Starting to feel a little stir-crazy? Need something to entertain yourself and your household? You’ve come to the right place! Read on to discover 10 games to enjoy amid a quarantine…
Now that 2020 has been canceled, you might find yourself like me wondering what the heck you are going to do with all this free time! Of course, you could write a random blog post to keep yourself sane (e.g. this one). Or if you want to make things really interesting, you can find yourself a fun new activity to enjoy with a small group of fellow humans in hazmat suits.
Seeing how going out is getting to be a bit taboo at the moment, I’m going to present to you a list of games that can be delivered to your quarantined doorstep by the brave souls of Amazon’s delivery service. Just make sure to submerge the package in bleach for 1 hour before opening it.
My other criteria for selecting games included things like: plays well a lower player counts, easily accessible for almost anyone in your household, currently in stock and affordable, especially fitting for a quarantine, and some newer games that are flying under the radar (for those of you who have already played everything else).
Right then, let’s get started!
#1 For Sale
Oh baby. This one makes me giddy with hype just thinking about it.
Is there still even hype for this 1997 game? There absolutely should be. For Sale is one of the best fillers to hit our table in a very long time. I recently highlighted the crunchy meaningful decisions it provides in another blog post. The tasty combination of bluffing and bidding morph an appetizer game into a fantastic feast of fun.
In my opinion, the box art does this game a huge disservice in looking generic, cheap, and flavorless. It’s even more surprising to contrast that with the charming card art and solid quality of components (I’m referring to the normal version linked above, NOT the travel version with the thin paper coins).
For Sale reaches the loftiest heights thanks to its dead simple rules, zippy play time, meaty strategy, and tense gameplay. This is one you can break out anybody… your parents, your uncle, your kids, your neighbors that you trust when they say they’re not sick… and it is guaranteed to be a blast!
The world has a serious problem right now, and that problem is that Mandala is flying under everyone’s radars! I honestly believe Lookout Games has an evergreen classic on their hands if they can just get some belated hotness momentum going with this one.
The game is beautifully simple: either play a set of cards onto your side or a single card into the middle. But from that simplicity bursts a wicked ride through your rival’s mind as you battle in a contest of wits and risks. This 20-minute thrill ride will have you repeatedly coming back for more.
Mandala joins the ranks of other great two player classics in our collection (Jaipur, Hanamikoji, Patchwork, Fox in the Forest, etc.) thanks to its addictive elegance, speed, and tension.
#3 Baba is You for Nintendo Switch, PC
Now hold on, I know what you’re thinking: “What the heck, this is a board game blog?!” That may be true, but what you haven’t considered is that your poor friend, Charley, who is locked in his apartment all by himself with nobody else to gather around the table doesn’t like to play board games solo! What about him, eh?!? Well, I’ll tell you what. He’s gonna have the time of his life playing Baba is You on his Nintendo Switch (or PC).
This one’s for all you brave souls out there who don’t back down from a brain melting puzzle. The game is extremely easy to play, but completing all of its 200+ levels is a disgustingly tasty challenge. To play, simply move good old Baba around (up, down, left, or right) and solve the endless vat of delightful mysteries. You see, our friend Baba here can push things around like they are sliding blocks. These pushable things are literally ANYTHING you see on the screen from the word “Key” to the key itself… of course, if the words line up into a rule, then Baba (and the level) must abide by those rules.
As you can see in the image above, “Baba is You” means that when you press right, Baba moves right. “Flag is Win” means that you (Baba) simply need to touch the flag to win. “Door is Stop” means that Baba can’t push the door, but “Door is Shut” means that the door can be opened. Hmmm, I wonder what happens if Baba starts pushing that nearby “Is” around… Even more, I wonder what happens when something else gets pushed in front of “is You.” **heavy breathing intensifies**
Baba is You is easily one of the best puzzle games ever crafted in the history of Puzzlization. You owe it to yourself to give it a try! Just don’t expect to beat it completely before this “Corona is You” thing is finished.
Looking to change things up from the legendary Azul (our top recommended game that everyone should try)? Sagrada makes for a scrumptious substitute! This gorgeous game of crafting a stained glass window from colorful dice has been one of my wife’s absolute favorites from the moment we first tried it. Sometimes it feels nice to just sit back and craft your own window.
