I love board games, so this is going to be a somewhat biased post (inspired by Why We Still Love Board Games). I first got hooked on board games while in Vancouver working at the iQmetrix office there. Some of our newer hires, specifically Sean, brought his board game collection with him when he joined the company, we had a few board game nights, and from there I was hooked. Before that, I didn’t think anything new had happened in the board game space since Monopoly. The most advanced game I had played was Settlers of Catan. But there’s just so much more!
Board games are a great social activity. Unlike video games, you interact directly with another person in the same room, and see their reactions, their mannerisms, the way they interact with everyone else at the table. You can have drinks, you can talk about other things while you play, and you all have a common topic to share regardless of background – the game you’re playing.
Because of all this, I feel board games are a great team building exercise. We play shorter (1 hour or so) board games at work on a pretty regular basis with our team, and it’s been great. I’d like to give a list of some of the games we play in more detail in order to inspire other teams to try board games out themselves. In no particular order:
List o’ Games
7 Wonders – A card game themed around building your civilization and the specific world wonder you’re in charge of. It uses a drafting mechanic; you’re dealt 7 cards, you get to pick one, and then hand the rest off to the person to your immediate right or left. You also interact directly with your immediate neighbours throughout the game to buy resources, get points, and compare military might. Takes around 30 minutes if everyone knows what they’re doing, and can play up to 7 players.
Lords of Waterdeep – A worker placement game based on a scenario from Dungeons and Dragons, but don’t let that scare you, you don’t need to know anything about D&D to enjoy this game (I don’t!). Idea is to use buildings in Waterdeep to hire certain heros and get them to complete quests for you. One neat mechanic is creating new buildings in the game, after which other players can use. Plays up to 5 players.
Race for the Galaxy – A space themed card game, focused on exploring new planets and technology. There’s an “action selection” mechanic where if you pick an action, say “explore”, all players get to explore (you’d get a bonus). Not a lot of direct player interaction, but picking the wrong action can actually help futher your opponents. Base set plays 4, expansions add another player.
Stone Age – Stone Age is also a worker placement and resource gathering game. You run a tribe of villagers in the stone age, trying to gather resources to improve your village by building huts and gathering culture cards. The game is mostly controlled by dice, having you roll to determine how much resources you gather every turn. Dice values can be modified, reducing the amout of luck in the game. Plays 4 players.
Dominion – Another card game where you build up your kingdom using a variety of cards available to all players. Everyone starts with the same deck of cards, and the game is setup with 10 random action cards from a set of 20+ possibilities, so every game is different. The base game is 4 players, but expansions (of which there are many) can take you up to 6 players.
Space Alert – Space Alert is a unique co-operative game where the main game mechanic is “communication”. As a team of space explorers, you’re thrown into new galaxies where your simple task is to survive the multitude of threats that attack your ship. A mp3 soundtrack for each mission tells you the timing of threats that attack your ship while you play the game in real time with your 4 other crew members to try to manage energy, weapons, and shields. The game plays from 2 to 5 players, but is most fun with 4 or 5 people.
Galaxy Trucker – The main idea in Galaxy Trucker is to build a spaceship that doesn’t explode. Every player gets between 2 and 4 minutes at the beginning of every round to simultaneously grab random, face-down tiles to attempt to assemble a spaceship. After that, all the ships are subjected to pirate attacks, meteroites, alien planets, and more in an attempt to gather resources and deliver them to their destination. The first few games you play, you will probably blow up. But don’t feel bad, the other 3 players you play with will too :) (5 total with expansion)
The Resistance – The Resistance is a simple to learn, difficult to master party game where a number of the players are secretly spies, trying to sabotage the mission that all players go on. Players take turns being the “leader”, picking the away team that goes on each mission. If the away team has a spy on it, the spy can sabotage the mission from within without giving away their identities. Players need to try to avoid putting spies on the team, while spies need to try to sabotage missions without getting caught. Requires a minimum of 5 players, and plays up to 10.
All of these games are lots of fun, pretty easy to learn, and take less than an hour to complete; perfect for a lunch time activity. Board games are a great way to socialize, get to know your team better, build relationships, and have fun doing it!