Best boardgame of 2017

Over here in the shallow end of the board game pool, over Thanksgiving I roped my parents into playing a couple rounds of Kingdomino with me.

It went over great! Neither of them are much for board games outside of something like Trivial Pursuit or The Logo Board Game—my Dad going so far as to sort of obliquely remind me that he doesn’t really like games, trying to temper my expectations I think. But about halfway through Kingdomino as the game started to click, I could see he was actually getting excited and invested in the game, and by the end of our second game, he’d told me to put this on his Christmas list.

So of course, I obliged and got him a copy for Christmas. But the story continues! I got the whole family into a game of Codenames while everyone was still in town, which of course everyone enjoyed, so there’s another win for “doesn’t like games” Dad. I was around for one more night after the rest of my siblings left, and coincidentally I received Sushi Go from my future brother-in-law, and I had also put that in my Dad’s stocking since I knew it was supposed to be a pretty simple, quick card game.

Since neither of us had played it I suggested to my parents that we give it a shot, but the night got away from us and my Mom headed to bed; I assumed my Dad wouldn’t be far behind. But then he surprised me when I walked through the dining room and found him shuffling the cards, reading the instructions and suggesting we give at least learn the rules.

So we sat down to play Sushi Go, which if you’ve played it, you probably realize is not really great with two players, but we were having a really good time just talking through the limited strategies and how it would work with more players. Just talking about how the game would work got me discussing in broad strokes the other games I’d played, common mechanics I enjoyed, that sort of thing, and I also started explaining how I thought Photosynthesis worked. I got that for Christmas but it was another game I’d never actually played. After a couple rounds of Sushi Go, I got out the board just to show him because I thought the whole sun movement thing was cool, so I threw some trees on the board as an example, and then suddenly my Dad’s saying things like “well how would this actually start?”, “let’s just set up the board like a new game”, and “so an actual first turn would go like this”.

I honestly had no intention of trying to get my Dad to start playing Photosynthesis at 11:00 pm, I really did just want to show him the game board (and I thought the trees were pretty!), but he was hooked pretty quickly on at least understanding how the game would work. Before I knew it, we were actually involved in a real game! At this point it was far later than I expected either of us to be up, so we didn’t play a full game. By the end of the second “year” (or whatever you call each full rotation of the sun) we both pretty fully understood the shape of the game and decided to wrap it up. We were both really excited though and had a great time!

I don’t think my Dad’s about to start his own board game collection, but it’s been a lot of fun seeing him surprised by how much he likes them in the last month, and he’s going to be much more interested in seeing whatever I bring home and try to make the family play next time.