Advertising
Advertising

25 Awesome Board Games That Will Make You Smarter And More Creative

25 Awesome Board Games That Will Make You Smarter And More Creative

We all (probably/hopefully) have fond board game related memories. What if I told you that all that time you spent throwing dice with the family had measurable long-term benefits? The following board games are especially amazing in terms of cultivating your priceless brain cells!

1. Ticket to Ride

1

    What it is:

    This is a game where you try and connect cities on the game board by building railways. Whoever builds the longest railway, or finishes with the highest score, wins the game.

    How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

    Ticket to Ride, while simplistic at a glance, is a strategy game at its heart. There are several ways in which you can inhibit other players and their expanding rail lines, and multiple paths to victory. It’s a game where you can hone your manipulative skills, develop your logistical abilities, and even learn a bit of basic geography!

    2. Takenoko

    2

      What it is:

      This one reminds me a bit of World of Warcraft’s farming minigame, except, they’re really not that similar besides the fact that both deal with pandas. In Takenoko, you grow bamboo to appease the tastes of the resident sacred black and white bear. Whoever grows and maintains the best bamboo farm and satisfies the panda best, wins the game.

      How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

      There’s no better way to learn some organizational skills than to put together a farm, even if it’s a board game based one! Plus, you’ll certainly grow (pun?) your detail-oriented related skills in the process, since victory depends on the quality of your farm. Just as in real life, those who are the most fastidious are likely to come out as the winners.

      3. Stratego

      26

        What it is:

        Ah, a classic. Basically, two players are given an army, whose ranks/power are hidden from their opponent. Among these soldiers, you hide a flag. Whoever captures this flag first, or takes out enough of the enemy’s troops, wins.

        How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

        The name says it all. This game is all about strategy. In one sense it’s a mind game since you’re trying to find the other player’s flag, and attempting to make predictions based on the rank of the unit you’re attacking. While you might not become the next Napoleon playing this game, your analytical and observational skills will surely get a boost…

        4. Settlers of Catan

        25boardgames#4

          What it is:

          If you’ve played the Civilization games, you’ll have a decent idea about what this game is like. Settlers is all about building up territory and resources until you have enough points to win the game. Much like Civilization V, you play on a hexagonal game board with randomized resources. Apparently, it’s popular among college aged kids (though I wouldn’t know since I never got invited to the cool board game parties).

          How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

          It’s all about resource management, trade, and prescient planning with this one. This game will, with luck, make you more frugal or at least more aware of the limited nature of the resources you possess (i.e. money). Often in this game you’ll be backed into a corner or given a plot of land with few resources, and making do with what you have is necessary to win. A good life lesson, if there ever was one.

          5. 1812 – The Invasion of Canada

          5

            What it is:

            This game is about the oft glazed over War of 1812 (if you can tell me why this war started without Googling it, I’ll give you a virtual cookie). Two factions, one British and one American, vie for control over territory in North America. Whichever side ends with the most zones under their control wins.

            How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

            At the very least, this game will teach you a little bit about history, since I’m betting at least ninety percent of people know nothing of the specifics of this particular war. The fact that the Native Americans are on the British side will tell you a little bit about early U.S./Indian relations. As with Stratego and Settlers, you’ll also develop your planning (scheming) skills and get a better idea about how wars are fought.

            Advertising

            6. Euphoria

            6

              What it is:

              The goal of this game alone makes it worth playing: you need to take control of a dystopian city. To get there, you’ll need to step on opposing players (figuratively), keep your workers uneducated, and find other morally questionable ways to rise to the top of the dictatorial food chain. If you are an aspiring autocrat (any Mr. House fans here?) or have a natural tendency to believe in your superiority over others, this one’s for you.

              How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

              What better way to hone the skills necessary to compete in a capitalistic society like America than to test your mettle in a game about conquering dystopia (which is at only a tiny bit worse than our current system)? While it probably won’t help you rise up any corporate ladders in real life, you’ll be better prepared to take advantage of others when given the opportunity.

