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The Only Board Games You Will Ever Need

Updated on August 9, 2014

Let's roll the dice!

Board games are great. For me nothing beats a good gaming night with family and friends. Whether we play a party, war or family board game every gaming session is a unique and educational experience. Unfortunately that is not as easy as it may seem.

The thing is that the number of board games in your collection is limited, (unless you are willing to invest a great deal of money into it) but your gaming group possibly won't be.

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I started my collection, was to buy board games that I found awesome, without thinking if the people that I would share them with, would agree with me.

You see the truth is that the same board game that is ideal for a certain group of people, can at the same time be boring, difficult, and in general not suitable for a different group. The main reason for that are the great differences that exist between one person and another (age, educational, gender etc).

The list of games that follows, manage in my opinion to bridge these differences and will hopefully be suitable for your gaming group.

Keep in mind that the games are listed in random order, firstly because I don't think that I can compare games that belong in totally different genres and secondly because I don't think that ratings have any meaning in this list.

P.S. Don't expect to find games like Monopoly, Clue, Uno, Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit in my list...

Settlers of Catan

Designer: Klaus Teuber

Number of Players: 3 - 4

Suggested Ages: 10 and Up

Average Playing Time: 90 minutes

In Settlers of Catan each player tries to become the most successful colonist by building roads, cities and settlements through the use of various resources.

Each round players roll the dice, collect resources, trade them with each other or with the bank, buy development cards and build roads and buildings in order to gain the 10 points that will lead them to victory.

One of the most popular games and also winner of many awards, Settlers of Catan should be in everybody's collection. Those who like Settlers of Catan can also try "Catan: Seafarers", "Catan: Cities & Knights" and "Catan: Traders & Barbarians".

Buy Settlers of Catan on Amazon

Tichu / Tai Pan

Designer: Urs Hostettler

Number of Players: 3 - 6

Suggested Ages: 10 and Up

Average Playing Time: 60 minutes

Tichu is a card game, played by two opposing teams of two players. Each team tries to accumulate points mainly by winning tricks and by getting rid of the cards that they hold in hand. The first team to reach a thousand points wins the game.

Although the number of players that can play Tichu varies from 3 to 6, my opinion is that Tichu should only be played by four players.

I say that because I strongly believe that Tichu is the best four player game that ever existed. Take my word on this and just try this game. You won't regret it.

Buy Tichu on Amazon

Blokus

Designer: Bernard Tavitian

Number of Players: 2 - 4

Suggested Ages: 5 and Up

Average Playing Time: 20 minutes

Blokus is an abstract strategy game, played on a square board of four hundred squares.

The purpose of the game is for each player to place his/her 21 pieces on the board (or at least the maximum number of pieces he/she can).

Each player must begin at one of the corners of the board and each new piece that is placed on the board, must touch at least one corner but never the sides of one of his/her pieces already on the board.

Blokus is one of these games that you can learn in five minutes, yet you will play again and again for many years. If you are searching for an easy to learn-hard to master abstract game with really beautiful components, then your search is over.

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Pandemic

Designer: Matt Leacock

Number of Players: 2 - 4

Suggested Ages: 10 and Up

Average Playing Time: 60 minutes

Pandemic is a cooperative board game in which players combine their efforts to fight lethal diseases and save the population of earth.

Each player takes the role of one of the five possible specialists and tries to cure all four diseases before any of several game-losing conditions are reached.

I consider Pandemic to be one of the most entertaining and at the same time difficult board games I have ever played and the reason for that are the theme and mechanics of the game.

Pandemic is unfair. You see there are three ways to lose in the game but only one to win. But when a game has a so powerful and motivating theme, (who wouldn't want to save the world from diseases?) no matter how many times they have lost, players will return to try one more time. And when victory comes it's something meaningful, something that came from cooperation and something all players can enjoy together.

If you want to win in this game, I think that you should try playing the introductory game with only two people. But that is not how I would recommend playing.

In my opinion Pandemic should be played by four players in normal difficulty, as the experience of four people working together, even though rarely successful, will always be a captivating one. So give it a try.

Buy Pandemic on Amazon

Ticket to Ride

Designer: Alan R. Moon

Number of Players: 2 - 5

Suggested Ages: 8 and Up

Average Playing Time: 45 minutes

In Ticket to Ride players choose destination cards that show a pair of cities depicted on the map. These become goals which players try to connect using railway car cards and the train pieces that they own. Each turn players draw additional destination cards, collect railway car cards or use them to claim routes on the map of North America.

The game ends when one player has exhausted or nearly exhausted his or her train pieces. When this occurs, one additional turn is played for each player, after which they reveal the previously hidden destination cards. Points are also awarded for having successfully completed the routes on the cards, but at the same time points are subtracted for any incomplete routes. A ten-point bonus is awarded to the player who has the longest set of routes that are continuously connected.

