On your average night, my friends and I get together after work, homework, and all of the stressful things that come with being a Student Affairs graduate student to blow off steam by playing board games. It’s not the type of fun that you’d typically think of young twenty-somethings would have, but it’s exactly what I need to practice self-care.
I first was introduced to the whole world of cooperative board games by my good friend Maverick. He has an entire closet filled with board games—not your simple games like Monopoly, Sorry, or Boggle, but an immense variety of intricate, story driven, collaborative games that require strategy, communication, and skill. At first I played to humor him because of how excited he was to introduce his friends to his world, but the more we played, and the more people we convinced to play with us, the more I truly enjoyed the nights that we spend playing our favorite games.
Each game is different, but the premises are the same—to work together using strategy and skill in order to defeat an end mission. It’s often difficult, and uses a lot of mental power, but it’s truly energizing. The games require strategy to play, and we have to find the exact way to take the necessary steps in order to defeat the mission and avoid having negative consequences happen in the meantime. It is so satisfying to win, knowing that the decisions I might have made helped get us there. I love that these games bring my best friends together and forces us to communicate without the use of technology. I try my hardest to put my phone out of arm’s reach while I’m playing to give myself a digital break.
As Student Affairs Professionals, we spend so much of our time helping other people and extending ourselves beyond what is healthy for us. Playing games with my friends is a way for me to do something for myself that is challenging, fun, and relationship oriented. I’m so grateful that I was introduced to this world and what it’s done for my sanity this year. Board games aren’t the most typical form of fun in the digital age, but the emphasis on relationship building, critical thinking skills, and story driven narrative makes makes them something worth giving a chance.
Here are some of my current favorites:
Dead of Winter: http://www.plaidhatgames.com/games/dead-of-winter
This game is set in a post-apocalyptic, zombie infested universe. Players work together to complete the end mission (and their own secret mission) before the rounds are over and before morale gets to zero. Each player controls a group of survivors, each with their own special ability. The survivors can go to different locations to search for items or kill zombies, and must work to solve the round specific crisis while working towards this end mission. This is our all time favorite game, and although I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve played it, each time playing through is completely different.
Mysterium is a crowd favorite, and the best explanation I can give is that it’s like playing adult Clue. Each game has one person playing the role of the ghost, and the rest are investigators. The ghost must silently give each players cards that represent clues in order to help them find their suspect, location, and object. If players guess correctly before the round tracker is at zero, they are able to see the final clues to determine which player guessed the killer/location/object. This one is very easy to teach, and even our friends that aren’t into the intense games love this one!
Eldritch Horror: https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/eldritch-horror/
This game is a new favorite of ours. It’s one of the more intricate and long games that I’ve played, but the story and artwork make it so worth it. Eldritch Horror is based on the novels of H.P. Lovecraft. Players control a character and travel around the world in order to kill monsters, find clues, and complete smaller missions before the doom tracker reaches zero. It’s hard, and we haven’t beaten it yet, but it’s a lot of fun. It requires a lot of strategy and thought, and because of the difficulty, I find myself wanting to play it so often just to get the chance to beat it.
PS: What are some of your favorite games?
Hannah Torrance is a West Coast native, finishing the last year of the CSPA program at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. She is passionate about Greek Life, Student Activities, Residence life, and facilitating meaningful college experiences. She is a lover of books, social media, Netflix, and dry humor. Check out her blog, and follow her on Twitter: @HannahETorrance