Especially during these locked down times at home, we spend most of our time online – almost all suggestions we see on what to do might be related to an app or some kind of gadget. But what about unplugging for a moment and enjoying ourselves at home? For the lucky ones who share a house with one or more people, strategy board games might be the best option to fight against boredom and have some fun at home during quarantine times.
We are going to break monotony – and Monopoly – and show you some cool board games to explore emblematic places in the world and learn their history to inspire your wanderlust spirits without going out (well, specially because some of us can’t!).
We curated some board game suggestions from Board Game Geek. Almost all of them are listed among the 100 best rated board games. Some of the suggestions even won prizes that we can consider as the board game “Oscars”.
Wise warning: some of you might be quite competitive. However, bear in mind that we’re all locked down under the same roof – which means that keeping the fair play is vital to overcome those “grounded” days in peace for the sake of your relationships.
So, let start with a light suggestion to soothe those competitive rushes!
If you are one of those crazy competitive players – you would never reveal that, of course, but since you’re reading alone you can be completely honest – that’s the game that will preserve good relationships under your roof during this quarantine period. Tokaido is a zen, yet competitive, board game. This feeling surpasses the objectives and rules of the game and reflects into the card and board’s design putting all of the Eastern zen feeling on your table.
At Tokaido, you represent one of the characters on a road trip from Kyoto to Tokyo. Your goal is to collect as many experiences as possible during your journey: souvenirs, temple visits, the best meals and collectable paintings. Each turn ends in a meal, where all opponents eat together before going back to their trips. Want a suggestion? Schedule a sushi night with your flatmates and enjoy this little trip to Japan!
Board Game Geek score: 7.7/10
Players: from 2 to 5 – personally, I’d say 3+ is a good number.
Duration: 30 to 40 minutes
The French Revolution was well known for putting price on nobles’ heads – or, as the game name itself suggests, into the guillotine. As a revolutionary, your objective is to capture those nobles, queue them and… well, you might know by now what happens after (sorry for the spoilers!).
Despite that creepy goal, the game and the design itself are light and funny. Also, you might learn more about the most important characters during the French Revolution, such as Robespierre, Louis XIV, Marie Anthoniette and nobles. It’s a quick card game to play while having beer & appetizers with your roommates.
Board Game Geek score: 6.5
Duration: 30 min
If you can’t make it to your Euro trip, bring it to your dining table or, even better, build the trails that will lead you to your destination. Ticket to Ride is the game for it: not too complex, not too easy. Still, it requires a lot of strategic skills to anticipate your opponents’ moves.
Objective cards will tell you the source and destination of your railroad, while the map requires you to have the suitable color of wagons to make your way there – whether if you have them or not, cards randomly taken from the deck will reveal in each round. Everything is running smoothly until you face your opponent trying to reach their destination using the same trails as you. The more players there are, the more conflicts will emerge. Sounds like just a regular trip with friends…
Board Game Geek score: 7.6/10
Players: 2 to 5
Duration: 40 min
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One of the 100’s most well rated by players in Board Game Geek, Azul is a board game that tells us a bit about the tiles’ history in Portugal, most known as azulejos. When D. Manuel I visited the southern Spanish city of Alhambra, he was delighted with the artistic tile decoration into the palaces’ walls. Immediately, he ordered his artists to reproduce this into Royal Evora’s Palace interiors.
At Azul, you represent the tiling-artist and your responsibility is to trade tiles from suppliers. Later on, you position your tiles on your own board and try to combine the best patterns to increase your score and decorate your king’s walls. Sounds too simple, but it isn’t – just like tiling…
Board Game Geek score: 7.9/10
Players: 2 to 4
Duration: 30 to 45 minutes
Speaking of Alhambra, the city that delighted D. Manuel I in the 13th century, there’s also a board game dedicated to this place. Alhambra is a city that housed Grenada’s court. Nowadays, it’s considered by UNESCO as World’s Heritage for its unique complex of palaces, fortress and beautifully designed gardens kept since the 13th century.
In this strategy board game, you are a contractor and your role is to employ the best builders from Arabia and Europe there are eager to demonstrate their talent. To do so, you have to take your turn to get money from the market (there are 4 currencies available), buy one of the properties available or construct/reconstruct one of the properties you already bought. The game ends when supply meets the demand, meaning that people with the most resourceful properties will win.
Board Game Geek Score: 7/10
Duration: 45-60 min
We are in the beginning of the 20th century, lots of fancy cafes are popping up in Vienna, fighting for the customer’s attention: politicians, artists and tourists are there, also looking for a place to stay in Austria’s capital.
You are the owner of one of those cafes, but also a hotel owner wannabe: choosing from six actions to perform in each round, such as hiring people or cleaning the rooms, you will compete with your friends to see which of you can offer the best hotel service in town. Your chance to be in a 5* hotel even at home.
Board Game Geek score: 7.79/10
Players: 2 to 4
Duration: 60 – 120 minutes
The Babylon Gardens, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes… All of the Antique World Wonders turn into cards that each player holds, with bonus inherited powers: while one can have superpowers that boosts their army, others can be the best scientists, earning more victory points when exploring this field.
This strategy board game consists of 3 turns that complete each other. This means you should think about your strategy since the first round, while observing your opponents moves to not conflict with your plans. Tip: green cards are cumulative among the rounds, go for that and don’t regret.
Board Game Geek score: 7.76/10
Players: from 3 to 8
Duration: 30 min
As we headed a bit in many crucial points from Europe’s history, we would never leave the Industrial Revolution behind. Brass: Birmingham was the winner of the Best Strategy Game in 2018 at the Golden Geek Awards – something like the Oscar prize in the board games industry.
In this strategy board game, you participate in all moves the industry made before getting to what we know as the Industrial Revolution. The goal is not only to develop your business, but also to build the infrastructure to leak your production. Hence the reason the game is divided into two eras: the Canal Era (1770-1830) and the Railroad Era (1830-1870). You have to deal with a budget and control your eagerness to expand your business, since the playing order is dictated by players who spend less to perform their actions – cards from the deck only allow players to take actions, so there’s no lucky factor in this game, turning it into one of the most complex in this article.
Nevertheless, at the end of the play, is not only a history lesson, but also a supply chain management class.
Board Game Geek score: 8.6
Let’s have a quick trip to a place not far from Europe: Turkey. Precisely, Istanbul, a city famous for its trading bazaar’s since thousands of years ago.
You’re a busy merchant at Istanbul’s bazaar and you have to ensure you do the best deals with your neighbours to, then, ensure the best deals with your buyers. To do so, you count on four assistants and one wheelbarrow to achieve as many rubies you need to win this competition against the other merchants – in other words, your opponents.
Obviously, there are many other rules on the way, but it’s an easy-going, yet complex strategy board game that will for sure break out your tedious afternoons.
Board Game Geek score: 7.6
We hope you enjoy the list of strategy board games to play during lockdown and have a bit of fun during this period – and, at least for a while, being unplugged from the internet. Enjoy some offline time, stay home and stay safe.
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