Electronic-Free Gaming

It's snowing right now, very hard actually, blizzard-like in fact. And I'm off. Yes, I know I'm writing this, but I am in fact off. But first, I need your help.

I'm about to head out to a boutique toy shop, one of those fancy ones that still sell board and tabletop games. But what to buy?

I already have Clue and Monopoly and Risk and Life and Scrabble. I'm looking for something fun and different an indie-ish board game I can play with my wife and eight-year-old.

Come on, you're gamers. Help me out. What's the greatest board game in history that they don't sell at Toys R Us?

And yes, I already know about Settlers of Catan.



    Ticket to Ride is pretty good

      I'll second that. Ticket to Ride is the new (well, not that new now) Settlers of Catan. Easy to learn, great fun to play. You might want to go the European variant instead of the original USA one - there's a slight amelioration of the utter "screw you" potential in the USA version with stations that enable you to salvage a route that someone has blocked off, although at a cost.

      Puerto Rico is brilliant (and involves no luck), but a little complicated to start with - you might try the excellent card version San Juan, which even works well with two.

      Carcassonne isn't bad, but you might want to try a variant where everyone has three tiles in front of them so there's a bit more skill and a bit less dumb luck.

      Also worth checking out - Thurn and Taxis and Through The Desert. For Sale is a fun auction game.

      To read more about the above, google Board Game Geek - they've reviews and other articles about pretty much every board game you can think about.

    I couldn't tell you if it's good or not, but if you play 'Shadows Over Camelot' I'd like to hear how good it is. I've been wanting to get my hands on it for a while, but haven't been able to.

    You play as a knight, doing quests with the other players - yet a player could be a 'traitor', trying to sabotage the whole thing.

    Sounds interesting to me.

    Kill Doctor Lucky is a great, simple game. You'll have your eight year old deviously holding out on you in no time.

      I'll second this and add pretty much every other Cheapass game to this list. All their games are fun, really well designed, pretty family friendly (the worst you'll see is sombies trying to work out which one of them gets the brain they have to share between them) and they don't cost the earth. You will need some extra pieces to play Cheapass games, but if you have Monopoly or other board games like settlers around the house, you'll have the necessary bits.

    We're enjoying Carcassonne a lot at the moment.

      Yeah if he wants classics and already has Settlers of Catan Carcassonne is the next best thing. After that Ticket to Ride or Puerto Rico are also classics. Seriously anything made by Germans. If you get Twilight Imperium PLEASE PLEASE make sure you have at least 4 friends who have an ENTIRE day spare to play it, and other games to play during as well.

      I have so many things I'd like recommend, but seeing as you mentioned your 8 year old, I agree with Carcassonne.

    Puerto Rico is excellent but probably more complicated than any of the other games already mentioned.

    If you say you are aware of Settlers, why don't you own it? That is quite a travesty.

    Try Dominion. Its a card game that I've got even my non-board gaming friends hooked on. It's very well designed and addictive.

    Well, if you know about Settlers of Catan, and you don't have it, and you're only going to buy one game, why not buy that?

      yeah what the hell, if you know about the most awesome board game in the world with incredible replay value why dont you buy it?

      it is so awesome that it has multiple expansion packs too!

    Arkham Horror is really awesome!

    based on the cthulu mythos this is a cooperative board game vs an evil god. a bit expensive but no game is the same and the more players the harder.

    Settlers is a must, otherwise Carcassonne, Dominion, Ticket to Ride, Guillotine, and Agricola are all suitable for an eight year old.

    Arkham horror, whilst great is a little mature, as are Pandemic and Power Grid.

    Hive is a surprisingly addictive two player game if your don't need something for everyone to play at once.

    www.boardgamegeek.com is the best place to go for information and reviews if you're looking to buy a new game.

    Whatever you end up with, have fun.

    One a lot of the guys here have been getting into lately is Munchkin, a cardgame loosely based on Dungeons and Dragons that doesn't take itself seriously at all but is a great laugh. Definitely worth a look.

    For a couple others that haven't been mentioned and would be suitable and enjoyable for you and a 9 year old, try Hanging Gardens and Robo Rally, both have simple premises but can be addictive and reasonably deep.
    But yeah as others have mentioned board game geek is your best bet.

    Carcassone is great... easy for people to get into and can be played two player (or more) so it's good for a quiet night in.

    I've really enjoyed Ghost Stories and Betrayal at the House on the Hill. Both feature horror elements, but an 8 year old can probably cope with the idea of angry ghosts, zombies and other such things, but that varies with the eight-year-old in question. Both also have a cooperative element to them instead of the highly competitive ones I see in most board games, which is a fantastic innovation to me.

    In Ghost Stories (12 and up), you're a group of Chinese Martial Artists (each with different powers) trying to save a village from a horde of angry ghosts. You can and will have to help each other and winning the game is not easy, which I like, but good teamwork and well-planned moves will help a great deal. Some of the monster text as to why that particular ghost is angry may be what's causing the high rating as there's depictions of hell and things.

    In Betrayal at the House on the Hill (10-Adult), players begin as explorers slowly finding their way around a haunted house until enough omens of the House coming to life happen and one of the players turns traitor with a secret plan to kill the remaining explorers. You then see who manages to achieve their goals, the traitor or the explorers.

    For a family I can recommend a great game, Robo Rally. It sounds complicated but my 10 and 11 year old were able to pick it up easily and the greatest moment was watching my step-daughter laughing devilishly as she killed my wifes robot.

    I notice someone else mentioned this above but I cannot recommend it enough. Many of the other games might be a bit over the head of an 8 year old.

    Another game that can appeal to younger players and older is Munchkin by Steve Jackson games.

    Talisman! Any edition, but the 2nd edition is the most "pure" in my mind (probably because I was a kid when I first played it), and the Revised 4th edition is the most polished (and easiest to purchase, since it's also the latest edition).

    The game also has many expansion packs to help freshen up the game once you get used to it.

    Hours of fun!

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