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Board Game Recommendations

Playing at a Distance

First of all, there are some great digital options for playing games. Some work well remotely, some support local play on one device. Some are free, some cost money. Rather than list/compare all the options, here are some to check out on your own:

No Printer Required

Most of the options available require a printer (and some time) to prepare the components. But there are a few that could potentially be adapted to work without a printer. It won't be the experience as designed, but you can make it work.

  • Concept (Demo): This is a demo kit for Concept, which is a game where one player tries to get others to guess a word/phrase by marking icons on a board that everyone can see. In this demo version, you're given a deck of cards, each showing a set of clues for a given solution (rather than coming up with the clues yourself). You're intended to print the cards and have everyone look at one at the same time and try to guess what the word is, but you could also simply look at the PDF file itself. It's a limited activity, since there are only 30 words to guess. But it's a fun way to try out this style of clue-giving.
  • Mr. Lister's Quiz Shootout is a party game where two teams each take turns trying to guess items on a given list. They're offering a full download of the original version of the game, which they intend for you to print, but a) the cards have a black background and b) you really don't need to. You can have the Question Master read from the PDF. And it's one list per page, so it's easy to enough to allow multiple people to be the Question Master over multiple rounds without spoiling the upcoming questions.
  • Medium: This is one of those party-ish game-ish activities that you can play on your own in any form without needing an official set of components and rules. But here they are nonetheless. Players pair up and each draw a word from the deck, showing their word to their partner. Then, they attempt to say a word at the same time that somehow connects those two words. If they say the same word, you win points (if you want points) and move on to another one. But if you say different words, now you have to say a new word that connects the words you just said (rather than the original ones you drew). If you miss again, you have one last chance with the new words to try and land on the same one. The print-and-play kit comes with all the components you'd need to play (and some instructions for how to manage a remote game, even), but you can use the PDFs to choose some words and make your own game of it.

Good for Kids

  • Timeline is a great game for all ages. Each player needs to play their event card in the proper place in the timeline. Were playing cards invented before or after the invention of the croissant? How about the discovery of planetary motion?
  • Dobble (or as I know it, Spot It!) consists of a deck of cards with different pictures on it, but every set of two cards shares only one image. This demo kit gives you a few cards and some rules for games you can play with them. (The cards are round, but you could probably leave them as squares to simplify things.)
  • Bandido (Covid Edition) is a special version of a fun cooperative game, themed around containing a virus (rather than the bandit of the original). Simple to play, fun to work together on, and it comes in a black-and-white version for easy printing without using all your ink!

Good for Two

  • Air, Land, & Sea is a simple tactical card game for two players with only 18 cards. Each player is trying to control two of the three theaters of war. But if you realize you're not able to overpower them, you can withdraw, denying them some of the points they've been working on.
  • Chronicles of Crime: Chapter One is a sample case from Chronicles of Crime, a game where you work together to solve mysteries using your phone and some cards/boards. They've released one of the cases for free, which is a great way to try out the system. You can only play it once (because then you'll know the solution), but it's a fun experience. It's quite a lot to print, but you might be able to get away without printing by using the PDF and taking some notes to keep track of things.
  • Wonderland is an Alice in Wonderland-themed game for two players where you play cards from your hand in an attempt to control sections of a grid on the table. Magic items affect the cards around them, so you need to do your best to set up the board in your favor for the end of the game.

Some More Great Games

PNPArcade offers a lot of print-and-play games, including some great free options, like:

  • Mint Works is a fun, simple worker-placement game that (in the actual game) uses little wooden discs that look like mints.
  • The Shipwreck Arcana is one of my favorite games of all time. It's a cooperative logic/deduction game in which each player sets up a simple numerical logic puzzle for the others to solve.
  • Pencil Park is one I haven't played yet, but it's on my list. A quick roll-and-write where you roll some dice and use them to build a city.

And there are some other great resources to keep an eye on, some of which were the source of the recommendations above:

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