              7. Amerigo

              25boardgames#7

                What it is:

                A game about exploration, with a twist. Your actions are determined randomly, at least in part. A tower located in the middle of the game board contains colored cubes that, when jostled free at the bottom (whenever a player adds more cubes to the tower), determine what you’ll do. The cubes will direct you in your mission of exploring a South American archipelago, where you’ll build towns and create trade routes in order to acquire victory points.

                How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                This game will make you think. Not only will you be doing the typical planning and resource management, but you’ll need to base all of your moves around what the tower gives you. In other words, this game will test your ability to react to ever-changing circumstances; always a useful trait to have.

                8. A Game of Thrones

                8

                  What it is:

                  This game has a simple premise, even if you aren’t familiar with the titular book series/television show. Whoever conquers the most land gains the Iron Throne.

                  How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                  This one, while improving your strategic abilities, will also improve your knowledge of the Seven Kingdoms. Perfect in today’s world, where knowing Game of Thrones lore is almost as essential as learning actual history. Additionally, as in the show, you’ll be put in situations where diplomacy, and perhaps betrayal, are your only options.

                  9. Kemet

                  25boardgames#9

                    What it is:

                    Relive your sixth grade fantasies and create the Egyptian Empire you always wanted! This is a game mainly centered on war, with other things going on simultaneously that you’ll have to manage.

                    How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                    As with many war games, you’ll need to make sure you balance your resources. You may do a lot of damage to your opponent militarily, but forget about everything else you need to manage, such as your workers and upgrades. Anybody who wants to be a better leader will find a lot to like about this game, since it requires an ability to keep up with all of your ever-fluctuating responsibilities to win the game. If nothing else, you’ll learn a bit about Egyptian culture and iconography…

                    10. Trajan

                    25boardgames#10

                      What it is:

                      A board game about ancient Rome! That should be enough to pique your interest. Your goal in this game will be to acquire as much power as possible, through multiple avenues.

                      How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                      You’re learning more about the Roman Empire. Isn’t that enough? No? Ok, well I suppose you’ll be able to brush up on your lobbying skills, since a large part of this game deals with influencing Roman politics in your rise to the top. Of course, there will also be lots of war and trading, since this is the Romans we’re talking about after all.

                      11. Small World

                      Advertising

                      11

                        What it is:

                        Like the name implies, Small World gives players an unnaturally tiny game board to work with. Never has the phrase “this town ain’t big enough for the two of us” had more meaning. You’ll need to grow your fledgling empire by kicking other players (literally) off of the map.

                        How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                        This game will teach you all about balance. Since there’s so little room to work with, you’ll have to rush to colonize the board. That being said, grow too quickly and you’ll over-extend yourself, ending your empire’s existence faster than you can say “Julius Caesar.”

                        12. Clue

                        12

                          What it is:

                          Does this one require an extensive explanation? The game’s all about finding out who the killer was, their weapon of choice, and the room where the murder occurred.

                          How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                          Make like Sherlock Holmes and improve your powers of deduction! Clue probably won’t qualify you to become a professional sleuth, though hopefully it will make you more observant!

                          13. Agricola

                          13

                            What it is:

                            Build a farm! Whoever constructs the best one, wins. It’s more complicated than it sounds though, as the game takes into account every little aspect of your homestead when determining the final score. Concentrate too much on raising animals and not maintaining your home? That could cost you the game.

                            How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                            As in real life, Agricola gives you multiple avenues to victory, and you’ll have to determine which ones will have the most beneficial effect to your farm, and thus your final score.

                            14. Twilight Imperium

                            14

                              What it is:

                              This is a game where you can live out your life-long dream of ruling an empire…in space!

                              How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                              Your brain is going to get a workout playing this one, that’s for sure. Really, that’s not surprising considering that you’ll be running galactic-sized civilizations in this game, compared to the earth-based ones in previous examples.

