You’ve got a copy of Risk or Sorry! collecting dust on a shelf. Or maybe the last annual game of Monopoly led to tears and slammed doors. But we’re here to tell you – the board game industry is in the midst of a full-fledged golden age, with innovative gameplay systems, polished production values and star designers.
Here are some of our favourite modern classics for people who love travel – all are based on real places around the world. Each of these provides a level of depth you can’t find in a simple ‘roll-and-move’ game, but they aren’t rules-heavy or intimidating for first-timers. They’re known as ‘gateway’ games, so step through one and explore.
The Tōkaidō road of Japan’s Edo period was a seaside route between Kyoto and Edo (modern-day Tokyo). In this gorgeous game, players are travellers walking from one city to the other, in search of the most fulfilling journey. You must decide whether you want to focus on seeing beautiful landscapes, collecting souvenirs, having encounters with locals, relaxing in the hot springs, visiting temples or eating the most delicious meals.
Despite the tricky decisions to make, this is a zen-like game with stunning watercolour-style artwork in a minimalist white aesthetic.
2-5 players; 45 minutes; Age: 8+
Ticket to Ride
With more than 6 million copies sold, this modern classic is quickly becoming as ubiquitous as Battleship or Clue. Players take on the role of railroad barons, laying down train tracks between cities to build the most extensive, or most efficient, network of stations. Collect sets of cards to claim routes – the longer the route the more points it’s worth. Just make sure to connect the cities listed on your tickets before the end of the game, or you’ll lose points instead of gaining them.
2-5 players; 30-60 minutes; Age: 8+
This classic introduced the ‘one-against-many’ system that has become a modern board game staple. One player is Mister X, a criminal mastermind on the loose in London. All the other players work together as detectives, trying to corner Mister X. But it’s not as easy as it sounds – Mister X spends most of the game in hiding, and only shows himself on rare occasions. It’s a high-pressure thrill for detective and criminal alike, and even highlights some of London’s most iconic landmarks.
3-6 players; 45 minutes; Age: 10+
Carcassonne is a city in southern France with a fortified citadel dating back to the Gallo-Roman period. It was a key strategic point between the Atlantic and Mediterranean for centuries. In this award-winner, players take turns laying tiles with bits of roads, walled towns, fields and cloisters on them. When you place a tile, it must match up with the tiles on every side. You may also choose to put your own coloured ‘meeple’ on a tile you place – once a feature is completed, any meeples on those tiles score points for the players who placed them.
2-5 players; 30-45 minutes; Age: 8+
The Pyramids of Giza; The Colossus of Rhodes; The Lighthouse of Alexandria – these were some of the real-life wonders of the ancient world. Take control of one of these regions and decide how you want to build your city. Will you put your resources toward building your wonder and other civic structures? Maybe you want your city to be known for its scientific discoveries. Or perhaps you will invite commerce – or war – with your neighbours.
3-7 players; 30 minutes; Age: 10+
If you’re just dying to chuck some dice, this gorgeously illustrated buccaneer adventure is a more strategic spin on the old roll-and-move system. Race around the island of Jamaica as one of several real-life pirates of the Caribbean. Along the way feel free to steal some treasure and battle your opponents.
2-6 players; 30-60 minutes; Age: 8+
This article was first published on www.lonelyplanet.com.