That dreaded moment in the game of Sorry, you are trying to role a two, exactly, so you can end up finally ending the game, and you roll and fail, again, and again, and again. Or Monopoly when you’re five away from the spot you […]
When you mention board gaming to people now, there are a lot of people who think of a game like Catan or something that is newer, but you get a lot of people who say, “Like monopoly”. The answer to that question is generally, for most people who talk about board gaming, a resounding “NO!”
With people who think of Monopoly or other classic games, what games can you recommend that might take them further into a journey of board gaming? I’m going to try and take a stab at what classic games can be replaced or have a game that can be used as an advancement into the board gaming hobby.
If You Like Clue
T.I.M.E. Stories or the Escape Room board games, Unlock and Exit are two of the more popular ones would be good options. These games are cooperative, which might be something different, but there is still the puzzle aspect of trying to solve the escape room or in T.I.M.E. Stories trying to solve the case presented to you. T.I.M.E. Stories is my recommendation here, however, there are games like Chronicles of Crime and Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game that if they are looking to solve a murder, might work better, but I haven’t played them yet.
If You Like Chess
Now, I personally think Chess is a really interesting deep game that I’m not good at. It probably doesn’t need to be replaced, but if you have someone who likes Chess, there are a lot of other abstract board games that they might like as well. Onitama is my recommendation here. It’s a fast strategy game where you can have any of your pieces do one of two moves you have in your hand, however, whatever move you use goes into the middle and your opponent will get it in their hand after their move. The game has a ton of really interesting strategy to it as you try and eliminate the others players “king” piece or get your “king” to the opposite side of the board. From there, you can branch into a variety of other abstract games, but Onitama has a nice Chess-like feel to it.
If You Like Risk
I only have one replacement for this game, and that’s Smallworld. Smallworld takes the area control and conquest aspects of Risk and makes it so that you can’t hide in Australia. The conflict in Smallworld is high, but everyone is in conflict, so it isn’t like you should gang up on a single person. The variable powers of the races and then random ability that they get paired with makes this a fun game. It also almost eliminates the die rolling luck aspect of the game as well and the game play is so much faster as it has a limited number of rounds.
If You Like Scrabble
Personally, I think that Scrabble has aged quite well, but can be a bit slow as people try and figure out words. My replacement for Scrabble is Unspeakable Words. The game has a Cthulhu theme on it for no good reason, other than to be silly, but there is luck involved in this game, and the ability to make a big word isn’t always the most useful. And even if you are falling behind and have gone insane, you are still part of the game. It’s a simple word game, there are others out there that I want to try as well, but for someone who likes Scrabble, but it’s too long or they aren’t the best at word placement, Unspeakable Words could be a fun time with them.
If You Like Sorry
Sorry has some very frustrating rules as you race around the board and get sent backwards and then as you are about ready to win, you have to sit there until you roll the right number. It’s a bad game that ends up with people annoyed at each other. I actually have two recommendations, and I haven’t played either of them. The first is CamelUp, it’s a camel racing game through the desert where instead of a person having their own camel, you bet on which camel is going to be ahead at time and roll dice, but if a camel lands on another camel, they stack, and if the bottom camel moves, all of those on top of them move. The other one is similar, but it’s auto racing and Downforce is the name of the game. In this game, you do have your own car, but you bet on peoples cars if yours isn’t doing too well, and you have difficult decisions to make, because you have a card you have to play on your turn, and it will probably move your car, but will also move other peoples cars, so you have to pick which card you play carefully.
If You Like Trivial Pursuit
I have so many issues with this game, one person can simply be better at trivia and run away with this game. And not just that, you might not get the pie piece you need. Most trivia games are going to suffer from the one person knows more issue, so what is a trivia based game that might not do that? Wits & Wagers is my choice. In the game, everyone is answering a question, like how many yards does the record rusher in the NFL have? Now, Gary might be the trivia expert, so his number might end up being the closest, but everyone writes down a number ,and then you bet on which one you think is the closest without going over. So even if Gary always does the best, you can bet on Gary and you can play as many or as few rounds as you want.
If You Like Monopoly
I’m not going to say that someone is a bad person for liking monopoly. I know that a lot of people have fond-ish (or horrible) memories from playing it growing up, because there weren’t that many game options out there. But there are a lot more now. Monopoly is a tough game to suggest a replacement for, because there’s the buying property aspect, there’s a collecting set aspect, there’s the collecting rent aspect, and what is really the aspect that people like in the game? My choice is going to be considered an odd one, but I think that Ticket to Ride can be a decent Monopoly replacement. This is especially true if you’re playing at higher player counts. There’s a card set collection aspect, there are locations that you’re getting to, and there is a take that aspect that you can block someone out of a place that they wanted to go. Definitely not a perfect replacement for Monopoly, but I think it’s a game that someone who likes Monopoly would enjoy.
What other classic games need to be replaced? Are there any games you think would make sense to replace or to be suggested in place of the ones listed that I’ve missed? If so, comment them below.
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This topic came up recently on a forum that I’m on, football related but in the general random talk section, how to find people to play a game with you. The person has The Thing board game, and wants to get it to the table, but is having issues finding people to play it with them. I responded to them quickly there, but I realized that’s a good topic to write about on a Friday.
