Have you ever wondered what’s in our white sideboard?
It’s probably no secret that bloggers who share their homes for the world to see don’t always share everything and that more often than not there’s complete chaos behind that beautifully styled shot you’re viewing on a blog or Instagram.
We always try to keep things real around here and tend to share all aspects of DIYing but let’s face it, no one really wants to see the piles of dirty laundry that we move out of the way to get a clear shot of our dressing room or the complete chaos that usually descends over our hallway when we’ve been DIY shopping and have supplies everywhere!
Something else that I realised we’ve kept private – until now – is the content of our white sideboard. We bought the sideboard way back in 2009 when we still lived in Manchester city centre. It’s since moved with us 5 times but throughout the time that we’ve had it, it’s always had the same content!
And it’s probably not what you’re expecting…
… it’s full of board games!
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about anything like the dreaded Monopoly, which I honestly think is a reason that board games have a bad reputation. And, if you like Monopoly, just imagine how much more you’ll enjoy these ones!
I know that it seems kind of geeky to play board games but they can be so much fun! It involves getting together with friends, more often than not there’ll be a drink or two involved and, let’s face it, it’s always fun when I beat Jan at something! We actually have so many board games that we’ve even managed to fill our mid-century sideboard in the living room, too!
We’re always updating and adding to our collection but there are some games that are just so classic that we keep playing them again and again! We have so many games now, that I’ve just had to buy another sideboard to store them all in (more on our new sideboard, soon!).
So, if you fancy trying a board game or are looking for some inspiration, here’s a selection of our all-time favourite games that we recommend over and over again. A lot of them are perfect beginner games but most importantly they’re all fun!
Here are our top 8 best board games to play with friends & family!
* This post contains affiliate links. These are all board games that we own and love to play. As always, we only share products we love and think that you will, too!
Players: 2 – 4 (or more if you have expansion sets)
Kicking off the list of the best board games to play with friends & family is Carcassonne. I love this game, so much so, that I have every extension. And I’m not even just talking about the ones you can buy. Some of them are weird little ones that you were only able to get when you visited the international games convention in Essen (it’s the largest one in the world). Yep, we’re that geeky!
This is a perfect starter game as it’s a super simple concept and really easy to understand. You have little tiles that have a combination of road, city and grass on them and in each turn, you add another tile to the ever-expanding landscape thus extending your cities and roads which then convert to points depending on the size of them. The basic game comes with a set of 72 tiles (we now have over 350 tiles!).
Something I love about this game is that it completely changes depending on who and how many people you play with. Sometimes you end up with loads of tiny cities and other times there will be one huge city that dominates the board and everyone is trying to be a part of.
It’s such a popular game, that they even introduced “big boxes” which contain the base game and a selection of some of the extensions. I’d totally recommend this option as the game is fairly limited with just the basic set and some of the extensions are really fun additions that liven up gameplay.
Players: 2 – 4
This is another super easy game and it’s perfect to take with you when you visit friends or even on holiday, as the whole game only consists of 16 cards!
Each card has a different value and the aim is to expose the players with weaker cards who are then knocked out of the game. With a bit of luck and deduction, you’ll be the last person standing! Each round only takes a couple of minutes which means that it’s fast and fun! Although you can play this game with as little as two players, we’d definitely recommend playing with 4 as the dynamic of the game changes and it’s much less predictable!
Players: 2 – 5
This is our go-to game when we first introduce board game novices to the idea of playing board games as it’s easy to understand & play.
The aim is to build train connections across America but you have to be quick as there are a limited number of routes that your competitors possibly want to use to build their tracks on, too!
The classic version is based on a map of North America but there have since been lots of expansions with maps for different countries, too. We have the Africa map and Germany map (there are lots more to choose from) and each new map comes with a few new rules and game options, too.
Players: 2 – 6 (or more if you have expansion sets)
Cold Express with its 3D train is another favourite of ours. You’re a bandit robbing a train and the aim is obviously to collect as much loot as possible.
Everyone plans their next moves at the same time which inevitably means that by the time your turn the game has completely changed. This often results in complete chaos as people end up punching into thin air or trying to pick up loot that’s already gone. It’s a lot of fun and is definitely a game that should be played with more than two players.
Level: Medium to Advanced
Players: 2 – 7 (or more with expansion sets)
This is definitely a more advanced game but it’s one of the few games that you can play a larger group of people as you can play it with up to 7 (or even more if you have extensions) people. And, once you get into it, it’s really not that complicated! Throughout the game, each player had a different world wonder to build and to do so can trade with his neighbouring wonder (player) to use their resources and skills.
I love this game because it changes a lot depending on how many players you’re playing with and because how everyone plans their next move simultaneously which makes gameplay quite quick (yes, I’m that impatient!).
Level: Medium to Advanced
Players: 3 – 4 (up to 6 if you have expansion sets)
It’s one of the most classic board games ever and won the Spiel des Jahres award way, way back in 1995.
This is one of Jan’s favourite games but it is slightly more advanced and I admit that I personally only like to play Settlers if it’s played with the extension Cities & Knights because I think it makes it much more varied.
So, if you didn’t think I was geeky now, you definitely will after seeing our Catan game.
Now, usually it’s board game like most others but we have a rather fancy limited edition 3d version which was a birthday gift to Jan not long after we got together (yes, I’m the best girlfriend, ever! ;)) It’s one of Jan’s all-time favourite games.
The 3D version of the game that we have is admittedly a total luxury and really is quite spectacular. All of the figures and map pieces are hand painted and it comes in a really fancy wooden chest, too!
The aim is to build villages, cities and roads by collecting various resources (like clay, wood or sheep) and trading them for other resources you may need.
Level: Medium to Advanced
Players: 2 – 5
Although this game initially seems quite complex it’s actually pretty straightforward once you start to get into it. You’re visiting a bazaar in Istanbul trying to collect and trade goods in order to earn money and rubies to win the game.
If you fancy a step up from the more basic games like Carcassonne, Love Letters and Ticket To Ride, this is a really good option.
Players: 2 – 4
The newest game in our collection and already a must on our list of best board games to play with friends & family is Azul. It just won the Game of the Year award 2018 and we’ve already been playing it a lot. It’s fun, fairly quick and very easy (even my Mum enjoys playing it which is definitely saying something) and it’s the kind of game where you can play it in a relaxed way or get super strategic. No matter what your prefered game style is, it’s definitely fun! The aim of the game is to build a mosaic wall out of little tiles. As always, it’s not quite as simple as it seems!
I know that playing board games sounds kind of geeky but you’ll just have to trust us and give one a try! These are our favourite board games to play with friends & family but there are so many more to discover! Once you get started, you won’t be able to stop!
Do you have a geeky secret? Do you love board games as much as we do? We love discovering new board games so we’d love to know if you have any suggestions for us to try!