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#1 Edited by selfconfessedcynic (2970 posts) -

I want to lose friends as quickly as possible with the help of board games.

Joking aside, my friends and I are starting to get into board games, but the ones which we like most seem to be ones which involve the most bluffing / backstabbing and overall bastardry. Games where we need to lie, cheat and steal from / to eachother and just be dicks.

However, there are games which we can't play because it is rare for all 6 of us to show up at every session - so games like The Resistance, which function better with a lot of players (it's a 5-10 game) or Game of Thrones which is best played with 5-6 rather than 3/4 aren't an option.

On the other hand, I am also interested in purely cooperative options with short play times and low complexity as palette cleansers for the end of the night.

So, can anyone recommend some devilish 3-5 player Board Games OR some low-complexity and short 3-5 player coop games?

Thanks for all the suggestions guys, and keep them coming! I look at all of them, and if any hasn't been chosen it may well be because it just didn't click with my friends. I've liked all of them thus far.

Update: Games which I've picked up thanks to this thread and boardgamegeek.com;

  • Battlestar Galactica (as it is a perfect match with what I was looking for above, though better with 4-5 rather than 3)
  • Ticket to Ride (it's a short game to open nights with, but can get contentious)
  • Powergrid (for the future, as it has an element of bartering but also deep mechanics which appeals to our love of strategy and allows us to be dicks - just with subtlety)
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#2 Posted by audioBusting (2520 posts) -

Have you ever played Bohnanza? It seems to be the favorite party card game around here. It's pretty good for a quick game with 4-5 players, so even though it's competitive it can be a good filler/palette cleanser.

I never played Pandemic, but I've heard it's good too. It's cooperative and 2-4 players, so it might be good for the palette cleanser.

(I'm not quite familiar with board games, so sorry in advance if these suggestions are too obvious...)

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#3 Posted by hugh_jazz (468 posts) -

For the devilish stuff, I'd recommend Shadows over Camelot, which has a pretty cool traitor mechanic, but is for the most part a cooperative game. I've never played it, but maybe the Battlestar Galactica would work for you guys? I'm waiting to get my copy of the 4X game Eclipse, which seems to have some diplomatic maneuvering as well. All of these games might actually be better with 4+ players, but I think most games of the type you're looking for are.

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#4 Edited by selfconfessedcynic (2970 posts) -

@audiobusting: Thanks! I hadn't actually heard of Bohnanza, will look into it. I think Tested has talked about Pandemic before, so that could be cool too.

I ordered Battlestar Galactica today as it looks right up our alley, hope to hear more suggestions too!

@hugh_jazz: Haha, nice coincidence, I just picked up Battlestar. The traitor mechanic is absolutely an awesome prospect. Shadows over Camelot is one of those games which I keep meaning to research but never got around to. Thanks!

As for Eclipse, I think it's a bit complex for us atm - plus, it's $100+ here in AUS, at least in the stores I've found it in - so I think it can wait for a while, haha.

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#5 Posted by SleazyWizard (248 posts) -

I mostly get to play 2 player games like Twilight Struggle. But out of what I can think of at the moment I would suggest, Risk Legacy, Diplomacy, Lords of Waterdeep(Not too horribly complex). And I think another one i'm trying to think of is Eldritch Horror, but i'm not sure if I'm getting it confused with another similar game. Even looking it up I can't quite remember. Also it's not a board game but I love playing Cards Against Humanity with a group of friends. It's free, you just have to print it off! http://boardgamegeek.com/ can provide farther info about these games and help you search for others.

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#6 Posted by Sinusoidal (3331 posts) -

The Coachride to Devil's Castle

Unfortunately, it's definitely better with 5 to 6 like you don't want, but otherwise it fits your idea of fun to a tee. It's the bluffingest asshole encourager I know of. A whole lot of fun!


Also, I spieled about Sentinels of Multiverse somewhere else around here recently:

Sentinels of the Multiverse has completely taken over our gaming night. It's a superhero character based, co-op card game. Each character, environment and villain is represented by a deck of cards. Each player chooses a superhero and plays from their deck. Together you try to take down the villain - who is actively trying to kill you - in an environment - which vary from more-dangerous-than-the-villain to actively-helping-you-take-him-down to possibly-ending-the-game-on-its-own-by-wiping-everyone-out. There are thousands of different possible combinations of heroes/villains/environments.

