There comes a time in all our lives, where we need to sit down with our parents and come out to them. To tell them the truth. That we are a board gamer.
It's not easy, I know. It takes courage. Even the most liberal of parents will probably come out with something narrow-minded like, "What, like Monopoly?"
But the quicker we get everything out in the open the quicker our loved ones can come through the five stages of emotion. Denial, "Oh, it's just a phase"; Anger, "Why don't you get a proper hobby?"; Bargaining, "Have you tried computer games?"; and probably the most awkward stage, acceptance.
Acceptance can be a hard stage because it's the point your parents start trying to engage with you about your hobby and start to buy you board games. And I don't know about you, but I really don't need a third copy of "Would I Lie to You: The Board Game" or another trivia game for a show I don't watch.
When I tell people that I'm in to board games I sometimes receive a confused or even negative reaction. But what do we expect? We have told them we are really into a hobby where the only frame of reference for a lot of people may be games that involve sticking pieces of plastic in your mouth and trying to speak or flicking cream pies in people's faces.
So, why not embrace your parents and other non-gamer friends' interest in your life. If coming out was step one, then step two is bringing one home to meet the parents!
Here we have seven games your parents will approve of. Easy to learn, no overly complicated rules, no heavy strategy, and no rude fart noises. Just fun, accessible, family-friendly games that play well at 3-4 players. Games that show both you and the hobby in a good light. As the well-rounded, mature, interesting individual you really are.
If your parents think board games are just moving pawns around a square board and picking up stuff on the way, then embrace that concept with Luxor from Queen Games. Luxor is a set collection and hand management game where players take the role of adventurers exploring the legendary temple at Luxor. Adventurers compete to reach the Pharaoh's tomb while collecting treasures on the way.
The game has an interesting hand management mechanism for moving your pawns where you can only play movement cards form the far left or right of your hand. This makes planning your movements in advance important to ending up on the right spots to be able to activate the actions you want. Also, as the game goes on you add new adventurers to your team allowing you to pick up even better treasure as you explore the tomb.
Luxor was nominated for the prestigious Spiel Des Jahres award in 2018 so it definitely worth considering.
Survive: Escape From Atlantis
Like Luxor, Escape from Atlantis works as a good game to play with your parents as it looks like a classic board game. In fact, it is a classic board game! First released in 1982, the game got a makeover and re-print in recent years.
Survive is a straightforward family game where you try to get your group of survivors off a sinking island and row to safety while at the same time leaving your opponents behind to swim for it and be attacked by sharks.
You will take great pleasure in letting your Mum's boat be sucked into a whirlpool. But she will no doubt get her own back as she leaves you marooned surrounded by sea monsters.
If when you say board games to your parents their first comment is something about Monopoly or dice then cool, go with it! A friend of mine described Machi Koro as "Monopoly, but fun." And that's the crux of it.
You can explain the rules of Machi Koro in just a few sentences. Player build up a city by rolling dice to activate abilities on city cards. Activating cards makes money so you can buy more city cards. The more cards you buy, the more cards you can activate, the more money you make. It's a simple yet satisfying feedback loop that lets you unleash your inner capitalist as you build up an empire of coffee shops specifically designed to bankrupt your dad.
Sometimes you will curse the luck of the dice, but others you will wringing your hands in glee as all your opponents hand over their wealth to you. Next time your mum suggests Monopoly, crack out Machi Koro instead.
Sheriff of Nottingham
Sheriff of Nottingham is a light and greatly enjoyable social deduction game of jeopardy where the best bluffer wins. Player take on the role of traders taking goods to market. They can boost the value of the goods on their stall by smuggling contraband past the player acting as the sheriff that round.
The sheriff can let people past without inspecting their sack, or they can look inside. If the player is caught with contraband, they must pay the sheriff. If they were found to be telling the truth, then the Sheriff must pay the trader. It's a game of bluffing, bravado and bribery. It works well when all players really embrace the characters and theme of the game.
When you're off to visit the folks and there isn't much room left in your bag, grab Port Royal. It's a light and engaging pirate-themed push your luck and set collection card game. Players take on the role of merchants taking risks as they lay out cards in search of big pay-outs and powerful characters to recruit. The more cards you put down, the more chance of finding what you need to win. But also, all the more chance of being caught out by pirates!
Push your luck games are always engaging. The thrill of taking a risk on a big card or going bust is one that doesn't get old. The small size and straight forward rules make Port Royal an excellent game to have on stand-by when someone threatens to get Trivial Pursuit out the attic.
The concept is simple and super easy to teach. I can teach it in a matter of seconds. Each player controls one symbol on the dice. Players take it in turns to roll a die, move an existing die showing that same symbol on the grid-style board and then add that new die to the board. Your goal is to score points by linking your colour symbols together. It's also to infuriate your opponents by moving their symbols further and further apart.
There is a strong sense of satisfaction when you get a group of five or six dice together. Even more so when you steal a bunch of wild symbol dice from your opponents in the process. Even the most reluctant of gameophobes can roll a die and place a die. So, I'd thoroughly recommend Ominoes as one to get your folks to peer into the rabbit hole of board games.
The Godfather of tile laying games. Such an obvious choice I almost thought it might not need mentioning. Carcassonne is a modern classic and a Goliath of board games with over 10 million copies sold. Carcassonne, is a true gateway game. A game that gets people hooked on board games. Carcassonne may just be the first of many games you bring home to your parents, but you will always look back fondly on those simpler times.
Pick up a tile, place a tile, maybe put a meeple on the tile, maybe score some points. You can quickly get over the basic concepts of the game and new players will soon see the points rolling in. It's not a game you need to think too hard about, so it won't feel daunting to first-timers. Carcassonne is an excellent choice for games night with the folks.
One of the best things about board gaming as a hobby is its ability to bring people together and bring new people in. This article is written a little tongue-in-cheek, but really, if there are people in your life who don't play games, don't know about what is available, or don't understand why you play them, you can't go wrong with these light, accessible, easy to learn and play games.