Hello Tildes, one common thread that I've noticed in a lot of the threads I've been browsing under ~hobbies and ~creative is that it seems like a lot of folks are looking for new hobbies and...
Hello Tildes, one common thread that I've noticed in a lot of the threads I've been browsing under ~hobbies and ~creative is that it seems like a lot of folks are looking for new hobbies and things to get into.
To that end one great hobby I've picked up somewhat recently is playing and collecting board games. To some of you, the term 'board game' likely inspires thoughts of old school board games like you may have played in your youth (Clue, Connect 4, Shoots N Ladders, Monopoly, Stratego) "Modern" board games can certainly still be as simple as some of those, but we are actually in a sort of second golden age for board games right now.
What I mean by the above statement is that quite recently (the last 5 years or so) Tabletop and board games have really become popular again, to the point where if you live in a major city there are most likely several places to buy games, and likely even a couple of places you can go to just hang out and play games that belong to the store. Between that, and the popularity of things like Wil Wheaton's TableTop on Youtube, both major game companies as well as small independent folks are creating more and arguably better games than ever in the past.
Now - to the actual subject of the post title. The games I'll list below vary from things most people have heard of or played (Cards Against Humanity) to somewhat obscure, but they should all be pretty easy to find, and very easy to pick up and get into. I'll try to include as much relevant information for each of them (Price, Number of players, Game type etc) and a brief description of what the game is like to play.
If anyone has any other suggestions to contribute please do - One of the best parts of the hobby is the community aspect and finding new games to play.
Let's start with something popular, but not quite ubiquitous yet -
Cards Against Humanity: (3-Unlimited(?) players, $25 Base game + Expansions, Play time Varies based on player count and house rules, ~1hr is a safe bet, but can be made shorter or longer by adjusting rules)
Cards against humanity is a NSFW card game described as 'a party game for horrible people' on the box, which is pretty accurate. Gameplay consists of one player (The judge) playing a black card from the top of a deck with a sentence on it such as "I drink to forget ______" after which the rest of the players will play a white card with things like "My ex-wife" or "Random Erections" or "A bigger, blacker dick" written on them. Once all of the players have played their white cards, they are shuffled, read aloud, and the "Judge" decides which of the white cards is their favorite, awarding a point to the player that played that white card. This is a great icebreaker game because it pretty much forces everyone to get outside of their comfort zone and get weird with it. There are many expansion packs, which are generally themed, but some are just general. These include more cards to keep things fresh after you've played through the originals too many times. - Note: Not recommended for Family Game Night.
Cthulu Dice (3-Unlimited(?) players, $11, Play time ~5-10 minutes):
Cthulu dice is what is called a "micro-game" it consists of just a single plastic (or metal, if you want to dent your table) die with some symbols on it. It's a variant of the old "put and take" game with a bit of a cthulu twist to it, this kind of game is great because it's simple, portable, can be taught to new players in minutes, and also makes a great drinking game. You can also add house rules or look up other variants to keep things fresh
Next up - Dixit (3-6 Players, $30 base game plus standalone expansions, Play time ~30-45 Minutes):
The gameplay of Dixit is somewhat similar to Cards Against Humanity with one player acting as a judge, but from there things get different and rather interesting. Whereas Cards Against Humanity has cards with absurd, obscure, or obscene sentences or words, Dixit has cards with pictures on them. The pictures are generally bizarre, surreal, and kind of whimsical art (Like these examples: https://i.imgur.com/VHtISAZ.png). The way the game is played is the "Judge" player will select a card from their hand and say a single word or phrase that describes something about the picture on the card (It could be a color, an object in the picture, the way the picture makes you feel, what the picture makes you think of, anything that makes sense really) and then plays the card face down. The other players then try to select a card from their hand that matches the judges phrase as best they can in order to fool the other players into picking their card instead of the judges. Once all players have played their face down cards, they are laid out and all players vote on which card they think is the original one played by the Judge, Points are handed out accordingly. Similar to Cards Against humanity, the expansions for this game are additional packs of cards, often following some loose theme to freshen up the game. Most of the expansions contain enough cards that they could be used to play the game standalone. This is a great game to play with people of any age or maturity, it can be as clean or as dirty as the people playing the game but is just generally always a good time.
