With today’s limitless choices in entertainment, from PC to console to mobile, we can easily get caught up in our digital experiences, lost in menus and virtual lobbies, sending invites and dealing with dropped connections. I’m not saying these setbacks should make you rethink your hobbies, but there are times when I like to remind myself that video games are only a single avenue to fun. When I find myself frustrated with unstable servers or buggy patches, I take a step back and rejuvenate my passion with a board game.
I am going to nip any preconceptions in the bud by saying that no, we’re not talking about Monopoly. If you’re thinking Settlers of Catan, you’re moving in the right direction. No matter your personal idea of fun, there is a board game experience out there waiting to chase your boredom away.
For those who do not have much experience with modern board games, or who aren’t looking to spend an hour setting up chips and pieces, Dixit is a simple and imaginative game that plays off the imagination and experiences of each of its players. The setup is elegant in its simplicity: all players are given a hand of cards, each with its own unique and beautifully painted image. From strange surreal landscapes to whimsical tableaus, each image holds its own charm and potential narrative. At the start of a round, a “storyteller” selects one of their cards and hints at what’s depicted on it with a carefully chosen phrase. The other players then search their hands for a card that they feel fits with the storyteller’s theme, in an attempt to trick the other players into thinking their card is that of the storyteller. When the cards are anonymously revealed, everyone must guess which card belongs to the storyteller. For each correct guess, the storyteller and the players who guessed correctly receive points, as do those whose cards were mistakenly chosen due to their deceptive similarity to the storyteller’s phrase. Play continues until a single player achieves the point goal (like on a crib board). As points are tallied, each person will realize that in order to come out ahead, they will have to weave more secretive clues and ensure only one other person at the table is able to guess right and aid their advancement. Dixit is a wonderful game for family, children, friends, and anyone with a sense of imagination. It is a perfect introduction to a world of modern board games.
Betrayal at House on the Hill
Betrayal is a deviously thrilling game that provides a unique experience every time. Based in a world of spirits and mysticism, players take the roles of trope horror characters trapped in a haunted house. As they explore the manor, they encounter secret rooms, mysterious artifacts, and horrific apparitions. But as the night wears on, players explore deeper into the wicked corridors and find their sanity being stripped away. One ghastly event causes an unfortunate guest to be possessed, becoming a demonic vessel for a terrible evil that will see them betray the other players and fight to either turn or destroy them in their own quest for victory.
It may sound imposing, but Betrayal at House on the Hill is wonderfully designed and compartmentalized in a way that keeps players focused on the story unfolding in front of them without having to worry about the tokens and tiles that line the box. With each turn, new room tiles are added to an ever-expanding board, items are discovered, and ominous events bring the betrayal closer and closer. When one player finally does trigger the haunting, the combination of omen and room results in one of 50 different scenarios. The players and the betrayer are then separated, and two separate rulebooks introduce new rules and conditions for both parties. This asymmetrical gameplay, combined with a catalogue of diverse outcomes, makes Betrayal intensely re-playable and ensures that even duplicate hauntings lead to different stories. Even for novice board gamers, Betrayal is a solid game with great design, flavour and value that should be a part of everyone’s collection.