Board Game of the Week – Bananagrams

Bananagrams 1

Game Title: Bananagrams

Release Date: 2006

Number of Players: 2-8

Average Game Time: 15 minutes

Game Publisher: Bananagrams, KOSMOS, Vennered Forlag AS


Game Designer: Rena & Abe Nathanson

Expansions/Alternates: None

Available in Stores: Yes

To round out my few weeks of games that aren’t confined to a board, I pulled a game off my shelf that I haven’t played in a while called Bananagrams. Basically a fast-paced Scrabble with no limitations on space, Bananagrams is a fun game for families that involves thinking and acting quickly.

The original Bananagrams 2of the fruit-based games created by Rena and Abe Nathanson, Bananagrams focuses on quick real-time action where you work to use up all of your tiles and create a makeshift Scrabble “grid”. You start with 21 tiles and once you use them all, you yell, “Peel” and everyone has to take one more tile. The process continues until there are no tiles left, and then the person to use up his or her last tiles wins… assuming he or she spelled every word correctly. If there are misspelled words, that player is disqualified and all other players resume play until someone else finishes.

The game has a lot of similarities to Scrabble; by the end of the game it even looks like there are multiple small Scrabble boards on the table. The number of letter tiles and the frequency of how many tiles each letter has are also very similar. However, there are some major differences as well. The letters you draw don’t have any specific value to them; playing a Z as opposed to an A doesn’t have any inherent differBananagrams 3ence. There’s also not as much of an advantage of playing large and complex words, though more words means less extra tiles and an easier time playing off of them in your connected grid. Being able to play two-letter words is just as important as playing seven-letter words. Speed is the priority, and the ability to change your grid when necessary to accommodate the new tiles you draw.

The pros of the game are that it is engaging, fast-paced and constantly evolving. It’s tough to get the nuances of how to play each tile effectively, but once you get the hang of it it’s a great game to play on game night. Another advantage is that the bettBananagrams 4er you do at the beginning of the game, the easier it is to stay in the lead since you only have one tile to work with. This challenges your opponents to use an ever-increasing set of tiles while you work to grow your lead. Finally, he variety of each game is also a plus because there are plenty of tiles and you will always draw different combinations and have to use different words.

The cons of the game are in the one-sided nature of pulling the tiles randomly. There are times when you get three Qs and no vowels and you’re stuck no matter how much you change around your grid. You do have the ability to exchange tiles for new ones, but it sets your game back and makes it difficult to keep up with others who drew well. That and the fact that your grid can go all over the table in every direction, and sometimes you have to shift it (which can take a while), mean that the game can be very frustrating at times.

Ultimately the pros of the game outweigh the cons and it’s definitely worth playing if you like word puzzles and brainteasers. It’s cheap and easy to transport, so it’s also good for family trips.

Jack’s rating: 3.5/5 stars


Top 10 Card Games for Parties/Large Groups

I can’t emphasize enough that one of the best things about board games is the social aspect. A vast majority of board games have at least 3-4 players; interacting with friends and family is a big part of the tabletop game. Card games tend to amplify this effect, with many card games exceeding the 3-4 player average and allowing for large numbers of people to enjoy. Because of this, card games have more appeal for parties and large groups. The most obvious examples of this are the games Apples to Apples/Cards Against Humanity, both of which are extremely popular at large gatherings because they are easy to transport and can be played by almost an unlimited number of players.

Whether the group is there for a party where you play games over a few cocktails or a family reunion where cousins and grandparents gather to catch up and have some fun, card games are good at bringing large groups together. So what are the best card games for these kinds of events? Obviously you need games that allow for large numbers of players or the ability to play in teams. In addition, you’ll want a game that you can play but also talk and be sociable, meaning the game should be relatively simple to play. There are plenty of games that meet these requirements and a lot of them are engaging and entertaining. Below are my top ten card games that you should play in group settings:

Cards Against Humanity

  • Published 2009
  • # of players 4-30

The most obvious choice for a party game, Cards Against Humanity is extremely popular due to its clever/vulgar humor and ease of play. As strange as it sounds, the fact that the game allows you to be obscene and dirty-minded somehow adds to its charm. The game itself is simple enough; you have a judge that draws a fill-in-the-blank card that each player anonymously answers with his or her own card. The judge then picks the best/funniest response, and the person who played that card wins the round. Best to be brought out when the kids are in bed, the game is a mainstay for young adult parties and group nights (which may or may not contain alcohol).

