Pick The Perfect Board Game With This Insane Flow Chart

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One of my New Year's Resolutions — no joke — is to play more board games. This intensely detailed flow chart has been super helpful in helping me navigate the unknown waters that is modern board games. It's awesome.

This story was originally published in January 2015.

But a quick caveat for all of you hardcore board game players: the flow chart has everything. And by that I mean it's a broad range. It features everything from Twister to Carcassonne and back again. You will probably disagree with a lot of this flowchart!

How to Choose the Perfect Board Game [Silver Oak Casino]

Pick the Best Board Game to Play in Any Situation with This Flow Chart


    That's awesome.

    Currently the Firefly board game and Pandemic are occupying my attention. Love them, mostly because they're both pretty good with just 2 players so they work for my wife and I (actually, in Firefly's case, you can have a pretty decent game on your own).

    If you're just getting into boardgames, buying a couple of digital versions is actually a really great way to start. For example, you can buy Ticket to Ride or Smallworld on Steam/Android/iOs/etc. really cheap and it's a great way to try them out without investing the same time and money as a physical copy. Plus you can play them against the AI if there's no-one else around.

      I still haven't had a chance to play Firefly. It's been near the top of my list for over a year now. Must get to that!

        It's fun. It has a few issues as a pure board game, but it really nails the feeling of being a ship captain in the Firefly universe.

        I haven't tried the "Pirates and Bounty Hunters" expansion yet, but I'd really like to because the base game is mostly a solitaire game, with the only real interaction being racing against other players to reach the goal.

          So far, I've only been able to play Firefly as a single player game. :-( I have the Pirates & Hunters expansion but haven't played that - I hear it significantly increases player interaction.

          There's a new expansion pack out, the Artful Dodger, which adds another Firefly-class ship with different attributes (eg extra speed). I'm a bit disappointed that the base game's ships start identical.

      Have also been playing Firefly and Pandemic recently, along with Game of Thrones, and Battlestar Galactica. With a little bit of Eldritch Horror thrown in.

        You playing the '2013' Pandemic, or 'The Cure'? Wondering if I did get one, which one to get... cc @trjn

          Neither? Pandemic came out in 2007. This is the game we're talking about. There was a second edition with different art and that's the one most people use (because the expansions on shelf are compatible only with the revised edition).

          Haven't played Pandemic: the Cure, it's probably okay but it's not the game being suggested.

            Ahhh I see. I was going by this, and since I've seen that box around I figured it was the standard version. I'm guessing this is the revised one then?

              Yup, that's the one.

          Have a look at both reviews and make a choice based on whether you want one that's more of a 'board game' or more of a dice game.

          Both give you the really tense element and strategic gameplay. The Cure is the quicker game if you're a little time poor.

    I think there are a number of dubious suggestions and errors in this. Are there still people who enjoy Monopoly? Scattergories, really? There are much better options which fit the criteria than those two. Also, Arkham Horror in less than two hours? I think not.

    Oh, I didn't see this...

    But a quick caveat for all of you hardcore board game players: the flow chart has everything. And by that I mean it’s a broad range.

    I prefer to read that second sentence as: "And by that I mean it includes some really terrible games you will never want to play".

    This also looks like it wasn't done recently.

    Last edited 12/01/15 12:54 pm

      Arkham Horror in two hours would indeed be a feat of both intimate knowledge of the game and ridiculous luck. (Think starting with 3-4 Elder signs cards).

        A friend, my wife and I smashed through a game in 30-40 minutes once - I don't think anyone failed a check. Lucky draws required all over, from where the portals opened to the monsters we drew, everything went our way.

      We play all manner of games, but Monopoly and Scattergories still get a lot of love in the house, so yeah, plenty of people still enjoy those games.

      I prefer to read that second sentence as: "And by that I mean it includes some really terrible games you will never want to play".
      But some of those games you will never want to play are games others will. It is how the world works, not everyone likes the same things.

    You will probably disagree with a lot of this flowchart!

    You know me too well.

    Although it does have Qwirkle buried in there, so it's not all bad.

    Hmmm. HMMM! 10 year old's birthday coming up (turning 11)... can anyone vouch for Forbidden Island? Sounds promising... co-op games always go down better than competitive ones

      I prefer Forbidden Desert but both are great games that I'd happily recommend.

