So, you might own Catan, Splendor, and some other games but want something a bit more substantial you can sink your teeth into but nothing too complex that'll just bamboozle you when you open the rulebook. I got you covered, friends. Here are a few games that'll satisfy that need just fine.
I know, Slate just did an article on it, but I also gotta say that Wingspan is perfect for jumping up a bit in complexity but not too much. It's one of our favorite games, and we've played it dozens of times. The theme is great, the presentation is phenomenal (typical of a Stonemaier Games product), and the gameplay is imminently satisfying as you fill up your bird habitats. While some board game enthusiasts have tried to decry this game's success, I personally feel like the success is well deserved, and it's worth every penny.
Everdell is a brilliant worker-placement, tableau-building game that scales well for all player counts, including a really streamlined solo mode. The art and components of this game are absolutely adorable, and it's also one of our most beloved games. This game hits the table A LOT, even without buying any expansions or anything. It's a great way to introduce the concepts of worker placement, resource management, and chaining card effects. Highly recommend this one, as it will comfortably sit in my top 10 for a long time to come.
Do you enjoy amazing production quality? Cute themes? Tetris-style tile placement? Cards with hidden and public scoring goals? Endless fun? Well, The Isle of Cats is for you. It comes with two modes of play -- standard and family (along with a great solo variant) -- that will accommodate all types of gamers. It's probably my favorite pure tile-laying game on the market and will blow your mind the first time you sit down to play it. Also, who doesn't want to just put a bunch of cats on their personal boat?
7 Wonders is a modern classic that really popularized the mechanism of card drafting (taking one card from a selection of cards and then passing the remainder to an opponent for them to select a card until all cards have been selected). This is a great introduction to drafting and civilization building, all within a gorgeous production that takes about 30-45 minutes. There's also plenty of interaction, as you are constantly trading resources with your neighbors to your left and right, so fair warning that this game is best at 3+ players.
Fresco is brilliant. My mom loves this game. Everyone I've taught it to loves this game. You're competing to be the best painter to paint as many sections of a fresco on the ceiling in a basilica. The paint cubes are so satisfying to hold and mix and spend, and deciding which time to wake up in the morning is always a fun decision. I can't say too many good things about Fresco.
Wow. Five Tribes is a thinker, my friends. But really satisfying to play. Each turn is comprised of moving meeples around a board mancala-style and triggering abilities when they land. It's also a game that introduces the concept of currency as victory points and bidding for turn order. I HIGHLY recommend Five Tribes, as the table presence is undeniable.
Tiny Towns is elegance in a box. It's a bingo-style game in which each player, on their turn, will call out a particular building resource. Then, each player will have to place that named resource on their board to maximize their ability to construct one of several building types and score points based on their location in their grid. It's simple but deep. I think this one will be a hit for a lot of folks. It has an engaging solo mode and supports up to six players with the base box alone.
Credit: All images come from Boardgamegeek.
Or, the writing gamer...
An infrequent review of my collection of hobby board games, coverage of the board game hobby at-large, lists, purchasing advice, and maybe some writing updates here and there.