The mechanics in this game are genius. Every time we play something different happens: from near-instant victory/defeat to three hour long slug fests where it's never quite clear who's going to win. Sometimes circumstances conspire into hour long slug fests where the victor is quite clear the entire time that kind of suck, but it's still kind of fun playing a table top game that's not afraid to occasionally slowly wipe the floor with you. That and you can never count out some crazy-ass card popping up that saves you from your previously inevitable death, or robs you of your surefire victory...

It's a co-op game, and quite complex, so not really what you want either, but it's just so goddamn awesome I had to mention it again.

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#7 Edited by Aquablak (272 posts) -

King of Tokyo is a brilliant, simple game in which each of you control a big monster and beat each other senseless. Super fun, super simple, with plenty of dice rolling.

Small World is a fun area control game where you pick from a random match-up of races and special abilities. All about attacking each other, with potential for ganging up, etc.

Pandemic is a pretty fun co-op game. There are a couple strong expansions, too.

Elder Sign is another strong co-op game, with lots of dice rolling. I play this one solo once in a while, too.

Lords of Waterdeep has some backstabbing. Not sure if it's enough for your group, but this game is great and very easy to get into. I haven't played this with anyone who didn't like it, whether they resisted the idea or not initially.

If you're into RPG's Mice and Mystics is freaking awesome.

Maybe some of these will float your boat. My friends and I have really gotten into board games over the last two years. They're fantastic, and have become more fun than video games for in-person game nights for us (which we tend to reserve for playing online now).

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#8 Posted by ArbitraryWater (14689 posts) -

If you like cooperative games that take 3 hours to play and make all of your friends yell among themselves because of dice rolls, Arkham Horror is for you.

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#9 Edited by Guesty_01 (383 posts) -

I HIGHLY reccomend Descent - Journeys into Darkness. We've had hours of fun from this game, really great fantasy based board game for 3 - 5 players.

1 player is the Overlord, controlling all the monsters, and the other players choose from a selection of heros. You can play a campaign where you gain experience after each quest and can also purchase items/cards. Each of the quests (of which there are about 9, each one usually split into 2 smaller quests ideal for 2-3 hours of gameplay.) are very Intresting and have very varied objectives for both the heros and overlord to complete.

Really can't reccomend it enough, infact just talkin about it I can't wait to play again the Saturday!

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#10 Posted by Unlogik (171 posts) -

I can't believe no one has mentioned Munchkin. It's all about being a dick and it works perfectly with 3-5 people.

Castle Panic and Zombie Dice are also a good starters or palette cleansers for the night.

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#11 Posted by Blomakrans (161 posts) -

Catan is great. You need an expansion for more than 4 players though.

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#12 Posted by wewantsthering (1651 posts) -

I have been on a quest for good 3-5 player games for the past year or so too. :-) Here's my list of games that my group of friends enjoy in ranked order.

Name, # of Players, Type, Complexity

  1. Dominion, 2-4 (5-6+expansion), Deck Builder, Medium
  2. Puerto Rico, 2-5, Economy, High
  3. Sentinels of the Multiverse, 1-5, COOP, Simple
  4. Small World, 2-5, Strategy, Medium-High
  5. Mice and Mystics, 1-4, COOP/Story, Medium-High
  6. Ticket to Ride, 2-5, Route Builder, Medium-Low
  7. Munchin Quest, 2-4, Dungeon Crawler, Medium-High
  8. Agricola, 1-5, Economy, Very High
  9. King of Tokyo, 2-6, Push Your Luck, Very Simple
  10. Power Grid, 2-6, Economy?, Very, Very High

I am receiving Merchant of Venus for Christmas. I haven't played it yet, but it looks awesome! I would check out The Dice Tower for reviews. Tom Vasel really knows his stuff!

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#13 Posted by dekkadekkadekka (848 posts) -

And I think another one i'm trying to think of is Eldritch Horror, but i'm not sure if I'm getting it confused with another similar game.

Eldritch Horror is the sort of sequel to Arkham Horror.

OP: Recently I've been playing Amerigo which is kinda cool. It's an expansion/discovery game. Also there's the DOOM board game, which is awesome and is for 2 to 4 players. One player is the Invader/GM and the others are Marines working together to escape.

