10 Board Games You Should Play During International TableTop Day

This Saturday, April 11, thousands of people around the world will take part in International TableTop Day. There are events at libraries, cafes and local game stores for you to go and see what this board gaming malarky is about.

International TableTop Day is an event started by Geek and Sundry as part of their Youtube series, TableTop. The idea is simple: play board games. That's it. Get your friends to come round and play something or go to a nearby event. It doesn't matter how you take part, just get out there and give it a go.

Board gaming is going through a golden age. Gone are the days where you roll a die, move your pawn and do what the space you land on says. Now we have starving French farmers desperately trying to build a family and knights of the round table going on quests for King Arthur as a traitor lays siege to Camelot. Games where you can't look at the cards in your hand and games where you turn gears so your workers can appease Mayan gods. Modern board gaming is a treasure trove of interesting ideas and mechanics.

One of the great things about International TableTop Day is that it allows newcomers to visit their local game store and not feel intimidated by the regulars. This isn't a group of friends you're intruding on, it's a group of people who want to welcome you into their hobby. Last year, I spent the day at The Gamers Guild in Dubbo and played Caverna with complete strangers. It was fantastic. This year, I'm hoping to play a thirty player game of 2 Rooms and a Boom.

Maybe you'd like to join in and don't know what to play. Maybe you'd like to host your own event with friends but all you have is a battered copy of Monopoly and a deck of cards that's missing the eight of clubs. Here's a list of some popular entry level board games to give you an idea of where to get started.


Ticket to Ride

2-5 players The quintessential entry level board game, Ticket to Ride sees you and your friends trying to build a rail empire by connecting cities across America. Multiple maps exist for this game, many of which add interesting twists or additions to the original Ticket to Ride formula. Ticket to Ride: Europe is great for groups of three to five while the Nordic Countries and Switzerland map allow for more cutthroat two player action.


Pandemic

2-4 players You and your friends have to work together in this co-operative game to cure the diseases that are plaguing the world. Pandemic has a very clever infection mechanic to constantly keep the pressure on players as they race to save the world. Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert also feature similar mechanics and are accessible for a younger crowd.


Carcassonne

2-4 players The origin of the iconic meeple, Carcassonne is a tile laying game where you and your friends build up the countryside while placing followers in the towns, chapels and roads that pop up in the hopes of gaining the most points. Things can get cutthroat as you battle for control of the largest farm or work to build a giant town even though there is no direct conflict.


Catan (formerly Settlers of Catan)

3-4 players You and your friends will collect, trade and use resources to build settlements across the island of Catan. The game is dependent on dice rolls, so poor luck can leave a player stranded or propel someone to a decisive victory. Catan is the prototypical modern board game and like Superman - the prototypical modern superhero - can be a bit dull compared to more recent offerings.


Hanabi

2-5 players A quick and clever game where you and your friends try to create a fireworks display from the cards in your hand. The twist? You can see everyone's cards but your own, so you must use limited hints to work out who can play what cards.


Munchkin

3-6 players Playing on RPG tropes, Munchkin is a game where players race to level 10 by fighting monsters and collecting loot. While incredibly popular among newcomers, Munchkin is a half hour game that stretches into two hours. Be wary of diving into the many expansions too quickly as Munchkin can wear out its welcome.


The Resistance/The Resistance: Avalon

5-10 players Do you want an excuse to bicker endlessly with your friends? The Resistance is a social deduction game where secret saboteurs are trying to foil missions that everyone else desperately wants to succeed. This is a game where there's limited information to act on, so you must work to convince the rest of the group that you're definitely not a spy and can be trusted (even if you're definitely a spy and should not be trusted in the slightest). The Resistance: Avalon adds some additional roles, allowing for more depth and even more bickering. A great game for people who don't hold grudges.


Terror in Meeple City (formerly Rampage)

2-4 players Chaos, destruction and searching under the couch for lost pieces, Terror in Meeple City has it all. In your mission to eat meeples, you must demolish Meeple City in this dexterity game where you flick, blow and drop the pieces to cause as much damage as possible. It's stomping through sand castles in board game form.


