What have I been up to during this lockdown?

TLDR; I’ve reviewed all the board games 🎲 I played and Catan is my top recommendation.

During these unprecedented times, I have been able to find some calm and needed distraction in board games. Although I was not a board games aficionado, I think I might be turning into one. Electronic and non-electronic board games have always been a part of my life, and I have several fond childhood memories of playing games (and winning 😁).

The first few weeks of shelter-in-place and indefinite work-from-home policy left me routine-less and with ample time. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with all of that time and ended up binge-watching shows mindlessly. The idea to play board games started organically as I remembered how much my husband and I enjoy playing adventurous games such as God of War and Age of Empires as kids and adults. A small interest in spending time not binge-watching, has now developed into a sizable collection of compelling board games which has enabled us to interact and strategize for sweet-sweet victory 😎 🥳 🎊 🎉 💃.

It is entertaining to be spending a solid chunk of my weekend on these collaborative activities. We have been playing these games every weekend with our friendly neighbors 😁 and with friends from nearby places (always adhering to the shelter-in-place guidelines). Overall, it ends up being an eventful and fun-filled day which will forever be in my good-memories.

This is my first time reviewing anything so please bear with me.

  1. CATAN ️— ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The goal of the game is to collect victory points by building the largest settlement. I believe it is the BEST strategy game there is. The game has a learning curve, but, it is totally worth spending 40 minutes in understanding the game thoroughly. It takes approximately 2 to 3 hours to complete this game and it always ends up presenting interesting outcomes while playing. This game requires 3 to 4 players; additional extension pack can be purchased to play with 5 to 6 players.

2. PANDEMIC — ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This is a team game where you and the other player play together to cure and/or eradicate 4 types of diseases from spreading in the world. This is a tough one albeit interesting. Even after playing PANDEMIC for months, we have only won this game only a handful of times (3 times ONLY, every win in this game is extremely memorable 😊). Shout out to the designers of the game for developing adorably intricate play pieces (they are so pleasing that you forget the pieces actually indicate diseases). Duration of play is customizable (45 minutes to 2 hours) and so is the level of difficulty. Even though we almost always lose and find different ways to lose each time, the game makes us want to play over and over again.

3. TICKET TO RIDE — ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This game was recently added to our collection and it has not disappointed. The game play is very quick and simple, the goal is to build the longest train route with the same number of train pieces as the other players. The game can be played by 2 to 5 players. Once again, the board is beautifully designed, but I do wish the train pieces were less transparent for better visibility and the train cards could be bigger so it would be easier to hold.

4. RUMMIKUB — ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Rummikub (not sure how to pronounce it) is a numbers game, and requires using numbered tiles to be placed on the board along with the tiles of the other players to create sequences or repetitive patterns. The game comes with jokers which sound like they should simplify the game, but, often end up complicating it (which is a good thing). The game takes about an hour to finish but relies on the player to be able to reshuffle the sets already played for their own benefit.

5. RISK — ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This is also a new addition, and is one of the longest games I’ve ever played. We play this game in parts by pausing and continuing where we left off almost a week later. I was excited about the different modes that this game can be played in (2 player mode, Secret Mission mode, Dragon mode etc). The goal of the game is to conquer all the territories on the board by waging a war and removing current occupants of new territories. Risk needs additional time to understand, but once you are over that phase it is interesting to play. One big downside of the game is its duration per play.

6. THE RESISTANCE — ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

By far the most interactive game is The Resistance, since it involves a group of spies to take over missions secretly and win the game by sabotaging the majority of missions. The board is small, the play is simple and the play time is often less than an hour (from my experience). The game is easily extendible to be played by up to 10 players. It is fun to hone your acting skills to not be identified as a spy by the other players and at the same time sway the team’s collective decision in your favor.

7. SEQUENCE — ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This is one of the more popular games involving cards and forming sequences on a board with the cards in your hand. Here you play against another team or single player to form the quickest sequence(s). This game often is our much needed break from the high-level strategy games, as it is simple and quicker to win (although I have not won in weeks 😩). I give this game 3 stars because after playing it over and over again, it has lost its initial charm in comparison to other games like CATAN, which is still interesting due to its unexpected outcomes.

8. TROUBLE —⭐ ⭐

Trouble is similar to the very popular game, Ludo. It involves moving your pawn to safety as quickly as possible by not getting killed by other players’ pawns. Trouble has some variations of rules and was quickly rendered obsolete by the mobile app version of Ludo — Ludo Star 2. The mobile game is much more interesting because of the ability to play online with friends and family. The animations and the overall UI is much more appealing than the board game.

9. JUMANJI — ⭐ ⭐

This was one of the first games we bought due to pop culture references from my childhood (we love the original and recently remade Jumanji movies 🥳🦏). Unfortunately, we found this game less and less interesting as it was not challenging enough and we always ended up winning easily. On the positive side, the game is well designed, especially the decoder in the middle of the board. I hope to revisit this game in the future.

10. MONOPOLY — ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

As one of the oldest games and the one that I’m most familiar with, Monopoly has been a classic. I grew up playing the Indian version of this game, which is called Business. It was my first introduction to a game of buy, build and expand. Monopoly is a 4 player game and play time is somewhere between 2 to 3 hours. I believe this game has been replaced by other strategy games such as, Catan, Risk etc and is less challenging for me.

11. CARD GAMES — ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

We always end our game nights with UNO. Uno can sometimes be very short or long, depending on the cards dealt and played, but always a good way to grab a quick win. Some of the other card games we play with regular cards are Bluff, Hearts, LIT and Spades. I was recently introduced to these games and I honestly don’t remember the rules, but they are all equally challenging and interesting. You may find the rules online if you want to give it a try.

My last game (not a board game) recommendation is Pictionary, all it requires is an online word generator, white board and marker. Pictionary also serves as a good break from intense games.

I found some peace and happiness in writing this, hope you find it useful.

easily bored