For the next few games, the actual mechanics of gameplay can get pretty complex, and so rather than explain what the gameplay is like, I'll just link a relevant episode of TableTop for anyone who is interested enough to check them out.
Red Dragon Inn (2-4 Players, $35 Plus Expansions, Play time ~30-60 Minutes) Unfortunately, no TableTop of this one, I can expand if there's interest:
Red Dragon Inn is a game about what the adventurers from DnD do during their 'long rests' at the inn. It's intended to be a drinking game, with players assuming the roles of characters at the inn ( The base game comes with a Wizard, a Rogue, a Priestess, and Warrior ) and are given decks of cards containing context-sensitive actions and abilities. The goal of the game is to be the last person at the inn that isn't broke or passed out from injury or alcohol. The three main resources tracked are a characters health, sobriety, and coins and various cards can affect each of these in various ways. There's also a gambling mini-game that is a lot of fun. The expansions come in 2 types, main releases which consist of 4 new characters (later ones, 4+ seem not to work as well with the earlier ones, and may do better as standalones) as well as single character decks that aren't included in any of the main releases.
Tokaido(2-5 Players 3+ preferable, $30 + Expansion, Play time ~45-60 Minutes):
Tokaido is a bit different than the rest of the games on this list so far in that it isn't explicitly competitive. At its' core, Tokaido is a game about seeing who can have the best vacation. Each player assumes the role of a different traveler (each with their own benefits and abilities) and proceeds on their way, trying to stop at the different available locations in such a way that they end the game with the most points (how points are scored is kinda complex, Watch the TableTop for this) but it tends to be a nice, low stress game as there's few ways to really 'attack' other players. There is currently one expansion out for it which introduces some new mechanics and does a good job of freshening up the game for players who have had it a while.
The Resistance/Avalon/Werewolf/Mafia and similar games (Many players, ~$15, Price varies, Play time ~30 minutes, depending on the variant):
The Resistance and similar are games about lying to your friends and trying to convince them that you are somebody that you're not. Or maybe they're games about telling the truth and trying to get people to believe you, that all really depends on the cards you draw. These are some of my favorite party games to play in a big group because it can really show you who among your friends has the best poker face. Games tend to go pretty quick so when a player is eliminated it's generally not a big deal (this can sometimes not be the case if the group is way large). Of the different variants I've played, Avalon is my personal favorite of the different variants due to the interesting mechanics that the additional roles bring to the table in this one.
Finally - Betrayal at the house on the hill (3-6 Players, more is better, $35 plus expansions, Play time ~60+ minutes )
Tabletop (Part 1 of 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MINNKyE4fjs
Betrayal is my go-to example of how great a modern board game can be. It's a moderately complex game, but don't let that scare you off - after you play it once you'll get it just fine, and setup is relatively quick and easy compared to a lot of the other sort of "DnD Lite" games that exist (Lookin at you here, Arkham Horror!). The game consists of players exploring rooms in a spooky house, building out the map as they go from a stack of game tiles with rooms on them. The rooms will have different effects and trigger different types of events as the players explore through the house collecting items and discovering 'omens'. These 'omens' tie into the whole point of the game implied in the title, the "Betrayal". What this translates to in real terms is that for the first half of the game, all of the player characters are cooperating, trying to help each other get as many useful items and to position themselves in the house in such a way that when one of the other players inevitably fails the 'omen' check and triggers the 'haunt' and begins the second half of the game that the non-betrayers can survive and/or escape. Survive and/or escape what you might ask? That is one of my favorite parts about this game, in the base version there are over 50 different scenarios depending on a bunch of different factors. These scenarios can be everything from demonic possession, ghosts, werewolves, 'the blob' and many other creatures, monsters, and horrific situations and do an absolutely fantastic job of giving the base game a TON of replayability. On top of that, they released an expansion for the first game (Widow's Walk) which introduced even MORE scenarios, as well as new rooms and an entirely new floor to the house, as well as Betrayal at Baldur's Gate, which has similar gameplay but takes place in that universe.
I could really keep going all day, but I think this post has gotten well long enough. Let me know in the comments what games you guys play and love, or if you want to hear about some other kinds of games (There are too many to think about even coming close to touching on all of them: Deck building games, Dice building games, Pandemic-like games, Classics like Catan, Ticket to Ride, Dominion, Milles Borne etc etc etc)