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Best Board Games


While most of us have logged our fair share of hours playing*Diablo 3 and Minecraft, sometimes we all need to unplug from our terminals and take part in some face-to-face contact with fellow humans. Of course, there is no rule that says that this contact has to be limited to serious activities. In fact, I prefer to gather my geeky friends around a large table with some comfortable chairs on top of a rug (that really ties the room together) and to roll some dice, lay out some tiles, and take part in the act of tabletop gaming.
Whether it be every player for themselves or the group working as a team against an unspeakable horror, there are some amazing board games out there that smash through the humdrum stereotype that has been created around games like Monopoly and Scrabble. If you find yourself on a quest to have some honest-to-goodness geeky fun that requires people to actually physically near each other, here are five of the best board games that we every geek should have in their libraries, ready to be brought out at a moment’s notice.

Ticket to Ride

Probably one of the most entertaining best board games that I have ever had the opportunity to play, Ticket to Ride*is a strategic title that put players in the role of a railroad tycoon in the early 1900’s. The goal is to build an empire that spans the United States while making shrewd moves that block your opponents from being able to complete their freight and passenger runs to various cities. With a method of gameplay that’s startlingly simple yet incredibly entertaining, Ticket to Ride*appeals to all types of players. Of all the titles in this list this is the one that non-geeks will have the most fun with, at least based on my experience.
This is also a great title for train enthusiasts, as there are several different versions including a Marklin set that focuses on scale model trains using a German map.*A game for up to five players, Ticket to Ride is appropriate for people of all ages. We have seen children as young as seven years old play and win this game with no handicaps placed on the adults at the table.


Arkham Horror

Where most board games usually pit player against player, the creators of*Arkham Horror*designed a gameplay experience where everyone who’s playing the game is working together to beat the board. Based on the classic Lovecraftian horror mythos, players work to battle and banish the Ancient Old Ones, like Cthulu and the King in Yellow, as these creatures struggle to destroy the world. Players have to battle both insanity and phyical attacks from supernatural creatures as they race around the board to try and save the day.
Arkham Horror stands as one of the most deep and complex best board games that has ever been devised. With games taking upwards of six hours to finish, the experience is one that isn’t for everyone (or for kids under the age of 13). With over 700 pieces and an equal number of cards,*this is a title that requires a lot of space to play on, especially since it’s not uncommon to have to leave the game for another session to actually complete.
Even if you’re not familiar with HP Lovecraft and his monstrous (in several senses of the word) writings,*Arkham Horror and its expansions are still incredibly entertaining.


Carcassonne

Often hailed as the “gateway drug” of tabletop board gaming, Carcassonne*is a tile-based game where players compete to score as many points as possible by recreating the fabled French city of Carcassonne and its fortified walls. Known as one of the most conquered cities in history, the historical backdrop of Carcassonne provides a rich tapestry of structures to be built to help players score the most points to win the game. Because it’s a fast game that has an element of luck that when combined with some strategy, beginning gamers find it a very accessible title.
Working in a round-robin turn system, each player randomly selects a tile then places it on the board in an effort to build fortified cities, cloisters, and farms and garner the most points possible. Using followers called “meeples”, players can claim tiles in hopes that the tile map will go the way they need to help them finish their structures.
Also probably one of the best values in the board game market along with being one of the best board games, you can pick up the Carcassonne “Big Box” that contains the base game along with five expansions that add to the gameplay experience in different ways.


Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan is most likely a title that you have heard of before. With over 15 million*copies sold worldwide, it’s one of the most successful best board game franchises of all time. While not usually available in mainstream department stores, it’s not unusual to see copies for sale in a Barnes and Noble book store. Set on the fictional island of Catan, players struggle to build the largest settlement on the island by shrewdly trading resources and placing buildings to gain control of items that will help in the construction efforts.
Of all the games on our list, this is probably the most cutthroat one we have played. If you have ever played Monopoly with your grandparents who lived through the Great Depression, you know what we mean when we say this. Settlers is laid out that you have to trade with other players to reach your goal of winning the game. If one player in the game decides to hold onto a specific resource, they can impede the progress of the rest of the gaming group. Of course there are mechanics to try to stop this from happening, but skilled players know how to negotiate these in a way that’s beneficial to themselves. That being said, the game is still extraordinarily entertaining. While we wouldn’t call the game fast-paced, the experience is anything but boring as each game is randomized by the shifting around of the islands tiles each time you start a session.


Memoir ’44

As an answer to the horde of World War II video games that have been churned out every since Saving Private Ryan*hit the silver-screen, Memoir ’44*is a card based board game that seeks to recreate some of the historical assaults and battles that took place during the epic struggle between the Axis of Evil and the Allied forces in Europe. Requiring strategic play of randomly received cards, players maneuver their plastic army men across the map in an effort to achieve the victory conditions of the scenario chose at the start of play. With fifteen different expansions, the franchise offers an incredibly flexible amount of gameplay options that are available to groups of two players all the way up to eight commanders when played in “Overlord Mode” which requires two copies of the base game.
What we like about this best board game is that it’s very easy to play, and can be enjoyable for anyone not just military buffs looking to recreate the Omaha Beach landings. If you’re looking for an incredibly deep strategic experience that successfully mimics actions on the field of battle, then Memoir ’44 isn’t for you. However if you are looking for a fun gameplay experience that’s set in one of the most compelling periods of global history, then you can’t go wrong.

Of course, there are a great many more titles that are equally as enjoyable as these five of the best board games we have laid out for you above, but this list should give you a good start if you are just beginning to build a library of your own. If you have suggestions for titles that should be added to the list, leave them in the comments! And check out other board game lists like these Halloween tabletop games and Catan gifts.


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