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Comfort Games for a Rainy Day

comfort games

If there is one thing we can predict in the UK, it’s unpredictable weather! We’ve all been there—you have a wonderful day out planned and then you look outside to see a torrent of rain changing your plans. Now, if you’re a tabletop gamer you will always have a backup plan… stay home and play board games!

So if you’re looking for a cosy game to cuddle up with the next time the weather forces you inside, check out some of our favourite games for a rainy day!

The Isle of Cats - Pete Earnshaw

A firm family favourite in our house, The Isle of Cats is the perfect game to get engrossed in on those miserable grey days. It’s fun and vibrant artwork brings some real colour to the table and, with the right expansions, up to 6 players can join in the action.

The way I always describe this game is, “Have you ever played Tetris? Well this is Cat Tetris!” That’s really all the preamble that’s necessary (not that the evil cat hating warlord storyline isn’t amusing!). We have found The Isle of Cats to be a great game to introduce as a gateway game to new players or those who hate a lot of rules. Playing it with our young children has also been a lot of fun as the ‘Family mode’ is fast and punchy and, to be perfectly honest, could carry the game entirely on its own merit without using the standard rules.

Like a tasty treat or your favourite comfort food, there’s something just really welcoming about The Isle of Cats that keeps us coming back to it time and again. The amount of strategy involved can be as heavy or light as you want it to be—if you want to just chuck a bunch of cats onto a boat and squish them in like a tin of sardines then go ahead.

The bottom line is that, however you choose to play, you won’t regret passing a rainy day inside with a boat full of cats!

Railroad Ink - Camille Hindsgaul

Railroad Ink is one of my ultimate go-to comfort games for a couple of reasons: it is simple, it is short, and it’s also a little bit crafty.

The simplicity comes both from the rules being easy to learn and from the gameplay itself. There are only a few, clearly defined actions you can take during a round, and everyone is doing the round at the same time without interfering with each other’s play: everyone has the same dice rolls to work from and the game is about how you use them. I find that to be a very cozy level of competitive gaming, where it’s impossible to try to sabotage other players, and even if you mess up one round, there’s a good chance you can make up for it during the next.

Because of this simplicity, Railroad Ink is also a game where you can do other things while you’re playing. While it’s not necessarily a great game for having a conversation, as everyone will be working on their routes, it’s perfectly suited for playing while listening to something like an audiobook or a podcast. You can even play on your own if you have a rainy day by yourself.

Another chill aspect is that a full game only takes 7 rounds. I like when games have a set amount of rounds, that way you know what you have to work with, when you should start finishing up or consider using a limited resource. I find that very reassuring, which is good in a comfort game.

Finally, while Railroad Ink is of course not the most creative or crafty of board games, you still get to physically draw all your roads and railways and arrange them as you please. I find that more cozy and creatively satisfying than similar games where you, for example, arrange tiles.

Flamecraft - Luke Pickles

When I’m stuck inside during a rainy day, I take a look at my shelves. If it’s a cold and miserable day, I’m going to look for a nice cozy game with a warming theme and adorable art. Inevitably, I’m drawn towards Flamecraft. In Flamecraft, players are working with dragons to service a town, working in the shops, cafes and whatnot, to gather as many points as possible. On a turn, you can go to a store and do one of two actions. You can either: Visit, where you gain resources, placing a dragon into the shop, triggering abilities of the dragon and store; or you can Enchant, spending your resources to enhance the store for future turns, triggering all the dragons there and scoring some juicy points.

What I love about this game is it’s very light, so you can play it with anyone, but there are some decisions to be made throughout. The artwork is beautiful, so if you’re sat at a convention, you’re always going to get people having a quick look over. And the puns! Ah the puns! The puns on all the shop names are wonderful – Critical Rolls for the bakery, as an easy example.

I love this game, and I think it does exactly what it’s meant to do, which is get people into the hobby. The gameplay is solid, but simple. It looks enticing on the shelf and the production quality is brilliant. I don’t think you can do much more if you want a delightful, cozy game on a wet day.

Patchwork - Rachael Duchovny

What could be better this Valentine’s Day than snuggling up under a lovely quilt, warm and cosy, listening to the rain outside?

Playing a game where you get to make your own quilt, that’s what!

Patchwork is such a satisfying 2 player Tetrisesque game to while away the time whilst you wait for the rain to subside. It doesn’t work in turns in the usual sense, if you’re behind on the game track then it’s your turn until you’re no longer behind. How do you get behind or go in front? Each time you take a quilt tile it has a time cost (as well as button cost) making you move your marker forward that amount on the time track. You also need to pay buttons meaning if you don’t have enough for the tile you want then you might have to choose a different course of action, often meaning your opponent can steal what you wanted or move the neutral marker forward making your desired tile out of reach for the time being.

Seeing what’s available, thinking about when you’ll have a turn, how many buttons and how much time you have and most importantly deciding where to lay ‘patches ’on your own quilt board adds a

lot more strategy and depth to this game than you might think upon first looking at the box. Unsurprising given it was designed by Uwe Rosenberg. This is a light game, easy to learn, quick to play, taking around 30 minutes with easy set up and pack away.

At the end of the game the winner is the person with the highest score. Buttons – unfilled quilt squares + if you were lucky enough to win the completed 7*7 bonus.

Whilst it can be incredibly frustrating being left with ‘holes ’in your quilt design this is such a relaxing game, highly recommended when spending Valentine’s Day indoors, helping you deal with the bleak British weather outside.

