Games That Are Popular With Our Family

Recently someone remarked that I was quite lucky that my wife loves to play certain board games.  In particular the heavier games were noted.

This got me to thinking and I compiled a quick list of games my wife prefer playing from our board game collection.  Yes, I agree, I am fortunate in more ways than one.

These are the games that are favored


Long time favorite.  It plays well with 2 players and scales up easily.  It is actually capable of being played competitively.  My personal experience is that whenever I agree to a game of Carcassonne with my wife, I know it will be a challenge to win.  She excels at this game.


Ticket to Ride

This was the first Euro Game we ever played and still remains a favorite.  We’ve been playing with either the 1910 expansion, which adds more destination tickets and improves the cards size, or the new Switzerland map which is specifically design for only 2 or 3 players and makes a very competitive game.

Starfarers of Catan

This was also an early purchase and remains a favorite.  I really love the components and how the playing experience feels.  We often play the 2-player variant.




Power Grid

This game was the first “complex” Euro Game we owned.  It plays well at 2-player and higher.  At heart it’s an economics game where you need to maintain a strategic view on your spending yet most importantly watch how you spend and grow with each turn.  Great game.  Even though we own all the board expansions and the new Power Plant deck expansion (which we use all the time now), the original USA map is still our familiar favorite.



Lost Cities

Lost Cities is the well known “spouse game”.  This game is 2-player only, and it really is just a card game.  It plays fast and for some reason has a reputation as being favored by women.  I know whenever we play I hardly ever win.


Twilight Imperium III

This was the game that introduced us to large-scale deep themes.  It has many decisions you choose every turn.  It is such a wonderful experience because you can follow a military focus, political, or economic.  Yet, usually you cannot win with out balance to how you play.  The game takes about 3 hours for 3 players, and about an hour-per-player when you add more.  It’s one of those games that you never notice how much time elapsed because it gets you so immersed.  I am quite fortunate that my wife loves playing this game.

Gloria Mundi

This game is not as well recognized but we love it.  It works with 2 to 6 players.  The board and components are beautiful and every turn has agonizing decisions.

Conceptually, the game is about Roman statesmen fleeing Rome as it falls.  You try to make out better than your opponents before the Goth reaches and destroys Rome.


Tikal is one of the “mask” games.  So nick-named because of the cover artwork and similar game mechanisms with “Java” and “Mexica”.  Tikal is the favorite of all three for us.  It’s another game with rich colors and components.

Tikal is a game for thinking on every turn.

Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery

Age of Empires is a board game named after the popular computer game.  It has a wonderful balance of too many optional decisions available every turn and paying close attention to what all the other players are doing.  The game always plays “tight” and is quite fun.


Pandemic is the new hot game released earlier this year.  It’s really difficult to find.  The first print run sold out everywhere quickly.  The second print run which is due to arrive at stores in June has already been sold out by distributors.  I’m sure another run will come soon.

There’s a reason this game is so popular.  It’s fun to play and plays in about an hour.  It’s a cooperative game.  All the players work together to defeat the game.  It’s difficult to win, but can be done.  The components and board are wonderful to see.  Every time I get a chance to introduce this game it is well received.  I was quite fortunate to find a copy at a local game shop the first week it came out, before all the popularity buzz made it rare to find.

I should write a review about this game.


Speaking of reviews, I just did one on this most excellent game.  It’s a challenging economics game.  Container is hard to play and win.  I only wish there was a decent 2-player variant.



My most recent game review was about this quick fun-filled card game from designer Reiner Knizia.  Wonderful fun.



Puerto Rico

This game is the highest rated game on Board Game Geek.  It’s full of great decisions with every turn and even plays well with a 2-person variant.  For my birthday the year we bought this game, my wife and I played Puerto Rico 8 times in a row.  It plays like that.  when you finish a game you often wonder how another strategy might play out.

1960: The Making of the President

I’ve mentioned this 2-player game before and really need to write a review for it as well.  This game is also not as easy to find because of it’s recent popularity.  As unusual as it sounds, the game is about the USA presidential election in 1960 between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy.  The game plays well and is very engaging.  We love how it makes real for us the election process.  The game does a wonderful job of being fun as well as informative.  There are many cards included as part of the game, each card having a pertinent event and photograph from that era, with historical text.  I was pretty young when this election happened, but can see why they chose it for the theme of the game.  It is very competitive and feels so timely.


