Judging Board Games By Their Cover

No matter the number of board games you know how to play, there’s nothing quite like trying a new one. So many interesting rules and mechanisms to learn; so many lines of play to try out or become salty over. But when faced with an embarrassment of options, as we all do in this golden age of gaming, it’s not uncommon to become frozen by indecision. Take our advice and try simply and randomly grabbing a board game off the shelf next time you’re at a store—you’re guaranteed at least a little bit of surprise and a whole lot of naivete about whether or not others on the internet find it fun or not. An open mind is a rare thing nowadays. Here are some factors to consider:

Scout out the size of the box

Which is more impressive on Thanksgiving: a mammoth turkey or a pathetic little partridge stuffed with dry Wonder Bread? If you said turkey, congratulations, you are correct—and you understand that, in many cases, size does matter. Wow your friends and build anticipation by grabbing the most mammoth board game box off the shelf and slamming it on the table. Ideally, this level of force will rock the board game shop to its core like a record scratch in a mid 1990s movie. The expansive level of cardboard encasing the board game also offers plenty of flash and eye candy for even the most board game-weary of buddies, so your choice is guaranteed to make waves. Just keep the gravy on the side.

Prioritize boxes that open in unusual ways

The internet has become home to endless unboxing videos, and it’s easy to see why: suspense sells. Translate the online unboxing experience into a more digestible, in-real-life form by presenting a board game that presents itself in unexpected ways. Perhaps the box folds out to the side or remains affixed to your wristwatch via magnets. Maybe the top explodes like a Jack-in-the-box into the awed faces of onlookers, shredding their eyeballs with papercuts. Or, maybe there’s no box at all, and walls are merely a construct of those who lack imagination. Either way, we can all admit that the concept of unboxing videos is flimsy at best, so be sure to ham up your facial expressions and audible gasps to really sell it.

Look for alliteration

Monopoly? Sorry? Sorry but get that weak nonsense outta here. Wordplay in board game titles (and subscription box services 😉) wins the war on weak, weary wandering eyes, so whip out the wordliest and wowliest board game with a title to match. After all, none of us can escape words, try as we might. Social media is full of them, all vying for our attention! It makes total sense that something clever would cause readers to pause and think about what that game title is really trying to say—and spark curiosity to learn more about how the flowery language of the board game can enhance the experience. Mostly, titles that sound good are far more memorable, ensuring that the next time you decide to roll the dice, so to speak, on a new board game based on the title alone, you won’t run into any repeats.

Inhale deeply

The board games rarely played are going to be the dustiest ones, so strap your nostrils in for the sneezing of a lifetime by taking a huge whiff of the board game shelf and letting the nose go to where it itches the most. Old board games can be undiscovered troves of outdated artwork or potentially offensive board game pieces to mock. You may even encounter a few Dukakis references! No matter what the experience of the board game itself, that “new game smell” is prevalent all over but vintage dust (and asbestos) is a commodity worth savoring.

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