Friday, January 28, 2011

Board games in high school

I am by no means an expert in this topic but I have been experimenting with it a few years. I've avoided traditional games in this list such as Chess, Connect 4, Chinese checkers, Draughts, Backgammon as these form the basis of school games clubs.

Here is my list of alternative games played successfully with students:

Simple Games:

Collossal Arena (~$35, 30 mins, six players) Students bet against gladiators. Students have to evaluate diminishing odds when placing bets and simultaneously use a variety of special abilities to eliminate rival gladiators.

For Sale (~$40, 10 mins, six players) A game where students purchase property at auction and then sell them to each other. Students need to evaluate what is left to be purchased and then try to estimate the best moment to put them on the market.

Set (~$25, 10 mins, six players) Students need to identify sets based on multiple criteria before other students find them. A simple game that uses many of the skills found in visual IQ tests.

Lupus in Tabula (~$20, 10 mins, up to 16 players) Students try and guess who the werewolf is. Students are accused and try and convince others that they are not the werewolf. A great way to introduce polls and tallies within the class.

Apples to Apples (~$50, 30 mins, up to 10 players) Hard to explain but fun if not taken seriously.

Ticket to Ride Europe (~$70, 1 hr, 5 players) Students build networks of track to connect destinations. Students that build the most effective networks win.

Citadels (~$35, 45 mins, 5 players) Students use roles to build their citadel whilst trying to stop their fellow students from doing the same.

Carcassonne (~$40, 30 mins, 3 players) Students accrue points by laying tiles and selecting optimal point scoring opportunities from multiple options.

Nuclear War (~$50, 30 mins, 5 players) What is better than blowing each other up? Blowing each other up with nuclear weapons.. Beware this game has the worst components ever, be prepared to laminate and find card sleeves.

BattleLine (~$30, 30 mins, 2 players) Two players use poker sets to try and win 5 hands. Special cards change the game in a variety of ways.

Dixit (~$40, 30 mins, 6 players) Players use their imagination to get students to guess which card is theirs.  A great investigation into grey areas as black and white answers do not get points.

Say Anything (~$40, 30 mins, 6 players) Similar to Apples to Apples but easier to understand by students.  Have to enforce a G rating on answers or the game gets out of control.

More complex games (require multiple sessions):

Space Hulk (~$200, >2 hrs, 2 players) I wouldn't suggest buying this for a class, but if you have a copy the students enjoy it. The miniatures take hours to paint but the end product is well worth it.

Claustrophobia (~$70, 1 hr, 2 players) The game to play when you can't play Space Hulk.

Battle Lore ($100, >2 hrs, 2 players) A skirmish game where students line up two forces and try and defeat each other. Students have to concentrate to get their forces into battle critical moments.

Smallworld (~70, 1 hr, 4 players) Students use a variety of races to control the largest area of a map.

Indonesia ($100, 2hrs+, 4 players) A game where students use stock techniques to manage shipping, mergers and acquisitions of wheat, rice, oil and spice companies.

These games can all be researched further on Boardgamegeek. Many can be purchased locally at Tactics in Perth, or online (cheaper but with shipping delays) at Milsims, from unhalfbricking, or from PinnacleGames.


(Updated 24/4/2011)


  1. awesome, are you still in Perth? I am trying to work out how to get asymmetric and non competitive games like Railway Ink and Cartographers going as a curriculum linked reward activity in primary school

  2. Sure am! There's lots of games that work with kids - it's a case of working out what your class is capable of and then building up.


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