A board game for 2 geeks and their wives?
January 16, 2014 10:59 AM   Subscribe

We were having dinner parties and after finishing eating playing board games. Both of our household selection is pretty slim, monopoly, apples to apples and dominos. Its been fun but we are ready for something more involved.

Boardgamers of Metafilter, aid us:

Number of players: 4 and above
Duration of play: 2 - 4 hours
Type: Light geekery - strategy, resources. Not too heavy thought, because our wives are not real interested in too much calculations.

Thanks and looking forward to read your recommendations!
posted by Sentus to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (50 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
If you've never played it, The Settlers of Catan might be exactly what you're looking for.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:02 AM on January 16, 2014 [22 favorites]

Ticket to ride is perfect for this.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:05 AM on January 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


Read the starter's guide first but it is the BEST!

Basically it is a collaborative strategy game. The board game is a map of the world, linked by popular flight routes. Team objective is to eliminate the virulent disease before the outbreaks become too large and kills the planet. Players can be scientists, medics etc. So. Much. Fun.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:15 AM on January 16, 2014 [11 favorites]

You might enjoy Dominion. It's a card game, but it's almost infinitely changeable. Pandemic might also be good -- it's cooperative, which changes things up a little.
I agree with the Ticket to Ride rec, too!
posted by AmandaA at 11:16 AM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Seconding Ticket to Ride.
posted by barnoley at 11:16 AM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

+1 for Ticket to Ride.
posted by jbickers at 11:18 AM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I just recently played Lords of Waterdeep and loved it. While it's ostensibly a "Dungeons and Dragons" game it didn't have that uber-nerd feel to it. The gameplay is relatively straight forward with a combination of resource gathering, building and quest completion.

I recommend Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan (having played them both).

I've heard great things about Race to the Galaxy.
posted by talkingmuffin at 11:19 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am basically your wife (ok, not really, but you know what I mean). I'm married to a board game geek with many board game geek friends, and while I like games, I am not super into strategies or strategy-heavy games. I LOVE Settlers of Catan and Carcassone as mentioned above. I also liked Pandemic, and Scotland Yard, though that's the sort of game that is played 3 (or more) on 1 instead of individually. We've also had fun with Maharaja.

Also it can be nice to play a warm up game like Bananagrams before we get into one of the geekier ones. Easy to learn, fun, fast, etc.
posted by hungrybruno at 11:20 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

nthing Ticket to Ride!
posted by joan_holloway at 11:30 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dominion is so good--simple and addictive and easy to learn!

I like Puerto Rico, kinda like Settlers, maybe a little more complicated (and a little less direct bartering etc).
posted by mlle valentine at 11:30 AM on January 16, 2014

I would suggest Settlers, then Cities and Knights.
posted by supercres at 11:31 AM on January 16, 2014

Other fun team-based strategy games: Forbidden Desert, Forbidden Island. Basically you get to Indiana Jones around a hostile environment in pursuit of ancient treasure. You can watch Wil Wheaton play various of these board games at TableTop (informative about the game, and fun to watch, too).

Here are some links to episodes featuring games that have been mentioned upthread:

Settlers of Catan
Forbidden Island
Ticket to Ride
posted by Maecenas at 11:32 AM on January 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

Take a look at this post from the Blue about Matthew Baldwin, who is an avid boardgamer (not to be confused necessarily with tabletop gaming, which is usually an area of role-playing gaming). Here's the 2013 guide, which isn't linked because it hadn't happened yet.

Baldwin has developed a niche skill of boardgame reviewing and recommending, and he publishes his annual gift guides at The Morning News and his own blog, Defective Yeti. I've also hit him up for a custom recommendation for one friend as well as a "this or that" for some young relatives, so I wouldn't hesitate to reach out to him directly if the guides don't give you the right thing.

