It goes without saying that 2020 hasn’t had the best start. Amongst all the doom and gloom, however, there has been one small ray of sunshine — it’s brought some pretty nifty new board games to the table.
So, if you want something to take your mind off all the scary stuff, look no further. Here are the best new board games to keep you smiling in 2020.
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Calico (1-4 players)
Competitive cat napping at its finest.
It’s hard to find a board game that’s more easy-going than this. Players each take turns creating their perfect quilt, adding new colours and special buttons along the way. If they make it look cosy enough, they’ll attract a nearby cat — which just makes the quilt all the more valuable at the end of the game.
Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power (2-4 players)
Spoiler: this time, the bad guys win.
The original Disney Villainous did a great job of making you feel like a cartoon villain taking over the world. The newest edition is more of the same, except now, players are fighting to dominate the Marvel Universe instead. With three different difficulty settings and five unique characters to try out, this is a must-have for any Marvel fans out there (or anyone who needs to practice their evil laugh).
Gorilla Marketing (3-8 players)
Adverts that are so stupid, they just might work.
Ever walked past a billboard and thought, “Who the hell gave this the green light”? Well, after a few rounds of this, you might be a bit more sympathetic. Players start by picking a product at random. Then, with the help of eight-letter dice, they create a name and tagline to go with it. At the end, the player with the most awards wins the admiration of their colleagues… and a handful of bananas to boot.
Herd Mentality (3-20 players)
Get ready to think like a cow.
Herd Mentality is a party game with one simple, black and white mission: write down the same thing as everyone else. Each round, a question gets read out, then everyone secretly writes down an answer. If your answer is part of the majority, you win cow tokens. If your answer is the odd one out, however, then you’ll land the dreaded pink cow — and your tokens won’t be worth a thing!
Adventure Mart (2-4 players)
Coming soon to a magical marketplace near you.
In a lot of fantasy games, you’ll play as the hero, slashing through monsters and scrambling across dungeons. In this deck builder, however, you’ll play as the nearby shopkeeper, selling all the funky equipment to the heroes instead. From heatproof gauntlets to pocket-sized dragons, it’s an all-out race to sell out and cash in before your neighbours get a chance to steal your gold.
Tranquillity (1-5 players)
Finally, some peace and quiet.
If you’re not a fan of fast and frantic party games, this might be more up your street. In this co-op game, players work together to fill up a grid of Island Cards before they run out of time. The gameplay is simple and the first few turns are usually a breeze. However, there’s a very strict “no talking” rule on this boat — which means it won’t be plain sailing for long.
Blockbuster Returns (4-20 players)
This time, the sequel is just as good.
Blockbuster is back with a standalone sequel, filled with all the best movies from the past 10 years. Just like the original, the game is split into two fast-paced rounds. This time, however, there’s a whole new cast of Movie Cards to take on, featuring four brand new genres. Race to collect two movies from each category or combine it with the original game for a proper, big-budget showdown.
Pandemic Season 0 (2-4 players)
The piece of history we’ve all been waiting for.
When Pandemic Legacy first hit the shelves, it’s safe to say that everyone lost their minds a bit. Now, with all sorts of expansions under their belt, the Pandemic Team are sending players into the past for a Cold War thriller. Instead of chasing a disease around the globe, players will be chasing Soviet spies and a sinister-sounding bioweapon known only as ‘Project MEDUSA’. This one’s not out yet and it’s all a bit mysterious — but we’re very excited.
P for Pizza (2-4 players)
Perfect for any occasion — just like pizza!
We call this one “the easy-cheesy letter game”, but you don’t need super spelling skills or perfect pizza knowledge to play. You just need to be able to shout out words (and be speedy about it). Each round, match up a letter with the category opposite and shout out an answer. The speediest player wins the slice!
Office Space (2-10 players)
More fun than working, less effort than burning down the office.
