Jeremy’s 2020 Board Game Recommendations

2020 Board Game Recommendations

Jeremy’s 2020 Board Game Recommendations

⭐ = My top recommendation in this category
🏠 = Great with two players, but also scales well to more

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Family Games - Broad appeal and easy to learn

  • Carcassonne⭐🏠
    • Shape the medieval landscape of France by placing tiles and claiming cities, monasteries and farms.
    • 2-5 Players, 45 Minutes
  • Azul 🏠
    • Artfully embellish the walls of your palace by drafting the most beautiful tiles.
    • 2-4 Players, 45 Minutes
  • Copenhagen 🏠
    • Use Tetris pieces to create the grandest facades in the Danish capital.
    • 2-4 Players, 40 Minutes
  • PARKS 🏠
    • Hike through national parks tiles, stopping to collect memories and admire gorgeous scenery.
    • 2-4 Players, 60 Minutes
  • The Quest for El Dorado 🏠
    • Craft your deck and race through a dense South American jungle in pursuit of the legendary city of gold.
    • 2-4 Players, 60 Minutes
  • Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
    • Build your kingdom as Chieftain one tile at a time and rule all of Scotland!
    • 3-5 Players, 50 Minutes

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Party Games - Social and scalable to big groups

  • Codenames
    • Give your team clever one-word clues to help them spot their agents in the field.
    • 4-8 Players, 20 Minutes
  • Telestrations
    • Telephone with pictures - guess what they drew, then draw what they guessed, and see how funny the changes get.
    • 6-12 Players, 30 Minutes
  • Wavelength
    • Read your teammates’ minds in this pinpoint party game of infinite possibilities.
    • 4-12 Players, 45 Minutes
  • A Fake Artist Goes to New York
    • Everyone draws, but one of you doesn’t know what they’re drawing. Can you spot them?
    • 5-10 Players, 20 Minutes
  • Monikers
    • Take turns attempting to get your teammates to guess names by describing or imitating well-known people.
    • 4-12 Players, 45 Minutes
  • Just One
    • Give one-word clues so someone can guess one word, but duplicate clues are discarded!
    • 5-7 Players, 20 Minutes

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Low-Conflict Strategy Games - Less confrontational races to victory

  • Concordia⭐🏠
    • Lead your Roman dynasty and build the greatest trading empire in the Mediterranean.
    • 2-5 Players, 100 Minutes
  • Everdell 🏠
    • Use resources to build a village of critters and constructions in this woodland game.
    • 1-4 Players, 80 Minutes
  • Roll for the Galaxy 🏠
    • Utilize your dice populace to develop technologies, settle worlds, and ship goods
    • 2-4 Players, 45 Minutes
  • Terraforming Mars 🏠
    • Compete with rival CEOs to make Mars habitable and build your corporate empire.
    • 1-4 Players, 120 Minutes
  • Raiders of the North Sea 🏠
    • Assemble and prepare a formidable crew of Vikings to pillage towns and gain glory.
    • 2-4 Players, 80 Minutes
  • The Castles of Burgundy 🏠
    • Plan, trade, and build your Rhone Valley estate to prosperity and prominence.
    • 2-4 Players, 90 Minutes

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High-Conflict Strategy Games - Cutthroat battles that get mean

  • Kemet
    • Play as warring Egyptian Gods and build the most powerful army to dominate Egypt.
    • 3-5 Players, 120 Minutes
  • Mission: Red Planet
    • Launch your rockets, sabotage the competition as you vie to control Mars.
    • 3-6 Players, 90 Minutes
  • Inis 🏠
    • Claim the crown through merit and wisdom in this Celtic island struggle.
    • 2-4 Players, 90 Minutes
  • The Estates
    • Bid and build a new urban development in the city, but will your investments pay off?
    • 3-5 Players, 60 Minutes
  • Cosmic Encounter
    • Conquer the galaxy with shifting alliances and the unique powers of your alien race.
    • 4-5 Players, 90 Minutes
  • Evolution: Climate
    • Adapt your species in an ecosystem of scarce food, predators, and a dynamic climate!
    • 3-5 Players, 60 Minutes

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Cooperative Games - Everyone on the same team

  • The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
    • Go on a planet-discovering space mission in this cooperative trick-taking game.
    • 3-5 Players, 20 Minutes
  • Pandemic ⭐🏠
    • Your team of experts must prevent the world from succumbing to a viral pandemic.
    • 1-4 Players, 45 Minutes
  • Space Alert
    • Frantically keep your ship intact while working with your team to program your future actions in real time.
    • 3-5 Players, 30 Minutes
  • Chronicles of Crime 🏠
    • Lay out the case, interrogate suspects, and investigate crime scenes with your phone.
    • 1-3 Players, 90 Minutes
  • Mysterium
    • Become a psychic and divine spectral visions to solve the murder of a restless ghost.
    • 4-7 Players, 45 Minutes
  • Aeon’s End 🏠
    • Use gems, relics, and spells to channel energy from the breaches against The Nameless
    • 1-4 Players, 60 Minutes