Qwirkle 2-4 players A combination of Scrabble and Dominoes, Qwirkle is a simple tile-laying game with a low skill ceiling. People won't feel left out just because someone else at the table has a more cromulent vocabulary while still enjoying themselves. Qwirkle is also encourages you to say the word "Qwirkle" often which is a surprising amount of fun, especially if you feel the urge to affect a terrible German accent.


Splendor

2-4 players Splendor is a engine building game where you buy gems in order to be able to buy even more gems. Often ending in games where someone else gets everything in place just before you do, Splendor is incredibly satisfying when everything comes together.


What are some of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below!


Comments

    Remember that time I went to your place to play board games and then in a completely unrelated incident, left the country the day after to fly literally halfway across the world?
    Good times.

      Oh Bishfrond, you're never going to let me forget. Are you?

        I feel like it's my unspoken duty just to be really annoying whenever there is board games talk. It's nothing personal, it just has to be done.

        Something something bored games.

        I can't help it! I just say these things like a natural reflex! Like flinching when a ball comes near your head or punching happy people.

    Boss monster is a nice short game that is easy to pick up and play.

    Right now my favourite game is Sentinels of the Multiverse but that is a bit more difficult to just pick up and play.

      The problem with Sentinels is that there's a lot to keep track of. The game itself is reasonably easy to play but tracking everything can make it intimidating. The other problem is the art.

      Other than that, it's a fun game.

    Seems a bit daft to put Munchkin in a post titled "10 board games you should play during international tabletop day" and then pretty much completely shit on Munchkin instead of finding something you could actually wholeheartedly recommend but I guess that's why I ain't makin' that Kotaku bank.

    I quite enjoy "King of Tokyo".

      Ahh yeah, that's an easy game to pick up and play to. Great fun!

      We have house rules to speed up King of Tokyo: I sit out.

      It's a great game. A more interesting Yahtzee with some really fun ideas behind it. I'm just terrible at everything involving dice.

      I actually prefer "King of New York" more after I played it a few weeks ago, which gives some added mechanics like destroying buildings to gain points/energy/health (Building die rolls), but doing so will create armies in the area you're in and a die result from any player (Skulls) can trigger those armies to fight back and deal damage to you.

      Last edited 10/04/15 1:43 pm

        Interesting. I had no idea this existed. Will be checking it out later :) :)

          They sacrificed the 1s, 2s and 3s in exchange for the Buildings and Skulls and just set the point earners as Stars where getting three Stars will get you one point and also a buff. For every turn you have that buff on you, you gain +1 point plus other perks, can't really remember. The buff only gets taken off you if another player gets three Stars.

          But yeah the game board felt more alive and being at the centre didn't mean everything in the game. You can become the victor in other ways :). We actually got a guy killed by triggering multiple armies in his area (He had three army tokens) by getting three Skulls (Which triggers every army in every section to attack, just one skull triggers your own section, and if you have another character with you in that section, they get hit too) and killing him after he fled the centre of the City (Which is the equivalent of Tokyo) being only on 2 health.

            All of this. It's just a lot more involving and fun than Tokyo IMO :)

              I thought King of New York was just a rebadge like the USA version of Ticket to Ride. Seems like it's the 2.0 version.

              King of Tokyo was on my List, I think I'll change it to King of New York since it appears to have the better mechanics. Thank you @tech_knight, @ashigaru, @bortmonkey

              Last edited 10/04/15 4:47 pm

                @dknight1000 No problem mate. My friend bought it specifically for a boardgame night and we were a bit perplexed at first, mainly due to thinking Tokyo was much more fun..... Then the mechanics of New York sunk in and it became even MORE hilarious. There's so many more options to screw people over ^_^

        I played KONY, and I thought it was the better game as well. Just added a lot with the buildings and the military.

    The missus and I have been playing Bioshock Infinite:The Siege of Columbia a fair bit lately.

    Any recommendations for parents to play with kids (aged 7 and 4)...ok if 4 year old would need some help, but hopefully one a 7yr old can come to terms with by themselves.