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#14 Edited by dandead (200 posts) -

Talisman is an excellent 3 to 6 player game where players do anything they can get get the Talismans and ultimately the crown of command to win. There is a bunch of dice rolling but the game is not to hard to understand. There is also a lot of randomness too, in fact by default the players random pick their hero as supposed to choosing them.

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#15 Edited by 2HeadedNinja (2248 posts) -

A really good 4 player coop game is Pandemic ... I would also recommend to check out Whil Wheatons Tabletop channel on Youtube. Watching those videos put about 5 games on my amazon wishlist. They have a video of Pandemic too.

Ticket to Ride is another great game. Really easy to pick up and an elegant mechanic ... good mix of tactics and luck.

[edit] And if you really want to lose friends fast ... try Space Alert. Hilarious game.

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#17 Posted by endaround (2267 posts) -

@dandead said:

Talisman is an excellent 3 to 6 player game where players do anything they can get get the Talismans and ultimately the crown of command to win. There is a bunch of dice rolling but the game is not to hard to understand. There is also a lot of randomness too, in fact by default the players random pick their hero as supposed to choosing them.

Yes Talisman.

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#18 Posted by fatalbanana (530 posts) -

Space Rocks is the only answer.

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#19 Posted by DasBoot (94 posts) -

It has been mentioned before- Dominion is a good option. You can teach the game in about 4 minutes, but deckbuilding mechanic makes for some satisfying complexity. Also, if the right cards are available and the player builds the deck right it can turn pretty nasty.

Robo Rally is another good one that is fast, not too complicated, and can result in some good, old fashioned treachery. Since the players chart out several of their moves at a time, another player can really screw someone over. It was out of print for ages but then came back, so I'm not sure how available it will be.

You might want to check out some good deduction games as well. Scotland Yard, The Fury of Dracula, and Letters from Whitechapel (if you can find a damn copy) are all decent choices, but they are best played on the higher end of the number of people you're looking for. Good cat and mouse action.

If you really have an interest in damaging relationships, all you need is a copy of Diplomacy.

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#20 Posted by noboners (170 posts) -

I am pretty sure these have all been said but....

I agree with everyone else on Dominion. It's technically a card game but too good to not be mentioned. That game has tons of replayability and isn't all about dicking people over as much as it is creating your own strategy.

Pandemic is good so long as one person isn't overbearing in your group. It can very easily turn from everyone working together to cure diseases to one guy just listing commands for people to do on their turn. Forbidden Island is very similar but also good and short.

Puerto Rico and Settlers of Cataan are great for 3-5 people as well and usually don't take too long once everyone playing understands the rules.

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#21 Edited by selfconfessedcynic (2970 posts) -

Thanks for the suggestions yall!

I checked stock near me and showed my options to my friends, atm, the wishlist consists of Pandemic and Sentinels of the Multiverse. The low complexity level is certainly a factor (and stock, obviously). Plus, Battlestar Galactica is looking to be the main event pre-christmas.

Other games like Elder Sign and Arkham Horror are next on list (prob. early 2014), but games like Lords of Waterdeep and Descent - Journeys into Darkness are a bit too much like DnD, and we already have a couple of DnD campaigns running.

More suggestions are certainly welcome, and I'm looking at all of them.

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#22 Posted by TheHBK (5670 posts) -

Catan is great. You need an expansion for more than 4 players though.

In college, we would leave our doors to our rooms open just in case anyone said... "Settlers?" Still addicted to this day. Just wish more of my local friends played. But the Xbox Live version is pretty great, hope they put out an Xbox one or PC version because that one can run slow, the AI is no joke.

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#23 Posted by Example1013 (4854 posts) -


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#24 Posted by SteveVacation (398 posts) -

My friends and I played Risk Legacy throughout high school. It's a modification of Risk that evolves the more you play, forever changing the races and the game board. There are events that happen that, for instance, require you to add something to the game board itself, fortifying a territory forever. Some event cards require you to rip them up after they happen, being permanently removed from the game. If you play with the same 3 -5 people over and over again, it is truly fantastic.

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#25 Posted by CageySquid (93 posts) -

If you end up liking Pandemic, I'd also recommend Ghost Stories (2-4 players). It's another co-op game with a really fantastic theme.

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#26 Edited by tsutohiro (371 posts) -

The Survival Game, Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, Mafia, hostile D&D.

