Board Game Essentials

Board Game Essentials

Moving away from the world of Role Playing Games for a little bit, I wanted to talk about what the “essentials” are to have in your board game closet, on your board game shelf, or stacked in a corner somewhere. This list is meant to give you an idea of some good games to have around that people will enjoy and to introduce you to a different type of gaming. I’m not putting extremely complex games on this list and I’m not going to put extremely niche games on this list, these are games that if you want to build up your collection, it’s a good spot to start.

10: King of Tokyo

Why? Because this game introduces you to a fun, quick pseudo-euro style game that is all about die rolling. The rules are simple and it is very fast to pick up and gives you a lot of different ways to try and win the game. Plus, the theme, you get to play the movie monsters (or their knock-off cousins) who are trying to destroy Tokyo. Even a non-board gamer is going to enjoy that theme.

Image Source: Days of Wonder

9: Five Tribes

Why? This game kind of gives you everything. You get some unique mechanics with the piece movement, you get to build up your own collection of different items, and it requires some strategy as you try and determine how you’re going to get that next person or resource that you need. Five Tribes is also a game that is visually fun to look at. The pieces are nice, the artwork is nice, and it’s very bright and colorful. Finally, even if someone new is playing the game, they can still pick a single strategy and keep trying that to win the game.

8: Seven Wonders

Why? This card drafting game set in ancient times is pretty straight forward. You get to build your wonder of the world. Again, it’s a theme that is very accessible for new players, and it is one of the games that uses a drafting mechanic that is a ton of fun to play. Now, this game can require a bit more strategy than some other games on this list, but it plays quickly, and people tend to want to play it again.

Image Source: BoardGameGeek

7: Smallworld

Why? Smallworld is the area control game for this list. It’s a fun lighthearted game about stomping down the other players as quickly as you can and then getting stomped down yourself. Why this works without hurt feelings is that it is basically impossible to gang up on someone and the game moves quite quickly. It also has very good replay value as each race that you can pick get’s randomly matched up with an ability so some game you might have flying orcs and in other games they might be diplomatic orcs.

6: Carcassone

Why? This is my worker placement game for the list, and it has a very unique component to it. You get to build the game board as you go along. This game moves pretty quickly, there are a limited number of options and the scoring tends to stay pretty close throughout. The game has been around for a long time and it’s stood the test of time for a reason.

5: Resistance/Ultimate Werewolf

Why? Pick one of these games, do you want to be trying to take down a future government, do you want to be trying to find out the secret werewolf? These games are a great hidden agenda game that tends to play quite quickly as you try and determine who a traitor might be or who a werewolf might be. It’s good for a social sort of game that is around bluffing, and there are so many different versions/themes of this game that you can really pick the one that is right for your group or for your friends who you are trying to get to play.

4: Sushi Go Party!

Why? This is another card drafting game, but with this game  you are drafting adorable little anthropomorphized little Japanese sushi. The game plays quite quickly, the rules are easy to understand, and you can have many different combinations to start out your game. It’s also good because it expands out to eight players.

So, the last seven entries I would say are good games, but it’s kind of a take it or leave it with them. I’d highly recommend all of them to someone who is looking to build up your collection of games and someone who is looking to try a bunch of games to figure out what type of game they like, but these last three I really think should be on every board game shelf.

Image Credit: Daily Kos

3: Tsuro

Why? Tsuro is my go to “party” game, I call it a party game because you can have up to 8 players and the game goes very very quickly. Plus, you don’t have to pay that close attention to what is going on until your turn because your option to do things is very limited. However, this isn’t what you’d think of a normal party game because it doesn’t have you guess trivia, say things in a silly voice or draw something when you really can’t draw. Tsuro is a very safe, fun, and fast game to get people who might be shy about playing a “party” game into playing a game.

2: Pandemic

Why? Well, in my last sentence about Tsuro, I talked about how it’s great for getting people into a game who aren’t normal gamers. Tsuro tends to work well as it goes quickly, however, when you are getting to something more serious, Pandemic is a very good game to have. One huge selling point to getting a non-gamer friend or a new-gamer friend to play it is the fact that it is fully cooperative. You are all working together, so you win and lose as a team and someone who might not be as good at strategy can still enjoy the game. The game is also streamlined enough that you are limited in what you can do in this game on your turn, so there is less decision fatigue than a more complicated game. At the same time, this game keeps you on edge and involved the whole time with a great premise for a game and with having so many ways to lose that it makes it seem like it would be hard to ever win. Even though this is a longer game than some of the others on the list, you’ll finish playing and people will want to play again.

1: Ticket to Ride

Why? This of this game as a gateway drug to other games. This game is pretty and pretty simple. You are trying to complete train routes by collection matching colors of train cars that correspond to the colors on the map. This game works well because it isn’t too complex and you get to score points at multiple times. This means that when someone is a long ways ahead in the middle of the game, they might not end up that far ahead. It’s also colorful and pretty to look at. Finally, this is a game that, while you are working against each other, it doesn’t seem all that cutthroat.

What are some games that you think are essential for building out a budding game collection?

Happy Gaming

Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!

Email us at
Follow us on Twitter at @NerdologistCast
Message me directly on Twitter at @TheScando
Visit us on Facebook here.