                              15. Descent: Journeys in The Dark

                              15

                                What it is:

                                From the looks of it, this is a board game version of a classic dungeons and dragons game (I’m no expert but I did read Ready Player One…). One player serves the role of the proverbial dungeon master, while the rest play as the stereotypical heroes.

                                How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                If you ever wanted to hone your latent maniacal psycho killer traits, there’s no better way to do so than to be a dungeon master. That being said, you’ll learn a lot about reacting to random, often terrible situations playing the role of the hero as well.

                                16. Chutes and Ladders

                                16

                                  What it is:

                                  Advertising

                                  Well, this one probably needs no explanation. Basically, ladders are good. Chutes are bad!

                                  How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                  Let’s face it; life can be pretty crappy sometimes. You get thrown about a hundred curve-balls every year, so it’s nice to be able to handle yourself well in times of crisis. In Chutes and Ladders, you’ll often find yourself randomly knocked down several squares for no reason other than sheer random chance, much like what happens in reality. Better to test how you handle adversity in a friendly kid’s game first, right?

                                  17. Shogun

                                  17

                                    What it is:

                                    Take on the role of a Daimyo (basically a Feudal Lord) during Japan’s Sengoku or “Warring States” period. Each player is offered the same courses of action; it’s up to each individual to determine the ones that will best lead their state to victory.

                                    How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                    For one, you’ll learn a lot of cool Japanese vocabulary. “Daimyo” is a pretty nifty word to know off the cuff, after all. Also, since every player has the same options, you’ll really have to out-think your opponents if you want to beat them.

                                    18. Pay Day

                                    18

                                      What it is:

                                      Think of this as an easier version of Life or Monopoly. You’ll be given a monthly salary, and you’ll need to budget it well to win.

                                      How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                      If you have kids, they’ll definitely learn something about the value of money playing this game. Speaking as a young adult myself, you really don’t understand what it’s all about until you get your first bill or emergency expense thrown at you, so the earlier you learn to cope with it, the better. Also, this game is great at demonstrating the fickle nature of the capitalist system.

                                      19. Scotland Yard

                                      19

                                        What it is:

                                        Assume the role of a detective for Scotland Yard. If you don’t know what that is, then you’re already learning something! The goal is to catch the escaped mastermind criminal before he eludes your grasp…

                                        How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                        If anything, it’s great to immerse yourself in a bit of British culture, since European countries are looked upon as being so “cool” these days. Other than that, you’ll get a brain boost from having to predict and anticipate the criminal mastermind’s movements.

                                        20. Acquire

                                        20

                                          What it is:

                                          Be a pretend real estate tycoon and use underhanded business tactics to ensure that your business crushes the others. The wealthiest player wins!

                                          How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                          This will definitely give you a taste of what it’s like to be an investment banker on Wall Street. You’ll have to invest in stocks, orchestrate mergers, and manage your business in a way that results in the most profits. Though you may never own an actual real estate empire, these skills might prove to be useful anyways. Remember, it’s a cutthroat world out there! Better to understand the people draining your bank account than remain mystified by the process, right?

                                          21. Chess

                                          21

                                            What it is:

                                            After such an eclectic list of games, I’m sure you’re scratching your head at the inclusion of good old chess. For those not in the know, the goal of the game is to take out the opposing player’s king.

                                            Advertising

                                            How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                            There are way more strategies out there for chess than I can write about here. Suffice it to say, to become even semi-decent at chess, you’ll need to have good analytical skills and an ability to predict your opponent’s moves far in advance. Both of which could come in handy in any number of professions.

                                            22. Scrabble

                                            22

                                              What it is:

                                              Another old favorite! It’s what everyone used to play before Words With Friends stole its thunder. Using the letters given to you, make words to gain points. Whoever ends up with the most points, wins!