      Hanabi and Qwirkle are both reasonable for kids. Ticket to Ride is pretty great (trains!)

        Thanks for the tip, will keep an eye out for them!

    I'm pretty new to the boardgaming scene but a friend came down from America and brought with him a card game Samurai. I wasn't expecting it to be so much fun!

    My goal for tomorrow is to see if Australia has the Felicia Day card for Dead of Winter.

    However, Australia is treated like a backwater hole by another "major" international event so I don't have much hopes. That other event, Record Store Day, is next week and for the first time, Australia is actually getting the good stuff such as The Replacements and the Alex Chilton vinyl.

      All of the promotional material is meant to be bought by the event holders. I know that several Aussie retailers have had them before, so I wouldn't be shocked if some of the bigger stores had them.

    Some other humble suggestions:

    Power Grid - If you prefer your networking games less Industrial Revolution and more electrical, this is one of the most balanced table top games out there. Buy power plants, buy resources for said power plants, and hope your next door neighbour doesn't have eyes for Frankfurt coz THAT CITY IS MINE DAMMIT.

    Chrononauts - Become a Time Cop! Kill Hitler! Unkill JFK! Save the Hindenberg only to blow it up again later! Kill Hitler again! Basically, you're a person lost in time trying to get back to your time line, and if that means saving John Lennon and blowing up the Statue of Liberty, so be it.

    Diplomacy - Have too many friends? This classic will resolve that problem faster than Turkey will backstab Russia AGAIN just because they think Sevastopol is nice this time of year. World War 1 was really just a bunch of aristocrats throwing men's lives away as if they were tokens on a game board, and now you get to simulate that in the most direct manner.

    Dominion - One of the most popular deck building games out there, the object is to make a deck of cards with certain abilities out of the selection on offer, and use them together to become wealthier and wealthier, buying more and more land until no-one can deny your greatness. Comes with a ridiculous amount of expansions with more and more cards to choose from.

    Zombicide - Basically Left 4 Dead: The Board Game. You set out a map of tiles with streets, buildings and other fun environments, put your characters on the board, and then surround them with zombies. Death isn't just an option, it's probably the most likely outcome.

    Tales of Arabian Nights - More like an RPG in board game form, you play as a traveller encountering adventures throughout the Middle East of tales and stories. Meet djinns, evil viziers, princesses in peril and maybe even find Atlantis. Technically there's a win condition, but no-one really seems to care.

    Machi Koro - A bit like Catan, except more Japanese, compact and cartoony. Build your own little town of shops, factories and public services. If you manage to finish off your town, you win the game. Dice rolls are everything, unsurprisingly.

    I like playing Wasabi with my 7 year-old daughter. I don't even like sushi but the game is fun :-)

    http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/33154/wasabi

    I am also partial to the Game of Thrones board game but people tend to gang up on me because they don't believe my lies.

    Honourable mentions to Axis & Allies, Ikusa (formerly Shogun) and the Space Hulk board game.

    I still have a love hate relationship with splendor. I played it with my family last weekend, to find that my twin has the exact reaction to it that I had. Fun times, until he kicked the table and hurt himself, then it got hillarious

    Highly recommend The Resistance: Avalon. Played a ton of that and it is always excellent. Teaching the kids how to lie. What a good parent I am!

    Look - if noone else will sink the boot into Munchkins, I will ;-)

    It was actually my first board game (well, apart from Monopoly as a kid). Initially I thought it was great, you could all have a laugh - and it gets you away from a computer screen. Then we had a game that lasted most of the day, and I thought there has to be better games out there. And, indeed - there were!

    I'd rather play Cutthroat Caverns - same "take that" style of play, but a bit more game behind it. Still pretty random.

    I've tried Catan a couple of times, and it really doesnt do anything for me. I recognise its impact on the gaming industry and everything, but I would never bring it out as a gateway.

    Resistance/Avalon I really cant get into either. I know a lot of groups love it, and can play it literally all night, but its just a lot of yelling at people to me, which doesnt appeal. Same for Werewolf (and One Night Ultimate Werewolf). I find them interesting to watch and see how good players handle it.

