Exciting Board and Card Games to Start Off the New Year!


Photo by Lude Edens

With video games gaining more and more popularity, board and card games are often overlooked. Now you might argue that they simply don’t compare to online gaming, but I disagree. Of course, video games have some advantages and they’re definitely a fun activity to engage in, but I truly believe that anyone who finds in-person games boring is simply playing the wrong ones. That’s why I, along with other Tut House students and members of the Board Game club, have compiled a list of some really fun board and card games that you most likely have not heard of yet. Hopefully, you’re interested and will give them a shot!
Oh, and if you’re a true board game fanatic, you should consider joining the Board Game club. They meet every Friday from 1:20 to 2:00 in room 323 of the English Department. If you have any questions or would like to join, contact Andrew Hohmann at this email: [email protected]. But for now, let’s dig into the games!

#1: Pandemic

The objective of the board game Pandemic is to fight together against a multitude of viruses that are rapidly infecting people all over the world and to find vaccines to stop the viruses from reappearing. Sound familiar? Probably. Although this exciting board game was created in 2008, it has striking and almost spooky similarities to the situation in 2021 regarding COVID-19. So if you’re feeling worked up about the current situation, just convince your family or friends to play this game with you and save the world from the virus.

#2: Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza

This simple but fun game is great if you need to release some steam. Slap away at cards, and please don’t forget to take off any rings or bracelets or you might seriously injure one of the other players… although that could of course be a strategy as well.

#3: Root

Don’t let the cute illustrations and awesome designs of Root fool you into thinking that it’s a relaxed game in which players work together in harmony, because nothing is less true. Root is a modern interpretation of classic merciless war games like Risk and Stratego where players have to attack each other to rise to the top. The various characters in Root all have their own way to win, which makes for interesting gameplay. So don’t judge a board game by its cover!

#4: Hanabi

Hanabi, meaning fireworks in Japanese (花火), is an exciting and fun card game that requires teamwork. Unlike in traditional card games, Hanabi allows you to see the cards that others have in their hands instead of the ones that you’re holding up, since they are faced outwards. Sounds confusing, but you will get used to it after a while and it’s definitely worth it in the end! The goal of the game is for you and your fellow players to create a fantastic fireworks show, which can only be achieved if you work together effectively.

#5: Codenames

Codenames is an awesome game centered around the theme of espionage where two teams go head-to-head. For every team, one of the players must give one-word hints to their teammate, who has the task of unraveling the meaning of this message and using it to guess the right words out of an arrangement of cards on the table. The team that guesses their words the fastest wins, which is why players must connect multiple words with one hint, or else the other team will be quicker and take the victory. Robert Zeleny (T2), an enthusiastic Board Game club member, adds that, “This is a great game to try out with your family and friends. Not only will it test your vocabulary, but you’ll also find out how much you and your teammates actually understand each other.”

#6: Photosynthesis

This is a fun family board game in which the main objective is to get points by giving your trees enough sunlight for them to conduct photosynthesis. Be sure to strategically position your trees, since another tree casting a shadow over yours will prevent any growth or photosynthesis from taking place. To make things more interesting and realistic, the sun rotates every turn so shadows will be cast differently each time. So go play this game and start growing your own forest!

#7: Love Letter

All players in Love Letter become the suitors of the beautiful princess Annette, and want nothing more than to win her love. However, the princess has locked herself up in the castle after the arrest of her mother, which has deeply upset her. This forces the admirers to rely on the staff of the castle to bring the princess their fiery and romantic love letters, that aim at winning her over. Every day, or round, the suitors have a new opportunity to express their love to the princess, but at the end of the day only one letter will reach her. Will the charms and wits of the players be enough to steal the princess’ heart?

#8: Dixit

In this beautifully illustrated game, players need to use their imagination to describe cards with creative imagery in such a way that only a few of the other players will understand their train of thought. Say too much, and everyone will guess the right answer, but say too little, and no one will understand. Find the perfect balance? You win!

#9: Splendor

Splendor is a fantastic game in which strategy is key. Players are transported back in time to the Renaissance age, where they become merchants looking for opportunities to excel and gain recognition. Tokens have to be used wisely to increase prestige and bonuses, which get more grand and important as the game progresses. Once a noble patron visits you, you have won the game as it’s the ultimate sign of success!

#10: The Mind

The Mind is a card game that you can explain to anybody in a few minutes, which makes it great for a moment when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands. The objective is to work together to put cards that range from zero to 100 in the correct order. Easy peasy right? Well no. This seemingly simple goal has to be accomplished with no communication except for body language, which creates a bigger challenge than you might expect! Oh, and the more people you play with, the harder it gets.

#11: Virus

Virus is a quick but fun card game in which players win once they have four healthy organs. They can achieve this either by vaccinating their own body or by infecting others with viruses to prevent them from winning. This game is great for playing in big groups since up to 6 players can participate. The person who recommended this game, Estela Santos Torres (T2), says that, “It’s a really fun game because it’s completely unexpected what will happen, since you may be almost there and your whole set of cards can be taken away. It’s very fun and engaging.”

#12: Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga is a mysterious card game that’s centered around the theme of dark magic. The smallest details bring this game to life, such as the rule that the player who last saw a black cat gets to start. Players must cast pelican and owl spells and use garlic as a form of protection, all to reach their goal of obtaining the smallest amount of points possible by the end of the game. But be careful to stay on your toes since the game may finish when you least expect it with your cunning enemy declaring: “Baba Yaga!”

#13: The Quest for El Dorado

As the name reveals, The Quest for El Dorado is an exciting and adventurous board game in which players get sucked into a world of hot deserts, lively rainforests, and cool rivers and lakes. Each player strives to be the quickest to lead their team to the lost city of El Dorado, by strategically balancing their attention between buying much needed equipment or moving forward. The board game fanatic Robert Zeleny (T2) states, “I very much enjoy playing this game because the game board is arranged differently every time, like in The Settlers of Catan. This means you’ll have to alter your strategies every time you play unless you’ve figured out a winning one.”

#14: Azul

In this whimsical game, players attempt to create beautiful patterns with colorful tiles as fast as possible to obtain points. To take the lead, players must outmaneuver their opponents who have the same goal. Definitely give this fun family game a shot!

#15: Qwixx

Qwixx is fast and entertaining. Players score points by rolling dice, adding two of the rolled numbers together, and deciding whether they will cross off the number in one of the colorful rows. There’s a reason that this game is a Mensa Select since players must cleverly consider their options from a mathematical standpoint to make quick choices that will optimize the number of points they can get.

#16: 7 Wonders (& duel version)

Last but certainly not least, 7 Wonders allows each of its players to be in charge of one of the greatest cities of ancient times. It’s their responsibility to build and further develop these cities through three unique ages into stunning metropoles. Players need to use their resources well and keep an eye out for their opponents, who are their fierce competition. Be on the lookout for the duel version of this game, which is often seen as the more competitive variation.

If you’ve made it this far down the list, I hope reading about these awesome games has convinced you to start playing a few! Maybe 2021 will be the year of in-person games after all…

Did we miss anything? Comment below and let us know what your favorite games are.