Deck Around

  • Published 2014Deck Around
  • # of players 3-20

One of the newer games out there, Deck Around takes Urban Dictionary and turns it into a card game (for those of you who don’t know what Urban Dictionary is… you probably don’t want to). The object of the game is to take a word or phrase on a card and make up a definition that you anonymously provide to the rest of the group, along with the real definition. Everyone then chooses what he/she thinks the correct definition is and if your definition is picked you win the points. This game is another great option for the dirty-minded who want to make some less-than-PG jokes. Enjoy learning all about what a Boston Blowfish is!

Mad Gab

  • Published 1996
  • # of players 2-12 (can be played in groups)

A wordplay game where you work in groups, Mad Gab takes a well-known phrase and changes itMad Grab to a string of unrelated words that, when said aloud, sound similar to the original phrase. The object is to read through the sentence until the team guesses the correct phrase. The entertainment comes in people almost saying the phrase, and the other team that knows the phrase laughing at the difficulty of it. Great for families and friends, you can either play with a timer of just go back and forth between teams trying to guess. You’ll have a great time either way.


  • Published 1903
  • # of players 3-8

A fast-paced and loud game, be careful when and where you decide to play Pit. Each player is dealt a hand of commodity cards (wheat, barley, etc.) and the objective is to trade resources until you corner the market of one resource. You can’t show the cards that you’re trading, so instead you try and trade with someone based on the number of cards. This normally devolves into everyone yelling the number of cards they want to trade (Trade 2! Trade 3! Trade 4!) and then when you have all of the cards you slam the middle of the table and call “corner on _______!” Your voice will be hoarse by the end of the game, but it’s definitely worth it.

Say Anything

  • Published 2008
  • # of players 3-8 (can be played in groups)

Say Anything focuses on a series of questions where each person writes down his or her answer and a judge decides which answer is best. To add to the competition, each player (or team) has chips that they can wager on any answer, including their own, and if the judge chooses that answer they will win points as well. You can play your tokens on multiple phrases, or you can bet it all on one. The game helps start a lot of dialogue and is a good way to start a party with a group of friends.


  • Published 1988
  • # of players 1-20

One of my favorite games when I was a kid, Set is all about finding sets of 3 cards that either have the same or opposite characteristics (all the same shape or all different shapes, the same number of shapSet cardes or 1 2 and 3 of each shape, etc.) and then call “Set!” as soon as possible. After you find a set, new cards are added and the process continues. The person with the most sets by the end of the game wins. This game is one that makes you think and is great for younger kids to learn patterns and think quickly.


  • Published 1989
  • # of players 4-10

One of the most well known games from the 90’s, Taboo is a group game all about hinting at keywords which the rest of your team has to guess. There are also Taboo words that you can’t say when you try and get other players to guess. The more keywords guessed, the more points you receive. A simple concept with a fun twist, Taboo is an entertaining game that is good at getting a larger group engaged in conversation.

The Game of Things…

  • Published 2002
  • # of players 4-15

The game Things… focuses on specific phrases such as Things… you shouldn’t put in your mouth, or questions similar to that (yes, a lot of them can be interpreted as dirty). One person acts as judge, and everyone else answers the phrase anonymously. Rather than voting on your favorite answer, the Judge chooses who they think answered the question. If he/she gets it right, they continue to guess until they get one wrong, and then the person to the judge’s left guesses until all phrases have been correctly guessed. This game is better the more players there are, so make sure you have a big group when you


  • Published 1971
  • # of players 2-10

Another classic card game, Uno is one of those games that you will always enjoy playing even if you didn’t necessarily think of it first when you go to your game pile. A casual game that you can sit and play with any group, Uno is one of the universal party games that has been in households for years.

