5 Games to Play on a First DateTuesday, January 31st 2017 Victoria Chin

Valentine’s Day is coming up and if you’re looking to get to know a potential special someone, then why not play some board games? Even if things don’t work out romantically, at least you can say you had a fun gaming night with a new friend.

Board games can be a built in ice-breaker and the ones on this list are light enough to appease even the most casual of gamers. They are all available to play in our Board Game Lounge as well, so for $3 per person you can have a nice affordable date activity and spend the rest of your money on a lavish dinner or dessert. This list purposely stays away from more heavily strategic 2-player games like Twilight Struggle in an effort to be relevant to a broader audience. Use my suggestions as a starting point and evaluate what you and your date are interested in.

P.S. You could use board games as a “trial by fire” test to see if your date is the proverbial “one”, but we’re going to focus on getting to know people for the first date. Save the testing for the second date. Although if mid-way through date #1 they say “hey, these games are too light, let’s play A Feast for Odin” then you can jump for joy and whip out the engagement ring. ;)

1. Jaipur

Jaipur delivers well in the cardboard appeal department while also being a solid 2-player game. It looks attractive with its jewel tones, and first impressions can go a long way on a first date! It’s incredibly simple to teach as mostly what players are doing are creating sets and trading them in for points. The trading and set collection mechanics fit well within the theme of being competing Indian merchants.

It is friendly rivalry in a box with very little “take that” aspects so you don’t antagonize each other from the get go. This is a great game to start the night off with and gauge your date’s tolerance for competition and strategy. If you both enjoy Jaipur, then you can check out these other games in our library that are similar: Morels, Lost Cities, Splendor or Valley of the Kings.

2. Lotus

Lotus describes itself as “a beautiful game that grows into a unique work of art” and it is exactly that! Perhaps you’re not a flower-giving person but why not play a game about laying petals to form gorgeous flowers? Thematically this is a great game for a date. Players share a common garden and take turns contributing petal cards to complete flowers.

The player who completed the flower gets to keep the cards and each petal is worth a point at the end of the game, but points are also allotted to the player who had the most “influence” over that flower which is measured according to how many of that player’s symbol appears on the flower. The player with the most symbols can choose to receive 5 points, or a special power card.

This is another good title to start the night off with, and while it is lightly competitive you get to create something beautiful together, and that’s romantic right? If you both enjoy the tile laying mechanism and shared game space, then you can continue the night with games like: Carcassonne, Akrotiri, or Blokus.

3. CV

When you really want to get to know your date, this is a good game to reach for! If you ever enjoyed the classic Game of Life, then CV is a more robust version of that. You can use the game as an excuse to discuss their childhood, long-term goals, career goals, biggest fears etc. For people where conversation topics don’t come naturally, this game gives you a few good prompts.

CV is a card and dice game where players control an individual and lead through life from making choices about friends, romantic relationships, jobs, and hobbies. Players roll dice each turn to try and acquire new cards to add to their individual’s life accomplishes and score points towards their life goal objectives. This is a light hearted game that takes a humorous approach to the realities of adulthood. Whether or not the two of you can relate to the fictional individual you’ve built up in the game, you can certainly bond over some of the life events brought up in the game.

If you both end up enjoying this style of dice game (roll dice, decide what to do with them) you should also check out: Machi Koro, Blueprints, and Roll For It!.

4. Pandemic: Iberia (or any version of Pandemic)

Having to work together is a quick way to encourage a bit of bonding, so the ubiquitous poster-game of co-ops is definitely going to be on this list: Pandemic. We have a diverse selection of various Pandemic versions and themes but I picked Pandemic: Iberia because I find it to be the most aesthetically beautiful and its historical setting evokes memories of classic romance tales like Love in the time of Cholera.

You will both pick a role such as the nurse, sailor, railwayman, and rural doctor and each one has special abilities to aid the group in their quest to cure the world of epidemics. Iberia comes with 2 playable variants: Influx of Patients (manage the flood of patients to local hospitals), and Historical Diseases (the diseases take on actual names and spread differently in character with the disease type). Both variants can be more frantic than playing with the vanilla rules, but they provide so much more thematic weight.

This is a game that could define and be THE topic of discussion for the night. You may not even win the game, but it is an experience you can both jointly hate or love. If you aren’t burnt out from running around the world saving cities then you can try these other cooperative games: Flashpoint, Forbidden Island, T.I.M.E. Stories and Castle Panic.

5. Santorini

We’ve covered games that are light, we’ve covered games that spark discussion, and we’ve covered games that get you to work together. If you’d like more than a bit of light competition and really want to pit your wits against your date’s in a fun way, then Santorini is a wonderful pick. The art is deceptively cute and inviting, the components are fun to stack, and the rules are easy to learn. This is a game where all you do is observe your opponent’s movement and try to stop them from winning while also building up your own path to victory.

Players control 2 builder pawns who move around the board and build up the city of Santorini layer by layer. By default they can only move one space laterally or go down/up one level, and build something up to 1 level above. To win, a player’s pawn must step onto the third level of a building. However players can place tiers on each other’s buildings so your opponent might just cap your building with a blue dome before you can ascend it to victory! Add in the special actions gained from God cards, and you’re in for a fun time of mind games.

If you both enjoy head-to-head strategy games with minimal chance, you could also try out: Onitama, Duke, and Kamisado.

At the end of it all, whether you end up head over heels with each other or not, I hope you at least had fun and a good experience with the games on this list. If you'd like to browse our full offering of library games to customize your date visit the Board Game Rentals section of our website.

by Victoria ChinVictoria is our Social Media & Marketing Coordinator and oversees online content for board games. She hosts our monthly Board Game Designer night, and regularly spearheads new tabletop community events and tournaments. Her top 5 favourite games: Tokaido, Carcassonne, Star Realms, Five Tribes, and 13 Dead End Drive. Pet peeve? Social deduction/hidden role games with the wrong group of people.

When not at 401 Games, Victoria travels to conventions to cosplay and play MORE board games.