10 Great Games You Probably Haven't Heard Of

10 Great Games
We are something of a board game family. At some point Jordan discovered German board games and ever since then we've spent a lot of time playing games. I'm not quite sure what it is about Germany and why they make such interesting games, but I guess that's how things go. I know some of the more popular games in America are Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne, but there are lots more where those came from.

My favorite games tend to be on the shorter and simpler side than Jordan's. Mostly I think it's because I never win the longer games, and while I don't need to win all the time to be happy, I do at least like to believe I could win, and with the longer games I just don't have the track record to make that true. But that does mean that most of these games are great even if you haven't played a lot of games.

The data on the games comes from BoardGameGeek, where they will overwhelm you with game data.

10. Power Grid
Playing Time: 2 hours
Best With: 4, 5 players
Recommended With: 3, 4, 5, 6 players

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While I do love this game, I wouldn't rush out and buy it if you haven't played a lot games. The first time I saw it I refused to play it, because, well, it's really ugly. The game revolves around buying power plants and powering cities, and the game has a polluted look: dark, grungy colors. The main reason I like this game is that contrary to what I said earlier, for some reason I can actually win this game, and so I can feel hopeful while we're playing that I have a chance.


9. The Princes of Florence
Playing Time: 1.5 hours
Best With: 5 players
Recommended With: 3, 4, 5 players

Princes of Florence

This is another game I wouldn't rush out and buy, but I do love it, even though I never win. This is the kind of game where it really doesn't matter if you win or not, I always have a good time building my palazzo and creating various works of art. Basically, you are a family in Florence during the Renaissance and you are trying to become the most prestigious through your artists. Sounds fun doesn't it?


8. Inkognito
Playing Time: 1.5 hours
Best With: 4 players
Recommended With: 4 players

Inkognito

I've only played this game a couple times, and we don't own it, but I would like to. It's basically like Clue, you're trying to solve a mystery by asking people to see their cards, but you also have a secret partner you're trying to discover and a secret task to accomplish with them. Secretive gestures are encouraged and you definitely feel like a secret operative. Plus the game is set during Carnival time in Venice, so you know, extra cool points.


7. Citadels
Playing Time: 1.5 hours
Recommended With: 2-7 players

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Apparently this is a long game, but it doesn't feel like. I would consider it to be a short one. Each round everyone picks a new role: King, Thief, Assassin, Magician...which gives you a specialty during the round while you try and build a magnificent city. There's some good, fun backstabbing with stealing and murder. But generally not enough to make you hate each other by the end.


6. Category 5
Playing Time: 45 minutes
Recommended With: 4-10 players

Category 5

Unfortunately this game is out of print, and if you want to buy it you have to go for the slightly less cool Slide 5. While it's mostly the exact same game, it now has a meaningless theme of skiing, while the old one had the super menacing theme of hurricanes. A quick and easy, although often painful, card game. Anyone can play, even if they aren't really into strategy because often luck is just as useful as thinking in this game.


5. San Juan
Playing Time: 45 minutes
Recommended With: 2-4 players

San Juan

While a lot of people love the game Puerto Rico, I prefer the quicker card game version of San Juan. It uses the same theme from Puerto Rico of growing, producing and shipping, but only with cards.


4. Alhambra
Playing Time: 60 minutes
Recommended With: 2-4 players

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This game is like an easier and faster Princes of Florence. You are trying to build a fancy Alhambra, while paying your workers in different currencies. It's pretty fast to understand and fun to play because no one can directly ruin your great building (something I really hate in games).


3. Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper
Playing Time: 45 minutes
Recommended With: 2-4 players

Jack the Ripper

I love this game. It's basically a rummy game with a theme, in this case determining who Jack the Ripper is. I love card games, but Jordan doesn't, and this game with it's interesting theme is a great compromise for us.


2. 7 Wonders
Playing Time: 30 minutes
Recommended With: 2-7 players

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I LOVE this game! It's great with any number of players, and because of the style of play it never slows down, even with seven people. It's also another game where winning is hardly as cool as the great stuff you build during the game. And there's no direct competition with your neighbors, so no chance of someone coming in to bury your recently built wonder.


1. 10 Days
Playing Time: 30 minutes
Recommended With: 2-4 players

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This has been my favorite game for a while now. It's fast, easy to understand and I'm pretty good at it (especially 10 Days in Africa). There are several versions of this game: Africa, Europe, USA, Asia, and the Americas. I would strongly suggest getting one where your geography is questionable because it's seriously the best way to learn where stuff is. Even with all the traveling I've done, it's still a challenge to know exactly where something is. But after playing this game, you're a pro. I've even picked up various capitals as we've played. It's a great mix of a little bit of luck and a deceptive amount of strategy. ❤❤❤
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Recent Comments

Robyn Denton
Robyn Denton Fri, 02/07/2014 - 14:22

I've always enjoyed board games but have no one to play them with now. One game we bought second-hand years ago was called Trumpalar - soft of a fantasy theme, and apparently based on a series of books. I've never seen the books, and have never seen the game again. Really unusual game, though.

