The best board games to play with your housemates or family while stuck at home
18.06.2021

The best board games to play with your housemates or family while stuck at home

image credit Exploding Kittens
words by Laurence Adorni-Dickson

Do something a little bit different for your next night in

If you find yourself stuck at home, be it for iso related reasons or the fact that it’s just bloody cold these days, it might be a good idea to sit the housemates down for some classic tabletop action with a good board game…or a card game…or a mix or the two? Spoons anyone?

Tabletop games are a great way to bond as a household and get out some of that high octane competitive energy or cooperative spirit. They might seem like a bit of a thing from the past when we’ve got video games and Netflix binges to be had, but a good tabletop game can quickly become a household staple and keep you all coming back for more.

Here are some of the best board games to stock your cupboard with this winter.

Throw Throw Burrito

Yes…it is actually called that. Throw Throw Burrito is a competitive dodgeball card game that sees players trying to rapidly match three of a kind cards to score points. This is a super fast paced game, with players taking their turns at the exact same time, drawing cards from their right and placing duds to their left, trying to score as many matching sets of three as possible. The catch? Certain cards when matched will trigger a BURRITO FIGHT, resulting in players frantically dashing, ducking and diving around the table until one player is struck by either of the included throwable burritos.

They even have cute faces on them, so yes you should feel bad about hurting them, however, I’ll admit it is incredibly satisfying to land a high-velocity burrito on that pesky housemate who forgot to do the dishes. If you find yourself with a bunch of space, there’s even an outdoor version of the game that contains GIANT INFLATABLE BURRITOS, which alone is worth the price of admission. 

Monopoly Deal

Everyone knows monopoly right? That classic board game that you only properly learnt how to play after breaking into the rental market yourself. The game that is notoriously long and friendship destroying? What if I told you speed monopoly exists and it’s an absolute blast! Monopoly Deal is a card game that can be played in bite-sized chunks, condensing all the rules of the board game into an easy to learn, hard to master system that rewards strategy and forward thinking, with a bit of luck for good measure.

Monopoly deal is infinitely repayable and just as good against one player as it is four. Plus it’s super cheap, which is always nice!

photo credit Hasbro

Resistance: Coup

Slowing the pace down for a second, Resistance Coup: is yet another card game, but this time it revolves around lying and trying to out bluff your friends. With a slick Dune inspired art style, and some fancy titles such as “The Contessa”, Coup might seem a little intimidating but rest assured the game is super simple. The aim of the game is to be the last person standing, by taking out your opponents and lying your way to victory.

You start the game with two cards in your hand and if you lose both your cards, you’re out. Players can try and amass enough money to take their opponents out, back stab them by using special cards, or lie their way to victory by bluffing every. single. time… Yes I have a bad poker face, what of it? Coup is played in short rounds that can make for a quick after dinner romp, or if you’re like me it can stretch on for hours at a time as you try to get even with your housemates.

 

Pictionary Air

Most classic board games have been redone at least once through the years – Monopoly has Monopoly Millionaire and Pictionary has Pictionary Air, among others. The difference between the latter two is that you don’t draw on paper but use air as your canvas using a pen synced with the Pictionary app. You’ll not only end up laughing at all the bad drawings but can access hilarious instant replays of your mates scribbling away. It’s an all-round good time.

Cards Against Humanity

Although this may or may not be categorised as a “board” game, we couldn’t leave it out as it’s a catalyst for a whole lot of laughs.

If you don’t know about Cards Against Humanity you’ve probably been living under a rock because it’s become one of the most popular games in recent years. Find out which of your friends is the most politically incorrect whilst also getting a good laugh.

Pandemic

Well, rather fitting isn’t it. Hailed one of the best board games out, Pandemic is a cooperative board game in which players work as a team to treat infections around the world while gathering resources for cures. On each turn, a player can use up to four actions to travel between cities, treat infected populaces, discover a cure, or build a research station. A deck of cards provides the players with these abilities, but sprinkled throughout this deck are Epidemic! cards that accelerate and intensify the diseases’ activity. A second, separate deck of cards controls the “normal” spread of the infections. Players must plan their strategy to mesh with their specialists’ strengths in order to conquer the diseases. If one or more diseases spreads beyond recovery or if too much time elapses, the players all lose. If they cure the four diseases, they all win!

First published in 2007, the game’s unique combination of cooperative gameplay, engrossing premise, and compelling design have proved a hit with everyone from hardcore gamers to casual players.