This one’s for all you barbarians out there still throwing underground party game nights with illegal OUTSIDERS. Trophies comes in an affordably stunning tin and tests your quick wits against others in a quick and engaging experience.
In the game, the judge holds the deck, reads a topic from the back card, and shows the group a random letter on the front card. Be the first to say a relevant word that starts with the letter and fits the topic to win the trophy card! Best of all, the player with the most trophy cards at the end of the game earns the exclusive right of hoisting the tiny metal trophy high above their head in sweet, glorious triumph.
Some day I will be the Lord of the Trophies. Some day….
#6 That’s Pretty Clever
Well, well, well. You think you’re pretty clever, eh? We’ll see about that.
That’s Pretty Clever (also known as Ganz Schon Clever) is a smash-hit Roll & Write game from 2018. On your turn, simply roll 6 different colored dice and select one to write onto your scoring pad; rolling the dice and selecting one is performed 3 times each turn. What’s so clever about that, you ask?
The catch is that if you select a die that had a super good roll (like a 6), then you have to discard every other die that had a lower number. This means that you can’t roll those dice and select them during your second and third rolls of your turn! Worse still, any dice that you didn’t select will end up on the (literal) silver platter for your opponents to cherry pick one of for their own sheets! Being clever is not just about choosing the right dice at the right time, but it’s also about keeping the best rolls away from your opponents.
This quick cornucopia of clever combos has brought us to the table many, many times. Even with relatively low player interaction, the game is one that I’ve found to contain plenty of tension to satisfy my gaming palate.
Needing a little more nature in your life? Why not try out my favorite nature game, Arboretum (coming in strong at my 14th favorite game of all time)? You’ll feel much more refreshed after taking the opportunity to stab 1-3 other people in the back with this cutthroat game of palpable tension and leafy fun. Don’t be scared off by all my knife talk; this one is beautifully simple and fast.
#8 Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Nintendo Switch
Come live your best life on your very own deserted island courtesy of Tom Nook’s Deserted Island Getaway Package. We still have a week to wait before this game releases on Nintendo Switch, but after that, I won’t blame you if you secretly wish for a little more quarantine time thanks to this delightful little experience.
If you’re anything like myself, you might take a glance a this historical/political game called Watergate and think to yourself, “That looks cool, but it’s probably not for me.” Now you just hold it right there. Give me one paragraph to change your mind:
From a first glance, Watergate looks intimidating and complex, but that is FAR from the truth. This game is so smooth and streamlined, that you’ll be fully engaged within no time! In this thematic two-player game, one person will play as the Nixon Administration and the other will play as Journalist seeking to bring them down. In simple terms, players are fighting for control over tokens on a tug-of-war track that will either help to block or create paths on the pin-board. The asymmetric tug-of-war gameplay makes for a deliciously tense experience as Nixon tries to bury the evidence that the Journalist continually digs up. Perhaps best of all, this recently released hit plays in roughly 45 minutes and only costs $30.
You knew it was coming. No quarantine entertainment list is complete without the legendary Pandemic itself. The link above simply takes you to the search results for “Pandemic Board Game” on Amazon, but let me offer you a little more direction…
If you have never played Pandemic, then the best place to start is with the old reliable vanilla version. We’ve recommended this cooperative classic before, and for good reason. There is something so satisfying about clearing those disease cubes off the map and finding a cure as a team.
If you want to try the hottest of the bunch, then Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is it. This game starts out as your classic Pandemic, but it incrementally adds layers and drama over the course of 12 sessions as you unveil stickers, pieces, and cards to be added to the components and rules. My wife and I have had a blast taking on the challenge each and every time (we’re currently more than half way through the sessions).
If you really want to change things up, then I hear Pandemic Iberia (pictured above) is a knock-out spin-off. This one keeps things fresh by requiring players to develop rail networks and distribute purified water.
10 Cloverfield Lane, Contagion
These obviously aren’t games, but they’re thematically appropriate entertainment none-the-less. I’m not sure how many quarantine-style movies exist in this world, but 10 Cloverfield Lane has gotta be one of the best; it’s perfect for an evening of sweaty palms and clenched cheeks. As for a movie to help you feel extra anxious about COVID-19, Contagion is is your best bet. Happy viewing!