As many of us are realizing – it’s hard to keep finding ways to stay entertained in social isolation.

The weather isn’t quite to the point where we can comfortably be outside for long periods of time (in Wisconsin, anyway). Many of us are already spending all day on screens whether for work, school, calls…or perhaps a combination of all 3. If that’s the case, unwinding in front of a TV or screen isn’t always our first choice.

So, what to do?
I propose a return to a reliable pastime: the board game.

Board games have long been a favorite activity of mine. The unique nature of each game, the themes within, and the physical components of each game provide an enjoyable leisure experience unlike any other. Most valuably, especially at this time, is the ability of a good game to bring together people to engage socially. Players can engage in a world or conversation that is a respite from the daily doldrums and a change from the current environment.

So put the devices away for a moment, cozy up around a table with some preferred snacks and drinks, and gather for some head-to-head fun or cooperative hijinks. It’s hard to beat the classics that many of you likely have on your shelves already – but if you’re looking for some new additions to help jazz up game night at your place, check out the options below.

***Please note: next to each game you’ll see a number from a scale of 1-5. This number is a “weight” of the game – that is, the complexity and challenge of the game. 1 is less complex, 5 is very complex. These have been derived from a board game review aggregate website. It is not a review of the game. A great game can have a higher or lower number. Just depends on how much depth you and your fellow players want in a game.
For reference: Candyland is a “1.08”, Risk is a “2.09”.

Our family doesn’t really play board games that much, but we want some non-tech related entertainment options.

If we have to spend more than 5 minutes looking at a rulebook, it’s going to be an issue.
King of Tokyo (1.49)
Kingdomino (1.20)

We don’t mind spending some time looking at the rulebook.
Ticket to Ride (1.86)
Sheriff of Nottingham (1.65)

We can handle rules if it means a more engaging game.
Carcassone (1.92)
7 Wonders (2.33)

There’s a lot to be thinking about right now. I need a chill, low-key game, that isn’t going to require a lot of cognitive power:

Azul (1.78)
Sequence (1.34)
Incan Gold (1.11)

Looking for a game that we can play with the whole family/fellow isolation buddies (ages 12+)

We’d like to be working together.
Hanabi (1.70)
Flash Point (2.21)
Burgle Bros (2.29)

We can handle the competition.
Coup (1.41)
Stockpile (2.11)
Broom Service (2.41)
Catan (2.33)

Looking for a game that we can play with the whole family (children below 12)

We’d like to be working together.
Forbidden Desert (2.05)
Outfoxed (1.11)

We can handle the competition.
Dragonwood (1.48)
Sushi Go! (1.16)
Dixit (1.23)

Looking for a game that our kids (below 12) can play by themselves.

If they’re unsupervised, they should be playing something cooperatively:
Mole Rats in Space (1.33)
Forbidden Island (1.74)

They can handle some competition on their own.
Dragonwood (1.48)
Rhino Hero (1.03)

Looking for a game that we can play with children under 5.
Race to the Treasure (1.17)
Happy Bunny (1.00)

We need a game that can handle our larger family.
Snake Oil (1.15)
Telestrations (1.09)
Codenames (1.30)

We already play some board games and are looking for some new ideas!
Photosynthesis (2.28)
Terraforming Mars (3.24)
Wingspan (2.37)
Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure (2.20)

We miss the outdoors! What games can help fill that want?
Trekking: The National Parks Game (1.64)

I am looking for a game I can quickly and easily play with my partner after the kids go to bed or are otherwise occupied.
Love Letter (1.19)
Tsuro (1.24)
Patchwork (1.66)
Pentago (1.87)

I am looking for a more in-depth game I can play with my partner after the kids go to bed or are otherwise occupied.
7 Wonders: Duel (2.22)
Hive (2.33)

How about a game that’s great to play with my partner…but also a great game to have and look forward to playing when we can gather in groups more easily?
Splendor (1.80)
Magic Maze (1.73)

We want to hear about the games that you’re playing right now, your favorite games, and any questions you have about board games right now – put them in the comments below!

By: Ismail Umer, MS, OTR/L