We usually play Tabletop rpgs, but since my youngest daughter is going away for a six month school where she will have little time to play with us, I know we will play some boardgames once a week instead in between Pen & Paper sessions.
I have been looking at Pandemic Legacy (We love the original pandemic) Season 1 I think its called, which seems interesting.
I’ve also been looking at Terraforming Mars, but I recall @tomchick saying one needs the expansion I think? And that seems both expensive and a lot of work, suddenly.
What I am looking for is an interesting boardgame, for 2-3 people normally, takes 1-2 hours (Give or take) and is fairly comprehensibly by everyone. My eldest daughter isn’t that much into games, but understands them well enough once I’ve explained the rules.
This is a somewhat complicated question as there are, say, 20000 games ranked on BoardGameGeek. And they cover a variety of game mechanics, lengths and playstyles.
that said, I think you have hit the nail on the nail with your first instinct. Pandemic Legacy Season 1 seems like a perfect choice.
Not only are you already all familiar with the base game and enjoy it, the campaign will keep you coming back week after week. Instead of simply playing the same game over and over, you will likely be looking forward to see what the result of your success or failure the previous week was. The game will keep throwing new twists and mechanics your way every session.
I do not know anyone who enjoys Pandemic who hasn’t loved Pandemic Legacy Season 1.
As a family who also plays RPGs, I think both the choice of game and the Legacy structure will be pretty perfect.
I would not get Terraforming Mars + Prelude (I assume) to teach to a daughter who is not that into boardgames and commit to play it week after week for a few months. It’s a really popular game for good reasons, but it’s quite heavy and not for everyone. And it’s doesn’t have that storytelling aspect you are likely to enjoy. I don’t think it will fill the same niche or be as great a weekly “Let’s see what happens this time” gaming experience.
If you want even more storytelling in your boardgame and mostly co-op with some traitor aspect, I would also recommend looking at Betrayal Legacy after you are done with Pandemic. Imagine a campaign where you are exploring an ever expanding haunted house as the years and centuries go by. Then, most sessions, one of the players becomes cursed and starts working against the party, with each group having their own victory conditions. And what happens in the session will leave the mansion changed for future sessions. Again, it might fit in really well with the type of gameplay experiences you enjoy.However, that one is 3+ players.
But I’m not going to start listing all kinds of games in various genres. I think your first instinct was a great one. If you ever want more specific type of games recommendations, I’m sure we can come up with something.
Thanks @Wendelius - Thats some seriously well thought out recommendations - I appriciate it a lot!
I like the idea of the Betrayal legacy - Those games look really interesting. But maybe not for my eldest. Like the Betrayal at the house on the hill, and the Baldurs Gate spinoff, which I actually have.
I was looking into Arkham Horror - the card game as well - The setup seems smaller, which is good.
But, I do think for our next few weeks, this is a great idea! Pandemic Legacy Season 1 it is! Thanks again!
If you think Terraforming Mars plus Prelude is expensive…
For real, though, happy to give some recommendations is you can steer them a little in terms of what style of game might work best for you - territory control, social deduction, worker placement, deck builder, dexterity etc.
Which is not to say it won’t be great for what Razgon is looking for!
I was profoundly disappointed that Pandemic Legacy went with a zombie apocalypse, since the real-world relatability of the setting is one of the things I think is great about it. Not only did it step away from reality, but it did it in the most trite and tired way possible. Even I was kind of surprised by how that broke my interest in the campaign.
Check out Brass Birmingham. Brass has been one of my go to 3 player games for years and seems to fit your criteria perfectly. Also if you don’t mind a much longer than strictly necessary but interesting explanation of the rules with a good bit of history mixed in, check out Martin Fowler teaching the game on Heavy Cardboard:
Well the great news is that as you progress in Pandemic Legacy you get to experience the glorious catharsis of defacing the manual and map, throwing other parts of your game away, and ripping all the cards to shreds as you go along.
And if you fuck up and tear up the wrong cards, no big deal, you can just throw the rest of the game away early.
Haha! We felt obliged to finish the whole game up, and there’s plenty of cool things in it, for sure. We also messed up and opened a box at the wrong time (Hey, @Razgon, make sure you’re careful about the distinction between a box and a door when you’re told to open something!) which made things confusing and a little wonky.
I don’t regret playing. I was just super-hyped for Pandemic Legacy, because I loved the Legacy concept but Risk was not an appealing base game. Pandemic should have been for me. I am definitely an outlier!
Yeah, my group just kind of looked at each other, finished that month, and then some how never played the game again. That mechanic has not aged at all.
For recommendations, even though your family is coming from an RPG background, I’ve noticed a lot of the women I play with prefer the lighter themed, medium weight European style games. So, classics like Carcassonne, Stone Age, and even the DnD themed Lords of Waterdeep are easy recommendations.
