What Makes a Great Board Game?

The most important part of selecting a good board game: Know your audience.

When choosing a game you need to know who will be playing. A great game or six year olds may be incredibly boring for a group of junior higher. Also, simply being someone’s “favorite game ever” isn’t enough.

Brain Food

Think of great board games like food for your brain:

  1. When choosing real food, there is no single dish that everyone will like. Tastes differ even among the most experienced eaters. Same with games. Two veteran board gamers may like completely different games.
  2. Just because someone else loves a food doesn’t mean you will like it. The same goes with games. You will need to try different types of games and see what works.
  3. Board games require mental digestion. You have to read and understand the rules. There’s lots of trial and error. Some games basically Ramen and others are steak dinners. Enjoy the journey of learning a game is just as important as final destination of mastering the ins and outs for victory.

With that in mind, these board game reviews are to encourage you to experiment with new game styles and develop a diverse pallet of board game tastes and experiences.

5 Keys for Choosing a Great Board Game

  1. Interests and preferences of the players
    • Do you cooperative play?
    • Do players want to solve problems?
  2. Player attention spans / Time requirements
    • It is very frustrating to get 30 minutes into a game and fall 10 minutes short of finishing! How do you know who wins?!
  3. Age and maturity of the players
    • Just because they’re young doesn’t mean it can’t be complex.
    • The opposite is also true…
  4. How many players are expected
  5. The competitive nature of your group
    • Does your group just want to play for fun and conversation?
    • Are there people in this group you’re okay never talking to again?

Enjoy the journey

Books and board games are not infallible, however. Simply making something into a board game does not make it good, or interesting, or worth your time and money. I’ll try to point you toward some for-sure winners and let you enjoy the adventure of giving some of these games a shot for yourself!

What other ways to engage your brain and have a lot of fun doing it? Check out How to Choose a Great Book.