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The board games taking over now aren’t what your family used to play on a Saturday night
IF YOU HEAR the term “board games” and still think of Scrabble and Snakes and Ladders, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. The board game scene is far more complex and, well, more fun than the childish pastimes you were used to. Catch up with the rest of us with these six board and tabletop games that’ll easily replace Monopoly as
the most complicated game you’ve ever played.
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game
It is: Pretty much the board game version of what each major GoT house wants to accomplish in the series— control of Westeros. You play as one of the seven major Houses as you try to be the one to park your ass on the Iron Throne by way of tactical maneuvering of your armies, proper management of your resources, and deft wielding of your influence. Oh, and surviving whatever the Wildlings have in store for you.
Number of players: 3- 6 For: Game of Thrones fans ( duh), real- time strategy/ turn- based strategy gamers, and people who want a great way to kill at least six hours
Not for: Dothraki and Targaryen fans ( you can’t play as either), haters of micromanagement
You win: When you control seven castles, or if you control the most castles at the end of the game. ( This is harder than it seems.)
Complexity: 4/ 5. The learning curve is forgiving, but doesn’t compromise depth at all. It’s just really long ( the original game, that is).
Dead of Winter
It is: A board game set in the middle of a post- zombie apocalyptic town/ city in the middle of an icy winter. ( Get it? Dead of Winter?) Players choose a character from the host of survivors in the city to play as, with their own unique traits and skills, as they try to make it through the winter and kill zombies while doing so.
Number of players: 2- 5 For: Anyone who’s ever wanted to survive a zombie apocalypse and do so in a realistic way, people who want to play a board game with a story
Not for: People who don’t want to process too much information
You win: When the players complete all the objectives expected of them, such as killing enough zombies to come up with a cure and having enough supplies at the end of the game.
Complexity: 4/ 5. All the pieces seem daunting and there’s a lot of explaining to be done, but the logic is easy to grasp. You’re killing zombies.
Betrayal at House on the Hill
It is: The essential board game equivalent of the old haunted house trope. You and a group of your friends are a group of fictional… friends ( the assortment is rather wild, but typical of horror movies) who are exploring a haunted mansion ( which is so not a good idea, but that’s also typical of horror movies). You’re going to try to survive omens and special events called Haunts, where the real fun begins, because one of you will start playing against the rest of the group. ( Because that person is possessed. Horror movies.) Number of players: 3- 6 For: Classic horror fans, people who are looking for the right game to play on Halloween, players who like being the antagonist, devoted Scooby- Doo fanatics
Not for: Scaredy- cats who are easily kept up at night by terrifying mental images
You win: When you survive the Haunt and fulfill its particular win conditions ( there are so many of them) if you’re part of the good guy team, or when you manage to kill all the good guys if you’re the possessed traitor
Complexity: 3/ 5. The mechanics are straightforward and intuitive ( you’re moving through a house), but a lack of tight teamwork is going to lose the game for the good guys.
It is: A tabletop card game of straight- up shrewd maneuvering. You and a group of friends are playing as politicians in some sort of futuristic Renaissance Italy, and you’re all frigging corrupt as hell, trying to stab each other in the back as you play and steal and lie and embezzle your way to be the most influential politician among all of you. A more strategically- complex version of the game involves allegiances.
Number of players: 2- 10 For: Poker players, people aspiring to be local politicians someday ( we’re kidding… or are we?)
Not for: People who cannot influence other people to save their lives
You win: When you’re the last one standing after cutting off everyone else’s influence, either by killing them or staging a coup
Complexity: 3/ 5. The strategic options available to you at the beginning of the game can be a little overwhelming, and newbies will have a tougher time beating veterans of the game. Once you figure out what it is exactly you need to do, however, the game will become very intuitive.
The Resistance: Avalon
It is: A tabletop card game of trust, deception, and intuition based on the legend of Camelot. Players are secretly split into two sides, King Arthur’s subjects and the evil forces of Mordred as they race to either complete quests or stop them from succeeding. Various specific characters have special abilities tied to knowing— and faking— who’s who. Best played with some alcohol, trust us. Number of players: 5- 10 For: Poker players, people with trust issues, people who want to divide a group of friends, pathological liars, aspiring actors Not for: People with trust issues You win: When the good guys complete three quests, or when the bad guys stop the good guys from completing three quests or the assassin successfully guesses who Merlin is and kills him
Complexity: 2/ 5. All you need is three minutes of gameplay to figure out how the entire game works— the rest of it is how fast you learn to decipher your friends’ bluffing.
Don’t be daunted by the sprawling setup of Game of Thrones. Pretty soon you’ll get the hang of invading your opponents’ territories.
These are some of the cards that mark players on the good guy side in Avalon. (Of course blue means good.)
Betrayal is kind of like a tabletop RPG, hinging on stats each player has and crucial dice rolls.
Each character in Dead of Winter, represented by these tokens, has a unique ability that changes the way you play the game.
Currency in Coup is marked by chips, which along with the bluffing mechanics present make the game a lot like poker.