America’s Most Popular Board Games

11/01/2023
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    Chess tops the World of Card Games surveyed list of favorite games. (AP)
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    Chinese gamers invented Go more than 2,500 years ago. Some believe it’s the oldest board game continuously played into the present day. (Public domain)
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    Board games can bring family and friends together. (AP/Stacie Freudenberg)
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    Tantrum House, a board game media group, produces family-friendly game reviews and how-to-play videos. (Tantrum House)
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    Kevin Delp enjoys playing strategy board game Lewis and Clark. (Handout)
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Cranium. Blokus. Risk. For centuries, humans have played board games for entertainment, camaraderie, and fun. Today’s favorites—and why they’re preferred—may surprise you.

With 3,000 to 5,000 new ones emerging yearly, choosing a favorite board game can be daunting. Where even to start? A recent study could narrow choices for game nights or gift-giving.

A World of Card Games (WOCG) survey examined Google searches for 605 games. The more searches, the higher the rank.

At nearly 500,000 monthly searches, Chess tops the list. “Chess is a cultural touchstone, with terms such as ‘checkmate’ being a staple of the English language,” says a WOCG spokesperson.

Thanks to its ease and high satisfaction elements, (jumping and crowning? Yes, please!) Checkers holds second place.

Monopoly, a fairly recent invention, takes third.

The Top 10 continues with a mix of classic and modern games, in ranked order: Clue, Mancala, Rummikub, Pictionary, Chinese Checkers, and strategy game Go.

Wrapping up the list is Settlers of Catan. Some call Settlers a “gateway board game.” It encourages players to try more complex games. Settlers or one of its extensions make great presents.

Kevin Delp is Chief Communications Officer at Tantrum House, a board game media group. Tantrum House (TH) produces family-friendly game-related content like reviews and how-to-play videos on a YouTube channel. The company’s purpose statement speaks of being “inspired by the Perfect Creator, the True Joy-Giver.”

The TH team has reviewed games since 2015. TH evaluates about 600 games per year.

Asked about the number of yearly game debuts, Delp says publishers create many games hoping for that winner-in-a-haystack—one that will catch on and stick.

Delp’s current favorite is Lewis and Clark. He appreciates the decision-making aspects of traveling with the famous explorers. But his favorite feature may be the artwork by Vincent Dutrait.

Most reviewers mention art or game pieces when naming favorites. Kevin says publishers who invest in producing quality games also pursue good art for those products.

Melissa Delp adds, “A mismatch in art style and gameplay (cute animal cartoons for a mean war game) can actually decrease people’s enjoyment because their expectations weren’t met.”

Other games favored by TH reviewers include Castle of Mad King Ludwig (Melissa’s fave), Wavelength, and Kingsburg.

Why should Christians enjoy games? Maybe the teamwork, collaboration, humility, and grace required by board game participation—in victory or in loss—give opportunity to practice the wisdom from above mentioned in James 3:16-18.

Will you give or ask for a board game this Christmas? Does your family spend holiday time playing games? Share your top choices. Write to worldteeneditor@gwnews.com. Bonus points for including photos!

Why? Board games stand the test of time for gift-giving and skill- and community-building. Playing games can be a wholesome means of developing relationships, teamwork, and sportsmanship.

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