The Best Board and Card Games for 2019
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Almost everyone has some experience with classic card games or board games, like the ones we will cover in this article. Many of these games have been played for a hundred or years or more. Why are these classics, that have stood the test of time, and continue to be enjoyed by millions of people around the world today? Because these are games that have just the right mix of strategy and luck to make you keep coming back to them. Quite simply, they are tremendous fun to play, and their popularity proves it. And each time you play, the game experience will be slightly different. To win, you’ll have to combine your own skill in decision making with a dose of luck. And even if you lost badly last time, there’s always a sense that next time your fortunes might turn around.
So how can you go about learning and playing some of these great classics?
Play with family and friends: To play games, ideally you need other people to play them with. And because games are often a very social experience, one of the best ways to enjoy card games and board games is by playing them with others. So dig out that deck of cards, or dust off that classic game, and invite your relatives or friends to play with you.
Many families have their household favorites, and perhaps your friends have some card games that they already love playing. Night playing games with family or friends can be a great way to spend time together and it makes the ideal recipe for a relaxing social evening.
Play with software: If you are not quite sure on the rules of how to play a specific game, or have nobody to play with you, there are plenty of software programs available that will help you with that. While the ideal way to learn a game is to have someone teach you in person, a software program is a good second best, because it will enforce the rules.
Many of these also include tutorials to help you learn the rules. We are in the fortunate position that there are many excellent programs readily available today, and most versions of Windows will even come with some games pre-installed.
Play online: Playing against a computer player in a software program lacks the human element, but the good news is that there are many ways to play online against other people across the globe. One option for playing online is to get an app that incorporates multi-player games. There are also websites dedicated to this purpose. Ideally, you want to look for a reliable site that has an active and large community of participants worldwide and combines this with sophisticated technology that works smoothly and offers you lots of options for different game modes.
The best sites for playing online will enable you to play across different platforms, and have a multi-player experience that works equally well right within your web browser, or with free software that you can download and use on your mobile device or PC.
VIP Games: VIP Games is one of the premier providers of multi-player games and has been designed to work well across a variety of different platforms. It has been created to give you the very best experience possible so that whether you are playing in a training mode against a computer player, or whether you are involved in a live game with human players around the world, you are guaranteed to have a positive experience.
We’ll help you learn the rules, and give you lots of options for a fun and social gaming experience that is enjoyable and rewarding. And we will give you every chance to learn and use your winning strategies because we cater to players of all levels and abilities.
Regardless of whether you join us on VIP Games, or whether you’re playing a physical game with family and friends, we invite you to discover the fun that traditional games have been bringing people around the world for centuries! In this article, we will briefly introduce you to some of the classic games that are part of our first wave of games on VIP Games.
Best Card Games
Almost everyone has a deck of playing cards somewhere. Traditional card games have been a staple form of entertainment ever since playing cards first arrived in Western Europe in the late 15th century. They spread rapidly as printing processes developed, and history shows that card games have been actively played and enjoyed for more than 500 years.
There are literally hundreds and hundreds of different card games in existence, and many of them have local variations and house rules unique to certain countries and ethnic communities. Let’s introduce you to four of them that are well-known and widely-played around the world today:
Background: Like many people, I first learned Crazy Eights when I was a youngster. This is an ideal game for families and makes an excellent starting point for children to be introduced to card games. Many people are already familiar with the card game Uno, not realizing that this is merely a commercial variation of Crazy Eights and that you can play it with a standard deck. It is considered a “shedding” game, because you’re getting rid of your cards, and dates back to the 1930s and 1940s.
How it works: The goal of Crazy Eights is to be the first player to get rid of all your cards. Everyone starts with the same sized hand of random cards, say eight cards. You take turns to play a card, which must match either the suit or value of the card at the top of the face-up discard pile. If you can’t play, you take a card from the draw pile, playing it if you can. But the real fun comes in some of the special abilities of the cards. For examples, certain cards allow you to change to a different suit (Eights), while other cards require the next player to draw two cards (Twos) or to skip a turn (Queens), or to reverse the order of play (Aces).
