Celebrate this year’s Valentine’s Day by sharing a memorable round or two with this year’s Top 5 Board Games for Valentine’s Day. The following board games have been selected with a few criteria in mind: accessibility, components, replayability, and fun, among other things.
Accessibility will refer to things such as how easy it is to learn to play or teach to someone. This also includes accessibility to the actual game, which refers to availability and affordability. Components focus on the physical pieces of the game, their quality, quantity, size, and portability. Replayability comments on the longevity of the game and how soon before the game becomes stale. And, fun is fun.
BoardGameGeek Overall Rank: 127
Carcassonne is considered by many as a classic board game. First released in 2000, Carcassonne has seen many reprints and expansions, yet the gameplay stays the same. Named after the Medieval city of Carcassonne in France, players take turns picking up tiles and placing them on the board in order to build castles, roads, and fields. The tiles contain any combination of road, field, castle walls, and cloisters (the expansions offer more variety) and must match up like puzzles when played. Players score points by placing their meeples and completing the structures named above.
Carcassonne is a classic choice for a mixture of romantic and board-gaming type of night. Carcassonne will play the way you and your significant other want to play. If you want to play competitively, you can. Place those tiles, build giant castles, cut off roads, block each other, and accumulate points. However, if you want a night focused on your partner while still being able to play, Carcassonne’s got your back.
Since there’s no direct combat or hostility in gameplay, Carcassonne can be played slowly and with no urgency. In fact, you and your partner can work together to build an intricate map of castles and roads. The best part is that Carcassonne doesn’t require much attention at all, which means you can focus on your date. Do you want to get to know each other better? Carcassonne’s your wingman.
Carcassonne plays best at home or in a cafe with a large table. Carcassonne does not have an actual board but the pieces themselves develop into a playing area. Due to the number of pieces of tiles and the large space it takes up, it is not recommended to take this game to a restaurant or a bar setting.
BoardGameGeek Overall Rank: 101
Jaipur was our Number 2 pick last year. Jaipur is a card game with tokens that serve as both market goods and points. In a game, you and your significant other will take the role of merchants looking to buy goods at the market place and later sell them for profit (points). Goods range from common items such as leather and spices to rare and precious items such as gold and gems. Bonuses are awarded to players who are able to sell off large sets of the same goods, such as three, four, or five of a kind. There are also camels that cannot be sold as goods, but can be traded between you and the marketplace. At the end of the round, you and your partner will tally up the points (tokens) from selling the goods, and the highest score wins the round. Games are played as best 2 out of 3 rounds, with each victory earning you a Seal of Excellence.
Jaipur is enjoyable because it is easy to learn and comes in a super compact box. Players familiar with Gin Rummy will easily pick up on the rules. The game is non-combative but can be very competitive. The game has high replayability because you can always try and change up your strategy based on what you buy, collect, and sell. Rounds can be relaxed or intense depending on how you want to play. With this game, it is still easy to have a conversation going with your date. It’s also fun to just leave a bunch of camels and no goods for your significant other (aka your opponent) to buy.
Jaipur travels well in its compact container, but due to the tokens, it is suggested not to play this game in dark bars/restaurants. You may never find your tokens. Jaipur’s price fluctuates a lot on Amazon due to the high demand for it. I paid $27 for mine and it has been well worth the price.
BoardGameGeek Overall Rank: 169
Hive was our Number 1 pick last year, but has since been dethroned. Hive is an abstract puzzle and tile-laying game in which you and your partner will have a set of insects and bugs. The objective of the game is to have the other player’s queen bee completely surrounded; it doesn’t matter if its by your insects or by theirs. You and your partner will take turns laying down a new tile or moving an insect that you control that is already in play. Each insect has its own movement. For example, the ant can crawl all around the outside of the hive; the grasshopper must hop over other insects; and the beetle can climb over and pin down other insects. The game itself does not have a board, but the playing space develops as more insects are put into play.
The game offers many strategies and allows you to try out different tactics with the different pieces. The insects always stay on the board in play and are never “killed” or “captured.” This makes the gameplay more balanced instead of having one player overpowering the other. Like a light game of checkers or chess, you and your partner can engage in conversation or even friendly trashtalk as you pin down the other’s queen bee with your beetle. The only drawback of this game is if you or your partner is squeamish about creepy crawlers.
Hive is compact and travels extremely well. The game has two versions, a regular version and a pocket version. Both come in sturdy and durable bakelite pieces that really feel hefty and nice to hold. The pocket version comes with a travel bag. Having brought the game with me through a European backpacking trip, I know first-hand how easy it is to pack, to travel with, and to pull out and play on any small surface. The pieces are cool and understanding their movements make them even more interesting and unique. This makes it a perfect game for restaurant and cafe tables and train and airplane trays.
