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Top Games To Play While Social Distancing

As the Covid-19 Coronavirus spreads, more and more people are staying home to do their part to help mitigate the spread of this virus. During this time a great way to stave off loneliness and boredom is to play board games with those you live with. For this purpose we have chosen our top games to play while social distancing.

These games were picked for their replayability, depth and challenge - we hope you enjoy them! We look forward to hearing what games you think should be on this list!

Two Player: Go

"Just this one game they said, and they started to play... that was yesterday"

This ancient game presents more possibilities than almost any other game. While the West has looked to Chess as an analog for a variety of the challenges of business and war, the East has long embraced this incredible game.

The concept is simple: lay black and white stones on different spaces on a board, and surround the other players formations, eliminating their liberties or open spaces next to them, in order to capture them. The game quickly becomes a strategic war, with each move being carefully calculated to control more territory on the board, and although the board may look to an outside observe like a meaningless smattering of stones, it is to the go player an immersive battlefield, full of possibility.

Why is it Good for Social Distancing?

Go is the definition of a game which is easy to learn, yet impossible to master. Myriads of treatises have been written on the subject, and the very action of playing is a meditative exercise.

Runner Up Games:

Chess: Like Go, Chess is easy to learn, yet impossible to master. The one advantage of Chess over Go is that more people in your community are likely to know Chess.

Memoir 44: This WWII Battle Simulator provides intriguing possibilities for a variety of battles. It presents the excitement of a WWII game without the heavy strategy mental drain of games like Axis and Allies.

Cooperative: Pandemic

Even if the reason for staying home wasn't a literal pandemic, Pandemic has earned its place as a game which is synonymous with the cooperative game genre. In Pandemic players take on the roles of a variety of CDC first responders responding to a global pandemic. Each turn consists of two parts, taking actions to save the world and flipping over cards to continue spreading the infection. The result is that the game quickly becomes a tense race to eradicate the disease. In addition to the base game, Pandemic has quite a few incredibly good core variants. Pandemic: Cthulhu places you in the role of investigators attempting to seal gates and prevent the elder gods from destroying the world, Pandemic: Fall of Rome, places you in the sandals of Roman officials attempting to save the empire from the barbarian hordes. Finally, Pandemic: Legacy allows you to play a continuous game in which you battle the virus and its ongoing effects over multiple game sessions.

Why is it Good for Social Distancing?

Pandemic is great because it can play smoothly with two to four players. Also there is something cathartic about eradicating disease from the world in these trying times.

Runner Up Games

Mysterium: With one player acting the role of a ghost giving clues to the rest of the group of how they died, this cooperative experience tests communication and inference skills.

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: These detailed murder mysteries present unique challenges which can provide immersive experiences lasting hours, a perfect way to spend an evening home with a few friends over a cup of tea.

Light Strategy: Splendor

We have long regarded Light Strategy games as the creme de le creme of board games, and as such it was hard to choose just one game. However, of all of the games, we have decided that 2014 Spiel des Jahres winner Splendor is the best game to play. This game gives you a chance to play as a trader in 15th century Italy attempting to amass a fortune and become the most prestigious trader. However, the component that ends up making this game so fun is the engine building aspect. Each time you buy a card you get a discount on future purchases. The end result is an engaging game of extreme coupon-ing. This game is also wonderful because every board assembly is intrinsically unique.

Why is it Good for Social Distancing?

Like Pandemic, this game can be played by two to four players. You can play at home with your partner and then play with friends later. It's also great because it hosts an addictive building component that makes for a rewarding experience.

Runner Up Games

Ticket to Ride: No discussion of light strategy is complete without a mention of this incredible train game. The only reason this isn't number one is that it's not optimized for two person play.

Carcassonne: This game is all about assembling a medieval city and the result is an engaging worker placement game that will remind you of wonderful days of travel.

Party Games: Codenames

Amongst the cohort of party games that have been released in the last twenty years, one would be hard pressed to find a game that is as intellectually stimulating as Codenames. In this game you play as a field agent or a spymaster, sending messages with clues to help the other players spot the correct agents in the crowd. This is a team game, and the boards are always randomly distributed, with the clues given depending heavily on those playing. If you enjoy the premise,, Codenames has multiple expansions including After Dark (an adult variant), Duet (a two player variant), Pictures(exactly what you think), and many more fandom specific stand alone games!

Why is it Good for Social Distancing?

This game is particularly good for families to play. It engages people on all levels, and forces players to utilize different connections and inferences, which makes the game engaging for players of all ages. Additionally, it is a game which can be played by three to ten players, so it is great for large families.

Runner Up Games

Dixit: Another referential game, but instead of words it utilizes pictures coupled with clues.

Scruples: Hypothetical situation are great food for thought while you are sitting around the kitchen table talking with those close to you. What would you do in a variety of hypothetical situations? What would your friends do?

Dexterity: Crokinole

Crokinole is the only dexterity game to make it on to Board Game Geek's Top 100 Games. It is an incredible game of skill involving the flicking of pucks. The board itself is a gorgeous log circle, originally played by Canadian loggers. Scoring involves flicking the puck toward the middle, but, once you start flicking pucks, others can knock yours out with theirs. The result? A game of intensity and good times!

This game also includes the distinction of being the only game which a member of Pawn and Pint staff has injured themselves playing. Be warned, if you play too much, you could possibly give yourself carpal tunnel - ask Ed.

Why is it Good for Social Distancing?

The great thing about this game is that you can continue to get better at it with practice, to a level which isn't really possible with simple dexterity games like Jenga.

Runner Up Games

Jenga: At a bar, you can't play this as a drinking game. But, if you are social distancing, you aren't at the bar.

Heavy Strategy: Arkham Horror

If ever there were a perfect blend of choose-your-own-adventure stories, existential dread, cooperative gameplay, in depth situational strategy and pure random chance, Arkham Horror would be that game. One of the finest productions ever to come from Fantasy Flight Games, Arkham Horror pits a team of investigators against the Elder Things, beings of extreme horror from beyond the veil of mere reality. Players struggle to keep their own sanity intact as they vie to keep the eldritch forces at bay, unable to truly defeat them, only able to forestall the inevitable end of all existence for another generation. The game features a myriad of expansions and random event decks that essentially give the game endless replay ability, while still offering opportunity for cohesive strategies and chances for the investigators to flex their individual talents. Even so, with a player win rate of approximately 30%, Arkham Horror is a game that will legitimately leave players struggling to overcome long odds for a chance to savor the sweet taste of elusive victory.

Why is this Good for Social Distancing?

This game offers literally thousands of possible outcomes and intrigue. If you have the time to dedicate to playing it, the pay off is really quite wonderful!

Runner Up Games

Twilight Imperium: When else are you going to have the time to play this twelve hour game?

Diplomacy: You didn't want to keep your friends anyways, did you?

Bonus Option: Discord Based D&D With Pawn and Pint Friends

Playing D&D in person is one of the greatest things that people can do. The sense of community and storytelling experience is a one of a kind feeling. However, when you are social distancing this isn't a readily available option. In this situation we recommend you play Dungeons and Dragons via Discord with your friends at Pawn and Pint, via our servers at the link below; (

If you enjoyed this blog post, check out some of our similar posts like How To Play An Evil Character without Screwing Up the Party, or How to Teach Board Games - The Pawn and Pint Way. Also - feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! And of course, come visit us at our board game cafe at 613 Walnut Street, KCMO!

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