All of my life I’ve been a fan of Board Games. At home I have a big chest full of board and card games and I have even more of those in my iPad these days. Without further adue here are my all-time top three*:
I always enjoyed playing it but now, after reading a couple of books about game design I’m even more in awe in how elegant the game actually is. It is very well balanced, easy to learn and has mechanisms (robber) to equalize a bit when someone get too far ahead. The game can be played by an experienced player together with a novice and both would still enjoy the game (although, the experienced player would almost certainly win).
SoC has two main expansions, too. Seafahrers in a nice expansion that keeps the game experience intact and game well balanced. Cities and Knights adds a bit too many elements to the gameplay and loses the original elegance of the game unfortunately.
All in all, if you were to pick your first board game to play with your friends, Settler of Catan would be my first choice.
Puerto Rico is much more complex game than Settlers of Catan and here the experience and understanding of the main strategy is important. For an experienced player it would be rather uninteresting to play it with a complete novice, also, a novice could pretty much ruin someone else’s game by making the bad choices in the game. Thus it makes sense to play the game with people approximately at the same level as you. In fact, if you have weekly board game evenings with the same group of friends, Puerto Rico could easily become one of your favorite games to play.
A game with very simple mechanics, Ticket to Ride would definitely be one of those easy casual games that you can play only once or twice a year but still enjoy. There’s also a fair amount of luck involved in this game, yet a superior player would still win most of the time. That’s the only game in this list I’ve never played as a regular board game – I always played it on my iPad, both offline against AI and online against other players. The mobile version of the game has been selected as the best adaptation of any board game on mobile.
There are other great games as well, of course. On my iPad I have played offline versions of pretty intruguing game named Small World, also some others: Kingsburg and Dominion for example. From visits to my friends I still remember Alhambra and Elfenland, the others I’ve forgot.
I very seldom have the time to hold board games evenings with my friends nowadays. Fortunately there are mobile platforms that can be used to play now and I do find time once a week or two weeks to try play one of those games. I suggest you do that, too – remember, games lubricate the body and the mind.
* I’m talking about German style board games here, not the “regular” ones such as chess, backgammon and others.