Games for Covid times

Five tips for a game night.

Board games seem to have become more popular than ever during the lockdown. Resource editor Tessa Louwerens shares a few of her favourites, that, with a few adjustments, let you socialize in a reasonably Covid-proof fashion.

Wingspan (1-5 players, playing time 45 to 70 minutes)

What is better than a bird in the hand? Ten birds in your nature reserve! When you play Wingspan you are a fanatical bird watcher, ornithologist or nature conservationist and your aim is to get as many different birds as possible into the nature reserve. Every player has their own bird sanctuary with different habitats in it. You have to gather food, attract new birds and, of course, make sure they lay eggs. By combining cards smartly, you will make your actions more effective. The rules are not complicated and the game is easy to play. It’s a strategic game, but there’s an element of luck as well. The idea is to adapt fast to upcoming opportunities and difficulties. Just wing it!

Codenames (2 to 8 players, playing time about 20 minutes)

In Codenames, two teams are pitted against each other. The heads of rival secret services need to get their spies out of danger as quickly as possible. Only they know the locations of their agents. As team leaders, they drop hints to the rest of the team to tell them where to go for a secret meeting, all in code of course, so they don’t get discovered by the opponents. So players must find the links between pictures or words, and that takes quite a bit of creativity. Then the discussion starts within your team. Because the wrong conclusion could lead to you accidentally making contact with an enemy spy or, worse still, with a hired assassin. The winner is the team that gets all its spies out first and survives. Codenames is a funny game with a lot of interaction. There is also a pair variant, Codenames Duet, which involves cooperation. It’s a good game for boardgame beginners, because it’s easy to learn and doesn’t take very long.

Spirit Island (1-5 players, playing time 90 to 120 minutes)

There are numerous board games in which you have to colonize a country: most of us are probably familiar with The Settlers of Catan. Spirit Island turns things around. You and your fellow players take on the role of powerful nature spirits and fight back against the colonists who are swarming over the island, destroying its nature and wiping out the indigenous population who have lived in harmony with nature there for years.

Spirit Island is a cooperative game in which players collaborate against the colonists to protect the land and reclaim it for nature. You are not in a strong position to start with, but in the course of the game you get stronger, so that eventually, if all goes well, you sweep the colonist off the board with tsunamis. This is a tactical and challenging game, which can be played at different levels of difficulty. If you don’t play board games very often, it might not be the best one to start with.

Pandemic (2-4 players, playing time about 45 minutes)

Couldn’t leave this one out at this time, of course. What’s more, it’s a fantastic game. Various diseases have broken out around the world. The players must work together to roll out medicines and vaccines before things get completely out of hand. Everyone has a role, and there are doctors, scientists, logistical experts, etc. You win if you find a vaccine or a treatment in time, before the outbreak has spread around the world. There are now a number of variations on this game, including Pandemic Rising Tide, in which between you, you must save the Netherlands from being flooded.

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective (1-8 players, playing time 60+ minutes)

The game is afoot! Always wanted to play the role of a private detective? This is your chance. Sherlock is not a board game, there are no dice and luck has nothing to do with it. This is all about your sleuthing skills. You solve a variety of mysteries together with your team. You walk through the streets of Victorian London, following the signs, talking to suspects, and scanning the papers for hints. To win you take up the cudgels against the famous Sherlock Holmes: who will solve this case first? You can easily play this game online too, with someone who owns the game in the lead.

Disclaimer: although we at Resource are all for having fun, we don’t want to incite you to engage in unsafe behaviour. So play mainly with your housemates and otherwise, keep a safe distance.

Tip: Board games can also be played online, via sites like boardgamearena.com, or using the programme Table Top Simulator. There are a lot of options.

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