A lot of us are still waiting to go back into the office, but when we do, this game will be first on the agenda. The licensed successor to Don’t Get Got, this is a secret missions game that’s all about tricking your friends at work. There’s 120 missions, from convincing a colleague that the printer is voice-activated to stealing a stapler off someone’s desk, and it’s first to complete three wins. Perfect for when you’ve got a “bad case of the Mondays”.
Trial by Trolley (3-13 players)
A party game about moral dilemmas and trolley murder.
Unsurprisingly, this game starts with a murder. After that it’s a race to pinpoint the “demon” player before it’s too late. Sure, it’s a familiar mechanic, but it contains all sorts of twists and turns that make it totally unique. The narrator can lie to the players, you can get each other drunk and (most importantly) if you die, you get to come back as a ghost and haunt your friends. That’ll teach them.
TOTP (4-20 players)
Coming in at number… thirteen!
Coming in at number… thirteen!
MTV (4-20 players)
The throwback music party game
Back to the Future: Back in Time (2-4 players)
Great Scott Marty — we’re in a board game!
One minute you’re in the driver’s seat of a DeLorean, the next you’re stuck in the year 1955. In this fully co-op game, players must work together to move around Hill Valley, ticking items off a very tricky to-do list before their time runs out. If players manage to beat Biff, fix the DeLorean and play matchmaker for George and Lorraine, they just might make it back to the present day. However, if the photo fades before you can finish the job and hit 88mph… well, you better wave goodbye to your future!
Muffin Time (2-6 players)
Be ready for anything (literally anything).
When we say, “It’s Muffin Time”, we mean it’s time for an absolutely unpredictable party game about collecting cards and messing with your friends. In this game, each player must race to collect 10 cards by any means necessary. Unleash runaway trains, exploding turtles and homicidal potatoes to crush the other players, steal their cards and win the game in style.
Sub Terra II: Inferno’s Edge (1-6 players)
Is it getting hot in here or is it just me?
I don’t know about you, but this one has us pretty fired up. Yes, it’s not out until 2021, but we’re so excited that it just had to go on the list. In the original Sub Terra, players work together to escape a scary cave system before their torches run out. In Sub Terra II, it’s the same deal, except this time you’re stealing a “legendary artefact” that’s surrounded by lava. This game is responsible for some of the tensest moments we’ve had in the office… and we can’t wait to revisit them inside a volcano.
Forgotten Waters (3-7 players)
Pirate voices optional but encouraged.
Welcome to your new life as a pirate, with a fancy scarf around your neck and a moustachioed monkey on your shoulder. As you might be able to tell, this is a pirate game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. However, what it does take seriously is the gameplay. It might be lighthearted, but this is an adventure game with some incredible storytelling behind it, featuring loads of choices that let players interact with the rich world around them. If you’ve ever played (or even considered) a pirate RPG, this is one for you.
US Weekly (4-20 players)
Time to roll out the red carpet
Don’t freak out, but you’re about to gate crash the secret world of celebrities in a head-to-head A-Lister showdown. Now, if you’re a big fan of US Weekly, then you’ll hopefully already be interested. If celebrity magazines aren’t really your thing though, don’t worry. To play this game, all you need to know are a handful of very famous celebrities and be willing to try out some charades. Who knows, if you’re good enough, it could kick-start your own celebrity career.
Human Punishment: The Beginning (3-6 players)
Are you 100% sure that you’re not a robot?
This social deduction game stole our hearts back in 2018 when we first played it (who doesn’t enjoy slowly pointing Weapon Cards at different players?). Now, the year is 2020, and there’s a secret machine revolution underfoot. Dodge the machine spies (or corrupt the human players) in this brand new chapter of gun-pointing, nail-biting trickery as you try to survive until the very end.
Disney Sketchy Tales (4-8 players)
Once upon a time… things got pretty silly.
Introducing a drawing game that’s been sprinkled with fairy dust. Each player starts by drawing a Disney character doing something a bit strange, such as “Piglet mowing the lawn” or “Aladdin jumping out of a cake”. Once they’ve finished, they pass their drawings over to the left. By the time it’s gone past the group and made it back around the circle, you’ll find out whether your original drawing has lived happily ever after… or not!