Do you ever find yourself 10 steps ahead of the people around you? Do you carefully calculate your next moves in life, love, and friendship? Whether you live your life like a strategy game, or like a puzzle that needs disentangling, we hope you’ll enjoy these highlights from our collection of wooden board games. Kubiya offers stellar reinventions of timeless classics, and, regardless of skill level, this guide can offer advice/tips/tricks that are sure to give anyone a leg up the next time they play. Don’t let your brain turn to mush; get some mental exercise in before the summer is over, and have some fun at the same time! Learn to think critically as you make your friends weep in defeat from the lessons absorbed here. No need to thank us, pay it forward!
First up in our breakdown is Barricade: a strategical board game with rules for 2 to 4 players. It is a game of attack and defense, meaning that strategy and also luck play a crucial role through the use of dice. Each player starts with five pawns. The white barricades that block the road are placed at certain strategic points, and the goal is to get rid of these barricades and reach your end goal. Players start on one side, and the finish line is on the other side. In the playing field there are two "bottlenecks" that players must progress through, containing more barricades than in other places on the board. Players can “hit” each other; if your peg lands on a space occupied by your opponent’s peg, your opponent’s peg returns to the starting position. Players can also strike down barricades, which can then be repositioned in any place except the first row. The trick is to get rid of the barricades in this way and place them in such a way that they optimally hinder the opponent. Otherwise, in the words of Neil Young, you’ll find that “It’s a long hard road / When your friends start to leave you behind.” Whomever lands one pawn on the final target before any other players is the winner. Barricade originated from Germany, created in 1959 under the name “Malefiz,” meaning “misdeed” or “bad action.” No subtlety here, or mincing of words - the trick to winning does involve a great deal of malfeasance by way of barricading your opponent. But, with a light-hearted and thick-skinned group of gamers, the misdeeds only addto the fun!
Greatest Tip: Self-control. Patience. Each move has consequences. When moving a barricade, be careful not to block your own pawns or allow other pawns to get through suddenly. This sounds obvious, but it’s easy to get distracted by moves that are based on revenge, rather than choosing moves that will actually serve you best in the long run. It can be tempting after somebody blocks you to strike back quickly and venomously, but you could be falling into a trap set by the other player, who knows that humans are likely to play with emotions rather than logic.
This next strategy game is a veteran of the gaming industry that you have most definitely heard of, or probably played some version of, before. Ludo experienced its genesis from the ancient Indian game of Pachisi. This game is old enough that it has been mentioned in ancient religious texts like the Mahabharata (often called the longest poem ever written). Therefore, it’s no surprise that Ludo has stuck around and been embraced by many different cultures. Over the years, different countries have evolved their own variations of Ludo rules, and it has become widely popular across the world. Gameplay is fairly straightforward and easy to follow, even for children, making it perfect for a family game night. If you’ve played “race-around” board games like Aggravation, Sorry, or Trouble, where you try to reach the home by knocking out other players, you will find Ludo very close to home. 4 pawns of the same color start their journey from their respective bases and end in the home space at the end of the board. But, the road in between is tempestuous and plagued by ongoing threats of capture from the opposing pawns. You will need strategic plans of your own to attack any piece that crosses your path if you hope to survive the path. If you do manage to endure and reach the center with all four pawns first, you win!
Greatest Tip: Give yourself options. You have 4 pawns in Ludo. One of the first and most crucial things you can do to get a leg up is to ensure that all your pieces are in play. If that doesn't happen, you are left with limited options for each particular turn and will have higher chances of getting ‘killed’ (sent back to the start). But, with all of your pieces on the board, you have 4 different options each time, and a much higher statistical chance that you might be able to land on another player, or land in your end zone with the right number of moves.
Avoid: Devoting each turn to a single piece. This can be tempting to quickly get one pawn to your home base (and sometimes it may work out), but it’s not a great long-term strategy for the reasons outlined above. Leave yourself options!
Last, and far from least, is Cribbage - a game that I personally grew up playing with my extended family. We even had tournaments during holidays, and I was so proud and happy the first year I was old enough to play unsupervised and understand the rules! The classic game of Cribbage evolved from an earlier English game called "Noddy" (a hilarious name that I think they should have kept!) The person credited with developing it was Sir John Suckling, a wealthy English poet. His game of Cribbage provides players both the anticipation of the luck of the deal as well as ample opportunity to exercise their skills in discarding and gameplay. One of the unique aspects of Cribbage is that a specialized Cribbage board is used for scoring in place of the usual pencil and paper. The rectangular wooden board is equipped with holes that accommodate pegs for each player. The board speeds up scoring, and in this fast-moving game, greatly reduces the chances for errors in computing scores at the end. It’s worth noting that you could, in theory, still use a pencil and paper to keep score, but it would become very tedious, very fast. The goal of this card/board game is to be the first player to score 121 points. Players earn points during play and for making various card combinations with the hands they are dealt. The nuances and structure of gameplay are worth researching if you plan to play, but a bit too detailed to fully get into right here and now. Please, do not let the slight complexity of the rules discourage you. After you get past the learning curve, the game becomes fairly simple and boatloads of fun, always with plenty of room for improvement and growth. And, now you have special gaming knowledge to pass down to friends and family!
Greatest Tip: Think carefully about the cards your opponent plays. Remember, when discarding, each player will generally attempt to maximize the points in their hand by keeping combinations that make 15, or pairs. If your opponent lays an 8, chances are they have a 7 to go with it. If they play an Ace, expect to see a 4 coming out sooner or later (and a ten-card). By the second card played you should have a fair idea of the remaining two cards your opponent holds, and their strategy for the hand. This can help you decide which cards to play, and which to avoid!
Additionally, remember that your opponent (if they are also sneaky and wise) will be using a similar strategy! Sometimes it can be helpful to play your “odd card out” first, i.e. the card that doesn’t fit with the rest of your plan for scoring points. This could throw them off the scent, in a manner of speaking, and you’re able to keep your hand a mystery for as long as possible.
I hope these tips have been useful, this guide focuses on more generic strategies that we believe anyone could make use of at many different skill levels. Barricade, Ludo, and Cribbage are all excellent choices for people who are new to strategy games, or those who have been life-long gamers. Barricade especially tends to be the one on this list that your friends may not have heard of yet, if you are looking for a game that is new to everyone. As always, make sure you are having fun and don’t stress out if the strategy doesn’t come to you right away. Learning a new board game can be like learning a new language - you might feel awkward and clumsy in the beginning, but once you’re past the learning curve you’ll be playing like it’s second nature and wondering why you ever considered giving up.
On that note, cheers as always, and keep on puzzling!