Utter Nonsense!

  • Published 2015
  • # of players 4-20

Utter Nonsense is a newer card game based on saying odd phrases in funny accents. Another “adult” game, Utter Nonsense has a silly humor about it that shows it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Similar to Cards Against Humanity, there is a different judge each round that draws an “accent” card to start off the round. Each other player then chooses one of his or her phrase cards and says the phrase in the accent that was played. These accents vary from normal ones like “Irish” to silly ones like “Valley Girl”. A bit hit or miss when it comes to the phrases, this is one of the games I encourage after you’ve had a few drinks (but it’s plenty of fun without drinks to).

Board Game of the Week- Exploding Kittens

Exploding KittensGame Title: Exploding Kittens

Release Date: 2015

Number of Players: 2-5 (4 is recommended number)

Average Game Time: 15 minutes

Game Publisher: Self-Published

Game Designer: Matthew Inman, Elan Lee, Shane Small

Expansions/Alternates: No

Available in Stores: Yes

Age Restriction: 30 and up? (In all honesty, probably not suited for anyone under 18)


Holy crap guys, this game. Where do I begin to explain the insanity that is Exploding Kittens? Created and published by 3 clever (and somewhat twisted) individuals, Exploding Kittens found an extremely high level of success early in its Exploding Kittens Boxdevelopment through an aggressive Kickstarter campaign. When it was first created, Matthew Inman (creator of The Oatmeal comics), Elan Lee (Game designer for Xbox/ARGs), and Shane Small (Xbox/Marvel game designer) all got into a room and had a conversation that I pretty much assume went exactly like this:


Inman: OK guys, we need to create the most ridiculous game concept in the history of mankind so I can have an excuse to draw a cat shaped like a taco. What are your thoughts?

[pause for dramatic effect]

Lee: I’ve got it! A game where we draw a bunch of funny versions of cats… that EXPLODE!

Small: Brilliant! And we should totally add back hair, unicorn enchiladas, worm holes, and goats into the mix!

Inman: Whoa, hold on guys. This idea… NEEDS MORE LASER BEAMS!

All: YES!!!


That’s what I think happened, and if you tell me it went any other way I won’t believe you.

Now to get into the gamKitty-Powered Russion Rouletteeplay itself; you can pick up this game and be a master at it within about 5 minutes. The concept at its core is a card game equivalent to Russian Roulette, with some added twists and strategies to make the game more interesting. You draw and play cards until you draw an exploding kitten card, and unless you have a defuse card (you get 1 at the beginning of the game and more are added to the deck) you lose the game and are “out”. The last player standing is the winner.

I think it’s safe to say that the best quality this game has is its humor. Just check out this YouTube video to show how ridiculous and entertaining the creators and the game both are:

There was a lot of creativity, randomness, and art all thrown together and added into a deck of cards. It ends up being a very fun game that makes you laugh almost constantly as you play, especially for the first time. The gameplay is simple but gets exciting as the game gets closer to the end, and even losing early isn’t so bad because you can watch events unfold quickly from the sidelines.

Replay value is moderate; you will want to play the game multiple times when you first get it, but it will probably be a game you will play in bursts. Once you’ve read all of the cards and laughed at their wit and humor, it won’t be the same game experience until you take a break from the game for a while. In addition, the simplicity is great for first time players but also makes the game less captivating after a few playthroughs.

Ultimately games are supposed to capture your attention, bring you and your friends together, and be fun. Exploding Kittens does all three of these things and does them well. I highly recommend this game as a fun alternative to actual Russian Roulette, which I hear is not the best way to spend an evening (citation needed).

