Lets face it nobody wants to spend 6 hours playing monopoly with your friends on a Sunday afternoon anymore but here are 5 games that you will be happy you dedicated your time too.
Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (2015)
Pandemic Designers: Matt Leacock, Rob Daviau
Game Time: 60 min
When Matt Leacock’s global disease-battling game Pandemic landed 10 years ago, it popularised cooperative games (where every player either wins or loses together) like no other. Then in 2015, Leacock collaborated with Risk Legacy creator Rob Daviau to release a variant that topped the original and popularised a whole new genre: the Legacy game. This plays over a “season”, during which you’ll tear up used cards, draw on the board, cover it in stickers, watch characters perma-die and — yes — never play again once it’s complete. Unless you want to buy a whole other box, although there’s already a Season 2, set 70 years later, and a Season 3 in the works.
The result is an interactive narrative experience akin to a Netflix show you play on a tabletop, where over 12-24 games you and your friends take the role of a team of experts struggling to stop the world from falling into illness and chaos. To go into much more detail would be as egregious as spoiling the plot of Breaking Bad. But it’s an awesome experience whose unexpected twists and turns more than make up for its lack of long-term replayability.
Buy It Now
Scythe Designer: Jamey Stegmaier
Game Time: 90-120 min
Inspired by the paintings of Polish artist Jakub Rozalski, which placed dieselpunk mechs in early 20th-century landscapes, this elegant strategy game sees different factions vying for supremacy in an alternate-universe post-war Eastern Europe, where gigantic robotic vehicles stomp around the battle-torn land. But don’t mistake it for a wargame; there are many non-lethal routes to success, and in fact starting a fight can penalise you, costing you the support of the conflict-weary locals. Plays great, and thanks to Rozalski’s art, looks gorgeous too.
Gloomhaven Designer: Isaac Childres
Game Time: 120 min
Age: 12+ This cooperative fantasy adventure is a huge game in more ways than one: the box and all its components weigh in at just under 10 kilos, while it provides enough adventure scenarios (each of which permanently changes the game-world while building an ongoing narrative, Legacy style) to keep you absorbed for months. Meanwhile its innovative card-based, dice-free combat system provides an intense sense of tactical depth that’s made it beloved by tabletoppers of a more hardcore bent. One warning, though: each game takes a hell of a long time to set up.
Agricola Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Players: 1-5 Game Time: 60-120 min
Age: 12+ A true classic from one of Germany’s most lauded designers, Uwe Rosenberg, and a fantastic example of the worker-placement genre. In a post-Black Death Central Europe, each player runs a family farm, aiming to yield the most crops, raise the most livestock and make their farmhouse as big and strong as possible by taking turns to place their workers on a set of action cards which are gradually revealed as the seasons pass. But don’t forget to have enough grub to feed your own family once harvest-time comes. That would be bad.
Terraforming Mars (2016)
Terraforming Mars Designer: Jacob Fryxelius
Game Time: 120 min
Age: 12+ In this pleasingly scientifically accurate tile-laying/hand-managing hybrid, Mars needs to be made habitable. To do that each player’s corporation (each with its own unique ability) must earn points by helping to raise the temperature (to eight degrees Celsius), creating oceans (nine in total) and getting enough oxygen into the air (14 percent) by planting forests. The board is an actual map of the real red planet, giving a palpable sense of your literally world-changing decisions.
Buy It Now
Dead Of Winter: A Crossroads Game (2014)
Dead Of Winter Designers: Jonathan Gilmour, Isaac Vega
Game Time: 60-120 min
There are board games based on The Walking Dead, but none so effectively capture the paranoia-tinged struggle to prevail in a post-zombie-apocalyptic world as Dead Of Winter. On the surface, it’s a straightforward cooperative game, with players taking the roles of survivors who must coordinate their efforts to gather resources, survive and protect their colony during a bitter, zombie-infested winter. But everyone also has a secret agenda to fulfil — one of which may well involve quietly working against the others and bringing about game-losing disaster.
Wingspan Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave
Game Time: 70 min
Wingspan is a competitive, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game from Stonemaier Games. You are bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors—seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions).