Normally we post sex games, but several people have asked for more information about the board games that Sexy Corte and I play together. We are disciplined with our kids’ bed time and try to minimize our television viewing, which leaves us with a few hours each night to spend doing shared activities. This time is great for our marriage and our friendship! Sometimes we have people over or go on dates, but most evenings we play board games. Below is a list of the games that we most enjoy playing as a couple — the list doesn’t include games that we most enjoy playing with friends or kids.
For each game I’ll give my impression of how “heavy” it is — how hard it is to learn and play — along with a brief description. All the links go to BoardGameGeek.com, which is a board game database not a retailer; follow these links to learn a lot more about each game. If you have a good Friendly Local Game Store or shop around online you should definitely not pay full MSRP for board games.
We really enjoy cooperative games — if you’re not familiar with the term, it means that all the players are on the same side, trying to beat the game together. These are great team-building activities, they stretch our brains, and they give us a fun set of shared experiences to talk about later.
Eldritch Horror — Weight: Heavy. Our go-to game for several years. It’s a cooperative adventure game of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. We own all the expansions and have probably played 100 times.
Gloomhaven — Weight: Heavy. Our new go-to game, recently replacing Eldritch Horror. It’s an adventure legacy game with character development and strong tactical decision-making. We’ve played about 20 times.
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition — Weight: Light. An immersive app-driven board game in which you explore a haunted house and try to solve the mystery before you get devoured by evil.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game — Weight: Heavy. A living card game in which you build a deck of cards that represents your investigator and then work through a campaign of scenarios to defeat cosmic evil.
Lord of the Rings: The Card Game (LCG) — Weight: Heavy. Similar to Arkham Horror (above), but set in the Tolkien universe. You can play scenarios that correspond to your favorite parts of the books, as well as scenarios that flesh out activities that the books allude to but don’t show “on screen”.
Hanabi — Weight: Light. A simple card game in which you and your team try to launch fireworks in the proper order. The tricky part is that you have to be able to reach each others’ minds in order to win.
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island — Weight: Medium. A very thematic adventure game in which you explore a mysterious island. And probably die.
Sentinels of the Multiverse — Weight: Medium. A card game in which you each play a superhero and work together to defeat a super-villain.
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective — Weight: Light. Solve mysteries like Sherlock Holmes. This isn’t really a “board game” per se, more like a choose-your-own-adventure book with numerous mysteries to solve together.
Mythos Tales — Weight: Light. Like Consulting Detective (above), but based in the Cthulhu mythos.
Exit: The Game — Weight: Light. Escape rooms in a box! You can only play each once, but they’re way cheaper than going to a real escape room and still plenty of fun. There are several other brands of escape room games, but we haven’t tried them yet.
Elder Sign — Weight: Light. We don’t own the board game, but we play the app together on our tablet. Cthulhu-themed Yahtzee.
Spaceteam — Weight: Light. This is a phone app, and a fun way to kill some time by shouting instructions at each other.
We each seem to think the other person wins “most of the time”, so I guess we’re pretty evenly matched at these competitive games.
Ascension — Weight: Light. A quick deck building game with art we love and chaotic mechanics. We play the free app version on our tablet and have paid a few dollars to unlock several of the expansions. Playing on the tablet means that there’s no setup or tear-down time!
Patchwork — Weight: Light. A fantastic geometric game in which you each craft a quilt using Tetris-like patches of fabric. It’s competitive, but there’s little direct confrontation.
7 Wonders Duel — Weight: Medium. Build your civilization from the ground up. Very competitive, and requires a lot of planning and foresight to optimize your turns.
Akrotiri — Weight: Medium. Easy to play, hard to master game of exploration in which you score points by building temples in secret configurations on random terrain.
Terra Mystica — Weight: Heavy. A game of resource management and area control in which tiny optimizations to your strategy are the key to victory.
Fury of Dracula (third/fourth edition) — Weight: Light. One player is Dracula, traveling around Europe and sowing chaos; the other player is the team of vampire hunters trying to track him down and kill him. Hidden movement and a complex rock-paper-scissors combat system make this a game of reading your spouse’s mind.
Tales of the Arabian Nights — Weight: Light. More of a fun story generator than a game. You wander around the Near East and have amusing encounters with bizarre characters, travel to other dimensions, and try to fulfill your personal goals. We usually don’t even finish the game, we just uncover random stories until we feel like going to bed.
Viticulture — Weight: Medium. A worker placement game in which each player runs a vineyard and scores points by growing grapes, crafting wine, and filling orders.
Not sexy role-playing games, just the normal kind. Escape from yourself and pretend to be someone else — with awesome powers. Not just for geeks anymore!
Cthulhu Confidential — Weight: Light, for a role-playing game. Finally, an RPG designed to be played by just two people! The core book contains all the rules plus three noir-style Cthulhu mythos adventures. One spouse runs the game as the Game Master, and the other spouse plays a character who tries to solve the mystery without getting devoured.
Divinity: Original Sin and Divinity: Original Sin II: Weight: Medium. These are computer role-playing games that you can play cooperatively sitting on your couch. We’ve put over 100 hours into each of them, so you can’t beat the entertainment value. Good stories, good character advancement, and fun combat.
Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) — Weight: Medium, for a role-playing game. Thanks to 5th Edition (or “5e” as it’s usually called), Dungeons & Dragons is experiencing a golden age right now. This isn’t a game that you’re likely to play just with your spouse, but Sexy Corte and I are having a lot of fun playing in multiple campaigns together. We play over Roll20.net in the evenings after our kids go to bed, and it’s a great way to spend time together and be social without getting a babysitter.
I’ll add more games to the list above as our already insane library expands. Do you have a favorite game you like to play with your spouse? Leave a comment below!