BoardGameGeek Overall Rank: 133
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is really our Number 1 pick for this year. However, due to availability issues, and many people marking up the price to impossible prices, it has been placed at Number 2.
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is the nicer, more friendly younger sibling to Agricola. In Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small you won’t have to worry about not harvesting enough and starving to death. Instead you and your significant other will take on the role of cattle farmers raising different types of livestock and maintaining various facilities on your farm. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is a strictly two-player, worker-placement game in which you will take turns choosing what you will develop, build, collect, or raise on your farm from a limited set of actions. At the end of each round, players replenish the resources on the board and any livestock they own enter a breeding phase and produce more livestock. In the end, players tally points based on number of livestock raised and facilities developed.
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small has the best components out of all the games reviewed here. Each player receives a personal farm board and worker tokens. There are also extra farm boards, facilities/buildings, wooden borders, and wooden resource tokens. What really stand out, though, are the animeeples. Yes! Animal meeples! The livestock are all represented by their adorable wooden meeple token counterparts: white sheep, black pigs, brown cows, and chestnut horses. For such a small box, so many amazing things are packed within it.
Why should you play this on date night? Because it is so cute, lovely, impressive, and versatile. The game is very easy to learn: choose an action to be able to gain that action or resource. Despite the ease in learning, Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small delivers a lot of depth and replayability. You will find yourself trying out different strategies between building facilities first or buying livestock first. You and your partner will end up trying different border setups and facility expansions. There’s a lot of strategy and tactics in timing your actions so that each turn counts and no resource is wasted.
The game can be as competitive or as friendly as you want. There is no direct combat, but there is a competition on taking actions/resources from the game board. All in all, this game is seriously fun and the theme is great. Highly recommended game, but do get plastic seal bags for the tokens otherwise the animeeples might run away. Either way, get this game! Maybe you’ll even get to do your own breeding phase.
BoardGameGeek Overall Rank: 39
Patchwork weaves its way to Number 1. Patchwork is a game by designer Uwe Rosenberg, designer of other games such as Agricola, Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (seen above), Bohnanza, Caverna, and more. Let me warn you that Patchwork on paper will sound quite a boring-fest of a game, but hang in there, it’s in the Number 1 position for a reason. Patchwork is a strictly two-player game. Each player receives a personal quilt board and some buttons (the game’s currency). The play area is formed by placing oddly shaped pieces of fabric in a circle. Each uniquely shaped, sized, and patterned fabric has a time and button cost. In the course of a game, you and your significant other will take turns purchasing different pieces of fabric to add to your quilt. As the game progresses, you will collect more buttons for more patches in order to complete your quilt board. In the end, the person with the most buttons wins.
Because of how the game is set up at the beginning of each round, no two game of Patchwork will ever play the same way. Though the game is easy to learn, there are many ways to plan your path to victory. Uwe Rosenberg strikes an amazing balance between managing buttons, tiles, and timing. Combine all of these great features with a quick and easy setup and you will find yourself wanting another round and trying out new strategies.
All of the components are made with sturdy cardboard. They have been colorfully printed with patterns of different fabric and precisely cut to fit into each others’ grooves. This game is non-combative and non-hostile. It can be played in a relaxed or competitive manner. The nature of the game allows you and your partner to connect in conversation while you play.
Patchwork is a relatively new game and is still available in many places at a very affordable price. The only downside of Patchwork is that it takes up a lot of space to set up due to the pieces of fabric ALL being laid out on the table at once.
BoardGameGeek Overall Rank: 306
The Duke is chess with a modern board gaming twist. In The Duke, you and your partner will try to capture your opponent’s duke in what is essentially a checkmate in chess. The board is a grid of 6×6 squares, while the pieces are made of solid 1×1 inch wooden squares. Each player starts with their Duke and two Pikemen. Other pieces include the following: Knight, Bowman, Longbowman, Assassin, Champion, General, and more. The modern twist to this chess-like game is that each piece can move in two different ways. Each piece includes the guide on how to move the piece. Once a piece has taken an action, it is flipped to the other side, which contains a different set of moves. Each player takes turns either placing more pieces on the board or taking an action until someone’s Duke is captured.
Like chess, The Duke has direct combat and piece elimination. Anyone familiar with chess can pick up the rules quite quickly. Anybody who can follow visual cues from the pieces can learn this game quickly as well. Fans of chess will probably find this a refreshing change.
The Duke is a great game for people who want to play a head-to-head game similar to chess but have vastly different skill levels in chess. The variety of pieces, actions, and randomness in drawing pieces allows for a more level playing field between two players.
The Duke is highly portable and sturdy. The wooden pieces come in two separate bags and the cardboard conveniently folds up. There are also additional terrain pieces, game types, and black tiles for customizing your game experience.
Whether you are checking these games out for the first time or if you have other game recommendations, please let us know so we can review them! Happy Romantic Board Gaming Day!