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16 Fun Board Games that Exercise Your Brain And Make You Smarter

16 Fun Board Games that Exercise Your Brain And Make You Smarter

Games are generally considered to be mere entertainment devices. But anybody who knows anything about board games can tell you that the best games are the ones that are both fun and give your brain a workout. This is hardly surprising considering that fellow geeks are generally the ones creating them. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most intelligent and fun board games on the market:

1. Ticket to Ride

Photo Credit: www.orientexpresswriters.wordpress.com

    Number of players: 2-5 people

    Time: 30-60 minutes

    How to play: Players need to collect train car cards to claim railway routes across the map. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come from fulfilling destination tickets that connect distant cities. There are a variety of editions now out, each mapping a different country, continent or area of the world. My favorites are the original USA and Märklin maps, respectively.

    Why it’s fun: The rules the game is not complicated so you can play it with your family and friends of all ages. Also, it’s an exciting game as you have to act quickly so that you can occupy the ideal routes on the map!

    How it’s good for your brain: It’s a game that can train up player’s strategic and logical thinking skills. Also, some of the maps are historical so you can build upon your knowledge of geography in the past and present days by playing the game.

    Rating: 4.8/5 (from 3483 Amazon customers)

    Price: $30.95

    Online version: https://www.daysofwonder.com/online/

    2. Risk

    Photo Credit: www.freshnessmag.com

      Number of players: 2-5 people

      Time: 120-180 minutes

      How to play: Players take turns to use their myriad of army units to attack each other, take over territories and fortify their existing ones. To win in the game, players may also need to form or dissolve alliance with each other strategically to maximaize their occupation of territories.

      Why it’s fun: The game is a great imitation of warfare in which you make all sorts of decisions promptly. It’s pretty hard to predict who is the winner as the game is a combination of strategy and luck. So you need to fight till the last moment to know the result!

      How it’s good for your brain: Risk will definitely give your brain a work out because—like so many other games on this list—it’s all about strategy. It also builds your logical thinking and decision-making skills because everything you do has consequences. As such, the ’cause and effect’ gameplay is highly beneficial to building your intelligence.

      Rating: 4.4/5 (by 113 Amazon customers)

      Price: $19.89

      Online version: http://www.pogo.com/games/risk

      3. Puerto Rico

      Photo Credit: www.ageofgods.com

        Number of players: 3-5 people

        Time: 90 minutes

        How to play: Puerto Rico is a role-playing game. Players take turn to draw a role card, like “traders” and “builders”, and have to take actions appropriate to the role. The one who can make the best use of different roles to gain the most resources to either export goods or construct buildings will be the winner.

        Why it’s fun: There are a variety of ways for you to trump your competitors in the game. You can choose to produce a lot of goods, keep constructing buildings or striking a balance between these two for victory. So you will never feel the same way even you play several rounds of the game in a row!

        How it’s good for your brain: Being a strategy game, Puerto Rico is great for developing your strategic skills. It forces you to think ahead and weigh up the consequences of your decisions. In addition, the game has a fair amount of rules and gameplay that you have to get your head around, which helps strengthen your mental capacity and multi-tasking skills.

        Rating: 4.6/5 (by 398 Amazon customers)

        Price: $29.48

        Online version: https://en.boardgamearena.com/#!gamepanel?game=puertorico

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        4. Carcassonne

          Number of players: 2-5 people

          Time: 15-30 minutes

          How to play: At its core Carcassonne is a game in which players need to place tiles depicting a French landscape. They also have “meeple” that they can use to claim castles, land and roads.

          Why it’s fun: It is a simple game that people of all ages can easily pick up. But to be a master strategist of this game, you need to identify the traps and possible wrong decisions you might make throughout the process.

          How it’s good for your brain: The game requires players to think logically about their decisions, particularly when it comes to meeple placement, as well as to strategize against their fellow players.

          Rating: 4.8/5 (by 298 Amazon customers)

          Price: $49.99

          Online version: http://www.brettspielwelt.de/Spiele/Carcassonne/?nation=en

          5. Pandemic

          Photo Credit: www.digiboardgames.com

            Number of players: 2-4 people

            Time: 60 minutes

            How to play: Unlike other board games, this game requires players to be cooperative instead of competitive. Each player will play the role of dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher and operations expert respectively. The ultimate goal is to find out the cures before the four deadly diseases break out in the world.

            Why it’s fun: It is a difficult game. Players can hardly find out the cures successfully in the first few attempts. But it is an interesting experience for you and your family and friends to put your heads together to figure out something intellectually challenging.