        I haven't enjoyed the games I've had of Forbidden Desert all that much. There winds up being a great deal of discussion and micromanagement over every single move as the game progresses. I found it to be more stressful than fun, although playing with kids would probably be a different sort of experience than with hardcore boardgamers.

          This can happen with any co-op game and comes down more to the people playing the game than the game itself. I mean, yes, clearly it's a problem with the genre if this repeatedly happens but it mostly depends on the attitude you have while playing these games.

          Generally, accepting that you're probably going to lose and having everyone going "this might not work but sod it, it's what I'm going to do" goes a long way to making the games work.

            Yeah, I guess that's true. The fun co-op games are the ones that imbue a sense of silly fatalism. Like Zombicide.

            Hey @Sughly, how does your ten year old feel about zombies?

              Bit too early for that kind of thing still I reckon ^^

            My only problem with forbidden desert is that the meteorologist and to an extent the yellow one are super boring to play and no one ever wants them

      Like @Trijn, I'd happily recommend both although Forbidden Island might be the better choice for an 11 year old. Island is easier than Desert but if your soon-to-be 11 year old is up for the challenge then Desert is a more interesting and engaging game.

        To be honest, one of the main reasons I like Forbidden Desert is because I like playing with the airship.

          Is there any better reason? Seems perfectly valid to me.

            If there is, I haven't found it.

          Yes but with Forbidden Island, you get to legitimately shout "Get to da chopppper!!!"

      I have three eight year olds and an eleven year old who just love playing this together. Great to watch the thought processes going on, and the (good) tension and excitement growing.

        Oh, thats cool! I think this is a winner ^^

    Anyone have suggestions for good 2-player board games? I have been trying to find some good ones to play with the missus as an alternative to watching TV shows.

    I picked up Boss Monster a while back, and it's pretty great. Kind of like a card-game PvP version of Dungeon Keeper.

      I mentioned this above, but I'm loving Pandemic for that very reason. I like the idea of playing against the game, as opposed to playing against each other.

      There are a lot of great two player games, some made for two players and others that just happen to play well with two.

      Hive is an abstract game where you put down bug tiles in an effort to surround the other player's queen before they get yours. It's short, sweet and surprisingly deep.

      Android Netrunner is a living card game (like Magic the Gathering except you don't have to worry about the ridiculously overpriced singles market if you want to make your own decks). One player is the runner, whose goal is to steal agendas from the corp (the other player) before the corp can score them. It's interesting, it's assymetrical and there's a lot of bluffing. It's also a pain to learn but can be very fun if it's the sort of thing you're after. There are other similar games but A:NR is probably the most active if you want to try playing with other people competitively.

      Qwirkle is one of my favourite simple games. It's basically a mix of Scrabble and Dominoes where two to four players play tiles of different shapes and colours. You build rows of tiles, like in Scrabble and they have to match, like in Dominoes. You can be very competitive with this or just sit back and relax while playing.

      Ticket to Ride is one of the quintessential introduction games. You are trying to connect cities with train lines in order to complete routes you are given at the start of the game. There are a whole hoard of different maps available with Ticket to Ride: Europe (best with 3-5) being my personal favourite and Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries (best with 2-3) the current preferred low player map.

      Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is probably the least board gamey of the lot. You (and as many people as you please) are members of the Baker St Irregulars, helping Mr Holmes solve a number of cases. There are ten cases and you use clues, deduction and intuition to work out where to go in London to try and solve the case. This one is out of print and hard to find right now but should have another print run coming soon.

      Finally, Suburbia and Castles of the Mad King Ludwig. These are kind of the same game but Suburbia is the more finnicky gamey one while Castles is apparently a little more friendly to people who aren't as into board games. You are trying to build a town/castle using the tiles that come up in the market. You can end up with a town full of lakes and low income housing or one full of freeways and office supply stores, with a stadium in the middle of it all. Great fun.

      Oh and I guess there are things like Dominion and Carcassonne too, but I've typed enough for now.

        Castles of Mad King Ludwig is simple, elegant and a lot of fun. Should still be decent with 2 players, but like most things it'd be a lot more fun with 3 or 4.