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Card Games and Card/Board Game Hybrids


This week I’m going to be focusing on a very specific type of game for all of my posts; I’ll be writing about card games and how they fit into the board game world. Now when most people think of card games, their mind probably jumps to games like Magic: the Gathering, Duel Monsters, or maybe even Pokémon. These are great games that have their own place in the entertainment industry, but the card games I’m talking about are unique. These card games play and look like a board game in a lot of ways, and sometimes end up being thrown into the same category as “board game”. A lot of card games even take this a step further and add pieces and boards that add to the visual effects of the game, making the difference between a card game and a board game even murkier.

Duck of DoomFor the purpose of this conversation I will consider a card game a game that plays like a board game but the majority of action is based on playing the cards rather than moving on a board. A good example of this type of game is Munchkin, a D&D based card game which uses different monster, treasure, and event cards to progress the game and utilizes a board simply keep score (in the original version of the game there wasn’t even a board, you just kept score by hand). This type of game is focused on the cards and the effects they have on the game. In contrast, a game like Clue puts as much emphasis into moving around the board and going into specific rooms as it does the cards that you use to determine who the murderer is. For additional examples of these different types of games, check out the chart below:

Type of Game Game Description Game Examples
Board Game with Cards Focuses on moving across board rather than playing cards Clue, Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan
Card Game/Board Game Hybrid Uses a board to facilitate the game, but majority of focus is on playing cards Munchkin, Taboo, Trivial Pursuit
Card Game No board is used, solely focused on the cards Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens, Uno

So now that we’ve established the types of game we’re talking about, what are the advantages of playing a card game versus a board game? Here are a few reasons these games are worth playing:

  • Less restriction to a particular area or movement: Board games generally have a defined space in which you can move and react with your character or piece (with certain exceptions). While there are advantages to having a set area to move about, an advantage to playing a card game is that there isn’t the same restriction. Whether this means that you have more freedom within the game itself to play your cards, or if it means you can all gather around and play on the floor, the flexibility of card games is a definite advantage to playing them.
  • More opportunities for artwork and impressive images: Some of the most fun parts of a game are the aesthetics. Artwork is a huge portion of making a good game great, and card games have the ability to amplify this effect. Because there are so many different cards you can play in the average card game, artists have more of a chance to be creative and come up with great ideas. The best card games out there usually have cards with either beautiful or entertaining pictures on them.Exploding Kittens Cards
  • Similar style/feel of children’s games: When you look back at some of the games you played as a kid, it’s surprising how many of them involved a deck of cards. Games like Go Fish, War, and Cheat were common when my friends were stuck somewhere with nothing to entertain ourselves except a deck of cards. Playing a newer card game always brings me back to those times, and that excitement quickly translates into a fun experience for everyone.
  • Easy to Transport: Generally speaking, it is easier to pack a card game than it is to pack a board game. This is not always the case, but more often than not on road trips the card game is the one that will be easier to fit inside your suitcase. Bringing along some fun card games on trips can mean the difference between an entertaining evening of games and a few hours of trying to find something good on the hotel TV.

Plutomium Dragon

Ultimately card games and card/board game hybrids have many of the advantages of regular board games, with some added bonuses along the way. Similar to the board game industry, these types of games are only getting bigger and more common. Make sure to keep an eye out for some cool new card games next time you get a chance and I promise that you won’t be disappointed.



If you have any card games you are a big fan of or would like to know more about, comment below and tell me about them!

My Top 5 Board Game Publishers

There are two essential groups when it comes to creating a popular board game; designers and publishers. The designer comes up with the concept and fleshes it out into a board game. The publisher brings that idea to life and produces it/distributes it to the masses. Both groups need each other and form a symbiotic relationship, and when a game succeeds it is due to the hard work of the person who created the game and the company that gave it a chance. Because of how important these two groups are, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the best designers and publishers currently in the market today.

Now, there are hundreds of board game publishers and even more designers, so this will by no means be a comprehensive list. These are just a list of some of my favorite designers/publishers currently working in the board game space. Let’s start with Publishers; my top 5 publishers in alphabetical order are below.

