Quick Board Game Reviews

Quick Board Game Reviews

 

We play a lot of different games here: cooperative, light and heavy euro, party, two-player, deck-building, gateway. Whether or not those terms mean anything to you, you’ve come to the right place!

This list of our group’s quick board game reviews is fully sortable and searchable. Try searching for keywords such as “Party” or “Strategy” or “Card.” Also find direct links for each game to more board game reviews on Amazon.

Name (click for full review)Genre, Players, and Our Quick TakeOur Awardsamazon reviews
7 WondersSTRATEGY. (2-7 players, best with 3-7). Beautifully designed, medium weight, fast paced civilization building game. Covers from 3 to 7 players without being a typical "party game." We play this typically at least once per game night, and it never gets old. Just awesome.BADGE1 - TOP PICK
7 Wonders: CitiesEXPANSION, 7 Wonders. Adds capacity for an 8th player, and introduces black cards to the mix, which are more powerful versions of the types of cards in their Age. Also adds a debt mechanic (for attacking others' cash), Diplomacy tokens (for sitting out of battles), and includes a small selection of Leaders. Absolutely worth picking up if you love 7 Wonders. Adding an 8th player is a bonus.
7 Wonders: Wonder PackEXPANSION, 7 Wonders. Adds 4 new wonders: Stonehenge, Abu Simbel, The Great Wall of China, and Manneken Pis. Really cool civilization powers and adds a little more spice to what you're used to seeing with the standard boards.
7 Wonders: DuelSTRATEGY. (2 players). The original 7 Wonders is well known for being a great 3-7 player game, though it struggles with a tedious variant for 2 players. 7 Wonders: Duel takes this 2 player criticism head on with brand new game mechanics, but keeps the spirit of the original game intact. Duel benefits greatly from the two-player only design. It plays relatively quickly (35 min) but packs a lot of interesting decisions without being too brain-burning (i.e. Five Tribes). After ten plays, you start to appreciate even more the tightness of design. The interplay between the Military/Science/Victory Point strategies keeps you on your toes and ensures that you can't just fall into the same game plan every time. We're huge fans of the 7 Wonders family of games and this is another guaranteed hit.BADGE2 - GREAT FOR TWO2
AgricolaSTRATEGY. (1-5 players, best with 2-3). Agricola is a heavy euro strategy game, not for board game beginners. The game includes a "Family" variant which is a good place to start since it simplifies the game somewhat. With the full version, though, you'll never play the same game twice. Did you like Harvest Moon or SimFarm back in the day? This is kinda-sorta like that, just now with a family to feed (talk about stressful!)BADGE3 - GAMERS ONLY
Apples to ApplesPARTY. (4+). For several years, this game was the bee's knees at parties. Super simple concept: match a noun from the cards in your hand to the adjective that the judge has, and try to get them to pick yours. Cue the complaints about having a terrible hand, or the token laughs that come with matching "the Cold War" with "friendly" for the tenth time, and you get an idea for why this game has started to overstay its welcome. It's still better than some other party game choices, but there are better ones than this also.
BalderdashPARTY, word. (2-6 players, best with 5-6. Also works with teams). An oldie, but a classic. You'll be presented with People, Words, Movies, Laws, or Initials and have to "make up" what they are, convincing everyone else that your fake answer is the correct one. Lot of fun for a creative group!
Battle LineSTRATEGY, card. (2 players). This gave Race for the Galaxy a run for its money as our favorite two player game until 7 Wonders: Duel came along. This game is a blast to play, though be warned if you don't like really competitive games. It has a lot of direct conflict where you will be stealing cards from your opponent and otherwise ruining their plans. It's very simple to teach since most of the mechanics are based on poker hands. It's a necessity for fans of two player card games.BADGE2 - GREAT FOR TWO2
BohnanzaSTRATEGY, card. (2-7 players, best with 2-7). Bohnanza is a quirky card game where you will build sets of different kinds of beans. Designed by Uwe Rosenberg, creator of Agricola and Caverna. What makes this fun is the trading/swapping that happens since you can't move any of the cards in your hand around, but you are always forced to play at least one. Lot of fun; simple gameplay but the player interaction is half the fun.200_bohnanza
BuzzwordPARTY, word. We've played this a few times. I like the concept...take a word (i.e. glass) and run down a card of questions whose answers all have to do with glass. Sounds easy, though I'm not very quick at it. If you like fast thinking word/vocabulary games like Bananagrams you'll like this.