Ra is another favorite for us.  It’s another excellent design from Reiner Knizia.  We play the 2-person variant and it works well from 3 to 5 players.  With 4 players it’s really interesting.

Shadows over Camelot

Can you say Monty Python?  Actually, this is not a game about The Holy Grail, or at least not about the movie.  But the theme fits wonderfully.  This is another highly enjoyed cooperative game.  All players are Knights of Round Table and struggle against the game.  A most unique aspect of this game is that one of the players may secretly be a traitor working in the midst but against the other players.  Quite fun.


This is another economics game and is themed around Cuba before the revolution.  The artwork is beautiful and there are many interesting game mechanics at work here.  I would do well to write up a review about this game as well.  It’s another family favorite.


A recent addition to our games collection.  This game uses dice in an interesting way.  You roll them and select how you want the numbers on the dice faces divided amongst specific places on the game board.  Sometimes you decide how to place based upon what you see on your opponent’s dice.


Runebound 2nd Edition

I’ve written a review of this game before.  We enjoy playing this adventure game.  I enjoy that you can also play it solitaire when there’s no one else around.



World of Warcraft: The Boardgame

This is a huge expansive adventure game where two teams battle monsters on the board and not each other.  Yet they are competing against the opposite team.  It takes a while to play this game (about 3+ hours), and a really big table.  I was impressed how well the entire family enjoys diving into this one.


An interesting game with an interesting name.  I think you pronounce it like “ease”, like the word  peace without the letter P.  I substituted the wooden cubes that came with the game for glass gems.  Makes a much more attractive game.  This game has auctions and bluffing.  It’s unique and interesting to introduce to folks.


Warrior Knights

Love playing this game.  It’s got war, politics and religion.  I’ve written an extensive review about this game you can find in the archives.



Starship Catan

This is a 2-player game that’s themed in the same “universe” as Starfarers of Catan.  I think it can move a little slow and you need to have good memory to play this game well.  It is a game that my wife and I have played on quiet evenings.

Mission: Red Planet

Love the Steam Punk science fiction theme of this game.  It’s a blend of and area-control game with a little bit of special character powers like “Citadels”.  The game is about exploration and colonization of Mars.  The colors and components of this game are appealing for playing.



This is another science fiction themed game of exploration of the deep ocean floor.  Components and colors are wonderful.  I’ve mentioned this game before in a review.



Now, just to be clear, there are some games my wife does not like to play.  I like these games however.

Memoir ’44

Railroad Tycoon: The Boardgame

Mr. Jack


Arkham Horror


Robo Rally

Robo Rally, a game that I think is well suited for engineers and programmers.  My wife absolutely will not play this game.

Chess, I get to play this one with my son.

Mr. Jack is awesome.  It’s a 2-player game with bluffing and movement.  One person plays Jack the Ripper and the other player mans a team of detectives.  Here’s the interesting twist.  One of the detectives is Jack.  The identity changes with each game and is hidden from the detective player.  So Jack is trying to avoid being detected and the opposite player is trying to figure out who it is before times run out.  The game plays fast.  My wife didn’t enjoy playing because she thought it felt too much like Chess.  I can see that because you have to think at least 1 turn ahead.

Hive is an excellent 2-player game.  It also feels a lot like Chess and is wonderfully unique.

Railroad Tycoon: The Boardgame is total fun.  It’s a slightly simplified version of the highly regarded “Age of Steam”.  It’s a railroad game with pick-up and delivery of goods to cities.  We play this game once in a while as a family but my wife does not prefer it.  Funny thing too since she won last time we played.

Arkham Horror is a deep thematic game.  And you can also play it solo.  My wife actually picked this game out.  We play it once in a while but I have a lot more enthusiasm for it.

Memoir ’44 is a light war game.  It’s for two players and has excellent components.  It’s a modern card-driven game and plays quickly.  I play this one with my son.