My Six Recommendations for Video Gamers

A friend just sent me this Kotaku post, in which they recommend six board games that all video gamers should play. Their list was comprised of:

  • Cyclades
  • Risk: Legacy
  • The Fury of Dracula
  • Descent
  • Catacombs
  • The Resistance

I don't really agree with this list, at least not entirely. Perhaps the problem is that I've only played 2 of the 6 games on the list (though I'm pretty familiar with the other four). I thought it'd be fun (while I'm still working on longer, more serious posts) to create my own list.

My recommendations are based on a few assumptions; Video gamers are used to playing immediately and having constant satisfaction. A game that has really long, clunky rules or a really lengthy play time will not appeal. I also think board games that are richly thematic will be far more appealing to video gamers used to normal maps and Unreal 3 Engine graphics.

Essentially, I believe video gamers would prefer lighter, more accessible, highly thematic games. Here's my list of six:

Ascending Empires: This game is really easy to learn and is quite elegant. It has many of the elements of a good RTS (build an economy, scout, tech trees), direct conflict, and a little bit of table negotiation. Furthermore, it has great game components and the dexterity feature is really entertaining. I think Ascending Empires provides the tactile and visceral satisfaction that really makes board games stand out.

Elder Sign: This is a great co-op game that's oozing theme. It plays rather quickly with up to 8 players, which is no small feat. I think video gamers would be drawn to the art, the dice rolling, and the ornate game pieces, yet be comforted by how easy it is to play.

Memoir '44: I think this list absolutely needs a war game. If I have to pick one, especially one that's accessible, Memoir '44 is the obvious choice. This game is ridiculously easy to learn, has great elements that will remind gamers of RTS games, and has amazing game components. Its direct head-to-head nature will also appeal to the Xbox Live generation. Let the smack talk flow!

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork: This game is easy to learn, ridiculously thematic, a little funny and juvenile, and confrontational. It has just enough strategy to keep you interested, but not so much you really need to pay that much attention (at least not to just have fun). This is a good gateway game that I've used many times to entertain folks more traditionally interested in video games.

The Resistance OR Nanuk: I think The Resistance was a great recommendation, actually. It's dirt cheap, takes minutes to learn, and plays with up to 10 people. It also involves a great deal of hilarious shouting and accusations. Jerks used to calling each other horrid things via Xbox Live will feel right at home.

I also want to offer up an alternative, which is Nanuk. This is also a richly social game filled with bluffing and backstabbing and shouting and constant use of the word "dooooooom." Both games make everyone laugh and they're easy to learn. I think the FPS sniper addicts will have fun here.

Risk: Legacy: I haven't played this game, but I want to. The game is ridiculously innovative with permanent choices that affect the board and the rules. People who imported their Mass Effect characters to the sequels take note.  It's also a familiar and comforting presence: Risk. The one thing all of my video game friends have in common is that when I say "board game," they say "Risk." It's true -- people love Risk. I agree with Kotaku yet again here.

What would be YOUR six recommendations?


Swap out Ascending Empires with Catacombs, and Nanuk with Cash 'n Guns. Also, include Can't Stop.

The Resistance. (You're right, it's awesome.)
Pandemic. (It's awesome. Also simple, strongly themed, and high-pressure.)
Flash Duel. (It plays fast.)
Guillotine, perhaps. (It's just a good gateway game in general.)
Saint Petersburg, perhaps. (Strategy is key, but it's easy to pick up the basic strategy in this one.)
Doom: The Board Game. (Complex, but really good; and based on a video game!)