Board games have come a long way since Parcheesi.

When it comes to entertaining, few options are as awesome. Hosting anywhere two players to the entire room (Masquerade can be played by 13 people!), board games are also quite social, providing that strategic engagement that helps introverts out of their shells. And with COVID-19 out and about, people will be staying home anyway, sticking to their families and healthy friends. Entertainment has never been more important to combat cabin fever.

Here are five recommended titles to slowly convert those who don’t like gaming, without overdoing it.

Sushi Go Party!

Imagine a game of poker, but with more of a round robin setup. Players start with a hand of up to ten cards, pick one, and pass the remainder to their left or right, again and again. Doing so builds a combination that accrue points. Only, instead of typical playing cards, imagine the aesthetic of a meal inside a sushi conveyer belt restaurant.

And that’s Sushi Go Party!a unique title from Gamewright for two to eight players.

What’s interesting is that each game, players can swap out seven tiles to create a very different experience. Sushi rolls are race conditions, such as Uramaki which rewards 8, 5 and 2 points to whomever reaches 10 rolls first, second and third. Appetizers tend to be unique point earners, while special cards have an intriguing impact on the game flow. Finally, desserts award, and sometimes punish, people at the end of the game, stealing last minute victories against the smug.

Brightly colored cards with humorous happy faces makes Sushi Go Party! one of the most visually engaging board games on this list, and quite kid friendly too. At a $20 price tag, it’s worth checking out.

Codenames

Know that game Password? A similar premise but with a spy theme, Codenames has cooperative play for two players or a competitive mode for two teams (maximum eight players). A fantastic game for folks who fancy themselves walking dictionaries.

The premise revolves around 25 cards, each bearing a single word. The designated codemaster has to study the board and a “key,” before saying a single word (that is not among those 25) and a number. Members working with the codemaster have to guess up to that many cards on the board, all somehow connected to the spoken word.

If the guessing agents are correct, tiles for their agency are placed over the words. Wrong guesses reveal civilians (which cost them their turn) or enemy agents (free points to the other side). But among the 25 words, one of them is the assassin, a tile that causes instant loss! With a price tag of less than $16, Codenames is a simple title from Czech Games that anyone can enjoy.

The Resistance

Yes, we’ve heard of your preferred derivative, just give me a minute!

The Resistance is one of several titles of the “hidden identity” genre which has taken the board game community by storm in the last decade. A dedicated party game that requires no less than five people (and a maximum of ten), each player is given a secret role before deducing their foes and politicking their way to victory.

A small number of players are spies while the rest are members of the resistance. Each round, a rotating player chooses a few people to go on a mission. Spies, of course, will want to choose themselves and other spies (whom they know) to secretly sabotage the outcome. Unfortunately, the nature of the game means that knowing who the spies are isn’t enough. You have to convince your teammates to believe and trust you!

Created by Don Eskridge, The Resistance is a pretty simple design, and other variations of this same game exist. These include Avalon, again made by Eskridge. In this Arthurian setting, one member of the resistance is Merlin, who knows who the spies are. However if the spies lose the main game, they can reverse their luck by guessing who Merlin is.

And of course, for the overly political or those who prefer less tasteful humor, there is also Secret Hitler

Citadels

The idea is an easy one. Collect coins or cards every turn and spend them to build a city. The first to eight districts ends the game, while whomever owns the most costly structures wins.

But what makes Bruno Faidutti’s Citadels special is the idea of roles. Before each round, players choose from up to eight possible characters whom they can be, each with their own abilities and turn order. The Thief can steal all of a player’s gold, the Architect can draw more building cards freely while the Warlord can destroy an opponent’s neighborhoods.

Because the roles change every round, strategy is equal parts taking advantage of these abilities, while not being whom your foes suspect you are. Especially when the Assassin card can end a player’s turn before it ever begins. Plus, the medieval setting and changing roles are a great ways to butter casuals up for…

Mansions of Madness, 2nd Edition

Surprised? That’s right, our last entry is a game set in the Cthulhu mythos. A story-derived title that’s almost an RPG, yet somehow still simple enough to engage casuals!

Set in the 1920s, players choose pre-generated characters with different stats to explore a potential crime scene, solving puzzles, interviewing witnesses and fighting monsters. But instead of a typical dungeon master, Fantasy Flight Games cooked up an assistant app that does the heavy lifting: preparing a changing map, revealing discovered items, monsters, rooms and events that keep the game going.

The application lets players focus on their situation with little work. Each setting has internal variations, so even experienced players have no guarantees of success. And worse, the biggest fear isn’t so much death but madness. Players begin perfectly cooperative, but once one loses their mind, there are no guarantees of loyalty.

Mansions of Madness may also be the perfect jumping off point to determine if players would be interested in pen-and-paper RPGs. But one way or the other, if they love this game, then you can safely say they’re become a board games afficiando.

And be sure to check out our other book and game reviews for more great entertainment recommendations!