Why it is fun: Whether you play Crazy Eights online or with friends, it is very easy to learn and understand. Even young children can easily catch on to the rules, and enjoy playing. The special abilities of some cards inject real excitement and these twist and turn help keep things interesting as the game goes along. There is some skill in how to play, but it usually evens out, and even kids have a chance of beating adults, making it fun for people of all ages.
Background: Hearts is an ideal introduction to a style of the card game known as a “trick-taking” game. Trick taking games are arguably the most common type of card game and for good reason. In these games, players all have a hand of cards, and game-play revolves around a series of “tricks”. Each trick involves everyone playing one card from their hand, with the requirement to follow the suit (where possible) of the player that led the first card of a trick. The trick goes to the person who played the highest card, and that player captures all the cards played in that trick, and lead by playing the first card of the next trick. The popularity of Hearts goes all the way back to the 1800s.
How it works: What makes Hearts a true classic among trick-taking games, is that you must aim to avoid taking any tricks in which Hearts cards have been played, since these count as minus points. But the biggest card of all to avoid capturing is the Queen of Spades, which is worth a whopping 13 minus points. There is a special option of “shooting for the moon” by trying to capture all these point cards, but it’s risky and difficult, and it is rare to see someone achieve this successfully. At the start of each hand, you also get to pass three cards to another player, and this can help you improve your hand to increase your chances of success – although the cards you receive might just make your job all the harder!
Why it is fun: The appeal of playing the Hearts game online is that you can use real strategy in how you play your cards, and yet there is still some real luck of the draw, to help level the playing field somewhat. Hearts tend to be a fun and social experience, unlike the most famous trick-taking game of all: Bridge. Bridge is much harder to learn and requires real skill, plus there are many conventions about how to play with a partner that needs to be mastered. In contrast, Hearts is very easy to learn, plays quickly have an addictive quality about it, and yet gives room for meaningful decisions and skillful card-play.
Background: But many trick-taking games use a trump suit, and Euchre is a good example. While the game of Hearts doesn’t involve trump suit, in Euchre a particular suit is designated as “trump” each hand, which means that cards of that suit automatically beat cards of any other suit. Euchre also increases the level of difficulty from Hearts because you need to play with a partner, and you earn points together. The enormous popularity of this partnership game in North America goes back to the 19th century, and this social game is especially popular in parts of Canada and the USA.
How it works: Just 24 cards are used for Euchre, with the Jacks serving as powerful “bowers”, and they are the most powerful cards in the game. Everyone starts with a five-card hand, and the trump is determined by a turned-up card. The aim of the game is that one partner is trying to win the most tricks. You accumulate points over multiple hands, trying to be the first partnership to get a fixed number of points that is your target. If needed, you can see more euchre tips and tricks written by one of our players.
Why it is fun: The partnership play of Euchre gives it a very different feel from Hearts, and that is a big part of its appeal. Given the relatively small amount of cards in play, fortunes can change quickly from hand to hand, and you always feel that you’re in with a chance, especially if you get the right cards. The challenge is to work together well with your partner, without knowing his cards. It is a highly social game, and can especially be fun when played in a casual tournament setting. But you do need exactly four players to play Euchre, so if there are only two of you, you might want to look into Ecarte, which is an excellent trick-taking game very similar to Euchre and is better suited for a two-player game.
Background: The Jass family of card games first originated in the Netherlands, and Klaverjassen is the Dutch member of this family. Its close relative Jass is the national card game of Switzerland, but these card games are enjoyed in many parts of Europe, often with slight variations to the game-play. Besides the Swiss Jass, the wider family includes Belote (France), Klabberjass or Clob (Germany), and Klaverjassen (Netherlands). These games are also somewhat similar to the classic card games Bezique and Pinochle. The game available on VIP Games is the Dutch member of this family of classic games, namely Klaverjassen.