CarcassonneSTRATEGY, tile-laying. (2-5 players, best with 2-4). Great game, easy to explain and a lot of fun to create new landscapes each time. A little too much luck of the tile draw when more than three players, but some people won't mind. One of our first games we picked up, and we still play often. Often requested to play when we're together with friends.BADGE5 - START HERE2
Carcassonne: Inns & CathedralsEXPANSION, Carcassonne. Adds meeples for a sixth player, and introduces inns and cathedrals. Inns are fun ways to improve roads; cathedrals can allow some ridiculously high scoring cities, but with 5 or 6 players they are mostly used to screw someone's chances of finishing a city. Fun expansion, if you like Carcassonne you should pick this up if only for the 6th player.
CashflowSTRATEGY, financial. (2-6 players, best with 2-4). Cashflow is a financial wealth-building game. Oh, so Monopoly? No. Outclasses Monopoly in every way. Takes some time and mental investment to play, but you’ll have so much fun the “educational game” stigma won’t apply.
Castles of BurgundySTRATEGY. (2-4 players, best with 2-4). Castles of Burgundy is the euro-game picture in the dictionary. The theme and art won’t be the reason you’ll love it, but if you like any kind of strategy, once you play you’ll be hooked. Everything you do will give you points; the trick is how to get a lot of points, not just some points.
Castles of Mad King LudwigSTRATEGY. Castles of Mad King Ludwig is one of the more unique games that we own, and it's awesome! You'll build your own castle made up of all kinds of different rooms. Lot of interesting thematic mechanics in the game; for example, bonuses for building compatible rooms next to each other. Also, the physical sizes of the rooms that you are building and making everything fit are just as much a concern as the points in the game. Love it!BADGE1 - TOP PICK
CatanSTRATEGY. Crazy to think that Catan is starting to be considered older (but certainly classic). We still play from time to time, and love it although some game mechanics still frustrate (mainly the dice rolling).
ConceptPARTY, activity. (2+ players, works best with teams). Every time we start playing this, it turns into more of an activity than a game. A fascinating activity, at that. Players have a board with pictures of items and concepts to use, along with tokens to place on these pictures in order to get their team to guess the Person, Place, Thing, Saying, or Idea on their card. There's technically a game in here, but we have so much fun just going through the cards that we don't care who wins. Sorta like Pictionary, but for writers.BADGE4 - PARTY PICK
CraniumPARTY. Ok, I do not like this game, mostly because it has a little bit of Charades style gameplay in it and the playdough challenges are absurd. Still, this game has its fans in our game group (for reasons unknown to me).cranium box
Cranium ScribblishPARTY. Not entirely sure why someone would pay for this, or Telestrations for that matter. I've played this "chinese telephone" sketching game at least ten times and we've just created it with our own paper and pens. We received this as a gift several years back but haven't opened it.
DixitPARTY. (3-6 players, best with 5-6. Also works with teams.) This game rocks. Unique, interesting, and creative. Hadn't played anything like it before. It's a great party game for people wanting to go beyond Apples to Apples.BADGE4 - PARTY PICK
DominionSTRATEGY, deck-building. (2-4 players, best with 2-4). We've played this at least a hundred times (with expansions), more than just about anything on this list. If you don't know what a "deck-building" game is, you owe it to yourself to try it. Fantastic game, worth every penny.BADGE5 - START HERE2
Dominion: ProsperityEXPANSION, Dominion. (2-4 players, best with 2-4). Adding Prosperity to our collection moved Dominion from good to great. The Platinum (5 Treasure) and Colony (10 Victory Points) are just the start. We don't play a game of Dominion without these cards included in the mix.
