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Escape room

Top 10 Escape Themed Board Games

This year has seen a slew of new board games with many featuring or built around the escape room genre...
2021.04.08.

This year has seen a slew of new board games with many featuring or built around the escape room genre. With social distancing still in force, we are spending huge amounts of time at home. Apart from the usual suspects of reading, playing console games and, surfing the internet, we're always happy to find new games to play. So, without too much ado, here's our choice for the top 10 escape room-themed board games.

The Game
Ages: Kids, Teens, and Adults
Group Size: 1-5
Complexity: Easy

This is actually a simple card game. That is simple to play, but certainly not simple to win. Though it must be said that practice makes perfect and we're all improving each time we play. To quote what's written on the packaging:  “Cooperative game that involves hand management and memory. You’ll have to work together with your friends to play cards into one of four different piles, with the hopes of discarding all 98 cards in ascending or descending order. The trick is, you aren’t allowed to tell anyone else what cards you have, so you’ll constantly be on edge as each card played could upset your best-laid plans.”

Catan
Ages: Teens and Adults
Group Size: 3-6 (you will need the 5-6 player expansion for more people)
Complexity: Medium

This is a dice game that is focused on trading resources. Yeah, we know, it doesn't really sound like much fun. But, boy would you be wrong about that assumption. The game is a total blast to play and you'll quickly become hooked on the gameplay. Here's the blurb: " “Your adventurous settlers seek to tame the remote but rich isle of Catan. Get resources from Catan’s many harbors and regions: pastures, fields, mountains, hills, forests, and desert. Build your cities and rule of all Catan!” 

SURVIVE! Escape from Atlantis
Ages: Kids, teens, and adults will all equally love this game.
Group size: 2-4
Complexity: Easy. You can learn it in 5-10 minutes.

This is a game for kids of all ages. It's dead easy to pick up and you'll learn everything about it within a couple of rounds. The gameplay is chaotic but makes for a hugely enjoyable time. The blurb on the packaging reads: " “In this game, you try to lead your people from the sinking central island of Atlantis to the safety of one of four islands nearby. Your people can get there quickly by boat (if they find one) or more slowly by swimming. But it will be a perilous journey as they must avoid Sea Serpents, Whales, and Sharks.”

Codenames
Ages: Teens and Adults
Group Size: 4-6
Complexity: Easy

Another great game that you can play together, or over the internet with a video app. One person has the game and they lay out the cards in order to make a playing board. They can then take photos and send them off to all the players. Everyone checks out the board and ticks off whenever an agent has been found. Here's the blurb: "“The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.”

Pandemic
Ages: Teens and adults
Group size: 2-4 (I recommend just 2)
Complexity: Medium

Well, here a game that knows when to be popular. Easy to learn and play, but super hard to win. It's best if played between a couple of people at most in order to get the maximum potential from the game. Here's what it says on the box: “Four diseases have broken out in the world and it is up to a team of specialists to find cures for these diseases before mankind is wiped out. Players must work together and plan their strategy of eradication before the diseases overwhelm the world with ever-increasing outbreaks. A truly cooperative game where you all win or you all lose.”

Terraforming Mars
Ages: Teens and adults
Group Size: 1-5
Complexity: Difficult

This game takes a while to master. The rule book isn't the easiest to grasp, but luckily there was a 30-minute video that clarified all the major points. Once we knew the rules, then everything fell into place. All in all, it's a complex board game that is a lot like the traditional deck-building games. Even the blurb is longer and more detailed than any of the other games we tried: “In the 2400S, mankind begins to terraform the Planet Mars. Giant corporations, sponsored by the world government on earth, initiate huge projects to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and ocean coverage until the environment is habitable. In Terraforming Mars you play one of those corporations and work together in the terraforming process, but compete in doing the best work, with victory points awarded not only for your contribution to the Terraforming but also for advancing human infrastructure throughout the solar systems and other commendable achievements.”

Ticket to Ride
Ages: Teens and Adults
Group Size: 2-5
Complexity: Medium

This is a little similar to Catan, in that there's a fair bit of rad building going on. It's a game of strategy, and we'll let the blurb on the box speak for itself: “Players collect cards of various types of train cars they then use to claim railway routes in North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who fulfill Destination Tickets – goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who builds the longest continuous route.”

Carcassonne
Ages: Teens and Adults
Group Size: 2-5
Complexity: Medium

This is an interesting game in that the board is forever changing. In fact, you end up creating the board as the game goes on. This means that the board is always in a state of flux whenever it's your turn to play. Here's the blurb: “Each new tile placed creates an ever-expanding board on which players can then add their followers. As the map grows, so does the opportunity for players to disrupt each other’s plans. Everyone is adding to the same map and only one follower can be on any given feature at a time—so if you don’t place a follower on something, someone else probably will.”

Pandemic Legacy Season 1
Ages: Teens and adults
Group Size: 2-4 
Complexity: Difficult

This is a true masterpiece of a game. It's different and every time you play, you are making future outcomes for the following time you sit down to play again. You can put certain stickers on the board to help you remember what happened the last time. Then there are a number of mystery boxes that you are instructed to open at various points around the gameplay. We highly recommend this game. There's even a Legacy game from before this one if you want to try them all. Here's the blurb: “The world is on the brink of disaster. In Pandemic Legacy, your disease-fighting team must keep four deadly diseases at bay for a whole year. Each month will bring new surprises, and your actions in each game will have repercussions on the next. Will you let cities fall to the diseases? Will your team be enough to keep the viruses at bay for a whole year? Craft your own unique Pandemic experience with Pandemic Legacy.”

Power Grid Recharged Version
About: Teens and adults
Group Size: 2-6
Complexity: Difficult

First off, we should say, that though this game involved very little in the form of reading, you will need to have some basic math skills. We highly recommend having a calculator handy. This is very much a game of strategy. You may think you're doing well, only to find the game suddenly got that much harder. Likewise, you could be doing badly only to find things get a lot easier for you. The game has a habit of evening out the odds. Here's what they have to say about themselves: “What better way to earn money than with electric power?!! But how should you do it? However you decide to generate the energy, you’ll have to compete with your opponents not only for the most attractive power plants but for the necessary resources and the sites to build your network of energy distribution. You’ll need to watch your opponents closely, carefully manage your money, and expand your network thoughtfully in order to generate income. The player that is able to build the largest network AND successfully power it will be the winner.”

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