                                              How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                              One thing I’ve learned in life is that people’s vocabularies are painfully limited. If I have to explain to somebody what the word “facetious” means one more time I think I’ll blow a gasket! Play this game a lot and you’ll be improving your word reservoir, which everyone around you will appreciate.

                                              23. Pandemic

                                              OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

                                                What it is:

                                                A zombie game! Who doesn’t like those? There’s no one winner in this game; you either defeat the virus and all win, or allow the infection to run rampant and lose as a team.

                                                How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                                Though I love saying that I hate group projects, it’s a fact that cooperation is key to success in this world. What better way to see if you have the ability to work with others than to determine if you and a few buddies can defeat the zombie plague?

                                                24. Diplomacy

                                                24

                                                  What it is:

                                                  Use all of your cunning and intellectual faculties to try and negotiate your European nation to the top of the pre-WWI era food chain.

                                                  How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                                  Learning about history always makes you smarter, and this is no exception. Everyone wonders how something like World War I could have started, and this is why. Complicated alliances created through convoluted diplomatic processes. Can you address your country’s needs without angering others? Can you do so better than actual turn-of-the-century leaders? If your answer is yes, perhaps you should seek a job in congress…

                                                  25. Le Havre

                                                  25boardgames#25

                                                    What it is:

                                                    I’ve always been interested in ships, so this game caught my eye. Basically, you’ll have to oversee a harbor. In the process you’ll build ships and develop your port by constructing useful structures. It’s a game all about building your harbor’s economic potential.

                                                    How it makes you smarter/ more creative:

                                                    Though airplanes replaced ships for travel purposes, ships still dominate when it comes to the trade of goods. There’s no better way to understand how this system (which basically sustains our current way of life) works than to manage your own harbor and see how you do in managing the import and export of cargo. If anything, you’ll see just how difficult maintaining the profitability of all this is. Like they say, it all comes down to logistics!

                                                    I hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as I enjoyed creating it! There are a lot of strange, eclectic games on here, so be awesome and try a few of the crazier ones out. If you’ve played any of these, let me know what you thought of them in the comments below… unless it’s in reference to chess or scrabble, I’m pretty well-versed in those!

                                                    Featured photo credit: dice-072504-1.jpg/MorgueFile via mrg.bz

                                                    More by this author

                                                    10 Best Online Shopping Sites I Wish I Knew Earlier 10 Reasons Why Dogs Are Man’s Best Friend 30 Incredible Things Your iPhone Can Do 10 Things Only Detail-Oriented People Do 10 Of The Best Mead Recipes

                                                    Trending in Productivity

                                                    1 8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More 2 How Exercising Makes You More Productive 3 10 Practical Ways to Drastically Improve Your Time Management Skills 4 15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success 5 How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

                                                    Read Next

                                                    Advertising
                                                    Advertising

                                                    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                                                    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                                                    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                                                    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

                                                    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

                                                    When you train your brain, you will:

                                                    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
                                                    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
                                                    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

                                                    So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

                                                    1. Work your memory

                                                    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

                                                    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

                                                    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

                                                    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

                                                    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

                                                    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

                                                    For example, say you just met someone new:

                                                    “Hi, my name is George”

                                                    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

                                                    Got it? Good.

                                                    2. Do something different repeatedly

                                                    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

                                                    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

                                                    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

                                                    But how does this apply to your life right now?

                                                    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

                                                    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

                                                    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

                                                    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

                                                    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

                                                    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

                                                    3. Learn something new

                                                    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

                                                    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

                                                    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

                                                    4. Follow a brain training program

                                                    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

                                                    5. Work your body

                                                    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

                                                    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

                                                    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

                                                    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

                                                    6. Spend time with your loved ones

                                                    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

                                                    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

                                                    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

                                                    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

                                                    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

                                                    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

                                                    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

                                                    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

                                                    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

                                                    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

                                                    The bottom line

                                                    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

                                                    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

                                                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                                    Read Next