Just as the video game industry is exploding with fantastically creative games every day, so has the board game industry been expanding in new and delightful directions. Board gaming is a wonderful way to play with your family when you want to spend a little time away from the screen, or just when you want some face-to-face interaction.

If the last game you bought was Monopoly and you’re not quite sure where to start, here’s a list of some great games to check out the next time you’re at the toy store.

1. Settlers of Catan It took me a few plays to really get the hang of this game’s many rules, but the instant they all clicked into place, I couldn’t get enough. Settlers of Catan places you and your fellow players on an island populated with five types of resources: sheep, ore, brick, wood, and wheat. The goal of the game is to earn victory points by building roads, towns, and cities, which require different combinations of resources. The game usually drags a bit in the middle, but finishes with a dramatic suddenness as everyone scrambles to execute their well-laid plans. Settlers of Catan is available in a number of incarnations, including various regional versions and even a Star Trek Catan. You can watch Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton (aka Wesley Crusher) playing the game with other Star Trek actors by clicking right here.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride
Source: Exodus Books

2. Ticket to Ride, based on the early days of the American railroad system, pits you against your opponents in a bitter race to purchase rail routes. At the beginning of the game, you’re given destination cards, and your mission is to get from point A to point B. However, there are only so many routes, and if an opponent purchases a path you wanted, you have to reroute, sometimes in dramatically impractical ways. Turns are short, which keeps the game fast-paced. And this game, like Catan, comes in several editions. You can even download the app and play it on your phone or tablet.

3. Apples to Apples is the first game that I can ever remember playing that made me snort my drink through my nose. It’s funny. And it’s great for parties because there is no real limit to the number of players (though it’s designed for between four and 10). In a circle, each player takes a turn playing an adjective card (“relaxing,” “hyperbolic,” etc.) and everyone else places a noun card face down. Then the first player chooses the noun that best pairs with the adjective. The game’s simplicity allows space for enormous creativity, but it’s the specificity and peculiarity of the noun cards which really makes Apples to Apples hilarious. If you’re playing with other adults, and you don’t mind some inappropriate humor (very inappropriate, definitely rated M) you can check out the grown-up equivalent, Cards Against Humanity.


Source: Asmodee

4. Dixit is sort of like Apples to Apples, but with images instead of adjectives and nouns. One player (called the storyteller) places an image card, paired with a word, phrase, or sound, and everyone else must try to play a card that matches the story that the storyteller is picturing in his or her own head. It’s a little weird at first, but it quickly becomes a fun and intuitive game that I would play with grandparents or young kids. What’s more, the longer I play the more I want to go make art, which is one of my favorite feelings. Click here to compare different versions of the game.

5. Dominion “You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams… You want a Dominion!” Dominion is a stack-building game, which means that the better your hand of cards, the faster you’ll win the game. In each turn, you hold five cards from your deck at a time and you take turns playing and drawing in order to increase the quality of your hand. Different cards perform different functions; some are designed to help you and others to hurt your opponents. The coolest thing about Dominion is that there are hundreds of different ways to play, because you don’t use every kind of card for every game. You pick and choose in advance which tactics will be available to the players. Click here to see related games or to download the rules.

Do you have more board games recommend? Continue the conversation in the comments!

This article was written by

Courtney is Pixelkin's Associate Managing Editor. While working with the Girl Scouts of Northern California, she mentored young girls in teamwork, leadership, personal responsibility, and safety. Today, she spends her time studying adolescent development and using literary analysis techniques to examine video games.