We live in a golden age for board games. They’re seeing a surge in popularity as sales soared during the Covid-19 lockdowns. And since crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter have helped lower the barrier to entry for new designers and publishers, there is an increasing selection of games to choose from.
Although many new games are mostly made of cardboard, they are complex, memorable and educational experiences – at the level of the most technologically advanced computer-aided simulations. With historical, political, scientific, linguistic and socio-technological topics, there is something for everyone.
For lovers of nature, ecology and biology, span by Elizabeth Hargrave is a beautifully presented, non-confrontational game that celebrates the diversity of birds. Players earn points for attracting unique species to their reserve. It contains hundreds of beautifully illustrated bird cards with special skills that work together when living in a range of environments.
For a more competitive experience, Dominant species by Chad Jensen simulates the survival of the fittest. As a long and strategic game for six players, large animal classes fight fiercely and adaptively for a number of environmental niches in order to become the most dominant group before the next Ice Age.
Focus on climate change, CO2 Second chance by Vital Lacerda is a semi-collaborative experience with players serving as CEOs of energy companies. You compete for market share by trading carbon credits and building greener power plants. Can you solve the world’s climate problems?
If (unlike me) you haven’t had enough of the coronavirus crisis, you might want to try Matt Leacocks pandemicin which you fight as a team against the spread of diseases around the world. It’s a collaborative game where players win or lose together. If you want more of this tense, rewarding experience, pandemic heritage is worth a look. As in real life, choices have lasting effects. The game board and rules “evolve” irreversibly over the course of 12 months, providing an experience that is unique to each group of players.
consumption (not the TB type) is a lockdown pantry planners game developed by nutritionist Karen Knoblaugh. Players shop for food groups, prepare recipes and burn calories. You gain by achieving a balanced diet and active lifestyle while minimizing food waste.
For space enthusiasts, young astronomers and science fiction fans, or if you’ve just had enough of the earth and its infectious diseases, The search for Planet-X by Matthew O’Malley and Ben Rosset offers a deductive puzzle in which you are astronomers searching for a mysterious planet on the edge of our solar system. Players survey the sky, make observations, publish theories, and take notes of each other’s movements.
For flight engineers Phil Eklunds High limit provides a detailed simulation of mission planning and execution for space companies. With the “most complete representation of the solar system in any game,” this is for those who aren’t afraid of calculations and complex plans. Then you have Jacob Fryxelius Terraforming Mars, A strategic game that has a cult following. You take on the role of space entrepreneurs trying to make the red planet habitable, deploying space elevators, braking ammonia asteroids in the air, and introducing rock-eating bacteria.
If you can’t meet other people due to coronavirus regulations but still want to play board games, check out the wide range of titles to choose from Table simulator on Steam.