When it comes to modern board gaming, it’s pretty safe to say that we’re all spoiled for choice.
Whether you’re a dedicated miniatures gamer, a party game fanatic, or just love following the latest Kickstarter trends, there’s something out there for everyone.
But regardless of your tastes, there are some games that have to be tried, at least once, by every board gamer!
So here are eight of our favorite games that have to be played -at least- once in your life.
8. Twilight Imperium (2014)
An intergalactic epic
Okay, let’s just get this one out of the way quickly. Taking up entire weekends, and enjoying a reputation that precedes it, Fantasy Flight’s Twilight Imperium is an experience that needs to be played to be understood. Combining warfare, diplomacy, and a smidgen of role-playing – Twilight offers a little someone for everyone. Whether you’re battling for control of Mercator rex, waging (space) war on your opponents, or settling old scores – the game absolutely sings for the duration of its playtime and well beyond.
7. Mage Knight (2011)
An epic tabletop adveture
A textbook example of aging with dignity, this opus from the mind of Vlaada Chvátil is best-played solitaire. And if you read the rules, you’d know why. Taking place across a randomly generated map, Mage Knight is a perfect mechanism for randomised but oh-so efficient play. Combining resource management, deck management, and brinksmanship – no other game on this list does so much with so little. And even if you have to borrow a copy off that one friend who never shuts up about it (and let’s be honest, chances are that it’s you), do yourself a favour and take a lazy lockdown Sunday to step out of the portal and wreck shop. You’ll be glad you did.
6. Descent: Journeys in the Dark(2020)
You’re the mystical old bard
On your journey through the dark
If you’re looking for action, tension, and feeling like an unstoppable killing machine…it’s hard to do better than Descent. Played out over a manageable number of sessions, a Descent campaign sets one player as the evil overlord and the remainder as the heroes trying to stop his machinations. This means playing through an incredibly moreish series of missions where your heroes move from goblin stabbers to dragon destroyers. Quick to play, tactically deep, and broken in in the best possible way – playing through at a Descent campaign is the perfect antidote to a long week of phone calls, spreadsheets, and meetings.
5. A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Secon Edition) (2011)
Make your claim for the Iron Throne!
Yet another legend graces us with her presence. A near-mythical destroyer of friendships, Game of Thrones is one of board gaming’s best examples of theme-matching gameplay. Letting you play through your own version of the famous book series; Game of Thrones takes no prisoners and absolutely expects you to do the same. Games are brutal, nasty, and vicious – with the rules designed to foster conflict and only ever allowing victory to be achieved through alliances and treachery. While the game is a bit of a table hog, planning your conquest of Westeros is an experience that has to be played to be understood. And no matter how badly you do…can’t be worse than what we ended up with.
4. Burgle Bros. (2019)
It’s heist time!
After four fairly heavy games, let’s move on to something a little lighter…but by no means less impressive. Designed by the wonderful Tim Flowers, Burgle Brothers lets you and your group replicate the heist of your dreams, letting you play as a sneaky thief inching their way up a skyscraper to snatch the juicy secrets within. Offering breezy, but challenging, gameplay – the real joy comes from something that’s just that little bit ‘extra. Available online, sellers offer a custom plastic frame that allows the multiple floors of the skyscraper to be physically stacked one on top of the other. Well this makes zero tactical or strategic difference to the game, it does make things look bloody fantastic and provides a highly thematic centrepiece for your table top. Suddenly you see the world your character occupies, and you and your friends feel like a high-class thieves using a model to plan their next heist. Will it go off without a hitch? Only you can know for sure.
3. 7 Wonders (Second Edition) (2020)
Build the wonders of the world
While 7 Wonders Duel may be taking the BGG Hotlist by storm, it’s worth remembering that the original still has something special going for it. And all you need is 6 other people. A super-streamlined civilization builder, 7 Wonders lets you and your friends compete to see which of your nations stands the test of time. Played through card drafting, the game flows effortlessly even at the highest of play counts. This leads to fantastic table banter, frantic alliances, and frictionless play that leaves no one out.
2. Concordia (2013)
A game for strategists!
Some games awkwardly straddle the line between amazing play and technical design. And some games are art. Concordia is up there with the best the hobby has to offer. Letting you and your friends play as leaders at the height of ancient Rome’s powers, gameplay involves razor sharp planning and super streamlined card management as you master your economies. This means working to gather resources, optimise your play, and passive aggressively block your nemeses. A dream to teach and effortless to play – this is a game with hidden depths the take minimal sacrifice to access. Also, pretty cheap. Which is important because you will almost certainly be playing it again.
1. Space Hulk (2014)
An epic sci-fi struggle
Say it with us: Two players. Sand Timers. ‘Suicide Mission’. A massive part of many childhoods, or even the first proper board game many of us played, Space Hulk is a lot of things…but it’s perhaps best defined by what it is not. It’s not balanced. It’s not remotely fair. It’s brutally broken in many places. And, as a general rule of thumb, the Genestealers wreck shop in almost every mission. But this tactical delight from Games Workshop is soaked in special sauce that’s straight from the 80’s. Play is tight and evocative, every decision matters, and missions rest on a knife edge. And the latest versions have to be seen to be believed- with gorgeous models, durable tessellated tiles, and stunning art . Yes, it’s not an effortlessly machined and workshopped masterpiece. But that’s… kind of the point.
What board games do you think everyone should try? Tell us in the comments!