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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

                                  Commercial editor for global publications Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker & Business Insider.

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                                  Last Updated on February 18, 2019

                                  13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

                                  13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

                                  Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

                                  Why is this so critically important to you?

                                  The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

                                  Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

                                  1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

                                  Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

                                  When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

                                  • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
                                  • The man facing the judge.
                                  • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
                                  • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
                                  • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
                                  • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

                                  These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

                                  Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

                                  Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

                                  2. Accept Your Fear

                                  Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

                                  We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

                                  And here’s what can be done.

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                                  3. Get Some Perspective

                                  I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

                                  And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

                                  That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

                                  We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

                                  So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

                                  • Are you really at risk?
                                  • Will this kill you?
                                  • Which leads us on to..
                                  • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

                                  4. Hold a Hand

                                  As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

                                  Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

                                  We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

                                  Ask yourself:

                                  • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
                                  • Could that really happen?
                                  • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
                                  • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

                                  By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

                                  5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

                                  This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

                                  Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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                                  The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

                                  It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

                                  For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

                                  Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

                                  6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

                                  I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

                                  Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

                                  Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

                                  Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

                                  Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

                                  Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

                                  7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

                                  Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

                                  I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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                                  It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

                                  One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

                                  Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

                                  It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

                                  8. Assume the Worse

                                  If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

                                  Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

                                  • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
                                  • Think about how they feel about champagne?
                                  • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

                                  And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

                                  When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

                                  Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

                                  9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

                                  If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

                                  Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

                                  Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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                                  10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

                                  One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

                                  11. Go with Fear

                                  When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

                                  I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

                                  Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

                                  One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

                                  However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

                                  We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

                                  12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

                                  And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

                                  The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

                                  What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

                                  13. Own Your Fear

                                  Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

                                  We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

                                  You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

                                  More Resources About Fighting Fear

                                  Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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