8 Fun and Challenging Board Games to Help Pass the Time When You're Stuck Indoors
There's nothing like a trove of great games to bail you out of a boring day.
My family has always loved board games, like loved them. I grew up with Tuesday game nights as tradition, and our family game room has an entire shelf jam-packed with board games, including every repetitive version of Monopoly in existence. To this day, I’ve got a hoard of board games occupying my coffee table, taking up storage space that we can’t really afford in our apartment. Since it’s starting to look like all of us might be spending a lot more time at home over the next few months, I thought I’d share my findings to help pass the time. From card games and dice games to games of chance or skill, you’re bound to find one you enjoy in these boxes of fun.
In Pandemic, several deadly viruses have spread across the planet. The game is a unique one in that the players must work together, not against each other, in order to win. The goal is to treat disease hotspots while researching cures for each of four plagues before they get out of hand. Everyone will take on a different role, or specialty, within the team and must develop a cooperative strategy that meshes the specialists' strengths in order to develop vaccines and snuff out the pandemic.
To buy: $36, target.com.
The creator behind The Settlers of Catan came up with the idea for the game in his basement, and since then it has expanded to include 80 different spinoffs that rival the popularity of Monopoly. Here’s how it works: There are nineteen hexagonal tiles, known as “terrain hexes.” Each hex represents one of five resources: wood, grain, brick, sheep, or stone. Players try to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads. Collect enough of these resources (cards) to build up your civilizations to 10 victory points and win the game.
To buy: $42, amazon.com.
Players: 3-10 (the more the better!)
Get your poker face ready. If you’ve ever played the party game Mafia with your buddies, this is the board game version. Basically, everyone gets one role (12 total), from evil werewolves to the tricky Troublemaker to an innocent Villager. Each one carries a special ability that only they know about. But, here’s the catch: after a secret night phase, roles are reversed, so you might not be the role you started with. In the course of a single morning (or in this case, five minutes), your village will decide who is the werewolf. Although the premise sounds repetitive, no two games are exactly the same, so you’ll be pressed to play it again and again.
To buy: $25, amazon.com.
The Oregon Trail is a simple card game that requires players to make it across a 2,000-mile route from Missouri to Oregon—but all the space you’ll need to play is about five feet. Players work together to put down cards and move along the trail, fording rivers and playing Supply Cards to overcome calamities. So how do you win? Make it to the end of the trail without dying. But that’s easier said than done; any number of gruesome scenarios can happen, including rattlesnakes, starvation, dead oxen, broken bones, dysentery, and a host of other calamities. Seriously, there are so many ways to lose this game, it’s mean. It honestly comes down to a game of chance (with the odds very against you), but you’ll certainly have a blast trying.
To buy: $13, target.com.
I’m a huge fan of escape rooms, and if you can’t afford to get locked up in one in person, this is the next best thing. Bring the experience to your house with four different setups—Prison Break, Virus, Nuclear Countdown, and Temple of the Aztec. Like any real-life escape room, time is of the essence. Beat the clock by solving the various puzzles and decryptions in 60 minutes to escape the room.
To buy: $41, amazon.com.
Players: 2 teams
Who doesn’t love watching their friends and family wave their hands around like a crazy person? Pictionary Air is the more futuristic version of the classic drawing board game. With 112 double-sided clue cards and one high-tech pen, players sketch their creations out of thin air that other players can see on screen. Since you can't really see what you’re drawing, the final masterpiece will be a surprise to everyone.
To buy: $16, target.com.
Talking politics or religion doesn’t have to be a recipe for disaster. From simple questions like "What is your obsession?" and "What is the best advice you have ever received?" to more thought-provoking conversations like "Which political individual inspires you most, and why?" and "When should a person be given a second chance?", the game's 500 questions are bound to get everyone talking. The goal is to challenge your perspective on important subjects by listening without arguing.
To buy: $24, amazon.com.
Word nerds, this one’s for you. An updated version of Scrabble, Boggle is a timed word game in which players have 3 minutes to find as many connected words as possible from a 16-cube grid. When the timer runs out, you must compare your words with one another and remove any words found by multiple players. Points are then awarded for remaining words—with more letters earning more points. No dictionaries or thesauruses allowed!
To buy: $10, amazon.com.