7 best board games for rainy days on UK holidays

It’s over. The Indian summer of 2015 that is. As September rolled into October, pretty much the whole of the UK has basked in sunshine with temperatures hitting the low twenties. What bliss. For those whose six weeks of summer school holidays were a bit of a washout, the last two weeks have been a delight for after school playdates and trips to the park.

Alas autumn is finally here. The leaves are most definitely falling. We’ve even heard the growling of a leaf blower in the Oxfordshire countryside over the weekend. So what now?

Retreat to the sofa. Get the log burner roaring. Top your hot chocolate with marshmallows. It’s time to dig out those board games!

Obviously, we expect you to have been for a brisk, wind-in-your-hair ramble up hills and down dales before you reward yourselves with any such fun. But if the storm really is howling on your next self-catering holiday, fear not there’ll be a board game or two to save the day and spur your spirits.

Here are our favourite board games. And just in case, there’s one for every day of the week.

Articulate

Watch as the wordsmith in your party reaches for this tongue twistingly tricky verbal version of Pictionary. The aim of the game is to correctly guess as many words as possible in the allotted time. Except the person describing the word on the card obviously can’t say that word or any derivatives of it. As many as you correctly guess, is as many spaces on the board that you move forward. Just like Pictionary there’s an All Play element and the categories are fairly similar too.

You’ll learn words you never knew and a whole heap more about the imagination of your friends and family. Oh how the human mind works!

Pictionary

For those of you who have yet to progress from drawing humans as stick men and women, this game could be your nemesis. But it’s so simple: roll the die, move the number of places rolled, see the category, pick a card, draw until your partner or team guesses your creation correctly or the egg timer runs dry. All without muttering any words or sounds and restricting your instinct to gesticulate. Charades on paper is how some describe it, but we’d like to see Lionel Blair and Una Stubbs put pen to paper and see who wins!

What’s great about this game is the rolling-around-on-the-floor-laughing kind of good times that is brings. Our imaginations and how differently our brains are wired guarantee more than a splash of humour and innuendo. We’re often amazed at the ingenuity of the sketches from our kids. And often we’re thoroughly baffled by those produced by the opposite sex when we’re playing guys versus gals. This is a game for all ages and abilities and has giggles written all over it.

Monopoly

The game of Monopoly was first sold 80 years ago. And a pretty cool article in last week’s Daily Telegraph produced a photo gallery of London locations that would land each of the prize spots on the board if the game were made today.

In fact, Monopoly is such a stalwart of British culture that brands and movie franchises are clambering for the rights to create their own bespoke version. The Grimsby & Cleethorpes edition is the hottest off the press of local English versions. Oh and did we mention that it’s being made into a movie too.

Now Monopoly is the perfect rainy holiday game. For those who say they loathe this game, it’s often because it can go on for hours or days. With the winner’s accolade being reliant on the other players running out of money, you should settle in with the Thermas and a picnic hamper to see this one through. If you like splashing the cash and the idea of being your very own buy-to-let landlord, then this is the imaginary world for you. Who knows, there might even be a local edition of the game in your next holiday cottage…

Scrabble

Are we favouring word nerds by having Articulate and Scrabble in the same list? Oh well, this one has got a bit of adding and multiplication in it too. All you need now is a cleverclogs to produce some scientific semantics on the board and you’ve got the kids’ holiday homework covered.

In fact, if you’re quick they could trial for the squad heading to Australia during October half term for the World Youth Scrabble Championships.

But if you’re just looking for a spot of light entertainment to detract from the drizzle pouring down the cottage window, this will pass an hour or so. So pick your seven letter tiles, shuffle them around a bit to make your opponents think you’ve got more than a couple of obvious three letter words and wait. Wait and watch in the hope that someone else round the table will unwittingly abandon a Z for you to offload your G, A, E and D on casually stretching it across a double letter and a triple word square. (Apologies all Scrabble aficionados who spot that that combination of events is not at all possible; we’re ever hopeful of not finishing last).

So unless you’ve agreed with your fellow players that it’s ok to check words in a dictionary, that proper nouns are allowed and that access to all technical devices and scrabble word finding websites is allowed, you’ll just have to win by knowing the odd word that leaps from your letters and fits perfectly in the alphabet jumble that’s already on the board. And when you get to the winner’s post, don’t forget to maximise your winning score by making your opponents deduct their remaining letter count from their score and adding each of those amounts to yours!

Settlers of Catan

This is the thinking man’s board game. It’s most definitely not for the whimsically minded. If you’re in a grump because the weather’s rubbish, at least have a cuppa or open the wine before you start this one. It taxes the brain more than any of the games we’ve covered so far. Actually more than any other board game we know.

If you’ve got an analyst, mathematician, data scientist or an operations director in your midst, they’ll love this. It’s a game of strategy, the long game. If you want intellectual reward from your board game, look no further.

To give you an idea of what you’re letting yourself in for, the Washington Post said this: “…it has become a necessary social skill among entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.”

So don’t be fooled by the game of trading, strategy and luck. Imagine you’ve landed on an uncharted island with some equally ‘lucky’ and highly competitive discoverers. Each of you seeks supremacy. Bartering is the name of the game as you weave your way to achieving it.

We’re divided over this game. For some of us it lacks entertainment and fun factors. While the rest of us lap up its tactical requirements. It’s a niche game that’s going global, so all we can say is give it a whirl and let us know what you think!

Trivial Pursuit

So from one mover and shaker to another. Trivial Pursuit has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. And while most of us will associate the coloured segments or ‘pieces of cheese’ with the categories of geography, entertainment, history, arts and literature, science and nature, and sports and leisure, there have been more than 50 special editions of the game that also include special categories.

And so with a lucky roll of the die you work your way around the board, navigating the categories with the aim of landing on the ‘cheese’ squares. Answer correctly while there and you win a piece of cheese for your counter. The real die rolling skill comes once your counter is full of coloured segments or cheeses. You need to land on the centre square before you can attempt your final question, which is tactically chosen by your opposition. 

In essence, it’s not all that different to Eggheads. You pit your wit against the opposition and hope that your team knows more than they do!

Cluedo

If murder mystery dramas have you glued to the TV or you’ve hosted more than your fair share of murder mystery dinner parties, then this is the game for you.

It’s a game of deduction and bluff. Can you decipher which of the characters (one of your opponents) carried out the deadly deed, which room of the mansion they did it in and using which weapon.

The game is set in the floorplan of a manor house, so it makes for the perfect holiday rental game. If you’re not already playing Lord and Lady of the manor, you certainly can now. Part of the fun, and the strategy, is which room you choose to enter to make your suggestion of the murderer and weapon – to suggest a room you have to be in it at the time. In true manor house style there are some secret passageways interconnecting some of the rooms. And if you look closely, you’ll notice that some of the doorways are positioned within fewer squares than others to the starting positions of the players – bet you’ve not spotted that before!

So with seven options to choose from which board game is it to be?

We really hope you don’t need a board game for every day of your cottage holiday, but we do hope there’s a game or two for you to choose from if the storm clouds blow in.