If there’s something I love almost as much as YA lit, it’s board games. Over the last few years, I’ve gotten really into playing a huge variety of games, from simple party games to long, complex, epic games (I’m looking at you, Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game). There are so many options out there besides the standards like Monopoly or Taboo or even the more recently popular indie games like Apples to Apples or Cranium. Here are a few proven games for groups that don’t involve a lot of pieces or long sets of rules and that have teen appeal.
For more suggestions, there was actually a School Library Journal article today about board games for teens. The same author also wrote about Gateway, or “Bait” Games last year. If you really want to delve into the board gaming world, BoardGameGeek is the ultimate resource, but it can be a bit overwhelming for beginners.
Are there any games that are popular in your library or school?
In this humorous take on the French Revolution, players fight to gather the most prestigious nobles for their guillotines. Nobles are worth points and the one with the most points at the end wins — but strategically played action cards can trip up other players. This is a quick, easy-to-learn game for up to five players that solely relies on the provided deck — no pieces to lose! This would be especially apt for high schoolers learning about the era. You could even tie this into books like Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly or The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner.
Using a deck of imaginative, vibrantly illustrated cards, players serve in turn as the storyteller and make up a short description of a secretly selected card from their deck. The other players choose cards from their own decks that might also match the description. All the cards are shuffled together and the players try to guess which card belongs to the storyteller. Points are awarded to those who correctly pick the storyteller’s card and to those who get other players to vote for their card instead. For up to six players, this game offers a fantastic mix of creativity and competition that is great for a range of ages.
It’s the Shadows versus the Hunters in this game of dice-rolling and deception. Each player secretly takes the role of a Shadow, a Hunter, or a neutral character and tries to figure out who their allies are and lead their team to victory by defeating the opposing players. This is a fantastic game for large groups of up to eight players that relies on a small, simple board, cards, and dice. Games are quick and it’s easy to learn and explain. With vampires and werewolves, this has great appeal for paranormal fans, and the Japanese aesthetic will woo fans of anime and manga.
This wacky card game has rules and objectives that change as the game progresses. It’s a purely card-based game for up to six players with a lot of replay potential. Besides the standard version, there are also themed editions like Zombie Fluxx and Monty Python Fluxx that will have huge appeal to teens.
Match of the Penguins
Featuring the image of a cute penguin on the beach, players try to identify matching elements of nearly identical cards in this fast-paced game. Whoever’s the quickest to notice the matching cards by shouting or grabbing the penguin pawn gets to keep the cards and the one with the most cards at the end wins. This one allows up to seven players and can get loud, so avoid playing in a public library space!