Ticket to Ride combines simple gameplay, which can be learned in less than five minutes, with great depth and tactical decisions that only few other games can offer. Beside the map of North America, there are also several editions of Ticket to Ride that feature maps from Europe, Switzerland, India and Asia among others, so that you can choose which ever you like. Ticket to Ride is one of the best board games you could find and one you will play again and again with your family and friends.

Buy Ticket to Ride on Amazon

Dixit Odyssey

Designer: Jean-Louis Roubira

Number of Players: 3 - 12

Suggested Ages: 8 and up

Average Playing Time: 30 minutes

In Dixit Odyssey each player becomes the storyteller for a round. The storyteller chooses in secret one card from his/her hand, and then tries to describe it to the other players with a word or a sentence.

Each other player chooses a card in hand that matches the description and gives it to the storyteller.

Then the storyteller shuffles his card with the rest of the cards he received and reveals all of them to the players. All players vote on which picture was the storyteller's.

If everyone or no one guessed the storyteller's card, the storyteller receives no points and all players receive two. Otherwise the storyteller and whoever found the correct answer get three points. Players score one point for each vote their image receives. The game continues and the next player becomes the storyteller. The game ends if the deck runs out or if a player gets a certain number of points.

I think that no board game collection can be complete, unless it contains at least one decent party game. Dixit is possibly the best party game you can find. Just the artwork of the cards would be a good reason to get it. The only issue with Dixit Odyssey is that after several games, cards will start to reappear. But that can be solved with the extra cards from the expansions that exist. Such a good game this one.

Carcassonne

Designer: Klaus-Jürgen Wrede

Number of Players: 2 - 5

Suggested Ages: 8 and up

Average Playing Time: 45 minutes

Each player tries to develop the area around Carcassonne by placing his followers (meeples) in available cities, roads, fields and clusters.

The game starts with a single terrain tile face up and the rest shuffled facing down for the players to draw. The game ends when the last tile has been placed. The player with the best results wins the game.

Although the basic game of Carcassonne is quite simple, several expansions have been published, which add more rules, tiles and new kinds of figures.

In my opinion this is a great two player game but I would recommend getting one of the big boxes of Carcassonne, in order to enjoy every aspect of it.

Buy Carcassonne on Amazon

7 Wonders

Designer: Antoine Bauza

Number of Players: 2 - 7

Suggested Ages: 10 and up

Average Playing Time: 30 minutes

7 Wonders is a civilization card game that takes place over three ages. In each age, players receive seven cards from a particular deck, choose one of those cards, and then pass the rest to an adjacent player.

After that, players reveal their cards simultaneously and decide what action they will take. They can use that card by paying its cost, they can use that card in order to build a part of their Wonder, or they can discard that card and get coins. This is repeated until 6 out of the 7 cards have been dealt. The age ends with a military conflict between players. After three ages, the game ends.

An impressive fact about this game is that it is equally entertaining even with seven players. A quick to play, easy to learn game with great diversity, excellent components and beautiful artwork.

Buy 7 Wonders on Amazon

War of the Ring

Designers:

Roberto Di Meglio,

Marco Maggi,

Francesco Nepitello

Number of Players: 2 - 4

Suggested Ages: 12 and up

Average Playing Time: 180 minutes

In War of the Ring, players take control of the Free People of Middle Earth and the Shadow Armies of Sauron. The Dark Lord tries to find the location of the Ring-bearer, and unleashes his armies against the strongholds of the Free People, while the Fellowship of the Ring advances towards Mordor in order to destroy the One Ring.

The game can be won either by a military victory, when one of the two rival forces conquers a certain amount of cities and strongholds the opponent control or when the Free People complete the quest of the Ringbearer and destroy the One Ring.

The various actions players can perform are decided by the roll of dice. Depending on the face rolled on each die, players can move armies, recruit troops, advance on the political track and play event cards.

I love Lord of the Rings! I love the books, I love the movies and I love War of the ring. A truly magnificent board game, faithful to the epic tale that J.R.R. Tolkien created. And who knows maybe one day I might get the Collector's edition...

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Acquire

Designer: Sid Sackson

Number of Players: 3 - 6

Suggested Ages: 12 and up

Average Playing Time: 90 minutes

In Acquire each player tries to gain the majority of stocks of various companies and become the wealthiest stockholder.

As the game progresses smaller companies are bought by bigger, giving the players with the most stocks of the acquired business bonuses, that can be used into new investments. All of the investors in the acquired company can then cash in their stocks or trade them for shares of the newer company.

Acquire is the best alternative that you have, if your friends insist on playing Monopoly again and again... I have been there and I know how you must feel. After two maybe three games, I think Monopoly will be out of the picture. Acquire is a very nice economy themed board game for those that enjoy this type of games.

Buy Aquire on Amazon

Jungle Speed

Designers: Thomas Vuarchex, Pierrick Yakovenko

Number of Players: 2 - 8

Suggested Ages: 7 and up

Average Playing Time: 10 minutes

Jungle Speed is a party game of reflexes and observation. A totem is placed in the middle of the playing area and each player takes the same amount of cards, that they must place facing down in front of them.

