Sunday OT Post: Yes, I know it isn't Sunday...

This post is more than 2 years old.

I meant to post this last night, but got rather involved in Guild Wars 2 instead so I completely forgot. For years now I've been meaning to get back into board games. As a teenager I played some war games that I absolutely loved. Now that my eldest is near 13 I've been hoping to get back into it and - obviously - involve him.

Last night my son and I played our first game of Mage Knight. (Associate link below. ;) It was an incredibly cool, but complex game. It took about 2 hours of setup to get started and my son was definitely running low on patience.

But then something magical happened. We both went form struggling to "get it" to, well, I still don't think we get it completely, but we got to a point where we could actually play, and his face lit up, I got excited, it was just fun as hell.

That being said, while we plan on playing again, I'm curious what games folks would recommend that are a bit simpler. If Monopoly has a skill rating of 1, Mage Knight is somewhere at 100. That's cool and all, but I'm hoping for some middle ground in terms of complexity.

Any suggestions? I'll point out that no one else in the family is that interested, so 2-player support is kind of required. Nuclear War is already on my list to pick up.

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Toastluv posted on 1/14/2013 at 11:05 PM

What about Kick the Can or Rambo? Those are great games I grew up with..cost nothing...and involve not just your son but his friends.

Comment 2 by Raymond Camden posted on 1/14/2013 at 11:27 PM

Um, are you talking about the real "Kick the Can" game? I'm really just talking about board/card games here. ;)

Comment 3 by Micah posted on 1/14/2013 at 11:33 PM

You shoudl check out: http://tabletop.geekandsund...
Wil Wheaton (yes the Star Trek guy) started this video blog about a year or so ago. He has some of his old cast mates, writers, friends..etc on and they show how to play one or more different board games. It's actually kinda cool.
It will give you a good idea of whats out there and if you and your kids might like it. Plus kinda funny sometimes.

Comment 4 by Lance S posted on 1/14/2013 at 11:54 PM

My boys (22, 17 & 15) Like Munchkins. It isn't hours long and easy to pick up


Comment 5 by Tim Leach posted on 1/15/2013 at 12:59 AM

I second Munchkin, it's like an RPG for tabletop games. Somehow boiled all of the "fun" in D&D into a card game, without any of the creepy role playing, and maddening setup.

Comment 6 by Aaron posted on 1/15/2013 at 1:03 AM

Settlers of Catan.

Starts out "Easy" but can get more complex.

Goes well with kids and/or beer.

Comment 7 by Raymond Camden posted on 1/15/2013 at 1:06 AM

Munchkin and Settlers added to wishlist. I've heard of Settlers of course but never tried it.

Comment 8 by Tim Leach posted on 1/15/2013 at 1:19 AM

Well there. Just put my money where my recommendation is. You know own Munchkin (should arrive in 305 business days).

(Yes, I went cheap on shipping.. :-p )

Comment 9 by Tim Leach posted on 1/15/2013 at 1:20 AM


Comment 10 by Raymond Camden posted on 1/15/2013 at 1:21 AM

Thanks Tim! I'll report back on the game. Believe it or not, I never played D&D. I've owned many copies of the rule books, played D&D games like Neverwinter, but never played a 'real' D&D game. I know this is just related to it, but it will be as close as I get probably. :)

Comment 11 by Jim posted on 1/15/2013 at 1:54 AM

I would look at tabletop as Micah mentioned, it gives you a taste of the game and the episodes are short enough.

Another place to check out board games is Wired's geekdad blog ( They also showcase a lot of kickstarter board games which look interesting.

Right now my kids are learning Candy Land, not quite what you are looking for, if Monopoly is 1, Candy Land is -27, but I still remember having fun with it when I was a kid.

Comment 12 by Raymond Camden posted on 1/15/2013 at 1:57 AM

Speaking of Candy Land...

Comment 13 by Mark Gregory posted on 1/15/2013 at 3:08 AM

Wil Wheaton does a fairly regular web series where he reviews board games called TableTop I believe. Might find some interesting stuff there.

Comment 14 by Phillip Senn posted on 1/15/2013 at 4:02 AM

Avalon Hill's Diplomacy is a good 7 player game - no luck involved.
The only problem is a father can't play it with his son because the father is confronted with the possibility of stabbing his son in the back.

Comment 15 by Raymond Camden posted on 1/15/2013 at 4:07 AM

7 players? Anything smaller? And I'd have no problems stabbing my son in the back. He is cool with it. :)

Comment 16 by Phillip Senn posted on 1/15/2013 at 4:10 AM

Oh! Empire Builder let's you draw your railroad using a crayon, but it is fun for all ages. And we usually play until everyone has "won", although the first person to win is the real winner.

"Ticket to Ride" is another railroad game, but with preset rails (no crayons).

Comment 17 by Micah posted on 1/16/2013 at 12:56 AM

It looks like they have Catan on xbox as a download. I believe it was free. Im checking it out now.
I see you on there Ray every now and then (my player name is Webstalkers). Maybe we can get a multiplayer session going sometime.

Comment 18 by Raymond Camden posted on 1/16/2013 at 1:40 AM

I haven't turned my XBox on in weeks. Been totally immersed in Guild Wars. :)

Comment 19 by Justin posted on 1/16/2013 at 8:07 PM

As a collector, I will suggest that you tread on careful ground before you end up with 500 board games like the rest of us. Soon your collection is worth more than your car! is the meta site for boardgaming, but a UI nightmare

I presenting a bunch below in three categories. All are either for or great with 2 players. Basically, look at the picture of the box to see if you would like the theme. There is sci-fi, dark fantasy, realism, "old world" abstract, high fantasy, etc.

Catan is not good for 2p. Munchkin is ok for about 10-15 minutes, it's like a 2 on your scale above.

One thing to note is that a lot of games are either "living" in that they have regular expansion installments or they have one or two expansions to add more to the game, such as Mage Knight's new expansion. X-wing is the only one that needs an expansions that I've listed below.

Player vs. player (eliminating each other) -
Android Netrunner (love, love, love this game),
Star Wars X-Wing miniatures game (get the starter and one of each expansion) (love, love, love this game),
Claustrophobia (if you are ok with demon theme),
Blood Bowl team manager,
Memoir '44.

Co-op - (the first three are very similar)
,Flashpoint fire rescue
,Defenders of the Realm.
Lord of the Rings, the card game, like Android Netrunner encourage you to buy expansions.
Dungeons and Dragons Legends of Drizzt board game.

Player vs. player, but not really direct conflict:
San Juan,
Galaxy Trucker,
Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries,

Comment 20 by Raymond Camden posted on 2/11/2013 at 6:22 AM

Played 2 games of Munchkin today with my boys. It was AWESOME. We laughed - we yelled - I tried, desperately, to kill my oldest boy twice (in fact, the first time I did so it rebounded on me and he ended up winning). My youngest boy just walked by and asked if he could play w/o me.