When you think about board games, what comes to mind? Games like Scrabble, Life, Clue, and if you had a hankering for games that take all day, maybe Risk? Perhaps they were things you played as a kid on family nights, but today you would prefer to watch paint dry rather than sit through a three hour slog of Monopoly all while desperately hoping you’ll land on your greedy nephew’s Boardwalk hotel so you can declare bankruptcy and go do something – anything – else.
But what if I told you board game popularity is on the rise again? In the last year alone sales grew by 28% in the US, and board games are a multi-billion dollar business worldwide. What’s driving this growth? Well, primarily a new, better generation of board games. These new games drive enjoyment for all players throughout the entirety of the game. Problems that make games less fun, such as the runaway winner problem in Monopoly, or the problem in Life that the game is mostly resolved by who gets more lucky spins, are generally problems of the past. Imagine a game featuring even more depth of strategy and decision making than Risk but only taking an hour to play; the newer generation accomplishes this.
Not only are these games demonstrably better designed and more fun, but they also promote something our digital life just cannot duplicate: Real. Humans. Interacting. This interaction promotes pro-social behavior. Unlike online video games where particularly toxic behaviors can be hidden behind an anonymous username, board games require you to actually not be a jerk, unless you want to be confined to solitaire games forever.
At Half Price Books, we have embraced this new generation of games, and our selection features some of the most popular games available, all at 20% off their MSRP. Here’s just a few of what we have to offer and why you must play them:
Catan is widely thought of as THE starting point for the revival of the board game industry. Your role in the game is to build up settlements and cities on the newly discovered island of Catan and try to be the first to score ten points. A relatively simple game that plays 2-4 players in about an hour, it features hallmarks of modern gaming like resource management, building structures and area map control, as well as a few classic mechanics like dice rolling and card trading. If you want to see the roots of modern gaming and get a taste of what is out there, pick this one up. Or, if you have younger children, check out Catan Jr.
Perhaps competitive games aren’t your thing. Can’t we all just get along? Well, there is an entire genre of board games that focus on cooperation between players toward a common goal. Pandemic (and its multitude of spin offs) has players take on the roles of doctors, scientists and engineers trying to stop a terrifying spread of super bugs to save the world’s population. 2-4 players work together in a race against the game itself by playing cards, traveling around the world and treating and curing diseases. You either win or lose the game together! The game has multiple difficulty levels so you can find the right amount of challenge for your players and takes less than an hour to play.
Party games have even gotten a makeover! On the surface the hit game “Codenames” might seem like a simple word game, but it has the ability to bring together whole groups of people of any age, gamers and non-gamers alike, for some friendly competition. Two teams square off in front of a grid of 25 words with each team trying to guess the words, or “codenames,” that belong to their team before the other team guesses theirs. One player on each team serves as the clue giver, but there is a huge catch: they are only permitted to give single word clues. This game is a masterpiece in design: simple enough that anyone can play, intricate enough to really stimulate the mind and short enough to keep people coming back to play it over and over again!
By the way, I still love Scrabble, Life, Clue and Monopoly, used versions of which we also sell.
These are only a few of the games we have to offer, so visit your local store and see what we have in stock. Be sure to ask our employees to help you find the perfect game for your group. Also be sure to check your local stores’ calendar for when they are hosting their next open game night!
So, do you have a favorite board game? We’d love for you to share it with us. Comment below and post a picture!
Brad Shankle is the data analyst for Half Price Books and a professional board game publisher with Doomsday Robots Game Company.