Amber Peace
Amber Peace Sat, 01/04/2014 - 09:48

Lord of Waterdeep was the game I couldn't remember. I highly suggest it!

Karina Debard
Karina Debard Tue, 12/31/2013 - 15:58

Aw, I love board games! They're so entertaining and in most cases you learn new things and/or improve your skills (strategy, deduction, fast thinking, etc.) And I completely agree with Marisa: with a good, compelling game, the fun is in the playing not in the winning because then the game is over!

Michelle Munday
Michelle Munday Thu, 10/10/2013 - 02:29

I haven't heard of any of those games but like Aunt Lew Ward I LOVE Apples to Apples

Aunt Lew Ward
Aunt Lew Ward Wed, 08/21/2013 - 09:21

I love games and we play a lot of games in our family. With folks from age 4 - 71 living in the same house it can be a challenge to find a game we can all enjoy. We love Apples to Apples and I can't believe I haven't heard of any of these. Can't wait to find a few of these and play especially once the pool closes after Labor Day.

Magdalena Einarsen
Magdalena Einarsen Sat, 06/01/2013 - 12:40

Ah Inkognito! One of my favourite games! To me this game is not about winning, I just have a blast playing it. Ah Venice! :-D

Della lautzenhiser
Della lautzenhiser Sat, 04/06/2013 - 11:16

Haven't heard of any of these either. I play games with my sister and her kids sometimes. We play mostly trivia games. These sound interesting though!

Heather Johannessen
Heather Johannessen Tue, 02/26/2013 - 10:31

In a few short days we too might own a 10 days game. It looks really fun!

Candi Stears
Candi Stears Wed, 02/06/2013 - 11:42

I must say, I tooootally thought I would have at least heard of most of the games because me and my family are such game freaks, but I hadn't heard of ANY of these!!!!!!! How fun!!! There are a few that are "like" some other games I have played, but not totally the same. I really want to try some of these out, especially the "Mystery Rummy" and the "Category 5" games (and others too)!

christy cole
christy cole Sun, 02/03/2013 - 14:57

Definitely going to have to check out a few of these. Our favorite games are Apples-to-Apples, Pictureka and Cheat (aka Bulls**t), with a plain deck of cards.

Harriett Humphries
Harriett Humphries Sat, 01/26/2013 - 20:49

We have a group of friends who have been playing cards and board games together for about 45 years. Some of these definitely will make it into our inventory.

Briana Vincent
Briana Vincent Fri, 01/25/2013 - 12:45

My family and I also gather for board games and I'm always on the hunt for something new. I will have to jot the titles down.

Kimberly Tanner
Kimberly Tanner Thu, 01/24/2013 - 10:50

What a fun post! We love these kind of games, although we don't play as much as I'd like. Our littlest kids are finally getting old enough to actually understand and can play some of them. They were really getting into Trans America over Christmas break. 10 Days sounds like one we need to get soon!

Diana Lee
Diana Lee Thu, 01/24/2013 - 09:31

Cool list of games! i should definitely look into more games suitable for my kids as it's a great way to fill the afternoons. We just got a simple Who's Who, and my 5-year-old loves it! We also own an Angry Birds card game - i should probably learn it and play it with my son sometime over the week!

Laura Wellinghoff
Laura Wellinghoff Tue, 01/22/2013 - 12:44

Love the Catan series, Seafarers, and Dominion, so we may have to check out some of these games. Thanks for discussing them!

Nancy Weiss
Nancy Weiss Tue, 01/22/2013 - 05:08

Sad to say I have not heard of any of these:( One of my resolutions (I know, I know - I promise to keep it) for the new year is to bring back to my house "family game night." I feel my kids are spending waaaaaay to much time on electronic devices of all shapes and sizes and we need to step back and return to simpler times (if even for a couple of hours on a Friday night). Thanks for this great list to get us started! Wish me luck!:)

Marisa Lerin
Marisa Lerin Sat, 01/19/2013 - 00:45

@Violet: I've played Race for the Galaxy a few times, but I still prefer San Juan. Race for the Galaxy is a bit complex and I haven't quite wrapped my head around it...I've played Pandemic and I love Bohnanza, and I've seen Arkham Horror being played...maybe we'll have to start a forum thread on game playing...

@Sue: What photo were you looking at?

Malou Reyners
Malou Reyners Fri, 01/18/2013 - 14:11

I know, and own, one of these games. But the other ones sound pretty awesome too. I'm definitely gonna do some more research!

