After a few weeks into our first lockdown last year Chis and I started pulling out board games to keep us entertained during our many evenings at home. It became one of our favourite activities and we’ve been steadily adding to our board game collection.
Our Favourite Lockdown Board Games
After a year of entertaining ourselves these 10 board games have become our go-to favourites.
If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen some of our epic games of Gloomhaven in my stories. I may have even spent a whole weekend creating custom foam core trays to keep all the game pieces organized. You love my geekiness, admit it.
This game is epic (and heavy at ~21 lbs). Gloomhaven is a collaborative “dungeon crawler” that you play as part of a campaign, tackling different scenarios (and facing different monsters) each time you play. It took us about a year to get to the point where we’ve finished all the scenarios we’ve unlocked – so our option would be to end the campaign and start again (taking a different route perhaps to unlock different scenarios we were blocked from the first time) OR continue our campaign using the Forgotten Circles expansion. It’s taken us a year to get t.
Yeah, we decided to continue with the Gloomhaven expansion, Forgotten Circles. We’ve only done one scenario in this game so far, but I love how it builds on the original letting you continue your campaign for just a little longer. Now that we’ve got the expansion set up I might be thinking of making my own bigger box with organizers to hold everything…
p.s. If you’re REALLY interested in Gloomhaven, here’s a tip – there are some cards in the game you are told to destroy, but we just put them in a separate envelope so we can start again from scratch if we ever want to. We also use these erasable pens and reusable game stickers so nothing is permanent.
Okay yes, pulling our Pandemic board game to play during a pandemic was probably a little too “on the nose” but we couldn’t help ourselves (I was also one of those people who watched Contagion in our first week of lockdown). This collaborative game is very entertaining but ridiculously hard to win. I mean, we hardly ever win. We actually played one game last year where we lost on the very first turn.
Because we’re gluttons for punishment, I gave Chris the Pandemic On the Brink Expansion for his birthday last summer. It makes the original game even more impossible to win by adding another virus and ridiculous crisis cards. We love that it adds some variation to the game, and hey- when we do win it’s pretty amazing.
While I tend to prefer collaborative board games, Scythe is one of my absolute favourites (and it is definitely not collaborative based on the number of times Chis has gone to war with me). You play as competing factions trying to control resources and grow your empire. This is also a really fun game to play solo…you know…if you’re into that kind of thing. https://amzn.to/3ffEV1f
Technically we have a few Scythe expansions but The Rise of Fenris is my favourite. It adds a some new ways to play the original game including a collaborative mode! I was super excited about this collaborative option so Chris gave me this expansion for my birthday. We have yet to win in collaborative mode, but as you’ve probably figured out by now, we love a challenge. If collaborative isn’t your thing, the campaign mode is also really fun and adds some new and interesting characters and factions to the mix.
Blackout Hong Kong is probably the weirdest game on this list and I say that because, in my opinion, the storyline doesn’t make any sense. But, if you can put that to the side, the mechanics of the game are still fun and the strategy is interesting. This game is not collaborative, but I feel like it should have been instead you are racing to collect resources/points…to end a blackout? Don’t worry about it. It’s fun.
I feel like I can’t leave Settlers of Catan off this list even though we don’t play it that often (I will choose Scythe over Settler every time). This is one of the first board games Chris and I got and we play it every year with his family at Christmas. Since the lockdown started we’ve also been playing it virtually using Steam and Tabletop Simulator which helped us keep our little tradition going. If you’ve never played I still highly recommend it, and I understand it’s a great family game too – the age range on the box is 10+ but there is also a Junior version that makes the game accessible to kids as young as 6!
Okay, so these are technically card games, not board games, but they are great for a quick game on the front porch with a beer on a summer evening. If you ever walk past our house and see us laughing and yelling, this is probably why.
The goal is to make your family suffer the most while making your opponent’s day better. Gloom is hilarious, a little morbid, and fun (and the transparent cards are super cool).
The Grizzled is played with a combination of tiles and cards. It’s interesting and collaborative, but like many games on this list – very, very hard to win.