Four board games that don't suck

Categories: Geek Speak

Fuck yeah, board games!
People who say they don't like board games are probably playing shitty games. What's not to like? You get to hang out with friends and scratch a competitive itch while pretending to be a business tycoon or ruler of the world. That's a good time! Well, it is as long as the game you're playing doesn't suck. Anyone whose experience of board games begins and ends with old chestnuts like Sorry!, Risk and Monopoly has good reason to dislike board games; those games are fucking terrible. But plenty of other great games are out there, waiting to fill your stay-at-home evenings with good times, stirring victories and the occasional crushing defeat. This guide to a few of my favorites -- most of which are considered classics in the board-game community -- should soon have you hooked, to the point that you, too, will stay home Friday nights in order to move tiny plastic men around a board in pursuit of abstract goals.
Or maybe you'll be inspired to head to this weekend's conclave of gamers...

See also: Five games that changed my life -- from Halo to Sorry!

Ticket to Ride
If your favorite properties in Monopoly were the railroads, you'll love Ticket to Ride. Actually, you'll love it regardless of your approach to Monopoly, because it is fast to learn and super-fun. You start with a map of the U.S. (or other places, depending on the version you're playing) and a shitload of plastic trains. Collect color-coded cards that allow you to develop railway lines between the cities you're assigned as goals until someone runs out of trains, then score it up and play again. Unlike a lot of these games, Ticket to Ride is just about equally fun with any number of players, up to five -- and it's simple enough to teach anyone (even kids) while still retaining some strategic depth. Plus, toy trains!

Lost Cities
Go all Indiana Jones on sunken temples and desert ruins with Lost Cities, which calls on you to use your resources -- in the form of numbered cards -- as efficiently as possible while maximizing your progress. It's another simple-to-learn game with some strategic depth (not a lot, but some), and it's super-fast to play. This one is especially good as a two-player game, which is nice for those nights at home with your better half when there's nothing good recorded on the DVR.

Keep reading for more great board games.

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In contrast to this article, there are also new board and card games out there that aren't as dry as a gin martini and don't bore folks uninterested in pure strategy games to tears.

BETRAYAL ON HOUSE ON THE HILL - Ever wanted to be in a creepy as hell horror movie where a psycho kills off the characters one by one? Ever wanted to BE the psycho? Congrats, there's a game for that! Betrayal allows you to explore a haunted house together, creating it room by room, until one of you randomly becomes the murderous supernatural fiend intent on killing off your former friends. A game of exploration quickly becomes one of survival as neither you, nor the traitor, know the whole story. A world of fun, especially if you're of a theatrical bent, with 50 different nightmarish scenarios to give you the fun kind of goosebumps.

STAR FLUXX - For the geeks in the room who love a fast-paced card game, this is pure heaven. Combine certain Sci-Fi mainstays like a Time Travel machine and a Doctor to win the game but keep your eyes peeled - your fellow players can change the win conditions and the rules with a simple play of a card.

BANG! - A spaghetti Western card game where you're the varmints, sheriff and deputies but only one of you reveals their identity to the others. It's the thankless job of the Sheriff to clean up this town but you don't know who your fellow deputies are and who the outlaws are until the bullets (re: cards) start flying. A good time for those of us who love to bluff and call bluffs in return.

SMASH UP! - Ever wanted to play a game with Ninja Dinosaurs? Or Zombie Aliens? Maybe some Robot Wizards? Smash Up allows you to combine two factions from across the world of geekdom and take on fellow crazy combinations to blow up bases and get to 15 points before your fellow players. Fast-paced and insane, it's a hoot for folks who don't mind a slightly rules-heavy game that can change on a dime.

CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY - It is essentially Apples For Apples made for horrible human beings who laugh at deeply wrong things. No words can adequately describe it. WARNING: This is definitely a game that's only for adults. Google it and be delighted.


LORD OF WATERDEEP - Finally, one that's still a bit of a strategy game, but essentially combines D&D with Monopoly. You're the servants of the Lords and Ladies of a magical city trying to get adventurers to go on missions and increase your power and prestige. The fun part is that none of you know exactly who the other is working for, so after the game comes to a close, your secret alliances may just let you pull ahead towards the guy or girl who thought they were in first place.


@KDBryan I admit, I am a strategy gamer... the casual stuff isn't all that interesting to me, but I will check these out (well, the ones I haven't already tried, anyway).

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