Days of Wonder

days of wonder

  • Best Known Game: Ticket to Ride
  • Other Popular Games: Memoir ’44, Five Tribes, Small World
  • My Favorite Game: Ticket to Ride

“Days of Wonder® develops and publishes games that Play different. From its insistence on releasing only a very limited number of new games, to its uncompromising board game production values and unique in-house digital development team, Days of Wonder consistently raises the bar with an unmatched string of hits that includes Ticket to Ride®, the world’s best-selling train game; Small World®, the legendary fantasy game of epic conquests; and Memoir ’44®, the World War II saga with 20 expansions to its credit.”-Days of Wonder About Us

Founded in 2002, Days of Wonder currently holds the record for the youngest gaming company to have a game that won the Spiel de Jahres Game of the Year award (Ticket to Ride, 2004). Their list of games is smaller than most because they focus on creating and selling high-quality products rather then mass distribution. They have also begun to dabble in online gaming, with new game apps and Steam games becoming available via their website. One of the better board game companies that might not have as large a collection as others on this list, provides entertaining and clever games across the board (pun intended).

HasbroHasbro Logo

  • Best Known Game: Monopoly
  • Other Popular Games: Twister, Jenga, Risk
  • My Favorite Game: Tie (Monopoly and Risk)

“Hasbro is a global company committed to Creating the World’s Best Play Experiences, by leveraging its beloved brands, including Littlest Pet Shop, Magic: The Gathering, Monopoly, My Little Pony, Nerf, Play-Doh and Transformers and premier partner brands. From toys and games to television programming, motion pictures, digital gaming and a comprehensive lifestyle licensing program, Hasbro fulfills the fundamental need for play and connection for children and families around the world. “- Hasbro Corporate Statement

Hasbro is the board game publisher that most people will know about. Hasbro is one of the largest game companies currently in existence; you can find their games pretty much everywhere. Most of the classic popular board games come from this company, such as Monopoly, Risk, etc. While board games are not the only thing Hasbro does, the tabletop industry will always be a large part of their portfolio. Currently the company’s major success with games is in selling their large collection of popular games to new generations.

Iello Gamesiello-logo

  • Best Known Game: King of Tokyo/King of New York
  • Other Popular Games: King of New York, Dungeon Fighter, Heroes of Normandie
  • My Favorite Game: King of Tokyo

“We specialize in games that are rich with graphics, beautiful in design, and innovative in game play. We are now a premier publisher and worldwide distributor in a fast-expanding industry. In 2012, we solidified our position by creating a U.S. division to better service the American market. This, coupled with the release of Richard Garfield’s best-selling and award-winning game King of Tokyo in 2011, put us in the forefront of international game companies.”- IELLO About Us

One of the newer board games publishers in the industry, Iello started off as a Distributor but changed course to become a publisher back in 2008. Located in France, they have become a popular publisher in America through some of their premier board game titles. Most well-known for the game series King of Tokyo, they are one of the up-and-coming game companies as they continue to expand. Their board games are all very aesthetic, with some of the best board game artwork in the last few decades of board game development.

Mayfair Gamesmayfair-games-logo_xerbm5

  • Best Known Game: Settlers of Catan
  • Other Popular Games: World Without End, King Chocolate, Extra! Extra!
  • My Favorite Game: Settlers of Catan: Seafarer’s Expansion

“Mayfair Games is a U.S. based Illinois company, incorporated in 1981 and is an international publisher of board games and card games suitable for families and hobbyists. Mayfair Games has over 100 game titles in print including many long-running series of games such as Empire Builder™ and The Settlers of Catan™ as well as many long-running standalone titles such as Alibi™ and Family Business™. Mayfair Games, making the ‘games of our generation’.”- About Mayfair Games

It’s impossible to create a list of influential board game publishers without mentioning the company that brought us Settlers of Catan.  Mayfair Games focuses on bringing European-style games to the American market, and provides numerous different types of games with over 100 games and expansions in distribution. Creating the many expansions of Settler of Catan and other popular games has also ensured Mayfair stays relevant in an ever-changing industry.