How it works: Klaverjassen is played with two players or in partnerships, with the partnership of the game being the most preferred way to play. Only 32 cards are used, and the aim is to earn as many points as a team over sixteen hands. One of the biggest decisions of the game is to choose the trump suit, which is the privilege of the player next to the dealer. The cards all have different point values, and the ranking of the trump suit (J,9,A,10,K,Q,8,7) is different than the other suits (A,10,K,Q,J,9,8,7). You can also earn bonus points by capturing particular combinations of cards in a trick, such as runs of consecutive cards, four-of-a-kinds, and the king and queen of trumps.
Why it is fun: Partnership play is really taken to the next level in Klaverjassen. When playing, it is often considered acceptable to signal to your partner what you have in your hand, based on what you play. Unsurprisingly, Klaverjassen gives much more opportunity for skill than more social games like Euchre, because you can select the trump, and work together with your partner not just in capturing tricks, but also in capturing special combinations that earn bonus points.
Classic Board & Other Games
As fun as card games can be, a deck of playing cards offers just one way to play games, and there are many other ways. Board games like Chess and Checkers have long and storied histories, and often require great skill in order to play at a high level. Fortunately, there are many other games that are a little easier to learn and play, and can be enjoyed socially, making them ideal for a family context. Here are some favorites that you’ll find over on VIP Games:
Four in a Row
Background: This abstract game appeared on the market in a commercial form already in the 1970s and continues to be extremely popular today.
How it works: Also called Connect Four, as the name immediately suggests, the aim of Four in a Row is to be the first player to connect four discs (in your own color) in a row. It’s usually played with a vertical board that consists of six rows of seven columns. It’s a two-player game, and players have circular discs in their color, which they take turns to drop down from the top of the board into a column. The idea is to get four discs of your own color in a row, and this can be achieved in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line.
Why it is fun: The popularity of this classic game lies in part to the simplicity of its rules. Anyone can learn it is merely a minute or so, making it well suited for children as well. And yet there is absolutely no luck whatsoever, and the winner will come down to careful tactical and strategic play. It’s easy enough for children to learn, and yet a good player will nearly always beat a weaker player, through the skillful placement of his discs. Four in a Row offers more to think about than the universally known Tic-Tac-Toe. Yet like other commercial games geared towards young players, such as the purely luck-based Candyland, it is an ideal place to introduce children to a game where clever decisions will be rewarded.
Background: Now it’s time to add some dice to the mix. Ludo is a commercial name of a game that originates as the national game of India. Also known as Pachisi, this game is said to date back to the first few centuries AD, so it has certainly been played for hundreds of years. It’s been published commercially under a variety of names including Sorry! and Trouble.
How it works: This game falls within the “roll-and-move” genre, and players move their pawns along a board a certain number of spaces, as determined by the dice they roll. You may get your pawns into play, thus beginning their journey, by rolling a six. Typically played with two to four players the object of the game is to be the first to get your pawns around the board, and successfully bring them “home”.
Why it is fun: The fun part of Ludo lies in the interaction created by the fact that all the players are using the same board. While the movement of your pawns is determined by the dice, you can choose which of your pawns to move, and this is where the risk and rewards come in: if you land on an opponent’s pawn, that piece is considered to be captured and must start over. This makes Ludo a race game that can be tense, and even though you often rely on the outcome of dice, the level of interaction ensures that it remains exciting and fun to play right to the very end.
Background: Backgammon is also a race game that involves dice, but unlike Ludo, it gives players more choices, and there is more room for skill and careful decision making. Like the previous game, this abstract has a very long history, that in this case dates back thousands of years, with archaeologists finding evidence of games like it in ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. English rules were first standardized in the eighteenth century, and Backgammon continues to enjoy enormous popularity around the world today.