Dominion: SeasideEXPANSION, Dominion. Okay, so we stuck to the typically recommended expansion track with Seaside, but it's great! Some really interesting card combinations, with Duration cards and the infamous Pirate Ship.
Five TribesSTRATEGY. (2-4, best with 2-4). Comes with the typical high production value of a Days of Wonder game. Five Tribes mixes mancala-style gameplay with all kinds of different strategies to win. Each of the "Five Tribes" in the game has a unique and interesting mechanic, all of which affect the other mechanics and other viable strategies in the game: set collection, genie power-ups, and board control. Really impressed by this; looking forward to playing it more. BADGE1 - TOP PICK
FluxxPARTY, random. Played this once, not a huge fan. Complete randomness that tries to also be a legitimate game. Might appeal to some, but not our cup of tea. There are a LOT of different variations, so maybe those are better? This game is absolutely an example of "needing the right group" to enjoy it.
Forbidden DesertCOOPERATIVE. (2-5 players, best with 2-5). Awesome co-op game, difficult without being frustrating or complex. We like this better than Forbidden Island and have had several great game nights with it.BADGE1 - TOP PICK
Forbidden IslandCOOPERATIVE. (2-4 players, best with 3-4). Makes a great first impression, but loses its luster after 10-15 plays. Still, its cheap and this is the perfect game to use to introduce cooperative games.BADGE5 - START HERE2
FunemployedPARTY. (3+ players, best with 5+). This is a BLAST to play with the right group. You'll draw four cards each of which is a random resume characteristic like "katana, color-blind, good with babies, and baking skills." Then you will "apply" for a job which is also a random card flip, such as a golf coach. You'll pitch to your "employer" why you are the best fit for the job. Much more creative than Cards Against Humanity, where the cards do all the work. Here, creative people will shine. Great party game!BADGE4 - PARTY PICK
HanabiCOOPERATIVE. We still need to play this with more than two people, but memory games aren't my favorite. Its basically a memory game--a good memory game, but still a memory game. 2013 Spiele des Jahres game of the year. Really cool mechanic though; you can't see the cards in your hand and rely on the other players for what you need to play.
JaipurSTRATEGY. (2 players). My wife and I are always looking for great two player games, and this is just that. Small package is easy to transport, and it's not so simple that it gets boring. A lot of fun, and cheap!BADGE2 - GREAT FOR TWO2
King of TokyoSTRATEGY, party. (2-7 players). Giant monsters + Yahtzee style dice = fun. Still has some fun strategic decisions, but mostly it plays quickly and and is a great game to start up the night or wind down the night. Good break from the typical strategic euros that we usually play.BADGE5 - START HERE2
King of Tokyo: Power UpEXPANSION, King of Tokyo. Technically adds a 8th monster, so you could play with 8; but the main additional are the Evolution cards which gives each of the monsters their own unique "personality" with unique power-ups. Adds a whole new strategic layer to the game, plus its just plain fun. Just about a required expansion.
the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring Deck-building gameSTRATEGY, deck-building. (2-5 players). A good deck-building game that's really helped by the theme. Lord of the Rings fans will appreciate the references to the movies. The "boss" cards that you'll have to take down add a twist for those only familiar with Dominion. The card actions and strengths also make sense compared to the movie characters. Overall, a good deck-builder, and LOTR fans will get even more mileage out of it.
Lost Cities: the Card GameSTRATEGY, card. (2 players). Battle Line just about replaced this game for us. Lost Cities is still a great game, but it doesn't quite have the strategic/tactical bite that Battle Line brings. So far it sounds like we don't care for it too much, but Lost Cities is a great game to wind up or down the night. Simple enough but still with interesting risk/reward decisions.