Also, since you play Apples to Apples, something something Cards Against Humanity; same card gameplay, but A2A can be played with kids, CAH should be played with people willing to be tasteless and demented for fun's sake. This can be really fun, but it can also upset people, so use your judgement, and you can download the game and view it first (or print it for about $12 at your local print shop).
posted by Sunburnt at 11:32 AM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

In a different vein, I freaking love Rummikub. It's not for everyone but if you happen to be four who enjoy it, it's endless fun.
posted by telegraph at 11:34 AM on January 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

Who doesn't love pandas?
posted by jozxyqk at 11:35 AM on January 16, 2014

In addition to the multiple games mentioned above (settlers, ticket to ride, carcassonne), my 2 couples game night plays tichu frequently. In a one line sum up: team asshole/president using poker hands. Its pretty fun and not too difficult to learn.
posted by kookywon at 11:40 AM on January 16, 2014

Lords of Waterdeep! Resources gathering and strategy, but not difficult. My husband and I play it all the time (base game plays up to five, expansion plays up to six).
posted by skycrashesdown at 11:41 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, we got Qwirkle for Christmas and it's really fun! Quick, but good to ease into the tougher games.
posted by hungrybruno at 11:42 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here are some favorites of my family, in increasing amount of "involvement." For people who are less enthusiastic about complex games you should start near the top.

Ticket to Ride
Power Grid
posted by grouse at 11:45 AM on January 16, 2014

Agricola is perfect for this! You can play the 'family' game for a less complex experience, then move on to the regular game and alternate card decks (which are included in the regular package).

I found the instructions included with the game to be very hard to understand, but there are tutorials on Youtube.
posted by torisaur at 11:48 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

When you say "calculations" do you mean any math at all? Because one of the weirdly nice things about Yahtzee is that you can literally play it with people from age 8 to infinity, like Uno. And it is a strategy game.

In the years between "when a kid can do addition" and "when a kid has the patience for chess," this was pretty much the game my family played together, because my parents actually enjoyed it a lot. It's also handy if you have one person who's really really good at strategy and several who aren't that thrilled by it - there's far more pure luck to it than in Monopoly or poker.
posted by SMPA at 11:49 AM on January 16, 2014

Oh, and also, during the Star Wars line nothing got the geeks quite as hooked as Phase 10. I suspect that if I hadn't been literally sitting on a sidewalk I'd have probably been more interested personally - it's certainly easy enough.
posted by SMPA at 11:52 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, if you like party games, the best ones are Scattergories, Taboo and my family recently discovered Wits and Wagers, which I thought sounded dull but turned out to be a lot of fun and required more thought than I expected. Apples To Apples is another good one, but probably better with more players -- Cards Against Humanity is a dirty/offensive version of it.

As far as geekery, isn't Settlers of Catan the holy grail there?
posted by peachpie at 11:53 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Munchkin Deluxe edition. :P
posted by tilde at 11:57 AM on January 16, 2014

Star Trek Catan
posted by get off of my cloud at 12:08 PM on January 16, 2014

I'd vote for Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Carcassonne.
posted by willbaude at 12:08 PM on January 16, 2014

As a board game wife, I can happily nth Dominion, Ticket to Ride, and Pandemic. Pandemic and other collaborative games are especially good because you can ask for help. (I never got into Settlers, myself.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:09 PM on January 16, 2014

Red Dragon Inn has been making our board group nights a lot of fun lately. It's pretty easy to learn how to play, and if you're even slightly geeky at all, the game is a whole lot of fun.

Nthing Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. I'm not a huge fan of heavy games, and before I started going to board game nights, my favorite game was Clue. These two games really sealed the deal for me and got me interested in learning to play board games again.

Telestrations is also really fun. It's collaborative, and the worse you are at drawing/guessing games, the significantly more fun it is. 4 is the absolute minimum for a game like that, and it gets more entertaining with more people to play.
posted by PearlRose at 12:13 PM on January 16, 2014

"Cards against Humanity" is a bit like apples to apples, but for adults. Awful horrible adults. It's a lot of fun.

I've come to the realization that I don't like games where the winner is determined largely by dumb luck, and I also don't like games where the winner is determined instead by skill (because then to win you need to pit every braincell against your similarly-struggling opponents, so whoever struggles the hardest wins - sometimes I just want to relax), so I'm currently leaning towards games that you play cooperatively, working with each other instead of against each other. For example, Zombiecide (a Zombie survival game). I think Forbidden Island (a sort of modern Indiana Jones or Lara Croft / Tombraider theme) looks good, though I have yet to try it.
posted by anonymisc at 12:18 PM on January 16, 2014

The best advice I can give you is to watch Beer and Board Games on Youtube.

Season 1
Season 2
Season 3

They've played a few of the games people have mentioned and you get a feel for how the game plays in the videos. Also they're drunk so, if a game is overly technical or boring, it kind of starts showing. And it's pretty funny show to boot. (Although a caveat; they can be very crass).

