6 fun tabletop board games you can snag on Amazon right now
When it comes time to see people in real life again, be prepared with some board games.
Last week, I played my first ever tabletop board game. I mean, I’d played the obvious stuff like Monopoly and chess. I’d dabbled in Warhammer 40K when I was younger. But I had never actually played a “proper” board game until last week.
The initial game of Empyreal: Spells and Steam (included below), which is supposed to be over in 20 minutes per player, took me and my playing partner, Sam, a good three hours to get through. But, it was genuinely great fun learning to play.
If you’re curious about tabletop gaming but don’t know where to start, we’ve rounded up a bunch of games for you to take your first steps. Here’s what we found; now get to rollin’ that dice!
Empyreal: Spells and Steam
Empyreal: Spells and Steam is a rail-themed tabletop from US-based Level 99 Games. Trey Chambers designed the game. It features some really cool anime-style artwork from Nokomento, Laura La Vito, and Fabio Fontes. The game is based in the fantasy world of Indines. As some of the other Level 99 games also take place in this fictional universe, there is a certain amount of lore that you can investigate.
The game essentially revolves around the successful delivery of goods to various cities on the game board. You take control of a rail company and you can upgrade the company with spells and powerful characters. You build a network of trains around the playing board and, once you fulfill certain criteria, you count up your points to decide the winner! This game really encourages strategic thinking and is great fun to play.
Zombie Dice is a great game to just pick and fill some time with. Rounds are short and, by extension, so are the games. You and your friends play as a zombie horde. As the title suggests, this is a dice game. The aim of the game is simple; you roll three dice on your turn. Each dice has separate images on its faces, instead of numbers. These are brains, footsteps, and shotgun blasts. All you need to do is eat as many brains as you can before taking three shotgun blasts to the face! If you roll footsteps, bad luck, your prey got away!
As mentioned, the game has a fast pace and you can play with as many people as you like. So, if you always cheer the antagonists in The Walking Dead, then this is the game for you. The game is by Steve Jackson Games as well. If you ever played the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks as a kid, you’ll definitely know that name.
The likelihood is if you have investigated board games before, that you will have heard of Catan. Well, you could view Carcassone a bit like “Catan-Lite”. If medieval themes and land-grabbing are your bags, then this is a great game to start with. The aim of the game is to play tiles and make terrain yours. This terrain can include roads, rivers, pastures, and buildings. You then claim points based on the land you’ve gained. Simple!
Well, not quite. Your opponents can grab the land back off you. So, strategic sneak-ery is in order if you want to win and see your opponents fail monumentally! Z-Man Games has made several variations of Carcassonne, plus you can get a number of expansions to make your sessions last longer. Obviously, adding expansions will also increase the replayability factor of any tabletop game you wish to play.
If you have played Sid Meier’s Civilization games, then you’ll love 7 Wonders. It pulls together all the best elements of strategic video games and places them firmly on your tabletop. The game has a historical theme, as you might expect. This centers around the seven wonders of the ancient world; so the Colossus, the Pyramids, and other familiar legendary sights all appear. As with Civilization, the aim is to harvest resources in order to eventually build your wonder.
Along the way, you’ll be playing cards, each turn, that have a different in-game effect. Much like Civilization, you can focus on increasing your military strength, trading, and forming allegiances. You can also make your civilization a scientific one. This is a great strategy game for beginners as it is easy to learn quickly, at which point you can throw a few expansion packs into the mixer to liven everything up a bit.
It’s pretty topical, Pandemic, considering the situation with COVID-19. If you’re one of those people who think they’d cope significantly better than your government has during a pandemic, then this is the game for you. Why not see just how difficult it can be to control a totally random virus?! The great thing about this game is that it focuses on cooperation rather than conflict with the other players. That means there’ll be no falling out with sore losers, too.
The concept of the game is to take control of a medical professional and globetrot until you have treated enough people and built enough medical facilities to get the virus under control. It might sound simple but there will be little tricks along the way to make your life a lot harder. The game has loads of expansion packs, some of which can be played as games in their own right. Others will need the core set to be able to play. There’s even a Cthulu version for fans of Lovecraft!
Castles of Burgundy
Castles of Burgundy is a strategic board game made by the world-renowned Ravensburger games. If you want to know what it is like to manage a kingdom like a royal, then Castles of Burgundy is the game for you. With easy-to-follow instructions, the game is great for beginners who want to get to know tabletop games without having to learn complex rules. It is a dice game, with each turn allowing you to perform certain actions such as commandeering territory, trading resources, or utilizing your workforce.
Each action you perform will carry points and it is these points that you add up to decide the winner at the end. As with most board games, Castles of Burgundy has numerous expansions, so you can make your game last longer, increase the complexity of the game if you’re finding it a bit easy, and add to the replay factor.
Tabletop board games for beginners
Admittedly, entering the world of tabletop gaming can be a little bit daunting. There are so many out there that it can be difficult to decide which game to go for. You don’t want to spend an age learning complex rulebooks. But, as with many hobbies, they require a little perseverance.
If you’d like to try a digital board game before you plump for some tabletop action, check out Catan Universe and see what all the fuss is about.
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