            How it’s good for your brain: As well as helping you to build your problem-solving and strategic skills, Pandemic teaches players teamwork and cooperation. This may not sound like a way to make you smarter, but interpersonal skills and the ability to cooperate and compromise are imperative to most jobs in the real world. Overlooking social-skill builders isn’t particularly intelligent.

            Rating: 4.8/5 (by 1941 Amazon customers)

            Price: $27.02

            Online version: http://www.addictinggames.com/strategy-games/pandemic2.jsp

            6. Chronology

            Photo Credit: www.amazon.com

              Number of players: 2-8 people

              Time: 120 minutes

              How to play: The aim of the game is to be the first to collect 10 timeline cards, each of which contains an historical event and the year in which it occurred. During your turn, you take a new card and put it in the correct chronological position within your own timeline. If you are correct, you keep the card. If you’re wrong, the next player can attempt to place it in their timeline.

              Why it’s fun: The level of difficulty of this game will increase as it progresses as the time gaps between historical events narrow. So it is a game with implicit time constraint – the earlier you get more cards put in the right chronological order the better!

              How it’s good for your brain: 

              Rating: 4.7/5 (by 147 Amazon customers)

              Price: $17.24

              7. Dixit

              Photo Credit: www.escapadedirect.com

                Number of players: 3-6 people

                Time: 30-60 minutes

                How to play: Dixit requires players to take turns being the Storyteller, who then makes up a sentence about one of the cards in their hand. Other players then select a card from their hands that they think best matches the aforementioned sentence. The cards are then shuffled, displayed face up and players have to decide which was the Storyteller’s.

                Why it’s fun: You will keep being surprised by how vague the cards you hold. And it is fun to hear how other players tell stories through the vague cards they hold!

                How it’s good for your brain: You have to be creative and original with your explanations and card choices, as well as make sometimes difficult decisions. As such, you’re required to utilize both the right and left sides of your brain. In addition, the game also requires you to read other people, which helps to build your emotional intelligence.

                Rating: 4.6/5 (by 685 Amazon customers)

                Price: $24.97

                Online version: http://www.boiteajeux.net/jeux/dix/dix_aide_en.php

                8. Guillotine

                  Number of players: 2-5 people

                  Time: 30 minutes

                  How to play: Players need to draw two decks of card, which are “nobles” and “actions”. Sending the nobles cards to the guillotine is how players can gain points. But with the actions cards, players can disrupt the order and even steal cards from each other and make the result unpredictable.

                  Why it’s fun: Despite being a relatively light-hearted game (regardless of the macabre topic) players need to use their cunning and strategy skills to try and execute the most people. Charming, I know.

                  How it’s good for your brain: 

                  Rating: 4.7/5 (by 587 Amazon customers)

                  Price: $11.99

                  9. Telestrations

                    Number of players: 8 people

                    Time: 60 minutes

                    How to play: Each player gets a card with a secret word and draw something to represent the word on their sketch book. Then they pass their book to the player on the left and they need to guess what is drawn on the book they receive. This process rotates for several rounds. When everyone gets back their own book, they can see how things change created by miscommunication.

                    Why it’s fun: You and your family and friends can’t help laughing when you compare how the last picture can be different from the original one.

                    How it’s good for your brain: This game is a great boost of your creativity as you need to make use of your imagination power to describe some difficult and vague words shown on the cards and guess what others are drawing.

                    Rating: 4.8/5 (by 1526 Amazon customers)

                    Price: $24.29

                    10. Power Grid

                    Photo Credit: www.themineshaftgap.com

                      Number of players: 2-6 people

                      Time: 60 minutes

                      How to play: The aim of Power Grid is to supply power to the most cities. To do this you mark preexisting routes between cities for connection, and then bid against each other to purchase the power plants. You must also acquire raw materials to power these plants. Problems may arise if you expand too fast and miss out on new technology.

                      Why it’s fun: How it’s good for your brain: the game requires you to weigh up options logically and strategically, as well as deal with the potential fallouts of your decisions. This makes it a beneficial game for people like me who find it difficult thinking even a single step ahead and deduce that the best course of action is: “BUY EVERYTHING NOW, YOLOLOL

                      Rating: 4.7/5 (by 332 Amazon customers)

                      Price: $31.57

                      Online version: http://www.brettspielwelt.de/Spiele/Funkenschlag/?nation=en

                      11. Agricola

                      Photo Credit: www.vendetta-gaming.com.au

                        Number of players: 2-5 people

                        Time: 120 minutes

                        How to play: In Agricola you’re a farmer who’s responsible for feeding your family as well as building and expanding your land. You will lose in the game if you have trouble feeding your family so you need to compete with time and produce as many foods as possible in the game.

