Human interaction is what makes board games one of my favourite activites, having a group of people gathered around a table laughing and engaged with each other is just amazing. It's what sets board games apart from a lot of things for me. Here are my favourite games that get players to look up from the board and engage in interesting and memorable moments together:
5) #XCOM: The Board Game - One of my favourite co-op board games, the app integrates so well and prevents quarterbacking in a non-oppressive way. The fact that you each are in control of a substantially different element of the game means everyone feels important and useful. The interaction comes as you, against the clock, try to plan and respond to what the game throws at you. You each feel like you need the limited resources provided so are negotiating but also aware that your team mates are doing important work. In the second half of each round, where things are resolved, suddenly the time pressure is off but you are all very invested in each dice roll as they have impacts for all of you. The dice are mean in this game, so every victory gets a cheer and failures bring groans but aren't unexpected so it never feels like someone is letting the team down.
4) #Nemesis - I love the tension in this game, it's semi-cooperative (but mostly competitive) nature means you are invested in what other players are doing and will occaisionally assist each other in a series of alliances of convenience while secretly working towards your own goals. So you chat and plan while also being deeply suspicious of everyone else's motivations. As such, the chat around the table while this is being played is always great.
3) #Captain Sonar - This is a great game if you can get eight people together. Team based games are rare and Captain Sonar really knocks it out of the park. Similar to XCOM, you each have a very specific role but here they are all highly integrated meaning you have to be in constant communication with your team to succeed. Feeding information to each other but because you can take turns as quickly as you are able, there isn't time for you all to weigh up the best move. So you tell your teammates what you can, in the most subtle way you can as the enemy sub is listening in the whole time. There is a wonderful energy to this game I would highly recommend it. And after the game the discussion is brilliant as you all describe the mistakes you made.
2) #Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game (also true for #Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game or #Shadows Over Camelot) - All of these hidden traitor games are great. It is one of my favourite mechanics as any decision can spark suspicion and therefore an interesting conversation. You are for the most part working as a team, so planning and negotiating together but always holding back just a little as you eye everyone up. I like Dead of winter especially as everyone has secret personal objectives and naturally leans towards keeping their own characters alive which means everyone will end up doing things that seems suspicious. This also gives the traitor an excuse for doing unusual things. Similarly the crossroads cards are great for sparking a discussion, occasionally a moral one as you decide between your own sensibilities or what you think might be mechanically best.
1) #Archipelago - You've all heard me rave about this game before, it's, in my opinion, one of the best games to allow players to make interesting deals and negotiate to try and gain an advantage. The semi-cooperative nature ensures forces players to talk about how to handle that turns crisis. But it is also a game where you will lose if you try to go out alone. You have to trade and make deals to get access to certain resources. All the while though you are trying to figure out what your opponents scoring objective is (as everyone scores them) and even this information can bartered for. When I've gotten a committed group and around this game something pretty magical has happened each and every time.
What games do you find get players talking? Do you like that in a game?