    Splendor I really liked for the first half dozen games or so, then just felt like it was all the same, and sold it. Those excitingly chunky chips can only get you so far. It does seem to be popular tho, and is a good choice for beginners, because its so easy to learn. Theres often multiple tables playing this at the group I attend.

    If I was taking games to a complete beginners house, I'd take

    Sushi Go (its so cute, and a good introduction to drafting)
    7 Wonders (if they take to Sushi Go...)
    Biblios (one of my favourites)
    Dixit (suits more creative types)
    Incan Gold (awesome push your luck fun for up to 8 people)
    Kobayakawa (all you need for this are cards from 1-15, you could almost use a standard card deck - or cards from No Thanks)
    No Thanks (ridiculously easy to learn, ridiculously good fun)
    Mysterium (like Cluedo and Dixit had a baby - not available in English yet unfortunately)
    Love Letter (simple and light)
    Red 7 (easy to learn)
    Super Rhino (just stupid fun)
    Skull (its all about the bluffing, this always gets the table involved)
    Walk the Plank (just fun)

    And yes, I know some of these are probably not easily available ;-)

    tldr: Munchkins bad, other games good

    Last edited 10/04/15 3:55 pm

      I loathe Munchkin but I felt I had to include it anyhow. The games listed were originally meant to be ones that new players should be aware of. Catan and Munchkin both made the list, without ringing endorsements, more as a "these exists, you might enjoy them but there's better out there".

    I have a sudden urge to run out tomorrow and buy Qwirkle and Hanabi.

    I like Qwirkle - its just good clean fun. Hanabi I think is clever - but its always so quiet when you play (and I like to chat). And in our group we have some hardcore players - and they WILL yell at you when you play the wrong card. If I want to get yelled at, I can stay at work and get that.

      Hanabi is one of my favourite games. It's also a game that I don't take very seriously. Mistakes happen, poor clues are given, cards are misplayed and humanity ensues. Doesn't matter, just shuffle up and go again.

      It turns out that a lot of other people feel a lot more pressured when playing Hanabi. Do you know the difference between playing the last red three and discarding it? Up to three points. Points are nice and all but unless there's something drastic on the line, I'm not getting upset about three points.

    PS I can't stop playing Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game solo at the moment despite how long the title is. I do think the 17+ rating is a bit tough since it's not photos from the films of baby extraterrestrials tearing their way through somebody's chest.

    Our group plays quite regularly now and one of the newer favorites we're playing is Galaxy Trucker with all the expansions. It takes a few hours to play if you're new but its very fun. We also enjoy Avalon and another new favorite is Sheriff of Nottingham. But you can't forget Cards Against Humanity.

    No mention of Game of Thrones boardgame?

      It's a great game, one I wouldn't turn down the chance to play, but not the first thing I'd throw in front of a newcomer. If I was writing a list of games for people to try after they've played some gateway titles, Game of Thrones would easily make it.

    Well, I'll be doing my part in playing Dominion and Resident Evil: Deck Building Game tomorrow. :)

    My friends & I have been playing Tokaido, which is super simple & also a really gorgeous game! There's an ace card game called Saboteur, which involves tile-laying and trying to suss out who's a bad dwarf - great fun! :D

    Even though I forgot Int. TableTop day was on, my wife and I still played a new game over the weekend—Jaipur.

    It's a great little card game for 2 players that you can get through pretty quick. It shows up in a lot of people's 'good for 2 players' lists, so I guess I'm just confirming what people know.

    Probably like a lot of people, I am transitioning from video games to tabletop games. I don't know if it's because I'm burnt out on VGs, or I've reached the point of actually wanting to game socially with people I can see and interact with, or just so I can have something new to research and weigh up and spend money on and hoard. Maybe all of the above.

    Next few games on my list:

    Discworld: Ankh Morpork
    Memoir '44
    Mysterium
    XCOM
    Formula D
    Pandemic/Resistance/Coup (or some other co-op game)

    I spent a fair chunk of Saturday playing Smash Up. Good fun that.

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