We’ve all been there. It’s a weekday evening. You finished that show you were streaming last night, so what should you do? You could play a board game, but a lot of them either have a lot of setup or complicated rules. Let’s be honest, 20 minutes of setup isn’t so appealing on a rainy Tuesday evening. Neither is your latest heavy game purchase. So you’re back to wondering what to do… But you can play board games after work! Here is my list of games I turn to on such occasions.
Sushi Go is a light drafting game with a quirky theme. All you need to do to set up is shuffle the cards and then you can start playing. The game is played over three rounds. The player with the most points from their sushi (and all important puddings) at the end of the game wins.
Each player starts with a hand of cards made up of different types of sushi and other items found in a sushi bar. Players then choose one card from their hand to play and place it face down in front of them. When all players have chosen the card to play, the face down cards are revealed and become part of the player’s tableau of cards. Each player then passes their hand of cards clockwise round the table. They then chose a card to play from the hand they have received and play continues in this way.
Each type of sushi scores differently. For example, Dumplings score more points the more a player has in front of them. Meanwhile, players must have three Sashimi in front of them to score; if they succeed they gain ten points. There are also other cards which give you bonuses. For example, if you play a Wasabi, the next Nigiri you play is worth three times as many points.
Over the course of a round, players are trying to play the best card to the tableau in front of them from the hand they are given. However, they need to bear in mind what cards other players have out too. Sometimes it can benefit one player to draft something they may not need, thereby depriving another player of getting that card.
At the end of the round, players add up the points they scored from their sushi tableau that round, deal out some more cards and the next round begins. But, before they do that, they must put aside any puddings they have played that round. Puddings are special cards which only are scored at the end of the game. The player with the most pudding cards gains 6 extra points and (in a three or more player game) the player with the least puddings loses six points. Players add the points from their puddings to the points they have gained over the three rounds and whoever has the most points wins.
In Jaipur, players are competing for the Sultan’s favour. They do this by collecting sets of goods and trading these in for points.
Each player starts with a hand of five cards made up of different goods or camels. Any camels should be taken out of your hand and placed in front of you. Camels cannot be traded in for points directly, but they can be traded in for other goods. On your turn you can either purchase goods from the market, or trade goods in for points.
There are two different ways to purchase goods. You can either just take one card from the market into your hand. Or, if you want to take more than one card, you must replace those cards with your own cards. This can either be in the form of goods or camels. Camels are very important in this game as they can allow you to take a lot of goods easily. You can also choose to take all the camels from the market rather than trading for any goods.
Once you have collected enough goods, you can then trade them in for points. Points are shown on tokens which are placed in stacks for each type of good at the start of the game. Players are rewarded for being the first to trade in goods, as the top tokens of each pile are worth the most points. You can trade in just one card (or two cards of the three most valuable type of resources - silver, gold and rubies) to get a points token. However, there can be a benefit in waiting and collecting more goods of a certain type. If you trade in three, four or five of the same type of good you can also take a bonus token which is worth more points at the end of the game.
Play continues with players collecting sets of goods and trading them in for points. The game ends either when the draw pile is empty or when three goods token piles have been depleted. The player with the most camels gets a bonus token worth five points. Players then count up all of their points from their tokens. The person with the most points wins that round and gains a sultan token. Then a new round is set up and played. The first player to gain two sultan tokens wins the game.
With its easy set up, quick play time and light rules, Jaipur is a perfect game for after work.
Kahuna is a two player only game with an abstract feel to it. In Kahuna, players are competing to build up their own networks of tropical islands.
Setup for the game is very simple. Each player takes all of the pieces of their colour (either white or black). The board is set up in the middle of the table and the island cards are shuffled. Each player then gets a hand of three cards to start the game.
During the course of the game, players are trying to play cards in order to either build bridges connecting islands or remove the opponent’s bridges from an island. To do this, players must play cards which match the name of the islands (either both cards of the same island, or one card of each island on the end of the connection).
Once a player has bridges on the majority of connections of one island, they gain control of that island. They can place their circular Kahuna token there. However, control of islands can change over the game. As soon as a player loses control of the majority of bridges around an island, they must remove their Kahuna token. When another player gains control of an island, they remove all bridges of the other player connecting to that island. This can have a chain effect.
