Staff Picks: Board Game Recommendations for Your Self-Quarantine | General Arts & Culture | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

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Staff Picks: Board Game Recommendations for Your Self-Quarantine


Last Updated: 03/17/2020 4:34 pm

According the World Health Organization and other leading experts, one of the primary measures we should take to stay healthy and prevent the transmission of COVID-19 is social distancing. WHO recommends that you “maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.” The most fool-proof way to practice social distancing is to avoid gatherings and public spaces altogether and stay home as much as possible. The more people limit their movement, the more we can slow the spread of the novel coronavirus disease and not overwhelm our health care system.

So, what to do with all that time you’ll have while you’re stuck at home? Why not go back to a timeless, pre-Internet, family-bonding classic: board games. Here at Chronogram we’re all working from home, Slacking and Zooming away, but we asked everyone to weigh in on their favorite board game. Here’s what they said.

Favorite Board Games

Digital editor Marie Doyon says, “I’m old-school. Love me a tumbler of bourbon and a tight game of backgammon—pandemic or no. What can I say—I love the aesthetic of the game—wood inlays, the bone checkers—not to mention its fast and strategic." Perhaps she’s the only person under 70 still playing backgammon—we’ll never know—but she’s right that this two-player game is an all-too-often-forgotten classic. For something a little more modern, she adds, “I’m also obsessed with Settlers of Catan, a highly enjoyable game of island domination.” Unlike RISK, whose global scope means game play can last for hours and even days, Setters of Catan is relatively quick. In this strategy game, players collect resources like brick, wool, and lumber and use them to build roads, settlements, and cities and trade with fellow players on the path to power, property, and wealth.

Business Manager Molly Sterrs is a fan of Game of Life: Quarter Life Crisis Edition, which is right in line with her sardonic, Millennial sense of humor. “You literally start out in debt, which is super accurate,” she explains. “There’s no real clear path forward as far as game play goes (also accurate) and every occupation comes with a side job because no one can survive on one income anymore.” Some of us aren’t exactly sure why playing this as a board game would be any more fun than the real daily struggle, but hey, to each their own.

Three of our team members weighed in with an oldie but goodie: Scrabble, which you can play with 2-4 people. Sales manager Lisa Montanaro says, “I love playing Scrabble with my mom, she's a wizard. She always beats me, I wish I could say I am letting her win, but I'm not, she's that good.” Go mom. Paula Boyajian, advertising admin for Rural Intelligence, adds, “Scrabble keeps my brain active while I'm social distancing.” She’s right: Neuroplasticity is important, now more than ever. Flex those vocab muscles, we don’t want anyone’s brain going flabby in quarantine. And if you’re at home all by yourself, you can always play Scrabble online.

Unsurprisingly, we also had several votes for Scattergories. Editorial intern Abby Foster says, “I will always suggest this game because it’s all about who can think outside of the box.” (We think she could’ve worked a bit harder on that description, but hey, she’s on spring break, and anyway, you get the idea.) If you’ve never played Scattergories, it’s a, well, a category-based party game where everyone tries to name a different object in a set of categories, with a fixed first letter and time limit. You can play with anywhere from two to six people. Oh and the board game itself isn’t strictly necessary. You can play this sitting around the table and coming up with categories.

Upstate House editor Susan Piperato recommends Othello. This abstract strategy game, originally called Reversi (LOL), is played on an 8-by-8 un-checkered board with 64 “discs” that have one color on each side. Players take turns strategically placing their discs to try and overturn their opponents discs to their color. Game play ends when all 64 boxes on the board are filled, and whoever has the most discs in their color wins.

Editorial director Brian Mahoney votes for Exploding Kittens, which he describes as “a playing card game modelled on Russian Roulette that's as clever as Cards Against Humanity but not nearly as misanthropic.” OK so it’s not a board game, but he’s the boss so we’ll let it slide. He adds, “Even small(ish) children can play, as can childish grownups, like me. It's got weaponized back hair, magical enchiladas, the aforementioned blown-apart felines, and the opportunity for back-stabbing as in games like Sorry!”

This COVID-19 season, you can find sponsored content editor Ashleigh Lovelace playing Ticket to Ride. “It’s delightfully nerdy,” she says. In this Monopoly-like game, two to five players compete to collect matching train cards and claim train routes between major North American cities. The more routes you have, and the longer they are, the more points you get.

Marketing director Samantha Liotta advocates for the hilarious, highly unpredictable party game Quelf, in which players draw from one of five card categories, and may end up doing anything from performing a number to answering a trivia question to doing a stunt. Cop out of your card's challenge and you lose points. 

If you’re still looking for ideas to jog your memory, some other classic games we’re playing now are Clue, Monopoly, Cranium, and MastermindStay safe out there, and happy gaming!

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