Which board games are right for your family?

By Cody Carlson

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18 2014 3:50 p.m. MST

Examples of cooperative games are Pandemic, Darkest Night, Flash Point: Fire Rescue, Freedom: The Underground Railroad and Eldritch Horror.

A close cousin to the cooperative game is the hidden traitor/secret identities game. A hidden traitor game plays much the same as a cooperative game, though with an important twist. Though all of the players seem to be working together, one or more players is secretly a traitor and is working against the other players. The traitor wins only if the other players lose. These are really fun games, but they contain a healthy dose of paranoia, and you don't want to play these kinds of games with people who take in-game betrayal too seriously.

Examples of hidden traitor/secret identities games are Shadows Over Camelot, Battlestar Galactica and The Resistance.

A pickup and deliver game is just what it sounds like. Players move around the board, taking items from one space to another, usually in a race to get the most victory points. Many times, players are able to choose which items they will carry and where to drop them off, ensuring a lot of options throughout the game.

Examples of pickup and deliver games are Merchants and Marauders, Cinque Terre and Merchant of Venus.

Hidden-movement games have one player secretly moving about the board, which is usually a map of a city or country, while the others try to seek him out. These games are often very frustrating as the key player usually has many options to elude his hunters, but they also offer tense and thrilling moments as the hunters' ring tightens around their prey.

Examples of hidden-movement games are Scotland Yard, Fury of Dracula and Letters from Whitechapel.

It used to be that a tape measure was standard equipment for miniatures games. Now, many miniatures games come with cool template or card mechanics that allow players to move their minis across the board and engage in combat. Miniatures games consist of small models, often airplanes, starships or figures, that duel it out with no need for a board. Miniatures games are a whole lot of fun because they bring a real toy factor to the table.

Examples of miniatures games are Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, Star Trek: Attack Wing, Wings of Glory and Sails of Glory.

Once you've played many of these games, you may decide to graduate to epic civilization-building games and grand adventure games. Typically, these are games that focus on many different aspects of play and sport different mechanics. These games take a long time to learn and a long time to play, but they offer some really unique excitement and truly legendary experiences.

Examples of some these heavier games include Twilight Imperium, Clash of Cultures, Mage Knight, War of the Ring, Space Empires 4x and Eclipse.

There are many great online resources that offer reviews and other information about these and other games. Tom Vasel and his crew at dicetower.com boast hundreds of board game reviews and some really great information on the board game industry. At boardgamegeek.com, you will find a wealth of information for virtually every board game ever created.

Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) hosts a YouTube series called Tabletop in which he and other celebrities play through many of these games. Closer to home, Trent Howell offers board game reviews from a family perspective here in Utah on his website The Board Game Family.

The Salt Lake Valley alone boasts many great board game stores specializing in many of these niche games. Epic Puzzles and Games, Fongo Bongo Games, Game Haven, Game Night Games and Hastur Games & Comics all offer demo games that you can stop by and play in the store. This a great way to familiarize yourself with a game and make sure it's right for you before you buy it.

Cody K. Carlson holds a master's degree in history from the University of Utah and currently teaches at SLCC. He has also appeared on many local stages, including Hale Centre Theatre and Off Broadway Theatre. Email: ckcarlson76@gmail.com

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