      My wife an I literally (and I mean literally) had this conversation last weekend and picked up Pandemic and we can't stop playing. The variations in the random 'role' cards you start with and the ability to adjust the game difficulty add lots of replay-ability. Also recommend you check out Wil Wheaton's Tabletop youtube videos where they review introductory level board games. We got lots of ideas from there.

      **Edited for terrible formatting on my behalf.

      Last edited 12/01/15 2:52 pm

        My girlfriend and I played an absurd amount of Pandemic when we first moved in together. Since then, we've picked up all the expansions and enjoyed them immensely. The only reason I haven't recommended it simply because I've played it too damned much and it's worn thing. Nothing against the game at all.

      I've tried a lot of games with my wife.. she likes quick games that are not too complex and she loves traveling & wildlife, so I factor that in when I choose something.... I've also worked out through trial and error that she hates area control games. My advice to you would be to search boardgamegeek for themes your partner likes and then grab a couple that have decent reviews or ratings. It could be the best game in the world but if she's not into the theme she won't enjoy it.

      FWIW my wife's favourite games that she'll play any time are Pandemic, Ticket to Ride (any version), 10 days in XXX (africa, asia, europe, etc), Timeline (any version), Asante & 7 Wonders.

      She also quite likes Through the Desert & Dominion, and if we have time and the mental endurance, Tobago.

      She hates with a passion 2 typically recommended 2 player "wife"/"gateway" games - Carcassone & Lost Cities.

      My girlfriend and I have been playing Arkham Horror the last two weeks! We just bought more expansions.

        SO envious of those of you who have partners who enjoy playing board games. My obsession and collection goes largely untouched, save for a few sessions a year I could get the boys together.

        Missus won't even entertain it. Only just managed to get her to play 'Cards Against Humanity' as it's really funny and appeals to most.

          Do you live in Melbourne? There are several social outings for boardgamers happening each month. We bring our stuff and teach others to play with us, or just leave it on a pile for others to play and we pick up something different.

            Sydney unfortunately!

            I know the local good game has regular 'general' board game nights... But without casting too many dispersions, hygiene wasn't on top of anyone's list when I paid a visit and it turned me off going again.

    Started buying X-Wing Miniatures. Only played half a game so far. Fark... for a game that looks so straight forward, explaining the rules takes ages.... then with the dice rolls, our ships missed so much.

    I played my second game of Betrayal at House on the Hill. I find it's really entertaining because of all the little creepy things that occur in the house. However, after the haunt roll, both times it was never a close game. Also, even after trying to fix the black pegs, the black pegs are annoying.

    I really love King of Tokyo.

      I hear you about Betrayal. We got it recently and in the couple games we've got in so far the survivors have won every time. But maybe that's the idea. I wouldn't say they were blowouts every time—I almost won the Dorian Gray-inspired haunt, but I just couldn't take out the kid who was super-roided at that point. He had like 8 might or something and I basically couldn't stop him.

      And +1 on the black markers being a horrible design feature. Someone will probably kickstarter an accessory to fix that.

        I tried the technique of putting them in boiling water to resize the gap of the black pegs. Some worked better; some worked worse and scratched the character profiles' cardboard. Arrgg!

    PS Has anyone played the Uncharted board game? I still haven't played it but bought it.

      I finally got a game of this going - its not half bad, actually. I'm not sure if its a great game or anything, but we had fun with it. Its actually a little tricky - go for treasure at the start and you might find yourselves all killed (because the bad guys can come out then).

    Some suggestions:

    Coup is a pretty fun bluffing game made by the Resistance people. Easy enough and games are fast, about 10 mins.

    Archipelago is an epic, heavy semi-coop Euro game that combines worker placement and economics....it's really great and pretty amazing but a bitch a teach, especially to more casual gamers. Kinda like Settlers Of Catan taken further, and with less luck involved.

    7 Wonders is a good card game, again kinda complex but pretty cool once you get into it.

      7 Wonders really isnt all that complex - but it can be confusing with all the icons on your first play or two. We've introduced it to a lot of beginners in our group, and they all pick it up by the end of the first game. Just a great game for up to 7 people tho, and doesnt take long to play.

        Yeah I really like that everyone plays simultaneously. The sheer amount of icons can be intimidating to newcomers though. I still have to look at the instructions book after 8 games or so.

    Trivial Persuit?

    You aren't getting a brown wedge for that spelling.

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