There are all kinds of alternatives to the traditional Valentine’s Day activities. Especially in this day and age where uncommon date destinations are on the rise, such as playing sports together, doing a “paint and drink” session, cooking classes, Netflix dates, bar trivia nights, going to festivals, and more atypical, unusual events. This goes to show that there are plenty of different ways to have fun this February 14th. Why not celebrate this famous day of love with loved ones in a fresh way by playing games together? There are plenty of applicable tabletop, board, and card games that fit the theme of “Valentine’s Day.” These are perfect to cozy up with your partner, to play with your family or kids, or to have at a party filled with friends. Enjoy 10 of the best games to play at this time of year! (You’ll LOVE them!)
10. Love Letter
With only 16 cards to the game, Love Letter is a fairly simple–that is, simple in concept. It gets tricky quickly as you must employ excellent strategy in order to be the last one standing and gain a “token of affection” (a point) from the princess. The premise: you must rely on other members of the palace to sneak a love letter to the highly sought after princess who is locked away in her room. The value on each character card denotes how close they are to the princess–thus higher the risk. Each player is dealt one character card, then on their turn draws another, then chooses one to “play.” Each character has their own special action that will help (or hinder) the player(s). (For example, being able to look at another player’s hand, forcing someone to discard and draw a new hand, trade your hand with another player, and more.) If a player is forced to reveal their hand, discard their only card, or have another player correctly guess the card in their hand, etc.–they are out of the running for the princess’ favor. The art style of the original Love Letter is lucious, rich, and beautifully victorian, the story and character details are fun to hear about, the gameplay doesn’t seem to stale, and there are dozens of versions of “Love Letter” out there! (Such as Batman, Adventure Time, The Hobbit, Archer, and Star Wars!)
9. Lords and Ladies
What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than to dictate the fate of young, noble couples and their children? Lords and Ladies is a quirky game in which you deal with suitors, their servants, juicy gossip, and breeding. On a player’s turn, they can hire a servant, marry a suitor, attempt to have children, draw gossip cards to play against your rivals later, or take gold to help in raising your family’s status. (The game adds a fun, interactive element as some Lords and Ladies cards are printed on whiteboard so you can name them yourself!) Gossip cards can also be played at any time, but only if two of the same are played is the dastardly rumor confirmed and your family ruined. (Such as rumors of a drunken servant, financial ruin, bedroom problems, affairs, and illegitimate children.) The art style is quaint and very illustrative, and there is even an expansion which features other styles of art and characters that give you special actions (such as collecting more gold, drawing more cards, etc.) See if you can steer your couple’s love and eventual family heritage grow to one of utmost prestige in Lords and Ladies!
Patchwork is an endlessly entertaining game to play. It is the perfect level of calm, yet interesting, and remains in the balance of not being too hard or too easy. The game is exclusively for two players, so this strategic puzzle game is ideal for couples. Players music select from adorable, cozy “patchwork” tiles, (Tetris-like in shape,) to fill their board as much as they can. They buy patches with “buttons” and moving their token around a central, main board. Players get more buttons by moving forward, (yet missing an opportunity to buy a piece to cover their board,) or by passing the “button space” on the board and gaining more currency from the patches on their board. There are also added bonuses like being the first to a “patch space” on the main board and get a one-by-one square piece to cover any holes, or, being the first to fill a seven-by-seven area to gain seven extra points. However, when the player tokens reach the end of the main board, each blank, uncovered space on your personal board is minus two buttons! Whoever has the most buttons at the end wins. Each patch piece has a unique pattern, texture, and a sweet color palette. Cuddle up with your Valentine’s date under a quilt and see who can cover the most ground!
7. Cottage Garden
From the makers of Patchwork, this game is similar in wanting to cover the most area with Tetris-like pieces, however it is more complex! Up to four players can play, so this is perfect if you wanted to experience something along the lines of Patchwork with a group of friends or family members. The theme of this game isn’t quilting, but gardening and flowers! Players take turns selecting tiles one at a time from the central board to complete the two dirt patch boards in front of them. Once one of the boards is covered, players count how many terra-cotta pots and glass, dome, bell-jars they have showing in their garden and gain points accordingly. (Small, cute, cat tokens can also aid in covering player’s boards, yet do not gain points in the end.) Used pieces cycle back into the main game board until player’s reach the sixth round of selecting pieces and covering plots. The aesthetics of the game is where it really excels; the richness of the garden dirt, the shine and perspective on the bell-jars and terra-cotta pots, the tiles with their lush, individualized designs of foliage and fauna, the tiny 3D cardboard wheelbarrow to distinguish which garden pieces go onto the board next, and the general attention to detail in the entire, painterly, illustration style is amazing! Kick back with a loving group to enjoy this beautiful game about flowers and strategy.
6. Lost Cities
Lost Cities is another two-player-only game, but hey, this makes it all the more cozier to experience with one other person! In this archaeology-inspired card game, players are competing to explore five different “lost cities”: a red, Mars-like land, a blue water world, a sandy desert, a blizzardy mountain, and a wild jungle. and players begin with eight cards. On a turn they must choose a card from the draw pile then play a card. The cards in each color rank 2 to 10 and expeditions to lost lands must go in numerical order, the more the better. (For example, you wouldn’t want to start an expedition on a number 9, since you can only play 10 after it!) The goal is to get as many combined points in the expeditions of your choice, as you score at the end of the game (when the draw pile is gone) by subtracting 20 from each initiated expedition. (For example, if you have the cards 2, 4, 5, 8, and 10 in the red land, you have 29 – 20 = 9 points for that expedition!) There are also “handshake” cards which represent investors in your expedition, which will double your score!–even if it turns out to be zero or negative, however, so players must be confident in their hand to play a handshake (or two) on a single expedition. This colorful, quick card game features amazing illustrations that bring viewers one step closer in the world with each ascending number. You and a loved one can spend the day traveling and exploring new places together–without leaving your seat! (If you expect more players for your Valentine’s Day gaming, worry not! There is a more slightly more expanded board game version of Lost Cities for more than two players!)
