Sunday, August 16, 2020

Best Board Games for a Pandemic

If you're like us, you're spending a lot more time at home during this pandemic. We've seen a lot of recommendations for things to binge on Netflix, read on Kindle, and order online. But what about if you want to have some wholesome fun with your family or roommates while giving your eyes a rest from the screen you're probably staring at most of the day and night? Well, then this post is for you.

I thought I'd put together a list of some of our top board games that we can recommend for folks who are social distancing. After all, the games you want to play as a household can be quite different from the ones that fit better at a larger party. (And it's no secret in the Foreign Service community that many U.S. diplomats are full-on board game geeks.) Here are some of our favorites:

  • Pandemic (2-4 players): Of course this had to top the list! Besides being the perfect ironic game for our time, it's the first co-op game Marwan and I enjoyed playing over and over again. This is a great introductory game for people who are more used to playing games where all the players compete against each other, and it doesn't take too long to learn.
  • Forbidden Island/Forbidden Desert (2-4 players/2-5 players): These two are made by the same folks who created Pandemic. The mechanics are different, but both are still cooperative games. These are great ones to turn to when you get tired of playing Pandemic (or if you keep winning on Heroic mode).
  • Fluxx (2-6 players): This is usually M's favorite. This is by far the easiest one to start. The rules are simple (or at least start that way), the cards explain most of everything you need to know, and it doesn't take long to set up or play.
  • Betrayal at House on the Hill/Betrayal at Baldur's Gate (3-6 players): These games are almost exactly the same, but the former is set at a haunted house and the latter is based on Dungeons and Dragons. For the first part of the game, you work together to explore the area. At some point, your exploration will trigger a shift to the second part of the game with a variety of scenarios and rules that will apply depending on chance. Sometimes it's every man for himself, others you work together against the game, and sometimes one of you will become a traitor. The diversity of scenarios, all extremely well done by professional game writers, gives these great replay value.
  • Codenames (2-∞ players): This one is known more as a party game, but did you know you can play it with just two people? Check the instructions for fun variations on the rules that allow you to play it with a group of any size. This one is simple, fast, and doesn't require a lot of explanation. (Also, for those in language class: Codenames is available in some non-English languages, as well!)
  • Terraforming Mars (1-5 players): My wonderful sister shipped this game to us as a surprise, and we love it! The best way I can think of to describe it is a cross between Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. I would recommend this more for people who already like board games and want to add a new one to their collection. And yes, you can even play this game by yourself (though we haven't tried that version ourselves).

We hope you enjoyed this list. Feel free to let us know any of your favorite #quarantinelife board games below in the comments so we can expand our collection, too!

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