The Best Board Games Of 2019
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
And finally today, we have a few more words about games, but now we're going throwback because this is the season when old school rules, and a lot of people like to break out the board games. And if you are one of those people, you are in luck because, in addition to the classics Monopoly and Scrabble, there's a bevy of new games to liven up those after-dinner get-togethers. We wanted to learn more about these new offerings, so we've called on Taylor Jenkins. She is the owner of the Philly Game Shop in South Philadelphia, where you can buy board games and people get together to play board games. Taylor Jenkins, welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.
TAYLOR JENKINS: Hi. Thank you so much, Michel.
MARTIN: So let's talk about a few of the board games that stood out to you this year. What were some of your favorites?
JENKINS: My favorites this year are Tapestry. Tapestry is - it's civilization building, but it's totally random. You're moving along different tracks that societies can move along like science or military. And you're competitively doing this, but you're also asymmetrically doing this, which means that you're doing different things at the same time as the other players. And because it's so random, there's just that little aspect of chaos that's pretty fun about it as well.
MARTIN: OK. What's another one?
JENKINS: Wingspan, which is a birdwatching game. It's very accurate to an amateur birder such as myself. It contains many, many birds that you are collecting and trying to build point permutations upon. So you have different cards with different abilities in order to get point combinations.
MARTIN: OK. What's another one?
JENKINS: Obscurio. That's a silly teamwork game. You are a bunch of magicians locked in a magical library. And somebody has set a bunch of traps for you. And you have to cooperate to interpret images that are given to you by a magical tome. And if you don't work together, if you guess lots of different things, then you lose solidarity points. So if you are not on the same page, you're not going to get out of the library in time. But it's neat because it's cooperative. You have to work together in order to get out.
MARTIN: Oh, I can think of a lot of places where that would be quite helpful- since I'm here in Washington, D.C. That's all I'll say about that. OK. So, you know, I understand that there are people called game sommeliers.
JENKINS: Yeah. I get asked to make recommendations every day at my job. And people are somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of choice. There are thousands and thousands of games. It's even hard to pick what to sell.
MARTIN: So I'm thinking - you've already kind of helped us with this, specific suggestions for people in specific circumstances. So let's just come up with a classic, which a lot of people are going to be in the next couple of weeks. You've got teenagers, who the mere thought of getting them to participate in any family activity away from their screens.
JENKINS: Oh, my goodness.
MARTIN: The eye-rolling has already begun. What's a good game for that scenario?
JENKINS: Actually, it doesn't seem like it would be so addictive, but there's this game called Splendor where you're collecting - they look like poker chips with gemstones on them. They allow you to purchase cards. Your only goal is to get 15 points. The points are on the cards. The cards are on the table. And you're just trying to collect the right combination before the other people at the table. That's all there really is to it. But because it's so simple, it allows for a lot of layers of strategy. But on the other hand, it's extremely accessible for all ages. So I find - and actually, I've heard from my friend who were extend at the Teen Center at the Free Library that the teens love splendor. So I highly recommend that one this year.
MARTIN: And finally, the game for people who - when you really would like people to take it down a notch.
JENKINS: I would recommend Patchwork, which is a game about making quilts. And that will calm everybody down.
MARTIN: OK. Taylor Jenkins is the owner of the Philly Game Shop. Thanks so much for joining us.
JENKINS: Thank you so much.
MARTIN: And happy holidays to you.
JENKINS: You, too. Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.