Are you looking for a new game to challenge and amuse your family and friends? Why not try bean farming? Or mixing paint? Or building power plants? Admittedly, none of those activities might sound like much fun, but sometimes game descriptions don’t do games justice. This list, put together based on suggestions from gaming enthusiasts, can introduce you to a whole host of games you never would have tried if you’d simply read the box.
If being a peasant farmer in the Middle Ages was fun, we ‘d still be living that way, right? But Agricola, from Z-Man Games, makes subsistence farming enjoyable. Players are farmers living in wooden shacks with their spouses, collecting building materials, building fences and striving to expand the farm (and the farmer’s family). Since there are a lot of moving parts, more serious gamers may enjoy this more. Still, for a game set in the Dark Ages, it’s much lighter than you might expect.
9. Stone Age
Stone Age, from Rio Grande Games (which made a number of the games on this list), is a game about gathering resources. If you think collecting corn and wood sounds boring, you’ve never played Stone Age. Players work as hunters, collectors, farmers and tool makers, seeking to grow their population by collecting important resources. While the road to victory may seem clear, sneaky players can collect less obvious victory points by collecting special cards. Make your own bonus entertainment by talking like cavemen, but remember to use more sophisticated vocabulary as your civilization grows.
8. The Castles of Burgundy
They say not to judge a book by its cover, and The Castles of Burgundy (by German game-maker Ravensburger Spieleverlag GmbH) is a good example. Judging by the washed-out looking board and pieces, it would be easy to believe this was a ho-hum game. But even if building cities in the Burgundy region of High Medieval France doesn’t sound like party time to you, give this game a chance. Players collect tiles to settle regions, with dice rolls dictating the actions they can take. In addition to building settlements, players practice trade along the river, exploit silver mines, and use the knowledge of travelers, for multiple ways to win. The element of surprise is strong in this game: watch out for the quieter players who may be finding creative ways to undercut you, while you’re distracted elsewhere.
As a wholesaler in 1900 Hamburg (Z-Man Games), players unload goods from ships to put them in storehouses. How exciting! But acquire the right goods and sell them at a profit, and you can be on the path to winning. Invest in fire protection, though, because an unexpected warehouse fire can foil all your plans. Just in case you think this game is all about acquisition and strategy, the auction aspect of the game can amp up the excitement, as players vie for the best deals.
6. Ticket to Ride
While three-year-olds would clap their hands at the prospect of competing to build railway systems, many adults would simply roll their eyes. Yet, Ticket to Ride (by Days of Wonder) combines strategy with luck for unpredictable play. The players choose routes they plan to build, then collect the correct cards to build different lines. Those who complete their routes control them, causing other players to have to reroute. This easy-to-learn game provides plenty of opportunities for scheming, strategy, and sabotage.