Spring is just around the corner! Where I live, this usually means we’re in store for some lovely days of sunshine interspersed with plenty of rain … and all that time indoors makes my whole family a bit antsy. And I don’t know how things are in your part of the world right now, but around here we’re preparing for some serious social distancing, and even I can’t read all day, every day.
When we tire of doing jigsaw puzzles on the coffee table, it’s time to pull out the board games. Several of my kids LOVE board games, though I confess, I prefer puzzles to games. Competition doesn’t exactly make this Enneagram Nine’s heart sing, and some board games are just…boring. (I’m looking at you, Monopoly.)
However, I always say that there is a book for every reader; it’s just about finding the right one for you. Perhaps the same sentiment applies to board games? I asked the Modern Mrs. Darcy team for their suggestions, and it turns out that Brenna, our fearless What Should I Read Next producer, has a whole room in her house dedicated to board games! Her favorites are clearly marked below.
If you’re interested in even more board game recommendations, check out episode 193 of What Should I Read Next, featuring self-professed mega-nerd Keren Form. Her book and board game recommendations are so much fun.
I hope you recognize an old favorite or discover a new one here. Enjoy!
20 board games to combat cabin fever
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Scrabble. This is the same Scrabble we all know and love, but in a beautiful bookish edition. It would be so pretty on a bookshelf.
Catan. An award-winning board game that involves community-building, harvesting, and trading resources. There are many expansion packs available for this game, making it easy to customize for players of all levels.
Forbidden Island. Players join a team of fearless adventurers with a goal to capture four sacred treasures while traveling across the perilous ruins of a paradise island. Escape with your treasures before the watery abyss engulfs your team of explorers.
Ticket to Ride. Earn points by connecting North American cities and building train routes. Build your train empire by matching cards.
Castle Panic. This is my youngest son’s favorite game at the moment. The goal is to work together to guard your castle against monsters. Reviews describe this as a “great gateway game” and “perfect for less competitive players.”
Carcassonne. Similar to Settlers of Catan, players lay tiles down to build a community. Inspired by the French fortress of the same name, Carcassonne is a fun, medieval strategy game.
Sagrada. Perfect for artistic and strategic players, the goal of this game is to build a stained-glass masterpiece in the Sagrada Familia. Players select stained glass pieces after rolling the dice, and then carefully place the glass, paying attention to color, shade, and shape.
Splendor. Taking place during the European Renaissance, this game is all about extravagance and wealth. Noble players seek valuable gems via trade routes, negotiations, and strategy.
Pride and Prejudice: the Board Game. Test your knowledge of the beloved classic while stepping into its pages. Move the couples from the book (Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, etc.) across the board and collect tokens on their way to the Parish Church to marry and win the game. Mrs. Bennett would love this one.
Sherlock Holmes Consulting. A choose-your-own-adventure style board game. Solve mysteries with your map of London, casebook, and newspapers, plus your Sherlockian cunning and deduction skills. Work together with up to eight detectives.
Brenna’s Favorites, in her own words:
Mysterium. An award-winning French board game, it’s sort of a less-competitive Clue gone spooky…all but one person play a team of psychics who are trying to communicate with the victim of a murder, and one person plays the ghost. The ghost tries to silently communicate the who/what/where of their murder using cards with fanciful or abstract art. There are individual goals, but in the end everyone cooperates in order to win. It’s SUPER fun and even the shy person in a group might enjoy being the silent ghost.
Fox in the Forest. A two-person card game inspired by fairy tales and folklore. It works similarly to simple matching card games, like Ratscrew or Uno, but you are approached by fairy tale characters (a witch, a fox, a magic swan…) with special directions. You’re trying to win, but winning requires getting a MEDIUM amount of points…not greedy, not destitute. It would be easy to play with kids and make up a story that follows the cards drawn.
Photosynthesis. This board game has gorgeous art; your goal is to grow trees!!! If you like punching out little pieces (I think people either LOVE this or HATE this), it’s got a lot of them.
Mastermind. A two person deductive logic game that could be played silently (plane rides! car trips!). One person sets a secret “code” of colored pegs, and the other has 10 turns to correctly guess the code… their only clues are signals from the opponent when they guess a correct color in the wrong slot, or the correct color in the correct slot. Simple to learn, addictive to a certain kind of player (me).
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong. A murder mystery secret-roles game similar to Ultimate Werewolf. One player is secretly the murderer disguised as an investigator, another is the forensic scientist, and the rest are true investigators trying to find the murderer who is among them based on clues from the forensic scientist… it’s a LOT of fun, if you like games that let you accuse friends of horrible things (again, me).
Everdell. ESSENTIALLY A BOARD GAME VERSION OF THE REDWALL SERIES. It’s a dynamic tableau game; you play leaders of little animal cities who are non-aggressively competing to build prosperous communities by a game-year’s end. It’s so cute.
Tsuro. A strategic path-finding board game. Gorgeous board, and simple to learn.
Sushi Go! A passing/matching card game with truly adorable sushi-themed cards. It’s styled like one of those sushi restaurants with the little conveyor belts, and you’re passing the cards around trying snag the ideal combination of dishes.
Escape Room: The Game. A home-friendly version of classic escape rooms, complete with timer and an app for thematic music. I’ve been to several real escape rooms, and this really did recreate a lot of the tension and puzzle-solving/clue-searching experience. You don’t have to hide clues around your house or anything. This can be played at a table with the game components plus a pad of paper and pencil.
Ex Libris! Basically the game designed for Modern Mrs. Darcy readers. You play LIBRARIANS, competing to build collections of rare books. It’s a super fun worker-placement game. Alphabetizing IS a factor.
What’s your favorite board game? How do you keep everyone entertained on a rainy day or when you’re suffering from cabin fever? I’d love to hear your recommendations in comments.