Kahuna is played over three rounds, with the island cards being shuffled between each round. Scoring takes place after each round. At the end of the first round, the player with the most Kahunas on the board will gain one point. The player with the most Kahunas on the board will gain two points at the end of the second round. At the end of the final round, the player with the most Kahunas on the board is awarded points equal to the number of Kahunas they have, minus the number their opponent has. These points are added up and whoever has the most points wins.
Kahuna has a quick set up and enough decisions to be interesting without being too much of a brain burner. This makes it a perfect game to play after work at the end of a busy day.
GUBS is a card game from Gamewright for two to six players. Players are trying to build up the biggest colony of GUBs whilst preventing the other players from building their colony. The game is easy to set up. Each player starts with a GUB card. The G, U and B cards are removed from the deck and the deck is shuffled. The letter cards are then shuffled back into the deck.
During their turns, players firstly draw a card. Players can then play as many or as few cards as they want from their hand onto the table. To build up their colony, players will need to play more GUBs cards. However, if they leave their GUBs unprotected, there is a chance they could get captured or otherwise trapped by an opponent. Players therefore need to make sure they protect their GUBs behind barricades to prevent an opponent from taking them. There are also special cards which can impact on all players, which must be used as soon as they are drawn.
As well as the GUBs, barricades, traps, and events, there are also special cards. These often have special abilities which can change the game in your favour. For example, there are cards which can stop a trap from taking effect.
The game ends when the last of the G, U and B card are drawn from the deck. When this happens, players each count up the number of free and protected GUBs they have in front of them. The player with the highest number of GUBs in play wins.
The turns take place very quickly. This leads to a nice flow of the game. There is a lot of 'take that' in the game but this works very well, as all the players are trying to attack each other's colony. The theme and artwork in this game help reinforce its lightweight quality and the fun of the game.
With the quick set up and play time, this is a great game to play after work.
Herbaceous is another light card game with a slightly different theme. In this game players are trying to grow and then pot herbs to gain the most points.
Setup is very straightforward. You shuffle the deck and then take out cards depending on how many players there will be (if there are four players you play with a complete deck). Each player then needs the herb containers in their colour and their private garden marker. The private garden marker should be placed in front of the player with enough space to place cards underneath. The deck should be placed in the middle of the playing area within reach of all players.
A player’s turn has two phases - potting and planting. On every go, apart from the first turn, players can decide to pot herbs. To do this they simply take the herbs they want to plant and place them in one of their planters. However, each planter can only have certain arrangements of herbs in and they are all single-use. This can lead to some interesting decisions about when is best to plant and when is best to wait. For example, one planter requires all herbs of the same type whilst another one requires pairs of different herbs to be potted.
Players obtain the herbs by planting. Every turn, a player draws two cards. When they draw the first card, they must decide whether to place it in the community garden or their private garden. The second card is then placed in the other garden. Any player can use herbs from the community garden, but players can only pot herbs from their own private gardens.
Players will want to wait for a collection of herbs to build up before they start potting, but wait too long and another player may take the herbs from the community garden. This is a light game with gorgeous artwork and an interesting theme.
In Kingdomino, players build up their kingdom by laying tiles, to try and achieve the most points. Kingdomino is perfect to play as there is very little set up. Players simply need to pick a colour and take their starting tile, castle and meeples of their colour. They then draw a number of tiles from the box and place them face up on the table (four tiles in a two or four player game and three tiles in a three player game) in descending number order. The meeples are then mixed up and drawn randomly one at a time. Each player then chooses, in order that the meeples were drawn, which tile they want to start on.
A new set of tiles is then drawn and placed, in descending number order. The player with the meeple on the top tile in the first line chooses which of the newly drawn tiles they want and places their meeple there. They then take the tile their meeple was placed on and add it to the display in front of them. All other players then take their tiles in the same way before new tiles are drawn. Play continues in that way until there are no tiles left. 24 tiles are used in a two player game, 36 in a three player game and 48 with four players.
You can place a tile either next to your starting tile or next to a tile of the same land type. At the end of the game, players will add up their scores for each land type. This is calculated by looking at how many crowns are on a specific land type in a continuous area and multiplying that figure by the number of squares of that land type in that area. Therefore, when placing a tile, players want to build up as big a connected area of a land type as possible
However, you are also restricted to the size of your kingdom. This can be no bigger than a five by five square grid. Players have interesting decisions to make about where to place a piece. They also need to be thinking ahead to make sure that placing a tile in a certain spot will not prevent them from being able to complete their kingdom later on in the game.
Kingdomino is a great game with a light theme but enough interesting decisions to make it engaging. It's a perfect after work choice.