Some of the games are played for laughs like Candyland and Mystery Date, and some are classics, like Risk and Monopoly, but they've played geeky games-- there's a Settlers of Catan episode (which I found hilarious by the way. I think it'd be a very love/hate game). Check it out if you're curious about a particular game. They play a lot of obscure board games too.

I'd say one of the more fun games I discovered thanks to B&BG is Cards Against Humanity. It looks super fun. Fiasco looks really good too.
posted by Dimes at 12:19 PM on January 16, 2014

Village is my household's current favorite. It hits a sweet spot in complexity, where you can map out strategies without feeling overwhelmed. Our first playthrough took around 2 hours, but subsequent plays have been closer to an hour. It has some similarities to Agricola, but removes the feeling that your whole game is screwed if someone happens to pick an action you needed.

Ive been favoring Puzzle Strike to Dominion lately. It has similar deck building mechanics, but is a lot faster-paced (once the players get the hang of it, of course). It's also set up like a board game version of the Super Puzzle Fighter video game, and I believe it was developed by the person who did the game balancing for the recent Puzzle Fighter rerelease. Play time for this is a bit below your requirement, but its a good game for playing a few times in succession.
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:37 PM on January 16, 2014

London is a fun game, it's a maximum of 4 players though. I like it because it's just as much fun with 2, so my wife and I can play it when we don't have guests over.
posted by IanMorr at 12:43 PM on January 16, 2014

Munchkin's pretty popular in my group - I think it fits the bill as something involving some strategy but not too much (so it plays well with alcohol!). Apparently they make a board game, but I've only played the card game version. Similar idea, I'm guessing.
posted by randomnity at 12:57 PM on January 16, 2014

Carcassone is great; I found it less complex than Catan, or at least less heated-negotiation-inducing. I also really like Pandemic.

7 Wonders is a great game for 3-7 players and pretty easy to learn, although the play looks complicated at first due to all of the cards going around (it's card-draft-based). If you like path planning/optimization--it takes a certain kind of mind to enjoy, but is not at all a strategy game--take a look at Ricochet Robots.
posted by serelliya at 12:57 PM on January 16, 2014

I will co-sign on Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan and Agricola as mentioned above. I would also throw out Small World as a good one to try in that vein.

Zooloretto is also quite fun, if quite a bit quicker/simpler than the above.

I find Race For the Galaxy (also mentioned above) great but I'd note that it is more abstract.
posted by mountmccabe at 1:12 PM on January 16, 2014

Catan is. . . popular, but to be sure, but not everyone's cup of tea. It's a pretty well recognized phenomenon that one or two players frequently start from behind and basically stay there the whole game. One of the basic game dynamics is at the beginning of every turn, you roll 2d6. The hexes with numbers that match the number that comes up produce resources for players with buildings adjacent to them. Other hexes do nothing. After ten turns or so, if the distribution has been even a bit different than the average you'd get with a much larger n, one or even two players can find themselves facing a deficit that they'll never be able to come back from. Given that the game can easily take a hundred turns, this is a really, really long time to know that you're going to lose. Given the somewhat cut-throat competitiveness that the game often inspires, this can really be an obstacle for some people. My family owns the game, but we haven't played it in years, strongly preferring Dominion, Carcassone, 7 Wonders (all mentioned above) and more recently Eminent Domain.

There is a house-rule that some people use in Catan to mitigate that phenomenon though: "food stamps". It's pretty simple actually. If none of your hex numbers match the number on the dice, you get a "food stamp". We usually use coins. You can use these to buy resources. The rate is one "stamp" per number of points that you've got per resources. So to start, it takes everyone three coins, but as people build stuff, it gets more and more expensive to use food stamps. This is okay, because as you build stuff you get more and more resources. It sort of levels the playing field a bit, mitigating the effects of a run of bad luck.
posted by valkyryn at 1:15 PM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

In addition to games already mentioned (Carcassone, Ticket to Ride, Scotland Yard), I like Small World a lot. Not too heavy or complicated for me, but my boardgame geek boyfriend likes it too.
posted by Bektashi at 1:18 PM on January 16, 2014

Nthing Dominion, which I played for the first time over the Christmas holidays and am now thoroughly addicted to the online version. It took a veteran player a bit to explain the whole concept of deck-building to me as I'd never played anything like it before, but after the first game, I felt very comfortable. There are set strategies you can use, but as a casual after dinner game, I think it's more fun to play more loosely. There are "attack" cards that are part of the full deck, so depending on the crowd, some may feel competitively riled up.
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:25 PM on January 16, 2014

two geeks and their wives should learn the greatest game for four people ever invented: bridge.
posted by bruce at 1:34 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you like to laugh, any Munchkin card game. It's easy to learn - my 11 yr old daughter has been playing it for 4+ years. It's highly expandable, without expanding being an absolute must.

