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Coronavirus quarantines lead to a board game renaissance

Jun 15, 2020 01:34PM ● By Greg James

By Greg James | [email protected] 

“Checkmate!” “Uno!” “Do not pass go!” 

Nowadays you are bound to hear those expressions around the tables of many a family cooped up in their homes during the quarantine.

“Right before all of this Covid stuff we absolutely saw an uptick in sales,” said Game Night Games employee Tyler Lashlee. “We have been mostly curbside delivery recently and are not hosting events right now so lately it is hard to say.”

Google trend searches for board games are typically at their peak from mid-November to late December. In 2020, March through April saw equal search numbers. Board games, best board games and online board games topped the charts in Google searches. Utah has a higher proportion of queries on the subject than any other state.

“We do lots of puzzles and play lots of games in general,” West Valley resident Brittany Kluge said. “Since coronavirus I've been teaching more board games to my kids. Specifically strategy games.”

What are the most popular games?

“Two-player games and puzzles are the most popular right now,” Lashlee said. “Ironically, Pandemic is a popular game right now. Online Dungeons & Dragons has also happened a lot. Lots of people play on Zoom calls now.”

Personal connection might be a major reason for gaming popularity.

“I think people are looking for a friend group,” Lashlee said.

In a City Journals’ poll, 40% of those asked said they play games at least twice a week and 70% enjoy strategy games. What did they say are the most popular games they are playing right now? Here are the top five:


Produced by Stonemaier Games, this game was released in March 2019. It’s a card game that you attempt to attract a diverse collection of birds to your preserve. The winner is the one that scores the most points in four rounds of play. It is designed for one to five players.

“My kids learned a lot about birds from playing it,” Kluge said. “We simultaneously had a nest in our backyard that we watched birds hatch from the eggs. It (the game) is hard to find right now. I think it is sold out everywhere.”


A deck building game for two to four players, each player starts with the same deck and buys other cards as they can afford them. As players construct their deck they attempt to gain the most victory points before the game ends.

It was awarded the best new family strategy game by Game Magazine in 2010.

Ticket to Ride

A simple game to play for two to five people. Players collect train cars and use them to claim railway routes. The longer the trains, the more points they can score. The game has a successful board version and online play is an option.

“Trying to beat my friends online is becoming my hobby,” Jill James said.

The game has expanded with several versions including domestic and foreign locations.

Escape puzzles

Ravensburger, a game company, has designed a new concept combining two favorite gamer pastimes. The puzzle is only the first step to the game. After it is assembled you most solve the clues to help you solve the mystery. 

“The first one we did we had to figure out how to keep the vampire in his coffin,” Wendy Wood said. “They are not easy and once the puzzle is together you have to figure out the clues.”

Dungeons & Dragons

“As the DM (Dungeon Master) here at our store, I have slowed down playing quite a bit (in the last few weeks), but I have several friends playing through Zoom or (Google) Hangouts quite a bit,” Lashlee said.

Made famous by “The Big Bang Theory,” role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons have seen exponential growth in recent years. Traveling exhibitions like Comic-Con have helped expand their popularity.

The fantasy role-playing game was designed in 1974. Players embark on imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting.

Traditional games like Monopoly and Sorry were also mentioned in the survey.