5. Sundae Split
This adorable card game of tricks and chance is sweet in many ways. This would be a perfect game to play with kids as it’s ice-cream-themed, and fairly easy to pick up how to play, yet still complex enough as to not bore adults. Players must compete for the best combination of sundae ingredients they can get–ranging from flavors of ice cream, whipped cream, cherries, sprinkles, and of course, bananas. However, players most definitely want to avoid getting vegetable cards! (Corn, broccoli, and celery. Ew!) The brilliance in the gameplay lies in how the cards are dealt–literally. The player who is “it” gets to look at and split up the cards into four (if playing with four players) groups of their choosing, and they must have three (if playing with four players) cards face down. This gives ALL the power to the player who is “it” as they can choose to place vegetables face down to sneak them in among other very desirable cards. Now the other players get to choose which pile they want to take, leaving the remaining pile for the person who was “it.” All players then reveal what cards they were lucky enough to get, and at the end of the game (after several rounds of sorting and choosing card piles) players see who has the most points, which is slightly different for every card. (For example ice cream is 1, 2, or 3 points each, vegetables are negative points, every pair of sprinkles and whipped cream is worth 5 points, whoever has the most bananas gets 10 points, etc.) This is a splendid, high-energy bluff-and-luck game that is fitting for an afternoon of sweet treats and time with loved ones.
What’s Valentine’s Day without wine? How about a delightfully substantial game about the entire process of making wine? In the massive board game Viticulture, get ready for a wonderfully immersive and complex (yet still entertaining) game all about wine! Players must gain the most points by fill as many wine orders as they can by planting grapevines, harvesting them, moving them to wine cellars, and eventually fulfilling specific orders. There are quite a few options for each player on each turn, (each season of the year,) so there is usually something of benefit to you that you can choose to do that turn. Various desirable actions would be to make money, buy buildings (such as buildings needed to plant or larger wine cellars for more storage,) picking “visitor” cards (all which have different actions and benefits to you,) and of course planting and harvesting grapes, or creating wine, and much more. Players decide turn order by a rank with different rewards (such as extra money, cards, workers to place on the board, etc.) The lower turn orders have greater rewards, yet, players in the first position get to place their workers on the board first. This is important as there are only so many spaces on each action on the board, so if something you wanted to do is already filled with other player’s workers, tough luck! With so many intricacies and strategies, it’s hard to sum up this game in a couple paragraphs, so let us just repeat: wine.
This game is stunning in quality and beauty of the card’s graphics, and, smells like sunflower seeds to boot! This is another game about gardening, like Cottage Garden, yet quite different. In this game, players vie to plant, grow, and collect as many of certain kinds of herbs as they can for the most points. This is done by “potting” the herbs in various ways by matching requirements on potting cards, such as collecting many cards of the same herb, one of each different kind of herb, pairs of herbs, or a collection of special cards (cards with numbers on them.) On a turn, players draw a herb card and choose whether they want to plant it in their private garden or in the community plot. Then they pull a second herb card, and this goes where the first one did not. Play continues around until a player reaches a point in their garden that they can match one of the “potting” cards for points. This game is way too pretty and relaxing to pass up, and is the perfect thing to accompany a common bouquet of flowers to spice up Valentine’s day!
2. Go Nuts for Donuts
We’ve already mentioned the “cuteness” of a few games on this list, however, Go Nuts for Donuts wins first prize for the cutest of them all. This uncomplicated card game, (from the makers of the equally cute and fun Sushi Go and Sushi Go Party,) features donuts and other pastry confections with adorable faces, charming character design, and fun bright colors. Don’t let the seeming simplicity fool you however; the game can be quite tricky and even to the point of cutthroat at times. (If playing with four players,) each player receives a number card 1 through 5. Cards from the draw pile are flipped over to slots that correspond player’s number cards. Players then secretly choose which number card they want, then reveal their choices. If two (or more) players choose the same number, this card is discarded. Anyone else gets the card they chose, then the row is refilled from the deck and play continues until the cards are gone! Cards feature a huge variety, such as many several flavors and kinds of donuts, as well as coffee, all which have individual actions which gain you points! This game is another sweet treat to enjoy with a cup of tea, coffee, (maybe even donuts?) on a sweet day.
Ah, the game of Life. Aren’t we always playing it? This may somewhat ring true, but nothing mimics life more, than, well, the Game of Life! This ultimate classic is well-known and loved by many generations. If you haven’t played (or haven’t played in a long time,) players compete to make the most money by driving their car token over the many spaces of Life. Along the way they make stops to graduate college, pick a career, get married, buy a house, have children, and go on many life adventures together as they coast along until retirement. This board game’s fun lies in never knowing where you’re going to land. In addition each and every spot has something unique, whether it be a positive or negative life event, an addition to the family, a change in careers, unexpected payments, taxes, winning lotteries, awards, or merely spending a day playing a family game. (Meta.)