Coronavirus is forcing many people to take to self-isolation and passing the time can be a challenge, particularly when you have finished everything on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
So it is time to consider the timeless classic of board games.
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If you are self-isolating then you will probably want to consider board games that are simple to learn but can be played solo. Here is my list for the solo adult.
Play your own coronavirus adventure. Can you infect the world? In Plague Inc you play as a deadly plague aiming for world infection and wiping out humanity (sound familiar?) This game plays 1-4 people and suitable for ages 14+ with an average playtime of 60 mins. Also available as an app. It does have small pieces so be careful with little children.
If you would rather play as the medical team than the virus, then try Dice Hospital. This is one of the best medical board games and has an excellent one player mode. With clear instructions, amazing gameplay, and fun graphics, you play as the hospital team trying to discharge patients effectively and keep the hospital running smoothly. You may even notice a familiar GP face in the game (I was an original backer of the game on Kickstarter). It is suitable for players age 10+, plays up to 4 people (5 with the expansion) and about 45 minutes for a one-player game.
Onirim is like solitaire but based on dreams and plays with multiple players too. It is a fun and challenging game with simple rules and great replayability. It is a great way to spend time and also available as an app (which makes the shuffling easier). Suitable for up to two players aged 8+ and an average game plays in 15 minutes.
There are many more solo games. A few I have played but do not own. These include Friday (a quick deck-building game based on surviving in the world of Robinson Crusoe), Mint Works (my personal favourite worker placement game but very hard to find) and the legendary GloomHaven, Scythe and Mage Night (hours of fun but not for the board game novice)
But what if you want some good family or group games? It is likely several homes will have multiple people self-isolating and having games that you can play as a group would be a great way to pass the time.
If Plague Inc is the best way to have your own coronavirus adventure solo, then Pandemic is the best way you can fight a pandemic as a team. For years the legacy version was considered the best board game on BoardgameGeek website. You play as a team trying to fight the spread of a virus that is trying to infect the world. Will you win? try your hand. Suitable for 2-4 players age 8+ and average game lasting 45 minutes.
Splendor is one of my favourite games for up to four people. With simple rules but great gameplay, you play as merchants trying to collect valuable jewels and be the first to claim victory. This is a resource collection based game and recognised as one of the best starter boardgames about. This is one that should be in all homes. It plays up to 4 people (I find three is best) for ages 10+ and average game lasting 30 minutes.
Have you got any sheep?
Catan is a board game as popular as Monopoly and the second-highest selling board game of all time. As a world builder, you collect resources, develop and trade to victory. The base game plays up to 4 players from 10y+. A game can last anywhere between 40 minutes to several hours depending on the people playing. There are numerous expansions including allowing extra players. For me, this is a must-own game and a true classic.
Although we are leaving Europe and everyone is almost on lockdown, Ticket To Ride Europe in my view is the best card drafting variant of the series. It plays well for up to 5 players aged 8+ and can play for about an hour I find.
Make journeys across Europe, collect tickets and claim points to be the most seasoned traveler. With a simple mechanism to play it is easy to learn and provides hours of fun. For the ardent brexiteer have a look at the similarly excellent UK expansion (does require a base version)
As we move through the delay phase of self-isolating we will see more children needing to stay at home. Technology distractions exist but also having board games to help distract them is something I would recommend all parents to consider. Here are my personal favourites that my children regularly play.
For the young child, age 3-5 there are not many board games that are useful. However, board game maker Orchard Toys have some excellent options that my children love. With large pieces and fun gameplay, each game is worthy in its own right, and often have an educational skill as part of them.
For children aged 5-8, there are lots of games to consider. Some are not listed in the age bands but I play with my children, suitable supervision is recommended. I definitely recommend most games by Haba games in this category.
Those who know me, know I love this game. Consider Super Rhino Hero a combination of Uno and Jenga. Your children will love trying to build the building and seeing it crash. It teaches strategy and turn-taking even in younger children. My son and I have spent many hours with this game, just remember to play on a firm level surface.
Finding one player board games for younger children is a challenge. Helvetiq are another great board game creator and their Bandido game is special as can be played as a one-player for even 6-year-olds. You can work solo or as a team to stop Bandido from trying to escape. You will need a table or floor space for this game.
Monsters battling for dominance while using fun cards to make you even more powerful. How can any child not love this game?
King of Tokyo is an easy to learn game that can play up to 6 children (and adults) and provide hours of fun. Although for 8y+ my 6y old loves this game and is a firm favourite.
Fast, furious and simple it has to be Cobra Paw. Even my two-year old loves this game and we can play repeatedly. Will you be the master of the art of Cobra Paw by collecting seven tokens first either from the pool or from your opponents? It plays up to 6 people with games lasting 5-15 minutes, suitable for any child (or adult).
In case you are secluded with a group of people and looking for games for larger cohorts to play with when you break out of self-isolating then here are my top picks for games to keep you busy.
Codenames is easily one of the best party games.
Quick and simple to pick up with lots of replayability and fun. Designed to play 4-20 people (but with some house rules can play more) it won’t be long till you are shouting Car -2 in exasperation at your team as you try to race to beat your opponents at sharing your code.
This is my favourite board game at present and plays 2-7 players. It is a little heavier to learn than some of the other options and set up takes a few minutes, but when up and running the strategy and replayability of this game is amazing. The great thing also is regardless of the numbers, the time to play does not significantly increase. However not suitable for little children due to small pieces.
Which games are your favourites?
Which will you be playing while self-isolating or spedning quality time with your family?