Betrayal at House on The Hill has been the number 1 hit with my family. Especially if we get my SIL playing as she REALLY gets into character and it’s hilarious.
Another one that you would never think is super fun, but is very family friendly is Formula D. There’s a two sets of rules and the easier rules are well super easy to learn without being boring. My wife who could give two craps about racing loved that game along with my daughter.
Anything that has a billion parts we tend to avoid. For example the D&D board games. I spend more time trying to find the pieces than I do playing the game. Same with Mansions of Madness.
We don’t really know that much about boardgames, that we know what the different types are. We’ve previously enjoyed placement? in Carcasonne and the other board game everyone plays - Personally, I find cooporative games immensely interesting but haven’t tried them much.
And the “kids” are 21 and 23 :-D
haha, that sounds…nasty - I didn’t even think about that ,but thanks!
Betrayal doesn’t have a billion parts? Nice! I am pretty curious about that one.
Carcasonne we have played and enjoyed - Personally, I like a tiny bit more…I don’t know, rules? in my boardgames, but its a tough balance act. Lords of waterdeep I think they would find confusing - but thats only based on playing the computer version myself.
Betrayal has a decent amount of little parts, but it’s nowhere near the confusing mess that the D&D games have. I have zero patience and we were easily able to figure out and play the game. I really think it’s a fantastic game that has good depth without being so complicated that casual people don’t want to play it.
This is boardgaming at its finest. If you ask for a recommendation as a newcomer, you will be asked whether you like ameritrash or euros, abstracts, rondelles, worker placement, (semi) co-op, social deduction, deck or bag builders… And probably run for the hills. :)
The people who play board games take a lot of knowledge for granted.
The amount of rules and thinking that needs to go into playing a game is generally referred to as “weight”. Carcassonne and the like are considered light weight. Brass and Terraforming Mars are both on the much heavier side. And unless you and your family are interested in competing in industrialising England by setting up factories and transporting goods, it might not be the best game to jump into and commit to play repeatedly as newcomers (though it is a very well regarded game, like Terraforming Mars). I’d check reviews before plunging into that one.
I think co-op is a great way to bring the family together. That’s why the Legacy versions (which often refine the formula of the base game) could be good candidates. Pandemic has a storyline and changes depending on how you are doing. Betrayal Legacy updates the mansion as you play.
Games like Journey in Middle Earth combine building up a deck of abilities and exploring tiles with your party to fulfill missions before evil wins (all driven by an app). Could be interesting, but I would watch some reviews.
But I’ll take a look at my collection and find out what I would consider some good co-ops and other games a bit more “meaty” then Carcassonne that will play well as a 2+3+ group.
I’m also mindful of your 1-2 hours playtime target do the game fits in your free time.
Oh another thing that requires almost no setup are the escape room games. You really can only play them once but some of them are super fun. Working together to solve it can be fun and stressful depending on how difficult it is. We did a Jumangi one that was a bit more complex than I was expecting. We did not win. :)
Oh, I realized I do have a recommendation no one else has mentioned:
My family has really enjoyed playing Machi Koro during our social isolation. The basic anniversary edition is good, and the anniversary expansion is worth getting. I actually really like the Bright Lights, Big City version, which picks and chooses the best and most straight-forward stuff from the expansion content, plus has a slightly improved card-drawing system–the draw-back being that the components are a little bit on the cheaper side. It sucks that there’s no definitive version, but if you don’t mind kinda wimpy but still totally serviceable components, BLBC is the best one-box option for family play. If you’d feel better with the fanciest and sturdiest version, get the anniversary edition.
And if a Legacy game appeals, there’s Machi Koro Legacy–which I have yet to play.
ADDENDUM: I was remiss in not describing the game for you!
Machi Koro is a light dice-driven game where each player is building a cozy little Japanese town. You spend money to build buildings (each building is a card) into your town, and each of them has a number at the top that determines when it is activated. On your turn, you roll dice and any buildings that are activated by that number generate money for you. Some buildings generate money on anyone’s turn; some steal money from the person that rolls a particular number. That’s basically it.
Some folks will swear by updates to the Machi Koro formula like Space Base, and they’re good games, but I think the preference usually comes from more experienced gamers who want the game to be either more intricate or less random/more strategic. I say start with the original!
Gavan Brown from Roxley did note on bgg that it should be back in the next month, and that post was from a couple of weeks ago. Shouldn’t be too long. The deluxe edition of both games is available from them directly. I’ve got the standard version of Birmingham and the original Brass so I was considering buying the deluxe of Lancashire and sharing the iron clays between both games. But I’d probably be better off just getting a full set of the chips instead of the smaller sample you get in deluxe Brass.