We also play a bunch of Uno and Monopoly.

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#27 Edited by RazielCuts (3269 posts) -

Good thread, just what I needed as well. I want to get into more board games too as we've gotten into playing them when I'm on holiday.

  • We got into Monopoly first and have kind've played that to death and realised all the faults and just how boring the late game can be.
  • We pretty much played Settlers of Catan (3-4 players) all of this summer and loved it but were also getting a bit tired of the anti climatic win nature of the game. I played the expansion Traders & Barbarians (2-4 players) recently and found it to be quite a good twist on the formula, adding new pieces like Barbarians and Caravans. The variant we played was to repair a city by transporting materials and goods to the central hub. Building roads actually makes more strategic sense now as your caravan uses it to shorten travel to and from deposits and if players want to use it they have to pay you. I'm thinking of picking this up for Christmas to bring over as it was a good mix up. I think theres 5 different variants playable in all with this expansion which is pretty good bang for your buck.
  • The most recent game I played the other day round a friends house was Discworld: Ankh-Morpork (2-4 players), I'm not too familiar with the Discworld series myself but you don't really have to be to enjoy it. It seems like an amalgamation of a few games, you use different ability cards and replenish after each round, building settlements as you go, with minions that can cause 'trouble' that can block other players from building. It also has a Cluedo like aspect with 'Personality' cards that dictate your win condition. The personalities were a bit hit or miss for me at times as they have their own unique win conditions and with that being the only way you can win and you can't really adapt your strategy on the fly if things aren't going your way. It is fun though to try and figure out what personality someone is based on their play style and try and block them.

@reply me if any of you have any other suggestions I might like based on the above or just completely from left field, always willing to give anything a try, thanks.

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#28 Edited by eskimo (502 posts) -

Citadels! It's got pretty much everything you're looking for re: devlishness and bastardry, and is quick to learn and easy to set up.

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#29 Posted by tsutohiro (371 posts) -
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#30 Posted by madman356647 (763 posts) -

Talisman, as you can fight other players. Otherwise: Runebound, Ascension, Cutthroat Caverns.

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#31 Posted by TooSweet (506 posts) -

I found Ascension to be decent at trying to outplay the others for points. Puerto Rico was also good. My friends face and reaction when I forced him to dump all his trade goods into the ocean still brings a smile to my face. Then there is Cyclades. Kind of like Clash of the Titans in some ways. You petition gods for more soldiers, boats etc.. or just call on a mythical creature to do your dirty work. I personally like calling on the Kraken to destroy the enemy ships.

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#32 Posted by MrHadouken (341 posts) -

Thanks to this page I just bought Avalon, which is basically Resistance. However the big difference is one person (Merlin) knows who the traitors are and must silently communicate to the good guys who they are, but if the bad guys catch wind and guess Merlin after a potential good guy win, bad guys win.

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#33 Edited by Guesty_01 (383 posts) -

I think I'm definatly going to pick up a couple of these games thanks to these recommendations. Looking into Pandemic and Small World first both look just up my street. Also got Resistance for Xmas, bit sure what to expect but looking forward to it after hearing Drew speak about it on the Bombcast.

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#34 Posted by EdgeKasey (282 posts) -

We recently took a break from our Pathfinder campaign to try out this interesting lil game called The Quiet Year. It's pretty unique and get definitely get kinda bat shit depending on the people you are playing with. highly recommend if you're looking to mix things up.


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#35 Edited by Scroll (627 posts) -

I was going to say Battlestar Galactica but it doesn't play very well at 3 players. The rule book doesn't explain some of the mechanics all that well and the first few games would probably suffer due to the number of mechanics but its a great game regardless because it has such a rich theme that pulls you in more than another other board game I've played. Basically do a few dry runs on your own, make sure you understand the game pretty well, especially how the cylon event stuff works, you don't want to go through the rule book during play when that stuff comes up.

I'd have to recommend King of Tokyo for generally being an easily accessible, short and really fun game. Its my go to warm up game.

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#36 Edited by sir_gunblade (162 posts) -

Cutthroat Caverns might lose you some friends. A cooperative dungeon crawl card game where only the person that deals the killing blow gets the points. All about backstabbing at just the right time. Quick, simple, expandable, good with 3+.

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#37 Posted by StarvingGamer (11363 posts) -

Yo have you guys heard of the hot new jam Clusterfuck! from the makers of CAH, Ridiculous Fishing, and Johann Sebastian Joust?