Our favorite at the moment is Munchkin Zombies - but we like every one we have. And scrambling them together.
posted by stormyteal at 1:39 PM on January 16, 2014

How has nobody mentioned Fluxx yet? So, it won't take up 2-4 hours (in fact, because of the kooky way it works, the length of play can vary WILDLY), but it's very easy to pick up, and it comes in so many different themes that you can pick whatever suits your tastes (I'm a fan of Martian Fluxx).

I would definitely nth Settlers of Catan, Munchkin, Pandemic, Cards Against Humanity, and Ticket to Ride. Those have been big hits with our crowd. I also second Maecenas's suggestion to check out Tabletop, because I think they skew towards the kinds of games you're looking for.

Lastly, consider Kill Doctor Lucky, especially if any of you like Clue. It's like that, except you're all trying to murder the guy in the big mansion. We had a lot of fun with that, both playing it and coming up with crazy motives and generally narrating the entire thing.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 1:46 PM on January 16, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you so much for the great suggestions! I am going to order Settlers of Catan, and Ticket to Ride. Lets hope this is the beginning of a very long board gaming obsession!

Thanks again!
posted by Sentus at 2:22 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might like to check out Tabletop as most of the games mentioned here make and apprearance there, it's a fun show and gives you a great idea of how the games play, so you'll have more idea if it's something you'll all like.
posted by wwax at 2:25 PM on January 16, 2014

Wait, come back!!! Stay with me here. This is not a board game, but ...

Do you all have ipads or tablets or iphones or adroid phones? Yes?
Does the place you play have a wifi connection? Yes?
Do you also like pushing buttons and shouting at people? Yes?
Do you like discharging Clip-jawed Fluxtrunions?

Don't answer that. You will probably like playing Spaceteam. My husband and I are geeks and we played this with our non-geek family over the holiday and it was a huge hit with both the middle age and college age contingents. I was skeptical at first but am now a total convert. It was free when we downloaded it. Honestly a really, really fun group game.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:29 PM on January 16, 2014

And I'll second Dominion, too, I think. I was playing the free part on Goko, then moved to Androminion on my tablet, and have played all of it - and now want the actual games. Stat. And it's contagious, because my 18yo son caught it a couple days ago.
posted by stormyteal at 2:31 PM on January 16, 2014

Seconding the heck out of Tichu. It's a partnership card game. The rules aren't super complicated, the game moves quickly, and there's lots of opportunities for interesting decisions. "Exciting" results happen fairly frequently. Plus it's cheap and doesn't take up a lot of closet space.
posted by aubilenon at 3:44 PM on January 16, 2014

How was King of Tokyo not mentioned?
posted by flimflam at 9:20 PM on January 16, 2014

I would echo the recommendations for 7 Wonders, Pandemic, and Dominion for longer games (usually around an hour to an hour and a half), and King of Tokyo and Bang! both go fairly quickly (maybe 30-40 minutes to play a game) so I've found that a lot of the time pairing one from the long category and one from the short is a good way to get our board game time in.

If I have to pick one, though, it's definitely 7 Wonders - supports anywhere from 3-7 people pretty elegantly, there's a variety of strategies for success, and there's a great deal less waiting for other players time than in an average Eurogame. It's also fairly easy to teach to new people.
posted by tautological at 2:33 AM on January 17, 2014

Innovation is a brand new game I'd strongly recommend. Interesting game mechanics, a neat theme (similar to the Civilizations video game series), quick to play, not heavily luck-dependent, unusually easy to learn yet strategically deep.

My favorite card: fission. It can be used to trigger a nuclear war that sweeps everything except victory points off the table, reducing everyone to using stone age cards again.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:39 AM on January 22, 2014

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