6 board games I'm playing during the pandemic

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Nate Anderson

Welcome to Up News Info Cardboard, our weekend look at board games! Take a look at our full coverage of board games on cardboard.arstechnica.com.

What keeps me grounded in our current pandemic? Board games, for one. But I am not looking for the latest and the best right now; I've found myself searching for shorter titles that don't melt my brain, and I've been digging through my collection for those underrated treasures. Partly it's because I've been playing with the family instead of a playgroup, but, and maybe you know the feeling, it's also because I can't focus on a two-hour strategy festival when the world feels like it's on fire.

I have enjoyed digging up some older titles during this time, and it has reminded me how fabulous some of them are. While playing Sanssouci With my 13-year-old daughter, for example, we had so much fun that we immediately touched her again. AND Keltis—A magnificent presentation, even if you do You have to order it directly from Germany and download a translation of English rules from BoardGameGeek.

Anyway, here are six titles I've been playing at home for the past few months. Hopefully they inspire you to play and share your own quarantine board games in the comments.

Keltis

2-4 players, 30 minutes, ages 8+, $ 33 at Amazon (with ruinous shipping)

The charming aesthetic: there is so much glory green! —Raises solid play, while a second map at the back of the board offers a more thoughtful experience. If you have played Lost citiesYou will assimilate the game immediately: play one card per turn, accumulating stacks that can only move in one direction (each card must be higher or lower than the previous one). Any color you play conditions the piece you can advance on the board. But don't start too many pieces on their respective paths: moving just a few points or less results in negative points. Mix up a very light collection of games and you have a great way to spend 45 minutes. I am not alone in this opinion; Keltis he won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award in Germany in 2008.

Carpe Diem

2-4 players, 60 minutes, over 10 years, $ 47 at Amazon

A recent title from master designer Stefan Feld, this one really hits my sweet spot. You have plenty of ways to earn points and plenty to think about, but the gameplay couldn't be simpler: grab a tile every turn and place it on your ancient Roman estate, then take points and bonuses. At the end of each round, you will even choose your own scoring conditions. The result is thoughtful without being heavy, and the delicious grape and fish meeples add a pop of color. Much more accessible than Feld's masterpiece, Burgundy castles.

Ticket to Ride: Europe

2-5 players, 60 minutes, ages 8+, $ 44 at Amazon

A classic. I hadn't played this in a while, but the crash provided me with a great opportunity to teach my 8-year-old this ensemble and route building train title. The iPad app for this is cool, and much faster to play, but the touch of the giant map, the plastic trains, and the presence of three trash-talking opponents made our game in person a blast.

Witty

1-4 players, 45 minutes, ages 8+, $ 25 at Amazon

An old-school recap of Reiner Knizia who sees him placing paired hexagons around a board, scoring points based on how many identical colors the five open lines that radiate from each of the paired hexagons touch. (Okay, so the score takes a moment to figure it out.) The game is fast and fun, and requires that you value all colors equally, because your final score equals your score. lower Colour.

Robin of Locksley

2 players, 40 minutes, over 10 years, $ 33 at Amazon

A new game from designer Uwe Rosenberg (Agricultural, Patchwork), this has as much to do with Robin Hood as I have to do with the Sheriff of Nottingham. But what it does have is an easy game to teach in which your horse moves like a chess knight, hooking pieces of loot. You collect this loot to satisfy a long series of conditions randomly placed around the edges of the play area, and you can move as far in a single turn as your loot allows. Their set collection matches racing, and while we enjoyed our initial game, I'll need a few more games to see how well it holds up.

Sanssouci

2-4 players, 30-45 minutes, ages 8+, $ 70 at Amazon (because it is exhausted)

A fabulous layer of tiles, this Michael Kiesling design has been criminally overlooked. There are no dungeons here, D,amp;D lovers – this is a game about how to build a European formal garden while moving your nobles down the garden path so they can smell the roses (and earn points). It's fast, it's fun and it's extremely relaxing. The rules are easy to teach, the turns are fast and everything looks great. The game even includes a small expansion module in the box for a slightly more complex game. The biggest drawback? It can be difficult to find new ones right now.

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