we all have. This game asks you questions, that no one should know the answer, but after the game you feel so much smarter. This game is also in my top ten favorite games list and holds a special place in my heart as being one of the games that brought me into the hobby. Another must own game!
04. Zooloretto by Rio Grande Games (3-4 players 45 minutes)
You are a zookeeper collecting animals to bring to your zoo. Players fight over creating the zoo that will attract the most visitors. What a cool theme? Right? And there is a panda on the box! Such a friendly and fun game with a bunch of strategy and player interaction. They also have a iPod/iPhone/iPad version which went down in price, highly suggest it!
05. Acquire by Avalon Hill (3-6 players 90 minutes)
The oldest game on this list by over 30 years, but it has stood the test of time. I heard it once described as the game we should have grown up playing instead of Monopoly and I couldn’t agree more. In this game, players are stock holders in various hotel chains/businesses (depending on the version you have) you see a different side of corporate America, where you actually just build your size up to be worth more when you merge into an ever larger business. The game feels a bit random at first, but as soon as you get what is going on then it is on. There is also an iApp for this one under the name McGuire (since it is not licenced).
06. For Sale by Gryphon Games (3-6 players 20 minutes)
The shortest and simplest of the whole lot. It is a very simple auction game where players bid and bluff to take their slice of the housing market. Then they try to turn a profit when they auction off their houses. For those new to board games, this is often called a “filler game” which means it is used in between longer games to unwind, the beginning of a game night to wait for stragglers, or just to relax after a long day. Have not gotten to play this as much as I should recently. Other games I can suggest in this place is No Thanks! and Felix the Cat in the Sack.
07. Lost Cities by Rio Grande Games
Often called the ultimate significant other game, Lost Cities is great for hard core games and anyone who just so happens to be caught in their midst. In Lost Cities, you are an adventurer taking part in various journeys to get more and more fame, the further you venture. This is a game I can bring out with my mom and my hard core gaming buddies. With the ability to play as many rounds as you want, it is one of the best games to play when there are just two people waiting for the rest of the game group to get there. There is a solo version on Facebook, once you have learned this one :] Another must own game!
08. Carcassonne by Rio Grande Games (2-5 players 60 minutes)
You are building up the medieval city of Carcassonne, France. Your people are deployed at various locations to maximize your contributions to building the city up. Players take turns placing tiles that help build up the city, like dominoes fitting with the surrounding tiles. At the end, you have a beautiful map that is different each time. It can be a fun and friendly game or a mean and evil game, based on how you choose to play. Which one will you be? There is also a really good iOS app for this one, which I have enjoyed greatly versus computers and my girlfriend alike :]
09. Catan by Mayfair Games (3-4 players 90 minutes)
Easily the most influential board game in the modern gaming era. In the Settlers of Catan, players are what else? settlers of the island of Catan, trying to advance their settlements through expansion of settlements, cities, culture, trade network, and army. This game was one of the first games imported from Germany to catch on in the US and around the world to new German mechanics developed in post-WWII Germany. It started a great trend of importing German games with new mechanics to audiences such as the US. No longer is your movement controlled by a die roll, you get to choose, player elimination is gone as well as downtime between turns, and avoids too much direct conflict. These are all problems that some people see with the American classics such as Monopoly. A great game for anyone interested in the hobby.
10. Dominion by Rio Grande Games (2-4 Players 30 minutes)
Dominion is actually currently my favorite game. In this game, you take the deck building of CCG’s and make it the whole game. Make a deck with cool strategies and combos to build up to a winning score. The theme deals with you creating a dominion and trying to build it up faster than your opponents, but this game is all about the deck. A must own for fans of any CCG and a great game for everyone
I have created this blog specifically targeted at those new to the hobby. So if you are new to the hobby, I encourage you subscribe! My name is Andrew Knaack and I am the president of the Board Game Club at University of California, San Diego, located on the beautiful beaches of La Jolla, CA, USA. Nearly everyone from the club was new to designer games, so I wanted a friendly voice that welcomes them into the hobby. Happy Gaming!
- [+] Dice rolls