Machi KoroSTRATEGY, dice. A little bit of Dominion (choosing from a selection of cards), and a little bit of Catan (rolling dice for one resource - coins). Light game that mixes more luck than I typically play with, but it's still a lot of fun.
Machi Koro: Harbor ExpansionEXPANSION, Machi Koro. Addresses what I dislike about the base game of Machi Koro: it adds more cards to create other strategies to win, and creates a random spread of how those cards are presented. This is a great expansion that really changes this game from fairly good to very good.
MasterpieceSTRATEGY. (3-6 players). A old classic game that I last played probably 20 years ago and didn't really know what we were doing. For being a very average game, it captured our imagination for some reason. The "big money" part of it was fun, as I remember.
Monopoly DealSTRATEGY, card. (2-5 players, best with 4-3). Not really anything like the board game; that is, it plays quickly and is fun. Very competitive and has a lot of stealing, swapping, and direct interaction. Good cheap card game to pick up that uses the Monopoly license well.
Mystery of the AbbeyDEDUCTION. (3-6, best with 4-5). The comparisons to Clue are inevitable. However, it's quite a bit more interesting than Clue. The main "who was the killer?" mechanic is at play here, except here the 24 suspects each have 5 defining characteristics which will be used to eliminate suspects. Add four different decks of cards which add flavor and theme, and you get a great deduction game that replaces Clue for us.
PandemicCOOPERATIVE. (2-4 players, best with 2-4). One of the best cooperative games that you'll play. The disease spreading mechanic is brilliant, and creates a lot of tense moments when you'll be on the edge of your seat waiting for the next card. A blast to play; we've won several times on the last two turns.BADGE1 - TOP PICK
Pirate’s CoveSTRATEGY. (3-5 players, best with 3-5). The typically beautiful Days of Wonder design wrapped in a pirate theme. This game thrives with competitive people who don't mind the frustration (or elation) of poor dice rolls. I've been on both sides several times. Has a lot of risk/reward strategic decisions.
Portal: the Uncooperative Cake Acquisition GameSTRATEGY. (2-4 players). When I heard that Valve was involved with developing a Portal boardgame, I knew that we would have to check it out. There is a lot of player interaction, both direct and indirect. It's a special kind of fun to grab your opponent's Cake and march through a portal, activating a test chamber and incinerating their Cake piece in the process. You'll make constant risk/reward decisions like this, sometimes teetering on the brink of being eliminated until you have enough Cake to win the game by intentionally walking your Test Subject into a Turret. Overall, the game is one of the more unique ones that we've played. Portal fans or those who like puzzle-type games with a lot of player interaction will find a lot to like here.
Race for the GalaxySTRATEGY, card. (2-4 players. best with 2-4). Takes the role-selection that's introduced in San Juan and kicks it up with a lot more complexity and card interaction. It takes a few plays to get used to all the icons all over the cards, but once you do, it all falls into place. It's a great two player game also. BADGE3 - GAMERS ONLY
ResistancePARTY, deduction. Amazing social party game. The first time we broke it open we had 8 players and got sucked into 5 games back to back. Spies are hidden around the circle and must be discovered by the Resistance. Covers 6-10 players extremely well.BADGE4 - PARTY PICK
RiskSTRATEGY. Played this a lot growing up, but that tapered off due to too many three hours contests that never ended with a winner. Still, love the World Domination concept and simplicity.
Rivals for CatanSTRATEGY. Quick card game to get your Catan fix with the classic Sheep, Wood resource cards, but none of the board, dice, or setup. Fun game we found a few years back at Barnes and Noble. Inexpensive and easy to transport.
Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed IslandCOOPERATIVE. (1-4 players, best with 1-4). This is a heavy, complex cooperative game. The theme and Action/Response cards are awesome and take off with a little imagination. Don't make this your first cooperative game, but if you like the idea of mixing Pandemic and Agricola this will be right up your alley. We've played six or seven times and lost four times; it's difficult for sure.BADGE3 - GAMERS ONLY
San JuanSTRATEGY, card. (2-4 players). What a great two player game that also covers three and four players well. One of my wife and I's favorite light and quick to play games. Plenty of strategy with a bit of luck that already feels like a classic to us.BADGE2 - GREAT FOR TWO2
Say AnythingPARTY. (3-8 players, best with 5-8). Super simple concept: answer a question "as" someone in the group. That someone picks the answer that he likes the most. Everyone votes. The game works better when people know each other, but you can also use it as a "get to know you game" where you learn things about people. Creative people will like it, since you can literally write anything down as your answer. Lot of fun; in certain groups it's fantastic.BADGE4 - PARTY PICK
ScattergoriesPARTY, word. (2-6 players, best with 4-6). The classic word vocabulary game. There might be better choices now but it's still fun to play every so often. Older but still worth having for sure.
SequenceSTRATEGY. Simple gameplay with a good amount of luck (drawing cards and hoping for what you need). Then play a card from your hand to place a chip on the matching space on the board. When first married, we played this a lot as we found it for cheap at a garage sale. Getting a little older now, but still fun.
Sheriff of NottinghamPARTY, deception. With the right crowd, this game kills. Bluffing/push your luck where all the other players are in the same boat as you, and can call you out on it too. This game would be awful if played in silence, since the player interaction is more than half the fun. We love it.BADGE4 - PARTY PICK
SplendorSTRATEGY. (2-4 players, best with 3-4). Great new 2014 game. Splendor is a good example of how simplicity can sometimes be the best design, though there's plenty of strategy. Some cool resource poker chips to play with, and a really fun "build up" game mechanic. One of our recent favorites.BADGE5 - START HERE2
Splickety LitPARTY, word. (4+ players, best with 8+). A game based on "spoonerisms" - Ratman and Bobin, Weorge Gashington, etc. You'll be laughing at what ridiculous things you'll be saying with exuberance and sincerity. One of our favorite family party games.BADGE4 - PARTY PICK200_splickety_lit
Steam ParkSTRATEGY, dice. (2-4 players, best with 3-4). I wish this felt more like Rollercoaster Tycoon on a board. Still, it's a fun game with a lot based on fast, frantic dice rolling. The 3-D theme park pieces are cool for sure. We've found it be to be a polarizing game; people either love or dislike it. We love it.
TerraceSTRATEGY, abstract. Main claim to fame is that it was featured on a few Star Trek episodes. Somewhat abstract theme, with the playing pieces being differently shaped bubbles that "eat" each other depending on the size. More like Chess than anything else on this list, a fun strategic game that I've had for years.
the Game of ThingsPARTY, word. Couldn't be a simpler party game concept, but surprisingly fun. Anyone can come up with a "thing" based on all kinds of different cues. We've played this a lot recently in large party groups (10-12 players).
Ticket to Ride: EuropeSTRATEGY. (2-5 players, best with 4-3). Our very first "modern" board game that we purchased, we've played it at least a hundred times by now. We like the European version more than the U.S. version, as it creates more fun strategic decisions. Love this game, Ticket to Ride should absolutely be in any game collection.BADGE5 - START HERE2
We Didn't Playtest This at AllPARTY, random. Another game that absolutely needs the right group of people. It's extremely random based on the cards that are played; we've had games last 45 seconds, or 10 minutes. Easy game to transport and play anywhere; it's just a deck of cards. From the title you can tell that it doesn't take itself seriously at all.
Wise and OtherwisePARTY, word. (2-6 players, best with 5+). We've probably played this game fifty times. It's a more cerebral version of Balderdash that works great with creative groups. One of our favorite party games.BADGE4 - PARTY PICK
Wits and Wagers PartyPARTY, trivia. (4+ players, best with 6+). The perfect party game for "everyone" to play. Trivia where every answer is based on a number, so everyone can guess. The Price is Right style voting completes this must-have party game.BADGE4 - PARTY PICK