an annotated list by David Gray, teen blogger

Board games or tabletop games seemed to have gained popularity over the last few years, especially with hilarious new additions like Exploding Kittens. Board games can be be therapeutic; they help build relationships between friends and acquaintances, diffuse tension and ease social interactions.  Some games are educational, helping to expand the mind and increase skills, but mostly, they’re fun and make you laugh.

So get up, shut off Pokemon Go, and get together with friends and family for a tabletop game.

Here are five of our favorites from Teen Game Nights at the library.


Carcassonne, the world-famous French city, known for its imposing fortifications erected during the Antiquity and the Middle Ages. This fortress, surrounded by magnificent walls, still stands today as one of the most unique French cities. In this game, players must develop the area around Carcossonne. They will place their followers onto roads and into cities, monasteries, and fields. Only those who make the most judicious placements will gain the points required to win the game.

Players each have 8 wooden figures called meeples and a starting tile is laid out. Players will blindly draw a tile and then choose where to place it. The tiles have features of cities, roads, or cloisters. Tiles edges must match with the tile edges next to them. Players can then decide whether or not they want to place a meeple on one of the features. Features will score points for the players with the most meeples in it. The player with the most points wins.

Carcassonne is a competitive game between two to five people that every game group needs.

download (1)Pandemic

It’s a pandemic! This international award-winning game gives you and up to 3 other players the momentous task of fighting against 4 deadly diseases, before they break out and destroy humanity. As part of a disease control team, it is up to you to decide how to combat these plagues, and develop a cure, before it’s too late.

Choose from seven different roles, each with unique traits and advantages to help you fight the diseases. But be careful, if there are too many outbreaks, then it’s game over, and humanity is lost.

Travel the world, build research stations,  prevent outbreaks, and finally develop — and administer — the cure to the world. Can you save humanity?

download (2)Ticket to Ride

Inspired by the events of Around the World in 80 Days, Ticket to Ride pits 2-5 players in a fierce competition with a simple premise: whoever can travel to the most cities in North America by rail wins!

Ticket to Ride is a strategy railway-themed adventure game, always inspiring strong competition between its players. Each turn players try to build Routes between two cities on the map, corresponding to the cities listed on their Destination Tickets. But be careful! There are only a limited number of paths to take, and a whole lot of cities to get to.

To build routes, players must draw and place Train Car cards. All the colors on the Train Car cards correspond to the colored routes on the map, and must be placed on the matching color to build a route. Locomotives are multicolored, and function as a wild card of sorts. These may be used as a part of any set in a route.

The game is won by scoring the most points. This is done by building routes between adjacent cities on the map, creating a continuous path between two cities listed on your Destination Ticket(s), and having the Longest Continuous Path at the end of the game. The game ends when one player’s cache of plastic trains is reduced to 0, 1, or 2 trains at the end of their turn. Once this occurs, each player may have one final turn. At this point, whoever has the most points wins!

Ticket to Ride is a must have for any board game group, providing tons of fun in just 30-60 minutes.

download (3)Forbidden Island

Forbiddem Island is a collaborative team game with a harrowing objective: Find and take the four ancient relics from this perilous paradise before it sinks into the ground. You and your team of adventurers must work together to forestall the sinking of the island while capturing the four valuable treasures. Once you’ve found all four, you must escape the island by helicopter to win!

At the beginning of the game, all players will be randomly given one of six unique Adventurer cards, each with a special ability to help find the treasure. This is a team game, so collaboration and communication is key. Additionally, every player is given two Treasure cards, invaluable to the collection of the relics. Each turn, Flood Cards are drawn, signaling another step closer to a potential watery demise. Move your character, shore up a tile of the Island (which removes the Flood from that tile), exchange Adventure cards with other players, and finally, capture the treasures!

But be careful! If any of the treasures sink into the ocean, it’s game over. If tiles underneath any players sink and there’s no adjacent tiles to swim to, it’s game over. And if your escape at Fool’s Landing sinks, then it’s game over! The Forbidden Island is not to be trifled with, and any mistake could cost you and your teammates the game.

Forbidden Island is a lively game for ages 10 and up. Find your fortune!

download (4)Dominion

If conquest is more your taste, try Dominion! As the ruler of a small and somewhat quaint kingdom, it is up to you to expand and bring order to the realms around you. But it’s not as simple as it seems: other players will compete against you in a race to claim and control the most land, to see who can create the best Dominion! Conscript minions, construct buildings, expand and improve your castle, and bring new riches to your land in your efforts to make the best kingdom possible by the end of the game.

Dominion functions using a deck of 500 cards. By “purchasing” these cards from the deck and electing how to use them throughout the game, your personal deck evolves as the game continues. These cards act as your dominion, and as your collection expands, so does your kingdom. Whoever has the most victory points in their deck at the end of the game wins!

Expand your kingdom. Build a Dominion!

B000W7JWUA-2-lgThe Settlers of Catan

Create a civilization! In this intense and thoughtful resource management game, players must fight for dominance on the island of Catan. To do so, everyone must build settlements, cities, and roads to connect them.

Each turn, dice are rolled to determine what resources the island has produced for the settlers. Depending on the outcome of the roll, some tiles will produce an abundance of resources, while other tiles will leave settlers with barely a sheep to their name. It is up to you to create a balanced and plentiful network, in order to maximize your chances of gaining and keeping resources. Using these resources, players may create roads, towns, or cities, or purchase development cards, which provide a special bonus that may be integral to your success in the game.

Not only do you have to compete with other players for the limited spaces on the island, but you must compete with the whims of the island itself. A single poor roll of the die could result in a robber stealing your resources, and without good planning you may find yourself without any good resources or buildings to your name.

Settlers of Catan has had wild success in recent years because of its unique ability to appeal to both experienced veterans of the game as well as many newcomers. Like Monopoly, Catan will have you go from hating your friends for blocking your trade route, to laughing with them as a robber exacts your just revenge.

Catan is designed for 3-4 players, and will keep you coming back for more with its nearly unlimited replayability!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *