Updated: May 12, 2018
Top 5 recommendations (+1)
Codenames: A simple looking game, played with random words displayed in a 5x5 grid by two teams. Each team has a spymaster who has to try and link as many of their words as they can with a one word clue, so that their words are all guessed before their opponent. Quick, competitive, cheap and can be played by any number of players, it is a great party game with two player, picture and adult variants available.
Mysterium: A game with beautiful and surreal art, one player plays as a murdered (silent) ghost who has to communicate to the psychic players solely by handing these visual clue cards to the relevant player. The other players work as a team to discover the murderer, location and weapon. By turn, incredibly satisfying when a player works out your clues, then frustrating as the rest of the table wrongly talk them out of it. A great, simple game for 2-7 players that plays in around an hour and can also be enjoyed by kids.
Potion Explosion: This always attracts onlookers when playing. Pick coloured marbles from a ramp and grab matching coloured marbles that then clash together as they slide down. Use these to fill your potions which give you bonus effects and victory points. Visual, tactile and great fun to play with minimal rules but more strategy than you would first imagine.
Splendour: A card game with lovely weighty gem chips and a very simple concept. On your turn, you pick three different gems from the five choices, two of the same gem, or use previously collected gems to buy a card. These cards cost differing amounts of gems and give you permanent gems to use in future purchases. The cards in turn allow you to buy more expensive cards which earn you victory points or nobles for bonus points with the right combination of cards. Simple, quick but quite cut-throat as you try to anticipate what other players are going to buy as well as what you need to do to reach the 15 point victory target.
Ticket to Ride Europe: A classic game where you collect different colour train cards and then use sets of these to place your plastic trains on various routes between cities across the board. The longer the route, the more points you earn. Tickets give you set routes to aim for with bonus points for achieving these, or penalties if you don't and you can also win points for longest route played. Each route can only take a set number of trains so you need to claim those key routes before your opponents do. There are various expansion maps available which add different mechanics, such as technology cards, or stocks and shares as well as new locations.
Imhotep: I've listed this in addition to my top five as it's slightly more involved and complicated on first play. Set in ancient Egypt, each player aims to use their stones (cubes) to build pyramids, tombs or temples to gain victory points or bonuses. The catch here is that each stone first has to be placed on a boat, and if you use your turn to place a stone on a boat, you risk someone else sailing it on their turn to their choice of destination. Despite your turn being limited to one action (gain stones, place stones, sail a boat or play a card) there is a lot of depth here, and you often find yourself torn between scoring yourself certain points, hopping on someone elses boat hoping they will sail it where you want, or deliberately sailing another players' stones to a low scoring destination.
Do you agree with the choices? Let us know below if there are games you would include and which you think are sub-optimal choices.
Finally, we would love to hear which game(s) got you started on your board gaming adventures so please comment below!