Every couple of weeks, Wesley and I rustle up some friends and convince them (usually after we’ve all met up to get drinks) that wouldn’t it be JUST SO FUN to play a game? We are unashamed to pull out our cards and game pieces even in public places like breweries, and every time interested passersby look on longingly and ask what we’re playing. Board games aren’t new, and it’s not even that they’re back “in.” It’s just that I’ve realized how insanely awesome they are as an adult.
It all started when my Catan-obsessed housemate moved in and tricked my college roommates and I into playing what sometimes feels like the world’s longest game; flash forward, and we all got hooked. Two years later, I’ve expanded my game toolbox (though I am by no means an expert), and today I want to share my top five go-to games. I am always looking for new ones, so feel free to leave us suggestions in the comments!
I would be remiss if I skipped over this classic; I actually remember buying our copy long ago (maybe in middle school?) because some smart classmate of mine had recommended it, but then no one in my family knew how to play so it languished in our game closet until 2015.
Best for: leisurely evenings or over mimosas and brunch (budget at least an hour and a half for this one, more if you’re new to it). Also, expect tensions to run high and avoid playing with sore losers.
Bonus: there are expansion packs for the Catan aficionados, allowing you to bring other landscapes, resources, and rules to the game.
In Spaghetti Western style, this is an Italian cowboy game, and once you figure out what all of the phrases mean (don’t worry: there are English subtitles and the instructions manual is very thorough) you won’t be able to resist it. It’s a lot like Mafia or Murder, where different players are assigned different roles and must kill certain other characters to win.
Best for: bringing with you on a trip, as it all fits in a small box and can be played with anywhere from 4 to 7 people.
Bonus: apparently there are seven official expansions to the game, but even with just the basic set characters are variable enough to keep things interesting.
I love the nerdy vibe of this game; the idea is that diseases are breaking out globally and you are on a team of health professionals trying to cure the four diseases before they completely take over!
Best for: a game night when you want to switch it up with something you’ve never played that feels suspenseful but doesn’t take forever to learn.
Bonus: unlike most games, Pandemic is cooperative instead of competitive. You have to work with the other players if you want to cure all four diseases in time.
I played Codenames for the first time last weekend, and loved that it feels very low-tech but classically fun. There are two teams, so you get to work both with and against different players.
Best for: playing when you aren’t sure how long the game session will last. You can stop after however many rounds you choose, so you aren’t locked into a set amount of time.
Bonus: pull out some pads of paper and pens for the clue givers to write down their words on; I’m not sure whether they mention it in the rules but it makes the game a little more manageable.
5. Liar’s Dice
You can buy this game in a couple different formats (I think I first played it as a Pirates of the Caribbean game), but essentially all you need is a lot of dice and cups for however many people are playing.
Best for: bringing to a bar or some other crowded venue where you need a little entertainment but don’t feel like pulling out a huge game set up.
Bonus: this is where it’ll come in handy knowing your friends’ tells- bluffing abounds!