Z-Man Gamesz-man games

  • Best Known Game: Carcassonne
  • Other Popular Games: Pandemic, Shadowfist, Tales of the Arabian Nights
  • My Favorite Game: Pandemic

“Z-Man Games, Inc. is a game publisher. New Yorker Zev Shlasinger created the company in 1999 for the sole purpose of bringing back Shadowfist, one of the best multiplayer Collectable Card Games ever made. With the success of Shadowfist, Z-Man Games published its first B-Movie card game, Grave Robbers from Outer Space, and from that point on Z-Man Games decided to continue making fun, innovative games. Since that time we have published over 100 games including award-winning games, such as Agricola, Pandemic, and Merchants & Marauders – to name a few.”-   Z-Man Games About Us

Z-Man games found success by taking lesser-known games and expanding them into the gamer community, along with creating a wide variety of different games for purchase. Carcassonne, while not being the most well-known game in comparison to Monopoly or Settlers of Catan, is critically acclaimed to be one of the best board games currently in production. Many of their games have won awards and have gone on to become very popular in America as well as internationally.

If there are any other publishers you think deserve to be on this list, comment on this post to let me know!   

Board Game of the Week – Pandemic

Pandemic 5   This week, I am reviewing the critically acclaimed Matt Leacock original Pandemic. With multiple different awards from well-known game industries such as Board Game Geek and Boardgames Australia, Pandemic focuses on working as a team to stop a series of virus outbreaks from eradicating all of mankind.

Game Title: Pandemic

Release Date: 2007

Number of Players: 2-4 (4 recommended)

Average Game Time: 45 minutes

Game Publisher: Z-Man Games


Game Designer: Matt Leacock

Expansions/Alternates: Yes

Available in Stores: Yes

There aren’t many board games out there that ask you to combine forces against the game itself. A lot of the fun of playing games is playing against friends and family so that when you win, you can claim superiority over them (at least that’s what I enjoy about it). Still, there are a few games out there that find a way to create some form of villain or obstacle, and the object of the game is to join forces and defeat it as a group.Pandemic 4 One of the games that does this best is Pandemic, where you have to communicate and work as a team to claim victory as a single unit.

The object of this game is to stop virus outbreaks from infecting the entire world and finding cures so that you can eradicate the virus from the planet. No pressure, right? You travel around a map of the world and try to contain the 4 different viruses currently infecting the cities around the globe. The more the virus spreads, the harder it is to contain it. While you work to contain the virus, your team will also be focused on finding a cure. If you are able to cure all four viruses within the allotted time, you win. If you take too long or allow enough “outbreaks”, you lose. There are a number of other factors involved with the game, including research stations to contain outbreaks and look up cures, Epidemic cards that when drawn add more of the virus across the board, and numerous different types of event cards that bring a level of complexity and variety to the game.

Pandemic 3By far the most appealing thing about this game is that it allows you to work as a unit, but keep an individual identity during the game. Each player starts off with a specific “role”. There are seven roles you can play in any given game, and each one of them has a specific skill that can be used to improve your odds at winning. For example, the player with the Dispatcher role is able to move the other players’ pawns across the board easily, while the medic is better than the other players at stalling outbreaks. A huge part of the game is working together in order to use your role’s strengths. The more you’re able to help each other, the easier it is to complete your objectives.

The game is definitely complex, not so much in how to play but rather in the strategy and decision-making that goes into a successful game. The more you know about the game the more fun it is, because you can try a number of different strategies and work with your team members to win. Replay value for this game is high, especially since you learn more as you go and get better at playing at harder difficulties. The only real flaw in the game is the beginning; learning how to play and the best way to use your role takes effort so it can be confusing to people playing for the first time. I definitely recommend for your first play-through trying to play the game with someone who has played before rather than having a group of people with no experience. Having someone who knows the game takes some of the pressure off since they know how the roles work and the best ways to win.

Overall this game is a nice change of pace from the traditional competitive games, and the art and game play are big positives. The rules are fairly complicated and game-play can slow from player to player, but Matt Leacock has found a way to motivate people to work together in an industry that normally pushes for competition against each other. Be prepared to do a lot of critical thinking and scheming with the other players to claim victory against the ultimate Pandemic.