How it works: A special board is used for Backgammon, and each player has 15 tokens that have to be moved from their start area around the board, with the winner being the first player to successfully move all their tokens off the board (called “bearing off”). Movement is determined by rolling two dice. Similar to Ludo, you can capture your opponent’s tokens and force them back to their starting position, but your tokens are only vulnerable to being captured in this fashion if they occupy a space on the board alone. Recent innovations to the game include the addition of a “doubling cube” which enables players to increase the stakes of a particular game, and especially when played for real money, this element can become an important part of the game. You can learn more on the Backgammon rules page.
Why it is fun: At first sight, Backgammon may seem to be a fairly luck-based game, much like Ludo, because it is dependent on the roll of the dice. But with experience, you will quickly come to realize that there is a lot more scope for clever decisions, especially because there are usually so many options for movement. To begin with, there are many more tokens than Ludo, so there’s a lot more choice as to which ones you want to move to. Careful placement can protect your tokens from being captured, and this is where some of the strategy lies. You want to minimize the risks of being captured while maximizing your own movement, and careful consideration of probability can also assist greatly in playing well.
Background: So what happens if we reduce a game purely to dice rolling alone? Yatzy is a modern classic that has been around already since the 1940s, and it was produced commercially under the name Yahtzee ever since 1956. Its longevity and continued popularity prove that this dice game has what it takes to entertain people of all ages worldwide. As an added bonus, it can even be enjoyed solitaire.
How it works: Players take turns to roll five standard dice. On your turn, you can re-roll some or all dice up to two times, which means that you’ll get a maximum of three rolls in a turn. The decision making comes in deciding which dice to keep because at the end of your turn you must score points on a special score sheet. This typically consists of two halves, with the top half scoring the sum of all 1s rolled, or all 2s, and so on, all the way up to all 6s. Bonus points can also be earned by scoring a number of points in the top section. The bottom half gives other scoring options, such as one or two pairs, three or four of a kind, small and large straights (a consecutive run of numbers), a full house (a set of three and a pair), chance (any combination). Best of all is Yatzy, which earns 50 points by having all five dice with the same number.
Why it is fun: Yatzy is popular in Scandinavian countries, and the differences from the more commonly known Yahtzee are not significant, and easily learned. It is effectively a Yahtzee variant and plays in much the same way. The thrill of the game-play lies in the fact that you never know what you’re going to roll. Good players will learn to play the odds, and work with probabilities carefully to keep as many options open as possible and maximize their point-scoring wherever possible. And if you do totally bomb out with a low score, the game plays quickly enough that you can immediately play again, and do better next time! Jump straight into Yatzy and play for free in VIP Games!
You will find plenty of resources on the internet to help you begin your journey in discovering the fun that these classic games can offer. The rules can be found readily online, including elsewhere on the VIP Games website. You’ll also easily find many websites that will give you good strategy tips and ideas.
But most importantly, go ahead and play and enjoy these games! Being able to play with friends and family will nearly always be the best and most satisfactory way of playing classics like these. But unfortunately, other players are not always readily available. There will be times where you are keen to play, and either there are no people around you, or those who are will not be interested in playing a game at that moment. That’s where sites like VIP Games come in. No matter what time of the day it is, you’ll find an active community of players eager to join you at the game table, playing these classic games.
What’s more, playing classic card games and board games at VIP Games also gives you important benefits that you won’t find in a game at your kitchen table. Not only can you play a multi-player game at any time that you want to, but there are additional features like being able to do training games against computers, studying strategy guides and tutorials, reading news or participating in quizzes. You can talk with other players, or compete to be the best, and make your way up the leader-boards that keep track of the top players. And if you’re using a mobile device, you can do all this and more anywhere you like, at any time. So we hope you’ll join us here at VIP Games, and discover the great fun that classic games like these can provide in our modern era!
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known and respected reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games and everything related to playing cards. He has reviewed several hundred board games and hundreds of different decks of playing cards. You can see a complete list of his game reviews “here, and his playing card reviews here. He is considered an authority on games and on playing cards and has many contacts within the game and playing card industries.