Everyone knows that playing games, be they board, video, or casino games, is entertaining. They bring people together around a common goal – or in a competition. But board games also offer a lot more. Notably, while you’re having fun and laughing together with your friends or family, your brain is releasing endorphins – the “happiness chemical” – and this can also help lower your blood pressure. When planning out your strategy, your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are also getting a work out, keeping your memory strong and fighting off cognitive decline. Playing board games is just what the doctor ordered – which one of these ten will you try?
Catan is a multiplayer board game where players take the role of settlers to a new land and try to become the most successful civilization on the island.
Each player begins with two roads and settlements on the board. On each turn, different resources are produced to help the settlers build new roads, settlements and cities. All of these earn victory points. Gameplay continues until one player has reached 10 victory points, winning the game.
Game play: 3 to 4 players; 12 years+; 90 minutes; Strategic & Complex
2. Risk (Game of Thrones Edition)
Risk, a classic game of strategic conquest, is taken to a new level in this edition where the players battle for the Iron Throne.
This board game combines diplomacy and open conflict. Gameplay turns amongst the players who each control an army of playing pieces. These armies attempt to capture territories from the other players as determined by rolls of the dice. The goal of the game is to occupy every territory and in doing so, eliminate the other players. In order to reach this goal, players may form alliances to shift the balance.
Game play: 2 to 7 players; 18 years+; 120 minutes (up to several days); Strategic & Very Complex
3. Cards Against Humanity
A party game unlike most party games you have played before, Cards Against Humanity brings out the best and the worst of your friends. A simple game involving drawing a black card (question) and finding the funniest answer possible with the white ones.
Game play: 2+ players; 17 years+; 30 minutes; Simple Party Game
4. Ticket to Ride
If you enjoy trains and geography, this is the game for you. The purpose is to build railroads between cities to make up routes as indicated by the cards. The bigger the network created, the more points you earn. And the further apart the cities are, the bigger the score. The game ends when one person has used all of their train cars. The person with the most points at this time wins.
Game play: 2 to 5 players; 8 years+; 30 minutes; Strategic & Family-Friendly
In this board game players build their territory in a medieval landscape. Terrain tiles are revealed and played by placing them next to similar features (roads, fields, cities). Each player also places his or her figurines in the various locations to earn points. When the last tile has been placed, the game is over and the player with the most points wins.
Game play: 2 to 5 players; 8 years+; 45 minutes; Strategic & Family-Friendly
Agricola is a resource management board game. Each player is a farmer who plants and harvests their crops, builds up their farms, buys animals, and feeds their families. A total of 14 rounds are played. The most prosperous household ends up with the highest score and wins.
Game play: 1 to 5 players; 12 years+; 120 minutes; Strategic & Complex
7. Spot It!
Spot It! is based on observational skills and reflexes. The game is actually five mini-games, each based on matching symbols on the fifty-five circular cards. All players play at the same time and the fastest one wins!
Game play: 2 to 8 players; 7 years+; 10 minutes; Simple Party Game
A game entirely composed of images, you will use your imagination to play this game. One at a time, players choose a card to tell a story (without showing it) and the others must try to match with a card from their own hand. All cards are then revealed, and the group must choose which card best fits the story. Players gain points when their cards are chosen. The game ends after a pre-determined number of rounds or points.
Game play: 3 to 6 players; 8 years+; 30 minutes; Simple, Imagination-Based Party Game
A game of chance, players score points by rolling five dice to make certain combinations. Each person has three rolls, choosing to keep or reroll the dice to create the combinations necessary to fill their scorecard. A “Yahtzee” is when all five dice are the same number. There are 13 categories and one must be filled at the end of each turn. Once all categories are filled, the player with the highest score wins.
Game play: 2+ players; 8 years+; 30 minutes; Family-Friendly Dice Game
Chess is a strategy game played by two people on a checkered gameboard. The 64 squares are arranged in an 8×8 grid and each player begins with 16 pieces. These pieces are of six types: one king, one queen (the most powerful piece), two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns (the least powerful piece). Each type has its own kind of move. The game ends when the king is “checkmated” and cannot escape capture.
Game play: 2 players; 8 years+; 5 minutes to several hours; Strategic & Complex