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars. pic1534148

Old School versus New School board games

Old School vs. New School comment below

As a 24-year-old, many people have told me that I’m now considered a “responsible adult.” What this means to me is that I pay my own bills, do my own laundry, deal with any issues that come up in my life, and, most importantly, talk about how older stuff is way better than newer stuff. While I begrudgingly deal with the first three parts of adulthood, there is something to be said about the era so eloquently dubbed as “the old school”; it’s got some pretty cool stuff. Board games are a great example of that. Classic games like Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, and Yahtzee are some of the most fun games you can play. Families in particular like playing older games because it’s a good way to bond with older relatives and spend a brief moment in time learning about and understanding the past. Nostalgia runs rampant for me whenever I pull out the Game of Life, which my Dad emphatically dubbed “The Game of Death” after losing to me time and time again. These games were extremely important to my development as a child, so they will always hold a special place in my heart.

All that being said, older games aren’t the only ones with merit. As amazing as the classics are to play, there really is something special about trying out a new board game for the first time. It’s youth personified: the joy of unwrapping the game, learning the rules, and trying to get every advantage you can to win against your friends. And there’s no doubt about it, popular new games are extremely inventive and have an extremely high replay value. I’m confident that in 50+ years, games like Kings of New York and Quirkle will be just as engaging as they are now. The reason that board games are being revitalized isn’t just about the people, or the era we live in; it’s also the new board games and how impressive they have become. Ultimately I have to credit this blog to new board games, because if they didn’t hit the scene I honestly believe that there would significantly less interest in these types of games.

So do I prefer the old school or the new school? My best response to that is “ask me when I’m older.” Because right now, I can’t consider myself a true board game enthusiast without having both types of games at my disposal. Is that a cop out? Probably. Do I expect this opinion to change any time soon? Probably not. But it’s pointless for me to sit here and say that I like one game type more than the other because I like all of them so much. So when you’re sitting down for board game night with whomever you spend your evenings, whether you’re playing Risk or Myth, Sorry or Munchkin, Scrabble or Bananagrams, the year the game was made doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you enjoy it in the present.

So because I’m stuck on the fence, I’m going to let you all decide! Leave a comment below about which types of board game you prefer.

The start of it all- Settlers of Catan

yes we catan

I remember the first time I played the game Settlers of Catan. I was at my neighbor’s house and I sat down with my friend Kristina and her family to play. They proceeded to explain the rules of the game for the next 15 minutes and I nodded politely while not understanding anything they said. It took a while to get the hang of it, and even when I was playing the game I felt like I didn’t fully get all of the rules and strategy, but I ended up winning the game and then immediately going home and telling my parents we needed to buy a copy. Looking back on it, part of me has to wonder why the game caught my attention the way it did.

What is it about Settlers of Catan that makes people excited about board games? At first glance, this instant classic isn’t the type of game you would expect to completely revitalize the board game industry. Now I’m definitely not saying that Settlers is a bad game; it’s one of my all-time favorite board games, and I’ve taught many of my friends how to play with great success. But Settlers isn’t exactly the simplest game to pick up. It can be difficult to learn and the game starts off slowly while you build up resources, so in today’s fast-paced society the assumption is that nobody would have the time or attention span to learn something so complex. This game defies the stereotype of what we’re supposed to want, and yet against all odds it’s brought about a youth movement for tabletop gaming.

Personally I believe that Settlers is the type of game that is built for longevity. It has a compelling style and look that pulls you in, excellent gameplay and a strong social factor to keep you engaged, and an ever-changing layout to keep you coming back for more. Games last about an hour so you have enough time to learn the game and still get engrossed in fields of wheat and mountains of ore while you try and outmaneuver your opponents. Pretty soon you are buying the game (and its many expansions) and teaching your friends how to play, and the cycle continues.