                        Why it’s fun: The complexity of the game makes you feel like you’re running a real farm, and variables that can affect the result keep coming out throughout the process.

                        How it’s good for your brain: The game is actually quite complex and requires a great deal of strategic planning and resource juggling for you to be successful. This makes it great for logical thinking and building problem-solving skills. In addition, it will help you to learn to multi-task and think ahead.

                        Rating: 4.6/5 (by 528 Amazon customers)

                        Price: $43

                        Online version: http://playagricola.com/Agricola/Board1/Agricola.html

                        12. Dohdles! What’s that?!

                          Number of players: 3-6 people

                          Time: 60 minutes

                          How to play: Players sculpt the shape of an object or a living thing with the modeling clay and need to guess what the Dohdles other players make represent.

                          Why it’s fun: It’s interesting to see how the imagination of you and your loved ones are demonstrated through their “masterpieces”!

                          How it’s good for your brain: This game is good exercise of your imagination.

                          Rating: 4.2/5 (by 42 Amazon customers)

                          Price: $26.5

                          13. Twixt

                            Numbers of Players: 2 people

                            Time: 30 Mintues

                            How to Play: Two players take turn in placing their pegs in any vacant holes on the board and you can add or remove your own links between pegs. Each of the member tries to block the other player from connecting one’s two sides of row and the first one who did will win.

                            Why it’s fun? It is easy to understand and could be play by kinds from 11-12 and it does not take much time, perfect for those who get boring easily.

                            How it’s good to your brain? This helps improves your logical and strategic skills as you would have to think about how every move will be and should be connected  from the start of the game.

                            Ratings: 4.5/5 (from 47 Amazon customers)

                            Price: $29.99

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                            Online Version: http://twixtlive.com/Play.aspx

                            14. Diplomacy  

                              Numbers of Players: 2-7 people

                              Time: 360 minutes

                              How to Play: Every player represents the seven European countries, and are required to use their armies and fleets to conquer as many European countries as possible.

                              Why it’s fun? The game involves a lot of history and geography about Europe and players will have to decide for themselves to trust or to lie before the start of or in a war.

                              How it’s good to your brain? It is not difficult to know how to play the game and it requires one’s logical and strategic skills as well in order to form possible alliances with other countries etc to train their own thinking before making any move.

                              Ratings: 4.5/5 (from 128 Amazon customers)

                              Price: $29.99

                              Online Version: http://www.playdiplomacy.com/

                              15. Mythos

                                Numbers of Players: 1-10 people

                                Time: 45 minutes

                                How to Play: You are the investigators who need to complete the story of a crime without oing insane. You draw 13 cards from 52 cards and stock your deck with at least 20 points of stories. When you completed the tasks required for a card, you gain points for ‘sanity’ and than when cards ran out, you come out and draw 13 cards more.

                                Why it’s fun? It is a story investigation which might easily trigger players’ interests and opponents can actually intervene with their moves making the game very interactive and fun.

                                How it’s good to your brain? One would have to use their logical skills to guess out the story of the crime and think of the ways to intervene their moves to keep them from winning.

                                Ratings: 4/5 (from 6 Amazon customers)

                                Price: $45

                                Online Version: http://www.riseofmythos.com/

                                16. Squad Leaders

                                  Numbers of Players: 2 people

                                  Time: 60 minutes

                                  How to Play: You are the leader of a squad in WWI who needs to make instant decisions regarding on the life and deaths of numerous of soldiers

                                  Why it’s fun? It portrays the days back in WWII and one might be able to experience the intensity and difficulties in being a leader in the army back then

                                  How it’s good to your brain? It is not an easy game and requires a lot of thinking from the player as he or she will need to consider about the rules for morale, leadership, demo changes and smoke etc

                                  Ratings: 4/5 (from 4 Amazon costumers)

                                  Price: $27.99

                                  Online Version: http://www.battle-board.com/minisl/

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                                  Tegan Jones

                                  Tegan is a passionate journalist, writer and editor. She writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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                                  Last Updated on December 9, 2019

                                  5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

                                  5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

                                  Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

                                  Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

                                  Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

                                  1. Get Rationally Optimistic

                                  Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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                                  This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

                                  In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

                                  The result: no more mental stress.

                                  2. Unplug

                                  Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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                                  How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

                                  It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

                                  Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

                                  3. Easy on the Caffeine

                                  Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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                                  Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

                                  4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

                                  That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

                                  How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

                                  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
                                  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
                                  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

                                  While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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                                  5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

                                  This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

                                  The result: mental stress will be gone!

                                  So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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                                  Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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