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Two-player games - Great games for couples or roommates

  • 7 Wonders: Duel
    • Science? Military? What will you draft to win this head-to-head version of 7 Wonders?
    • 30 Minutes
  • Raptor
    • Mama Raptor vs Science. Will she manage to keep her babies safe?
    • 30 Minutes
  • Jaipur
    • Trade and sell goods to become the most wealthy merchant in this short game for two.
    • 30 Minutes
  • The Fox in the Forest
    • In this trick-taking game for two, you must win more than your rival—but not by too much!
    • 30 Minutes
  • Watergate
    • Hide or expose the greatest American political scandal in a tug of war for evidence.
    • 60 Minutes
  • Air, Land & Sea
    • Submit orders on three fronts to outwit and outmatch your military opponent.
    • 30 Minutes

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Micro Games - Short and inexpensive

  • No Thanks!
    • Take a card each round, or pay to say no; grab the right cards to lower your score.
    • 3-5 Players, 20 Minutes
  • Love Letter
    • Can you get a letter to the princess or remove all your rivals? You win either way!
    • 3-4 Players, 20 Minutes
  • Coup
    • Bluff (and call bluffs!) to victory in this card game with no third chances.
    • 4-6 Players, 15 Minutes
  • Skull
    • Does the token hide a flower or skull? Bid, bluff and laugh with striking components.
    • 4-6 Players, 20 Minutes
  • Deep Sea Adventure
    • Dive deep seeking treasure, but lose it all if you don’t return safely to the sub.
    • 3-6 Players, 30 Minutes
  • Point Salad
    • Collect groupings of fruits and vegetables with loads of ways to score points!
    • 2-5 Players, 30 Minutes

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Abstract Games - Simple rules with deep strategy and little randomness

  • Patchwork
    • Piece together a quilt and leave no holes to become the button master.
    • 2 Players, 30 Minutes
  • Hive
    • Use your insects to trap your opponent’s Queen Bee in this board-less abstract game.
    • 2 Players, 20 Minutes
  • Bosk 🏠
    • Navigate the four seasons and lay claim to the land with your trees and their leaves.
    • 2-4 Players, 30 Minutes
  • Cairn
    • Tactical duel between tribal shamans on an evolving board.
    • 2 Players, 25 Minutes
  • Santorini
    • Use different divine powers to build and climb the towers!
    • 2 Players, 20 Minutes
  • Dragon Castle 🏠
    • Draft Mahjong-like tiles and place them carefully to create the best castle.
    • 2-4 Players, 45 Minutes

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Thematic Games - Highly experiential and evocative of a genre

  • Dead of Winter (Zombies) ⭐
    • As you struggle to keep survivors alive, how will you value group vs. personal needs?
    • 3-5 Players, 120 Minutes
  • Western Legends (Wild West)
    • Earn your legendary status in this open sandbox game set in the Wild West.
    • 3-5 Players, 90 Minutes
  • Gloomhaven (Gothic Fantasy) 🏠
    • Vanquish monsters with strategic card play. Fulfill your quest to leave your legacy!
    • 1-4 Players, 120 Minutes
  • Star Wars: Outer Rim (Sci-fi Adventure) 🏠
    • Star Wars characters race across the galaxy trying to achieve the most fame!
    • 1-4 Players, 180 Minutes
  • Eldritch Horror (Cosmic Horror) 🏠
    • An unknown Elder God approaches the world—and you must solve mysteries to stop it.
    • 1-4 Players, 180 Minutes
  • Merchants and Marauders (Pirates)
    • Live the life of an influential merchant or a dreaded pirate in the Caribbean.
    • 2-4 Players, 180 Minutes
  • Nemesis (Sci-fi Horror)
    • Survive an alien-infested spaceship but beware of other players and their agendas.
    • 2-5 Players, 180 Minutes
  • The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth (Fantasy Adventure) 🏠
    • Heroes explore Middle-earth, working together to combat evil in an epic campaign.
    • 1-4 Players, 120 Minutes

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Dexterity Games - Stacking and flicking