Sue Cimini
Sue Cimini Thu, 01/17/2013 - 14:05

I am familiar with two of them. My husband is an avid board gamer and he really enjoyed this post. Just this past weekend we were trying to figure out what game you guys were playing in one of your flickr pictures. :)

Joyce Stallworth
Joyce Stallworth Thu, 01/17/2013 - 02:47

We love Catan and Ticket to Ride, but the 10 Days series sounds awesome - and also like I might have a chance of winning! Off to check it out. Thanks Marissa.

Violet Irisovna
Violet Irisovna Thu, 01/17/2013 - 02:39

Another thing to add to my list of reasons why you and Jordan are awesome. I am a huge game player, too! I haven't played many on your list, but I have played Power Grid (I agree with you about the ugly) and 7 Wonders, and I own and love Citadels. My favorite game of all time is Race for the Galaxy (steep learning curve but well worth it), and others that I love are Dominion and Pandemic (which is cooperative). Games that are super fun but are also good for people who aren't experienced game players (including older kids) are Bohnanza and Tobago. Have you played any of these?

Before I started grad school last year I had a big circle of gaming friends and played games several times a week, including multi-hour games like Arkham Horror, which can take about 5 or 6 hours (but it's cooperative, so you might enjoy it despite the length). Now I'm so busy I'm grateful for stuff like Ascension and Elder Sign on the iPad, so I can squeeze in a little gaming against the AI now and then between bouts of studying! Someday my game life will begin again, I hope.

Well there I go totally geeking out :) Games and YA lit are two things I can talk about enthusiastically forever.

PS @Lady Phillippa, if you happen to read this: Finding good 2 player games can be tough! My partner and I were stumped for a while before we did some major research. Some really fun ones are Jambo, Pandemic, and Race for the Galaxy. Citadels works with 2 as well.

Lórien Rezende
Lórien Rezende Thu, 01/17/2013 - 00:40

I´ve never played any of these :( Here in Brazil It´s very hard to find good games, only the most simple of them have national versions, and bringing them from outside is expensive, and, sometimes, they don´t arrive safe :( Also, most people still think here that adults don´t play board games and other card games than the traditional playing cards. But, as I am in the biggest city in the country, We have 2 or 3 "luderias", places where we can rent a table and a board game to play with friends. So, I´ll repin this post to try to find one of the games you told about when I can go to one of them.

Heidi Shafer
Heidi Shafer Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:05

I love the 10 Days games! We have two of them so far. Some of those others sound intriguing.

Sunny Faith Rush
Sunny Faith Rush Wed, 01/16/2013 - 10:57

I haven't heard of any of these games, so I appreciate the info on them. I love mystery and playing gin, so that Jack The Ripper game would be perfect for me.

Gundi Wagner
Gundi Wagner Wed, 01/16/2013 - 10:45

Wow! So many games ...I don't know any of them :D

Ica Jovita
Ica Jovita Wed, 01/16/2013 - 10:24

wow... we love board game too... but you're right, some of them i've never heard of.
you should try to play : ticket to ride, its fun and have a lot of series or expansions. kingsburg, monopoly u-build, chateau roquefort.... Thans for the post :)

Kaleena Farmer
Kaleena Farmer Wed, 01/16/2013 - 09:30

We actually have 7 Wonders it is great fun! After reading this post though, I think I will check out the 10 Days games ^^

Candy Lee
Candy Lee Wed, 01/16/2013 - 09:29

Wow, Thanks for the info. These would make great Christmas presents

Véronique Van Weddingen
Véronique Van Weddingen Wed, 01/16/2013 - 09:19

Super, nous aussi on adore les jeux de société, mais tous ceux que tu as présentés sur tes photos n'existent pas chez nous ! Bon jeux !!! Véronique

Meridy Reeve
Meridy Reeve Wed, 01/16/2013 - 08:47

Fun post! I'm going to have to make a note of a few of these.

Jessica Alexandra
Jessica Alexandra Wed, 01/16/2013 - 08:11

Wow! I've never heard of any of them. XD

Thanks for sharing!

Lady Phillippa
Lady Phillippa Wed, 01/16/2013 - 05:21

I've heard of Princes of Florence, and it totally appeals to the art history nerd in me. Good to know it's worth it. I just got my husband Lost Cities for Christmas, which is useful because a lot of these games require many players, and it's often just the 2 of us! I'm intrigued by 7 Wonders & 10 Days. Thanks for the reviews & recommendations!

Gigi Lamb
Gigi Lamb Wed, 01/16/2013 - 05:04

Thanks for your reviews! I've heard of most of them, but have yet to play them all. I've played Alhambra, San Juan, & own Citadels (w/expansion!) I think my fav among these has been Citadels - love those "gold coins" which look like yummy butterscotch.

Lana Fischer
Lana Fischer Wed, 01/16/2013 - 02:14

How interesting this was to read!! I think I would love the rummy card game...that has been an all time favorite since I was a kid. Thanks for posting these!