Back in 1995, Klaus Teuber created a game that would change everything. Before Settlers, the only well known board games were older games like Clue and Monopoly that, while fun, have become more classic than groundbreaking. Settlers changed that. The game is complex, colorful and different every single time, and it spurred a new renaissance of board games that ultimately led to more popularity than ever before. The board game industry has begun to thrive, and a large part of that is thanks to Settlers of Catan. Sometimes it’s hard to see, but change can come from anywhere, including from the simple act of sitting down with your neighbors to try something new.

For more information on Settlers of Catan and all the different games and expansions, go to

Board Game of the Week – Ticket to Ride

Each week, I’m going to review a board game that I’ve played and post the full scoop. This week, I’m going to talk about the Days of Wonder hit Ticket to Ride.

Ticket to Ride picture 3

First, the basic details:

Game Title: Ticket to Ride

Release Date: 2004

Number of Players: 2-5

Average Game Time: 30 minutes-60 minutes

Game Publisher: Days of Wonder

Game Designer: Alan R. Moon

Expansions/Alternates: Yes

Available in Stores: Original version yes, alternates and expansions online

Ticket to Ride picture 1

Ticket to Ride is a game with a simple concept that involves 2-5 players trying to expand their railroads across the United States (or Europe or the Nordic counties if you play the alternate games). The object is to create railroad paths from city to city to earn points based on “Destination Tickets” acquired throughout the course of the game. Once a player has used up all of his or her train cars, each player has one more turn to complete his or her tickets. If a player doesn’t complete the tickets, he or she loses the points normally awarded for finishing the paths.

Ticket to Ride picture 2

I think the main appeal of this game is that it’s fast-paced but still requires a lot of strategy. Players can only complete one of three options each turn, and each turn goes by quickly so nobody sits around waiting for long. The strategy of where you place your train cars is extremely important; you can choose to either take direct routes from city to city or take an extremely long route to get to multiple destinations in one go. You can also block other players from getting to certain cities, denying them points they would need to win. Replay value is high because strategies and routes change, though it isn’t a game that you should plan on playing more than two or three times in one sitting.

Overall, I highly recommend this game for a small group with an hour or so to kill. Families will enjoy it, as well as groups of friends who are competitive and willing to give something new a try.

Jack’s Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Say Yes to Board Games

Hi – my name is Jack Dixon. I’m 24 years old, I live in Northern Virginia, and I love board games.

I’ve been a fan of board games ever since I was a kid. I played Monopoly and Clue with my family as far back as I can remember. I watched my parents play Scrabble when I was a toddler, and I was obsessed with this cult classic called The a MAZE ing Labyrinth. Whenever I visited extended family, we spent our evenings playing Yahtzee and laughing with my Grandparents. When I wasn’t outside playing capture the flag or kickball, I was usually sitting around a table playing some tabletop classic or exciting new game my parents found for me.

And then I got older, and fell into an age where board games weren’t as “cool.” I switched my primary indoor activity to video games, exchanging Connect 4 with N64 and hanging out with Mario instead of my folks. But here’s the thing – I never completely ignored my penchant for board games either. I always secretly wished that when my friends came over we could all sit around a table and play a game of Risk, and while that would happen every once in a while it was always the exception rather than the norm.

Then, the craziest and most unexpected thing happened: board games became cool again. Games like Settlers of Catan, Apples to Apples (or Cards Against Humanity for the adult-minded), and Pandemic hit stores, and suddenly high school and college kids everywhere started going back to their roots. Now I am able to proudly display my board games in my apartment, and when people ask me how many Monopoly boards I currently own (the answer is 12) it starts up a conversation about all the cool new games out there and how well they are tailored towards the 20-somethings of the world. I’m part of three separate groups of friends that have “board game night” once a week. Last week I taught my roommates how to play Ticket to Ride (a game which I will talk about more in my next post) and we sat around our family room drinking a few beers and chatting while we played well into the night. Board games becoming popular again has completely changed how the youth of the world interact, and it’s a beautiful thing.

My name is Jack Dixon, and I’m a board game enthusiast. And saying yes to board games has provided me with endless joy and excitement. I hope that you get a chance do the same.