  • Junk Art
    • Travel the world, and create a masterpiece from eccentric pieces.
    • 2-6 Players, 30 Minutes
  • Menara 🏠
    • Explorers use their dexterity and cunning to resurrect the ancient temples of Menara.
    • 1-4 Players, 60 Minutes
  • Meeple Circus
    • Build your growing circus act of comically tiny acrobats, animals, and props.
    • 2-5 Players, 45 Minutes
  • Loony Quest
    • Draw a line from fire to dynamite and defeat a boss. Look at him, but draw elsewhere.
    • 2-5 Players, 30 Minutes
  • ICECOOL
    • Flick high school penguins to catch fish without getting caught by the hall monitor.
    • 3-4 Players, 30 Minutes
  • KLASK
    • Use magnets to push a ball into the goal, but beware of falling in yourself!
    • 2 Players, 10 Minutes

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Heavy Games - Long and complicated brain-burners

  • Dominant Species
    • With an ice age approaching, which animals will best propagate, migrate, and adapt?
    • 3-6 Players, 240 Minutes
  • Brass: Birmingham 🏠
    • Build networks, grow industries, and navigate the world of the Industrial Revolution.
    • 2-4 Players, 120 Minutes
  • Twilight Imperium
    • Build an intergalactic empire through trade, research, conquest and grand politics.
    • 4-6 Players, 480 Minutes
  • A Feast for Odin 🏠
    • Puzzle together the day-to-day life of a Viking village with exploration and raids.
    • 1-4 Players, 120 Minutes
  • Spirit Island ⭐🏠
    • Island Spirits join forces using elemental powers to defend their home from invaders.
    • 1-3 Players, 120 Minutes
  • Gaia Project 🏠
    • Expand, research, upgrade, and settle the galaxy with one of 14 factions.
    • 1-4 Players, 120 Minutes

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Neurodiversity Defined

What is neurodiversity?

You are probably familiar with the term diversity which is defined as "a range of different things". Neurodiversity refers to the variations of human brains and their divergence of capabilities. Neurodiversity encompasses Autistic Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, Synesthesia, Tourette Syndrome, etc.

Someone who is neurodiverse has neurological processes that are different from someone who is neurotypical. That difference is not defined as being either better or worse. In his book Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism Dr. Barry presents the concept of neurodiversity. According to him, instead of eradicating autistic habits, we should empower and support autistic abilities. He asserts that if we could see the strengths in each other we could make a compassionate and respectful world. This concept is vastly different from older (and incorrect) ways of thinking about neurological differences, which centered around finding “cures”.

The concept of neurodiversity celebrates the strengths of the community. Someone who is neurodiverse may exhibit uninhibited honesty; an eye for detail; or focus and determination in mastering certain skills, such as learning an instrument or becoming a subject matter expert. They might have a sharp sense of hearing or an incredible imagination.

The concept of neurodiversity also does not deny that there are inherent difficulties in navigating a world that is built to suit neurotypical needs. People who are neurodiverse might find it difficult to enjoy traditional social events, or to behave in ways that are considered suitable for an office environment. They may struggle with speech or reading comprehension.

What isn’t neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is not an illness to be cured. People who are neurodiverse may benefit from certain accommodations that help them to lead happier and safer lives. Accommodations may include headphones to dampen loud noises, tinted glasses to block out harsh lighting, medication to ease anxiety, etc. Neurotypical people may also benefit from these same accommodations at times.

Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation about neurodiversity. The myth that autism is a disability in need of a cure is perpetuated by groups such as Autism Speaks. Another myth is that all neurodiverse people have low IQ scores. While some do, neurodiverse people can also have high or even genius IQ scores. We believe that a key strategy for dismantling these and other myths is to get representation in all types of media, and particularly in gaming where neurodiverse traits can be showcased as strengths. Neurodiverse gaming is striving toward this goal. We are not alone in our mission. You may also enjoy sites like Art of Autism which curates artistic works by people with autism.

Please comment with your favorite organizations, movies, shows, games, books, etc. that showcase or include people with autism.


References

Ruthsatz, J (2015). Connection between genius and Autism. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1159/000373890

Barry, M (2015). Uniquely human:A different way of seeing autism. Retrieved from: https://autismawarenesscentre.com/

Jennifer, G (2019). 7 reasons neurodiversity matters. Retrieved from: https://www.teamfromautistics.com

Amanda, M (2014). Inside the brain. Retrieved from: https://www.understood.org

Benefits of Board Games for Children on the Autism Spectrum

Classic board games include chess, checkers, and the many games designed for a deck of cards. Modern classics include Scrabble, Monopoly, Uno, Chutes and Ladders, Clue, The Game of Life, and Candyland, among others. These games bring back fond memories of childhood for many adults, as they are often the center of family game nights, parties, and snow days off from school. Adults are sharing these games with their children or young family members in the hopes that they will experience the same joy from playing the classics. But will your neurodiverse loved one enjoy or benefit from playing these games? The answer is a resounding YES! Today we want to explore the benefits of board games for children with autism. You may have been led to believe that those on the spectrum cannot benefit from or participate in board games due to their social communication challenges and tendency toward self stimulation. However, there are actually several benefits of board games for children with autism:

Social interaction

Children on the spectrum have self-stimulating tendencies and self-isolation fixations, which makes social integration difficult. Most board games require at least two players, so there is always an element of social interaction involved. Board games create a therapeutic avenue to challenge and strengthen social skills, habits, and patterns.

