Want some ideas for board games that would be a great addition to any summer gathering? These 10 games are light on rules and heavy on fun. 

Trekking Through History

(2-4 Players, Underdog Games) – Travel through time trying to visit places and events on your itinerary, scoring points along the way. This game feels like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure in a box. The rules are very simple and the art and component quality are top-notch. Truly a classic family game. See the components here: 

The Quest For El Dorado

(2-4 Players, Ravensburger) – In this deckbuilding race game, players will use cards to help move through various terrain tiles, trying to be the first to make it to the City of Gold. There are opportunities to purchase cards to add to your deck along the way with a clever market mechanic. Easy to learn, gives off an Indiana Jones thematic vibe, and quite fun to play.

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SCOUT

(2-5 Players, Oink Games) – This is one of the most clever card games you’ll ever play and in the tiniest of boxes, SCOUT makes for a perfect game to take along on any trip. Players will try to take tricks by laying out more powerful card combos than their predecessors. The problem is, you can’t rearrange your hand, so that means you’ll have to play cards in such a way that the remaining cards in hand are set up for future plays. I am not explaining it well, but trust me it is clever and you should check it out. Here’s a link to our playthrough: 

Donut Shop

(2-4 Players, 25th Century Games) – Play tiles to a community board to score points and box certain combinations as a way to earn bonus points. On your turn you play a tile, optionally box some donuts, and then draw back up. The components are high quality and the whole aesthetic has a retro Krispy Kreme shop look to it, complete with a donut display case and a napkin dispenser to hold tiles and cards. A great game for families and summer. See the cool components here: 

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Chomp

(1-4 Players, Allplay) – Each player will be drawing double-sided square cards trying to build a habitat for their dinosaurs to thrive in, thereby scoring the most points. One side of a card has a scoring objective and the other is the habitat. Players each get 9 cards throughout the game to use, so choosing which side of a card to use is important. Each game provides a challenging puzzle of how to maximize scoring chances. Certain dinosaur types need to be next to certain terrain and food types or they will go extinct and not score you any points. A fun brain burner in a small box that feels thematic, with solid art.

MLEM: Space Agency

(2-5 Players, Rebel Studio) – In this push-your-luck dice game, players will send one of their cat astronauts on a rocket ship (along with the other players) mission after mission, trying to set up bases on moons or planets. Each of the cats has a special ability that can be used to maximize their own scoring opportunities. The game comes with a neoprene game mat for a board, which looks great and takes the game to the next level. There is excitement and tons of laughter whenever we’ve played it as players root for mission success or failure. Here’s a link to our playthrough: 

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Zoo Vadis

(3-7 Players, Bitewing Games) – Zoo Vadis is all about negotiating your way into the animal zoo council. The only thing not negotiable here is fun. The board is designed with bottlenecks that force players to vote on who will get to move through. Each faction has a special ability that can be offered to sweeten a deal. The components and artwork are excellent as well. An excellent game design.

Disney Robin Hood: Sheriff of Nottingham Game

(3-5 Players, CMON) – More negotiation and fun times can be had in the setting of Disney’s Robin Hood as players try to smuggle expensive contraband past the titular Sheriff using bribes and sweet talk. Every player gets a chance to be the Sheriff and earn their own cash from catching lying cheats, umm, their opponents in lies. The more you ham it up, the more fun you’ll have. There is a non-Disney version of the game if you are a hater. Watch it get unboxed by my friend, Kelley: 

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Cosmic Cows

(2 Players, Playroom Entertainment) – In Cosmic Cows players are aliens competing with each other to seize cows from the same pasture. The game uses Yahtzee mechanics in a tug of war to pull three of the nine total cows to their end of the board. Mindless dice chucking with cute cows that somehow works to bring some fun and/or escape when you don’t want to listen to the “grownups” arguing about politics and religion on the family vacay? Beam me up.

El Grande

(2-5 Players, Hans im Gluck) – We’ll finish up the list with a streamlined area control/majority game that is an all-time classic. In El Grande, players will bid on actions each round which will manipulate the board state and position their meeples for maximum scoring. There are three scoring rounds in the game, so timing is very important when choosing actions. The rules are few, but the choices are tough and the tension is high all game long. If you have a competitive family who can take a punch, then this one I highly recommend. Watch our playthrough here: 

So there you have it. Wherever you go and whatever you do this summer, five out of five doctors recommend including some tabletop games, my fellow geeks. Have fun, stay safe and keep on nerding on!

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