Players reveal cards from their stacks, until a card that matches the symbol of another player's top card appears. When that happens those players must make a grab for the totem. The one who loses takes both players' played cards and places them at the bottom of his/her deck.

There are also three special cards that alter the gameplay. All Flip: When this is revealed the player who played this card counts to three and then all players reveal a card simultaneously. Fast Grab: When this is revealed all players try to get the totem. Color Match: When this card is exposed, cards are the same if their colors match, and not their symbols. The first player to get rid of all his/her cards is the winner.

A hilarious game that you should try.

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Lost Cities

Designer: Reiner Knizia

Number of Players: 2

Suggested Ages: 8 and up

Average Playing Time: 30 minutes

Players in Lost Cities take the role of explorers, trying to succeed in expeditions to one or more of the five lost cities.

If a player is successful in his expeditions then points will be earned but if not, negative points will be scored. After three rounds, the player with the biggest score is declared the winner.

Reiner Knizia did an exceptional work with this two player card game. Give it a try.

Buy Lost Cities on Amazon

Stone Age

Designer: Bernd Brunnhofer

Number of Players: 2 - 4

Suggested Ages: 10 and up

Average Playing Time: 60 minutes

Stone Age is a worker placement game, in which players try to survive against the hardships of that prehistoric period, by working as farmers, collectors, hunters, and tool makers.

There are three phases in the game. During the first phase, players place their workers in the various regions of the board.

In the second phase, the starting player activates any area that he had previously placed workers in, followed by the other players.

Finally in the third phase each player's population must be fed. Whoever cannot feed his population is penalized in resources or points.

Stone Age has one of the most beautiful boards I have ever seen and in general the components of this game are of excellent quality. But except good looks Stone Age also has great depth and excellent game mechanics.

Buy Stone Age on Amazon

Werewolf

Designer: Dimitry Davidoff, Andrew Plotkin

Number of Players: 8 - 24

Suggested Ages: 8 and up

Average Playing Time: 60 minutes

In Werewolf players are part of a werewolf infested village, either being one of the possible victims or one of the werewolves.

A player can either be a werewolf, an ordinary villager, or a character with special abilities, like a seer, a witch, a hunter etc (depending on the version you have, there is a large number of special characters with unique abilities).

Each round of the game consists of two phases, the night phase and the day phase. At night while the villagers are asleep, werewolves pick their victim. When the day comes the villager that was killed is out of the game and the rest of the players (villagers or not) vote on a player that they consider to be a Werewolf. The one with the most votes is lynched and is eliminated from the game.

After that a new night phase begins with the werewolves (or werewolf) going for the next villager. The game continues until all villagers or werewolves are dead.

When played with the right amount of players and with a moderator that knows how to create the right atmosphere, Werewolf stops being just another board game and becomes a truly captivating experience. An excellent game able to accommodate any large group of players.

Buy Werewolf on Amazon

Puerto Rico

Designer: Andreas Seyfarth

Number of Players: 2 - 5

Suggested Ages: 12 and up

Average Playing Time: 90 minutes

In this game players assume the roles of colonial governors on the island of Puerto Rico and try to collect points by constructing various buildings or by shipping goods.

Players use workers to grow crops and sell their products in order to gain money, so that they can buy buildings, or they can ship their goods back to Europe.

During each round, players take turns selecting an available role and use the special ability of that role. The player with the most victory points in the end of the game is declared the winner.

Although Puerto Rico may seem a bit scary for the newcomer, after two or three games things will start to flow more fluently. Puerto Rico is a fantastic game with multiple possible winning strategies that players can explore and see which one is more suitable for them. An essential board game for every collection.

Buy Puerto Rico on Amazon

Final thoughts

So these were my recommendations. I hope that you have found my lens helpful. But wait I am not done yet. Since I don't expect anyone to get all the board games I mentioned above, I have divided them into three categories. That way you can see which are the most suitable, according to the number of players your gaming group will consist, and get just those. For more details, tutorials, downloads, reviews or anything else related to board games visit BoardGameGeek.com. Till next time have fun and play good board games!

  • 2 - 3 Players: Blokus / Carcassonne / Lost Cities / Ticket to Ride / War of the Ring
  • 4 -5 Players: 7 Wonders / Acquire / Pandemic / Puerto Rico / Settlers of Catan / Stone Age / Tichu
  • 6 - 8 (or more) Players: Dixit Odyssey / Jungle Speed / Werewolf

A question for you

This poll should be taken lightly... just messing with Monopoly fans xD

Do you think that I should have included Monopoly, Clue, Uno, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit in my list?

See results

Now that you checked my lens, I would like to read your opinion. Propose new games, correct any mistakes I have made, ask questions and tell me if my lens was helpful or not.

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