Turn-taking

Turn taking is an essential skill to learn, and helps children develop patience and cooperation techniques. Children with ASD tend to be intolerant of turn-taking due to anxiety and frustration induced by sensory processing issues. Playing board games can gently instil the values of patience and temperance as turn taking is learned and practiced throughout gameplay. These skills can be transferred to other areas of daily life that will broaden the child’s access to environments that require mutual cooperation.

Language skills

Children with ASD may have difficulty developing language skills and understanding what others say to them. They also may have difficulty communicating nonverbally, such as through hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions. The atmosphere and comradery associated with playing board games are perfect for language acquisition. These games introduce players to new phrases associated with the theme of the game (e.g., “Yahtzee!”, “Go fish”, or “Pass go and collect $200”), and also help to practice common phrases (e.g., “Whose turn is it?”, “Great job!”, or “Good game.”). Word games, such as Scrabble, can also be used to help build vocabulary. I highly recommend you schedule game nights with your loved one with ASD. It will create great bonding opportunities and you will hopefully also see some of the benefits mentioned above.

Let the games begin!

-Ben

References

SLPs: Board Games Are a Winner for Autism Speech Language Therapy. (2019, July 25). Available at: https://therapyandwellnessconnection.com/speech-therapy/slps-board-games-are-a-winner-for-autism-speech-language-therapy

Jenna Wharff, E., 2020. 12 Popular Games Adapted For Children With Autism. [online] Blog.stageslearning.com. Available at: http://blog.stageslearning.com/blog/12-popular-games-adapted-for-children-with-autism.

ASD Recreational Video Game Benefits

Recreational play is a great source of joy and amusement for all children. Playing baseball or soccer; exploring a doll-house; skipping; swinging; or riding a bike are all a part of that special time every child looks forward to — play time. Video games are increasingly becoming a part of that routine. PlayStation, X-box, handheld devices (like the Nintendo 3DS), and computer games are becoming favorites for children, adolescents, and adults alike. A plethora of games, rated according to maturity, cater to both young and old.

People on the autism spectrum, both young and old, can benefit from such games. Below are some great benefits of video-gaming for people who are neurodiverse.

1. Joint Attention People on the spectrum, as well as other neurodiverse people, often have difficulty with joint attention, as has been shown through scientific research. Joint attention is the ability to follow someone else’s eye-gaze and concentrate on the same object as them. Video games command the attention of a person with ASD, and can hold that attention for an extended period of time. Joint attention can easily be achieved as a game spectator or a second player.

2. Sustained Attention People with ASD tend to struggle with sustained attention. Sustained attention is the ability to concentrate on an activity long enough to complete a task. Video games present sequenced objectives with attention grabbing storylines meant to engage the player. The skill of sustained attention can be learned by playing video games and transferred to other daily activities.

3. Muscle Strengthening and Fine Motor Skills Children who are neurodiverse may have a particular need for muscle strengthening and the development of fine motor skills. Adults who are neurodiverse may also need to work on their muscular system. The prolonged use of any hand-held controller or keyboard strengthens hand muscles and trains fine motor skills in the fingers.

4. Social Skills People with ASD or who are neurodiverse may have difficulty acquiring and utilising social skills. Video games can be used to build skills such as sharing or taking turns. They can also be used to build rapport around the interest in gaming. Video games may include life skills in the gameplay, such as getting dressed or organising items into categories.

If you are a parent or close relative of someone diagnosed with ASD, it would be a lovely choice to purchase a video game and engage your loved one with it. The sooner you start gaming, the sooner you can see the many benefits. In addition to the above quality of life improvements, gaming will also bring your loved one joy.

Until next time, happy gaming!

-Ben

References

Kulman, Randy. “Making Popular Video Games Good for Kids Affected by Autism.” Autism Parenting Magazine, Aug. 2019, www.autismparentingmagazine.com/video-games-for-autism-kids.

Kulman, Randy. “Video Games Can Help Children with Autism Function Better.” LearningWorks for Kids, 4 Mar. 2018, learningworksforkids.com/2018/03/video-games-can-help-children-autism-function-better/

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