The odds are against you from the start in Pandemic, but that’s the beauty of it.

Trouble

You can’t beat the classics. This one has a very simple concept, get all four of your pieces around the board before anyone else does. Easy right? Wrong. Trouble brings out the competitive side in absolutely everyone, from your loudest friend to your quietest one. Chances are you’ll be trying to form alliances with your friends in the hopes that they won’t send you back to the start.

Sheriff of Nottingham

Speaking of lying to your friends, Sheriff of Nottingham, inspired by the iconic character from Robin Hood, is a smuggling board game that sees you attempting to bribe and deceive your way to victory. It’s played in rounds, and the goal is to make as much money as possible by putting little food tokens in a bag and sending them “across the border”. The trick is that the items that make the most money are outlawed, and if you’re caught sending them through you have to pay up.

One player each round is given the role of sheriff, who must check the bags of each of their players. A player might say they’ve put five apples in their bag, and it’s up to the sheriff if they believe that or not. A sheriff might think the player is lying, and decides to check the bag. If there are, in fact, five apples in the bag then the sheriff has to compensate the player, but if there’s four apples and some pepper, the player is in deep trouble, and has to pay the sheriff. Where the game gets juicy is in the bribes, where players can try and convince the sheriff to not check their bags.

What’s more, players can try and bribe the sheriff into checking other players bags, making for some hilarious back and forth shenanigans as players try and outbribe each other. Maybe you can raise the stakes by throwing in some household related bribes? How many apples is a free dinner worth to the sheriff anyway?

Escape Room: The Game

Considering the escape rooms probably won’t be open for a while, why not do the next best thing – play Escape Room: The Game. Navigate your way from (imaginary) room to room, choosing the difficulty based on your room-escaping ability. It’s a good one to get everyone thinking, plus it’s a massive relief when you work out the last challenge and get the hell out of there. You only have one hour to complete it so you’ll have to work together if you want to beat the clock.

Dungeons & Dragons

A blast from the 1980’s past, D&D has been going through a cultural renaissance these last few years, becoming more popular than ever before! You’ve likely already seen people playing it one way or another, probably in Mike’s basement bedroom on Netflix’s Stranger Things. D&D is by far the most time consuming, rules-heavy and blatantly nerdy of the games on this list, and that’s exactly why it’s so much fun.

If you find yourself with hours to kill, and dreams of escaping to a place that isn’t drenched in a freezing Victorian winter, then it’s time to get that imagination flowing. D&D sees one player taking on the role of the “dungeon master”, who builds an adventure for his players to partake in. The rest, make a unique fantasy character and act out their adventure with their fellow players. Yes, this is super lame and nerdy we know. The beauty of D&D is that it can be just about anything, and you can do almost anything you can imagine, provided the dice rolls say so. There are heaps of popular D&D livestreams like Critical Role, and the Penny Arcade that can give you a feel for what the really passionate games look like, before diving in with something like the essentials kit which will teach you all the rules and give you the adventure to run for a pretty low cost.

In the wake of covid, D&D has become an extremely popular hobby that builds friendships, problem-solving skills and improvisation. So why not embrace your inner nerd and slay some dragons for a change?

photo credit Netflix

Scattergories

For those that like to keep it nice and simple, Scattergories is an all-time classic. Roll the dice and match words that start with the rolled letter to the printed category card. The categories could be as regular as ‘movie titles’ or as obscure as ‘things that you find in a desk’ – the game caters for quick thinkers.

You’re bound to get a few interesting answers that might or might not count – will your competitors let it fly?

Villainous

This one is for the Disney fans! Delighting players in making them as mean as possible, this tactical game takes a whole lot of skill to come out on top in this battle of backstabbing.

Based on classic Disney movies old and new, Villainous casts you as a famous baddie looking for their happily-ever-after: Maleficent must place a curse on each area of the board, Jafar needs to get his hands on the lamp, Ursula wants Triton’s trident, etc.

Each villain has unique abilities inspired by their personality from the films, and while you’re trying to achieve your own goal, you’re also trying to stop your opponents’ plans too.

There’s a lot of depth to it but once you have sorted you’ll be hooked! Also if Disney isn’t your thing, they’v also got one for the comic fans with Marvel Villainous.

Why not check out more of Forte’s entertainment features! Want to get out this winter instead? Check out our travel guides!