My City - Dan Street-Phillips

The types of games I usually play tend to be on the more complicated side and I relax by having my brain melted by complex strategy. However, sometimes there is nothing more comforting than a quick simple game with my husband. We found My City when it was released back in 2020 and in a world still stuck in a global pandemic it offered us both a quiet solace in an evening. Designed by one of the most prolific game designers in the world, Reiner Knizia, My City is a polyomino tile laying game where you build up your city on your board in order to score points. But what makes it so interesting is that it’s a legacy game. If you haven’t played a legacy before it means that the game changes from game to game as you physically change the board and add new rules which add depth and excitement as you work through a set story. Once a week, we would sit down and play through three micro games of the legacy whilst listening to a chilled out playlist and sipping on a glass of wine. This would only take about 30 minutes and was a great post dinner activity. Now that the game has finished we are left with a completely replayable ‘forever game ’which we crack out regularly. These games usually last about 10 minutes and have become a ‘switch-off ’activity for us. There are so few games out there that are as simple as they are strategic and being able to work through a meaningful game in such a short space of time with so few rules is so rewarding. With its sequel now out, My Island, which offers a tropical setting, could there be a better way of switching off after a stressful day at work than relaxing in the comfort of your own home whilst imagining sitting on a sunny beach!

Imperium Classics - Graham Silvanus

For me, a comfort game is one that will guarantee a good time. One that provides an experience as rich as it is familiar, as engrossing as it is joyous, one that I can while away the hours with, yet be blissfully unaware of the passage of time. It has to be my favourite game. It has to be Imperium Classics.

Imperium Classics really is the gift that keeps on giving. It is a heavy deck building game, where 1 to 4 players pit one of eight ancient civilisations against each other. There is so much variety in the box and for a piece of comfort gaming, I’m playing the solo mode.

I’ve played it solo well over 50 times and the lure to play it to the exclusion of other games in my collection is still strong. It is a game that shines when players are familiar with the cards and the intricacies of the different civilisations.

The bot opponent plays very differently according to their civilisation and players need to be aware of this, alongside their own faction’s strengths, in order to be successful. Can you stop the Persians picking up all the tributaries? Is it worth trying to take on Rome in the race for glory? Can you cope with the unrest spread by the Celts?

I know that when I take Imperium Classics off the shelf, I am in for 90-120 minutes of fascinating decision making that I find utterly enthralling. This is the essence of comfort gaming - an experience that you can immerse yourself in and all of a sudden the rain battering the windows, or the cancelled social engagements, or the tough day at work no longer matter.

What matters is seeing if you can stop Alexander the Great and his Macedonians from taking all the land cards before you develop the might of your Carthaginian empire. Luckily, you can call upon Hannibal and his elephants. That is indeed a comforting thought.

Splendor - David Ireland

Comfort, for me, evokes feelings of warmth and relaxing. There is no stress involved when comfortable. It is also something very well known to me, something I understand and I am confident in. Splendor ticks all of the above for me and is a wonderful game to bring out to the table top.

For those not familiar with the game, very simply you gather precious gem stones and jewels (5 types) as your resources. You use them to purchase cards from the centre of the table. These cards are sub divided into three tiers, all of which gives you a permanent resource attached to the card. This helps with purchasing more cards going forward. They can also have prestige points (victory points) printed on the card. The lowest tier might have one point, the top tier has plenty of points. First to fifteen prestige points takes the win.

The gameplay is ever so simple and what I love is you never need to interrogate the rulebook before starting. After a few games you just know the rules and it’s all about playing from there. Even if you haven’t played Splendor for a while, it comes to the table like an old friend.

Gameplay is quick, simple actions on a turn keeping the game moving along and progressing. A typical game looking to take 30-45 mins tops, perhaps quicker with two people. It’s as competitive as you want to make it, for us, always relaxed.

I can highly recommend the game. After a busy day when you might be lacking some energy or the will to think too much, Splendor is the perfect game to come out in our home and unwind to.

Flash Point: Fire Rescue - Roger Bell West

I’ve been playing this game nearly from the beginning, and at this point it’s an old faithful friend that welcomes me back each time I open the box. While expansions have added rules, the core of it is the same: move your firefighters through the scene, extinguish fires before they get out of control, and find and rescue the unconscious victims. The game has a rhythm: at first we work on suppressing the initial fire, and preventing too much damage. Then some of us split off to start pulling out the victims who are in most danger, while the rest of us defend our zones. Towards the end we’ll neglect the fire completely and focus on rescuing as many victims as possible.

As cooperative games go, it’s quite like Pandemic: you take your turn, then the game makes bad things happen. But I find it more relatable: rather than jetting around the world and swapping cards, I walk over to the kitchen and extinguish the flames I can reach. As I’m coming out again, I stumble over a body that somehow I didn’t notice on the way in, so I haul them away from the smoke and signal my buddy to help carry them out while I go back to deal with the next smouldering room.

Cascading failures happen: smoke next to fire immediately brews up into fire, so what seemed like a harmless smoky room suddenly becomes an inferno. Soon though there’ll be an explosion, and the building will lose integrity; lose enough, the building collapses and the game is lost.

Every turn provides you with an immediate tactical problem: what should I do to stop myself getting caught by fire (and having to return to play via the ambulance). At the same time you need to keep the overall goal in mind: the building will eventually burn down, and your job is to get the victims out before that happens.