5 Modern Board Games More Fun Than Monopoly
Because let’s face it–Monopoly is pretty horrible.
Sure, you might have fond childhood memories of finally getting that hotel on Park Place, of narrowly avoiding jail only to watch someone land on your railroad, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Do you know why you enjoyed Monopoly as a little kid? Because you didn’t know any better. A game that takes forever, where one player is pretty much going to win, but they force you to keep playing until they’ve taken your very last brightly-colored dollar isn’t a game–it’s a way to ruin friendships. And Monopoly isn’t the only offender in the old-school board game arena (an arena made out of Lincoln Logs, Ki’nex, and Legos, in case you were wondering), I’m also lumping in games like Risk, Life, and Chutes and Ladders here–which, granted, is a kid’s game, but still. There are plenty of games out there that are actually fun and require more than the gods of Luck smiling upon you to win.
Here are 5 that I personally enjoy.
1) Settlers of Catan
Ah…the king of modern board games…I heard of Settlers of Catan long ago in college, but I’d never played it, or even seen a game until I watched it on Wil Wheaton’s YouTube show TableTop. I was curious to see what it was like, since I’d never played, and thought it was really cool. Fast-forward one Christmas, and I’d gotten myself a copy and immediately got my friends and family to play it with me.
Settlers of Catan is a game where you and your friends settle…Catan. OK, so there’s more to it than that. Each hexagonal tile represents a different source of resources: forests produce lumber, pastures give sheep, mountains give ore, etc. You roll two dice and whatever number they add up to tells you what hexes produce resources this turn. (In the picture above, a 10 would produce wheat and sheep.) Whosoever has a settlement or city adjacent to those hexes gets those resources, and then the fun begins!
You see, no player can win (unless they are crazy, super lucky) a game of Catan on their lonesome. The key to Settlers is trading with other people, and since I’m someone who actually thinks economics is pretty cool, that makes it even more fun for me. There will be one ore two resources that, for whatever reason, you’re not going to be able to produce regularly over the course of a game, so you’re going to have to rely on other people to get you those sheep you desperately need to build a new settlement. (It almost always comes down to sheep for me. Sheep, or wheat.)
Another nice thing about Settlers of Catan is that the win condition (first player to reach 10 points wins) means that everyone gets to play the game all the way to the end, unlike Monopoly or Risk, where the 3rd, 4th, or 5th person gets picked off and then just kinda hangs out until the game is over. Plus, Settlers of Catan has all kinds of amazing expansion packs that really adds to the game without taking too much time to figure out. (I’d personally recommend Traders and Barbarians. Fish = an incredibly underrated resource.)
2) Star Fluxx
Star Fluxx (from Looney Labs) is actually a variation on a card game called (you guessed it) Fluxx. The game starts off simple: Draw one card, play one card, but then it quickly gets more complicated. Unlike most games, some of the cards that you draw and play affect the way you draw and play cards. You might end up with everyone having to draw seven and playing two, or drawing one and playing five, or any other odd combination thereof. You also have keepers (some of which grant you cool specials), and creepers (which cause problems for you and are difficult to get rid of). Some of the rules you can play affect how many keepers/creepers you can have at a time, which can be irritating, and I’ll explain why.
Star Fluxx is also different from most games in that how you win the game is always changing. Just like the rules, keepers, and creepers, players can lay down goals. The first person to meet this goal (which are almost always “Have Cards X and Y”) wins the game. But since anyone can play a new goal almost at any time, that makes long-term strategy a bit of a tricky thing. Not impossible, mind you–just tricky.
The game can be a bit of a challenge to learn, but once you have, it’s a quick game that can be a lot of fun. Plus, geeky sci-fi references abound, so if you enjoy Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, Lost in Space, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe (and I could go on), you’ll like Star Fluxx.