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#38 Edited by selfconfessedcynic (2970 posts) -

Oh god, I've spent way too much money on board games this week.

So I picked up Ticket to Ride and Powergrid instead of Pandemic and Sentinels of the Multi-verse because at the last second my friends said "nah, fuck co-op games". The former is for this week, the latter is for next year / the future when we have a day to set aside to learn it. I've pretty much heard nothing but good about Powergrid aside from its complexity - and apparently one of my friends really likes trains? I don't know, but Ticket to Ride is one of those games which keeps coming up as a good short game which can get pretty contentious (though it doesn't involve much in the way of straight up backstabbing).

We already had copies of Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity, so yeah, I can confirm both are great especially if you have people who haven't seen them before in the party. After a couple of plays both got a bit boring though, so they're on the shelf until Christmas where there'll likely be some girlfriends at the meet to show them to.

I'm definitely liking the look of Cyclades and Citadels for the future, and I'm hoping to receive Battlestar by the end of next week. If not, I'm going to have some words with the the store selling it. We'll be playing it when there's at least 4 of us, which should get around its failings when played with 3.

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#39 Posted by KarlHungus01 (77 posts) -

Citadels is a great light card game with a bit of complexity to it. The role mechanic always makes for fun.

For very strategic board games, my favorites are Endeavor, Steam, and Puerto Rico.

Power Grid is great but to me, because there's no randomized component to the board aside from the available Power tiles at the start, the game tends to play out too similarly from game to game in my group. The desirable cities in one game will continue to be desirable in every game following because the cost of the links are so cheap.

For board games that are less serious but very fun with a group, Battlestar Galactica,Robo Rally, and Last Night On Earth always big hits.

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#40 Posted by Aquablak (272 posts) -

Has anyone checked out Boss Monster? I haven't played it yet, but it looks like a really fun video game-themed board/card game.

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#41 Posted by rpgee (775 posts) -

While it's not technically cooperative, I often get into games of Zombies!!! with a bunch of friends where at a point it becomes a race between two players, with the other people siding with one to attempt to screw over the other. Probably not how it's meant to be played, but we enjoy how pseudo-political it gets.

Everything else I see mentioned here is great. Dominion, TTR, Catan, etc. Munchkin is also in there for a game that can take a weird turn from free-for-all to team-based.

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#42 Posted by indieslaw (525 posts) -

Panic Station. Co-op plus traitor. It's basically The Thing, with some Aliens motif thrown in there. You're all trying to find the hive and survive the alien attack, but one player is infected, and sabotaging the play. That player infects others. Shit gets real.

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#43 Posted by DasBoot (94 posts) -

Cyclades is a choice game. It has a lot of mechanics that appeal to me and is well balanced for different numbers of players. Then again, I love any game with an auction mechanic.

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#44 Posted by Guesty_01 (383 posts) -

Been watching some YouTube vids of people playing Resistance and I can't wait to get the family together over Xmas and have a go!

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#45 Edited by Scroll (627 posts) -

I've seen Cyclades mentioned a few times here but if you're up for territory control style game with a bit more 4x, varied factions and a modular hex board that is different every time then I have to mention my current favourite game Runewars. Its a bit more complex but it essentially does 4X fantasy on a board in a really great way; Its the ultimate ameritrash game as its filled with plastic pieces and relies upon theme.

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#46 Edited by Irishdoom (397 posts) -

Based on what you want out of the game, I don't think people have been pushing Citadels enough. It has a great "screw over your buddy" mechanic that also relies on proper guesswork. It's also easy to set up and learn.

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#47 Posted by Aquablak (272 posts) -

Seasons is also a great game that includes card and dice drafting, plenty of 'backstabbery' and gorgeous components.

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#48 Posted by Tireyo (6713 posts) -

Chinese Checkers! Nothing like the classics.

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#49 Edited by rminitiative (2 posts) -

Two wicked games for 2-4 players:

Quoridor and Octi

You can read all about these games here.

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#50 Posted by spiredcrescent (210 posts) -

I am not big on board games, but I played a couple of games and had great fun. Pandemic is a co op game where everyone is trying to rid of a virus. Last night on Earth is a great game where 1 team controls zombies and the others are survivors, best board game I have ever played