Five Board Games to Cure Cabin Fever

Build a new city in the game Catan.
Build a new city in the game Catan. Fritzmann2002/Wikimedia Commons
Toilet paper isn't the only thing missing from the shelves of your favorite store.

In the age of social distancing, board games are coming back in a big way, with retailers like Amazon selling out of classics like Scrabble. If Monopoly is sold out on your next Target run, here are a few suggestions that will help pass the time while staying inside.


Players: Two to six (more with expansions)
Ages: 10 and up
Game it's better than: Monopoly

Catan is a strategic city-building game that's easy to pick up and will cause some good-natured competition. You put a city on a tile and roll the dice. Every time you hit the right number, you get a resource card that is used to build more stuff. Resource trading is where the fun comes in. When someone doesn't want to part with their last bundle of wheat, that's when sparks fly.

The Resistance

Players: Five to 10
Ages: 10 and up
Game it's better than: Clue

The Resistance focuses on social interaction. Armchair Sherlocks need to figure out which of their group is secretly trying to sabotage The Resistance's plan to topple the post-apocalyptic cyberfuture within five rounds or their petty quarrels are crushed under the weight of the empire. Players will either be trying to fake the good guys out or figure out who the bad guys are, and the results are ridiculously entertaining.


Players: Three to six
Ages: 8 and up
Game it's better than: Apples to Apples

Using cards illustrated with imaginative imagery, players pick cards based on a title proposed by the "storyteller." If at least one person misses the correct card, then the storyteller gets one point per vote. You're going to need your deep emotional connection to the other players to get them to give you points.


Players: Two to five
Ages: 8 and up
Game it's better than: Sequence/Scrabble

Carcassonne is a cooperative city-building game where players create the board through play. The structure of the board is different every time, and players score points by placing "meeples" on cities, roads, and cloisters as the board develops. Victory is declared by whoever scores the most points after every piece of the board is placed.

Hey, That's My Fish!

Players: Two to four
Ages: 6 and up
Game it is better than: Checkers

Players move from hex to hex eating fish, but every move they make breaks the ice for other players, which limits movement around the board. It's kind of like a combination of Go and checkers with a couple of kid-friendly elements thrown in. Most of the games in this list tend to be more centered around adult stuff, but there's no better way to bring a kid into the golden board game future than Hey, That's My Fish!

Editor's note: The article was originally published in 2012 and has been updated.
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Alex Weiss
Contact: Alex Weiss