Thinking Persons List of Board Games

In contrast to my other list (video games) this list contains the superior social element of playing with other people.  Board games come in many shapes and sizes but all have one thing in common; it brings people out of their element and transports them into a friendly realm of competition.

The games in this list are not the common games one may find at a toy store (although some fantastic games are now being sold there) therefore games like Monopoly, Risk, Chess, and others like them will not be on this list just because thinking is something someone does when they do not know the answer. Many of the classic games people think of are either solved or players fall under the same pattern over and over.

Now in no certain order, these are my list of the best thinking persons board games (at this specific point in time – they are prone to change in the future):

1. Blockus

A four player spacial game where the goal is to place all or most of your tiles.  There are different versions of this game from the 2 player smaller version, a 3 player version, and a 3-D version.  This spacial game is a contest over territory but there your own pieces cannot touch sides only corners (you can touch the other color pieces sides).  The game gets really hectic when players purposely try to block your potential growths while you block them.

2. Castle Panic

This brand new game that just came out (published by Fireside games) is a cooperative game.  All the players plan together to stop an onslaught of creatures from destroying their castle by playing cards.  Yet at the end of every player’s turn two more monsters appear and the monsters on the board get one step closer.  When the players work together there is a chance of success, when they do not they are doomed from the start.  Think of this game a the board game equivalent of tower defense with planning ahead with teammates. There is also a variation where someone plays as the overlord of the monsters – then the game gets really hard and fun.  Here is a fun review of this games from Board Games with Scott.

3. Scotland Yard

A pure deductive game.  All the players but one become detectives trying to find Mr. X (the non-detective player).  If a detective lands on the same space as Mr. X the game is over and the detectives win.  Now there are some complications: The detectives only have a limited number of movement tokens: Taxi – short distance but the detectives start with more of them, Bus – medium distance but the detectives have less of them, and Underground – board spanning distance but only 4.  Also Mr. X moves invisibly, so the detectives must figure out where he is by the tokes he used. Every 4th move Mr. X does reveal himself on the board.  The strategy is to create a dragnet so that Mr. X cannot slip through.  A wonderful discussion and team planning game.

4. Ricochet Robots

A game where the player number can range from one to unlimited.  The goal of this game/puzzle is to make a robot travel to their goal, but can only change directions or stop when a wall (or another robot) is encountered.  Players try to find the least amount of moves then claim it, once a claim has been stated the other players and then under the clock to find it in less.  A great game for visual thinkers.

5. Cosmic Encounter

A game that has been around for 30 years, is always a different game, inspires different strategies with every play, and is an organized chaotic game forcing the players to both plan ahead and to be flexible.  Hard to give the game justice so here are two different reviews/ summaries from great board game sites: The Dice Tower and Board Games with Scott.


What are your favorite thinking board games?  Feel free to add them and a reason why in the comments.


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