BEST FOR STRATEGIC THINKING: Catan
Catan transports players to a mythical world, where they assume the roles of settlers who are attempting to build and develop holdings while trading and acquiring resources. The original game has sold tens of millions of copies around the world thanks to its rare combination of being strategic yet easy to learn. If you’re ready to jump in at the deep end, a Cities and Knights expansion pack will take your game to the next level.
BEST FOR MARATHON SESSIONS: Diplomacy
You’ve probably not considered Diplomacy before – because it can last for days. But if ever there’s a time… Strategy and negotiation skills are what you’ll need to win. There’s no die or element of luck here. Each player takes charge of one of the seven great powers of pre-World War 1 Europe, with the aim of taking over the whole continent.
BEST FOR ADULTS: Cards Against Humanity
The objective here is pure entertainment – if you insist there has to be a winner, there are ideas for creating your own house rules in the instruction pack. Whether or not it ends up being competitive, someone will read the beginning of a sentence out loud and each player will write down their conclusion to the sentence. The aim is to make yours the funniest – or maybe the most despicable.
BEST FOR A MIXED CROWD: Sushi Go Party!
Faintly surreal and fearsomely addictive, Sushi Go Party! is indeed a sushi-themed board game. Players score points for collecting cards that create winning sushi combos. Highest score after three rounds wins. Simple enough for young ’uns, the gameplay’s strategic enough for older heads. Go for the expanded Party! version to ensure you’ve got maximum customisability.
BEST FOR WORDSMITHS: Bananagrams
Bananagrams is a fast-paced, word-building game that only requires the pouch and a table. Players use the letters they’re given to build a word grid in a race to be first to use all their tiles. Mix the game up by picking themes for each round, such as countries, foods or other languages.
BEST FOR NUMBERS BUFFS: Rummikub
Based on a traditional Middle Eastern game, Rummikub changes endlessly to provide hours of entertainment. The winner is the first player to outwit everyone else and use all their tiles in runs or groups of three or more. Just beware of the joker tile.
BEST FOR TRIVIA: Linkee
All of those man-hours you’ve given to pub quizzes over the years have not been for nothing. Linkee will test your general knowledge, as well as your ability to think on your feet. Players have to answer four random questions and guess the link between them. The first person to get it right wins a letter; the winner is the first to be able to spell Linkee with their letters.
BEST FOR A LAUGH: Scrawl
This Pictionary-style game with a twist invites bad drawers to come together and laugh at each other’s appalling handiwork. They might be asked to sketch anything from monkey knife fights to octopus mating season. Others then have to work out what the hell they’re looking at. Creative and unpredictable, Scrawl offers some fine group entertainment.
BEST FOR GETTING ACTIVE: Don’t Get Got
This isn’t your typical sit-around-the-table kind of board game. Each player is handed some mission cards; the winner is the one who first completes three of those missions – which tend to involve annoying and interrupting fellow players. Don’t Get Got can last as long as you want it to.
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BEST FOR SINGLE PLAYERS: Burgle Bros
You’re a member of a heist crew trying to pull off a robbery without getting caught. The building – which you assemble yourself using the 4x4 tiles provided – has three floors, each with its own safe to crack. Start on the first floor and work your way up, solving puzzles and overcoming challenges as you go, before you can escape using the helicopter waiting on the roof. Burgle Bros can also be played in a group.
BEST FOR TWO PLAYERS: Codenames: Duet
This adaptation will be familiar to fans of the original Codenames: basic gameplay is the same – you use one-word clues to identify your agents – but you work as a team rather than against each other.
Each game has the simple objective of finding all of your agents before the time runs out or you encounter an assassin. A ‘mission map’ means you string together multiple games.
BEST FOR PEACE & QUIET: Puzzles
Not strictly a board game, but not much beats a puzzle for a spell of prolonged peace. John Lewis has a decent selection: remind yourself of what’s outside with the London Calling edition; or lose yourself in outer space with The Planets XXL. Both have 1,000 pieces and will keep you occupied indefinitely.
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