I’m blessed with a lot of friends who like to play board games. When I was starting playing Gloomhaven, we didn’t end up with a fourth player because the person I asked was too busy playing other board games to commit. We host a board game night and get 8-10 different people showing up most times. The Risk Legacy group and the Gloomhaven group have no overlap. So clearly I have a lot of friends who like to play board games like I do. But what if you aren’t as blessed or you’re working against bad board gaming experiences?
Let’s start by talking about places where you can meet new people. This might be outside of your comfort zone, but it’s a good possibility for meeting new gamers to start playing with.
Look for meet-up groups online. There are a lot of meet up groups that plan events at breweries, game shops, and other places to hang out and play games. Obviously, this is going to be all strangers unless you can grab a friend to come along, but it would be a solid way to find people you know will be interested in board games. It’s also low commitment since you don’t need to show up at all of them, but going to a few in a row would be good to build up relationships.
Local gaming stores are another good option. Again, this is going to be more random people that you are meeting up with, but keep an eye out for board game events. International Table Top Day which happens in April of each year (most likely) is a great option. A lot of stores have sales, promo cards, and other events. Depending on the shop, they might have limited events otherwise, so they are going to be less likely to get you randomly connected with more gamers than a meet-up would be.
Local conventions are also a great option. Nerdy conventions often have gaming rooms and planned events and games that you can sign up for. If you have one that is for gaming in particular, that’s going to be your best option to get connected with people. Even conventions that aren’t focused on gaming often have gaming rooms. CONvergence, the one that Kristen has written about, has multiple gaming rooms even though that is not the focus of the convention. So even if the convention on the surface doesn’t look like it’s focused on gaming, check out the details and you might find that they have some gaming that you can take part in. I will point out that this is the most likely to be a one off, but who knows, you might make some great connections, or get connected to a group that way.
If all of that seems too intimidating, you can try and recruit from within your friend group. You might find out that there are people who actually like board games that just assume when someone asks if people want to play board games, that they mean Monopoly or some other game that they don’t like. So be specific when asking people to play board games with you.
That is going to be the case sometimes, but more likely, you’re going to have to introduce people to the hobby or break down the perception of the hobby. What am I talking about when I say break down the perception of the hobby?
A lot of people have the idea of board games of rage quitting Monopoly, or a game of Risk that lasts five hours. There isn’t fun with their memories of board games, and that is something that is tricky to work against. Or they have an idea of gaming as a bunch of overweight guys with acne sitting in of their parents basements playing a massively complicated game. It takes time and patience to change peoples opinions, especially from negative to positive. So what can you do to change minds?
Start with easy to grasp games. Games that have lighter rules and a heavier theme or at least a nice look to them are going to get people more apt to play. Sushi Go! is a good example of this. The game is pretty simple and straight forward, you try and get points by picking cards. It’s something that people can understand, and then you add in the graphics. The sushi and various foods are drawn in a very cute way, so it’s fun to look at while you play it. Once they’ve enjoyed a simpler game like Sushi Go! start them on more challenging games like 7 Wonders, which is a similar concept, but more moving pieces.
Also, start with games that are faster. To keep on Sushi Go!, it’s a fast game as well. There are a couple of areas that you can keep a game faster. One is how long it takes to play the complete game, but the other is how long it takes between turns. Now, gaming is often a social event, but you want people to stay involved in the game. So while in Sushi Go! there can certainly be talking, it also moves forward and keeps everyone busy with the game, so you’re less likely to forget what is going on. It doesn’t have to be a game where everyone is always taking their turn, but as long as they stay involved throughout the game that’s good.
Sometimes you also run into people who just think that they won’t be good at a board game because board games are too logical and they aren’t that logical. This has a nice solution to it, and that’s cooperative board games. A good cooperative board game means that they don’t have to do all of the thinking and planning themselves. As they are learning the game and the strategy behind it, try not to run their character for them. Give them time to come up with ideas, give suggestions when asked, but let them learn to play their character. Pandemic is a good game for this, especially with giving them a more straight forward role like the medic where they are going to be removing disease cubes, let them figure out where they want to go and what they want to do, and then suggest something if you see a better/different option. Cooperative games also has a lot of theme or an interesting theme a lot of times, so it might be easier to grab someones attention.
Speaking of theme, that’s one final way to get more people to play board games. Find your friends who really love The Thing, those are the people who even as non-board gamers might be interested in playing. Or find the theme that people might be interested in, your Lord of the Rings friends might want to play a Lord of the Rings themed game or even a fantasy game as compared to playing a Sci-Fi themed game to start. If you really like Euro games and trading the Mediterranean, you might have to find one that has a theme pasted onto it that people might like better. For example, there are some Euro games with a Vikings theme, that might be easier to get people to play. So look through your collection and figure out who you know who might like some theme in particular.
Now that we’ve gotten some ideas out there, go find your gaming group or make some new fans of board games. Have you tried any of these before, if so, let me know how it went in the comments below…
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We’ve all played board games growing up — most of us are familiar with the classics, like Monopoly, Clue, and Life. And for a lot of people, playing them just leads to frustration. However, we are in a new generation of board games. Games now […]