Play On: 5 Great Card and Board Games


If you walk down the board game aisle at any department store, it can seem like the number of games available just keeps going up. It can be tempting to grab the first game you see, especially if you’re in a hurry to start up a family board game night. But there are some games that are better than others.

The games below are from my personal favorites — you may find that you have to play through more than a few to find the ones you and your fellow players will particularly love. It’s worthwhile to find a local game store that offers you the chance to play through games at a in-store game night before making a purchase. Plus, this list includes a few board games that probably aren’t going to be at a department store. (See also: Score! How to Host a Great Game Night)

Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan has been paving the way from more traditional board games, like Monopoly, to less-well-known alternatives for years. It’s for good reason, because the game, which lets you trade resources and build towns and roads, is a ton of fun.


This card-based game is officially meant for ages 13 and up, but we’ve played it successfully with younger kids. Dominion’s mechanics make it different every time you play by including different sets of cards. There are also several different expansion packs available.


Looking for something quick and easy to pick up? Citadels is a great game that can be played by up to seven players if you have a big group. It’s also particularly easy; you can master the game in just a few minutes.

Robo Rally

Ever wanted to play with robots of your very own? Robo Rally lets you and your fellow players pit robots against each other and against a very unforgiving board.

7 Wonders

You can build the wonders of ancient civilizations in 7 Wonders, along with discovering new technologies and competing with militaries. If you’re a fan of computer games like Civilization, 7 Wonders can provide a nice transition.

Got a few favorites of your own? Please share them in the comments — personally, I’m always looking for the next great board game.

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Guest's picture

If you like Settlers, Carcassonne is a gauranteed hit. It's much the same idea of resource allocation, but a bit more simplified (which isn't to say it lacks strategy and insight, just a little easier to grasp the first time you play it). We always introduce our friends to Carcassonne before we break out Settlers (or, worse, Settlers with the Knights and Cities expansion!).

Guest's picture
Adam Skinner

I'd swap in The Resistance for Citadels. Citadels plays too long with a larger number of players, but is pretty fun with a smaller number.

7 Wonders is a fine game, and has a lot of mass appeal, but Civ building it is not.

The others are pretty solid choices; I personally find Settlers of Catan boring, and would probably swap in Egezia or Stone Age for that selection.

Card games are bound to be a big hit as well. Try Die Sieben Siegel (aka Zing, aka Wizard Extreme), Coloretto, Sticheln, For Sale, and Flaschenteufel (aka The Bottle Imp).

Guest's picture

I really like Thurn and Taxis (which is the image on this post) and my new favorite is Power Grid. It's a Rio Grande Game (similar to Ticket to Ride) but has a lot of resource management in it. You have to buy power plants and resources to power your houses.

Guest's picture

Some other good popular games-
Ticket to Ride
Small World
San Juan (or Puerto Rico)

Guest's picture

We are also fans of Dominion, but our favorite is Agricola. We play a lot of those sort of strategy/resource management games, and I haven't encountered one that has as much replay value--partly because there is no "one way" to win. There's a bit of a learning curve in the first game, but we're always eager to introduce new players to it. We like to keep a mix of games around--some complex, like Agricola, but also a handful of funny beer-and-pretzel games, like those made by Steve Jackson or Cheap Ass Games (Captain Park's Imaginary Polar Expedition is a fave). I'm not familiar with the last three games, but will check them out.

Guest's picture

Ticket to Ride is the new favorite in my house. Easy to learn and so much fun. I think we've played it every night for the past two weeks! And the kids (all adult age, BTW) friends have been coming over to play, as well.