It’s been a particularly stunning fall––I’m sure you’ve noticed––the leaves a glorious phoenix before the ashes of winter softly pull them to the earth. I remember growing up, when the sole purpose of autumn was getting all the neighborhood kids together to play in the backyard. Our goal? To make the biggest leaf pile imaginable. It was awesome. Or, as Shana Hack, owner of Moon Rabbit Toys in Santa Fe has a penchant for saying, “Awesome sauce!” But Midwestern winters could be brutal, and many an hour was also spent inside, creating galaxies with Tinker Toys, imaginary kingdoms with wooden blocks and trying to get the family together to play charades, or Trivial Pursuit, or an epic, sometimes week-long game of Risk.
I suspect I’m dating myself with the aforementioned board games, but it would appear that a new generation of board-game nerds is on the loose, as both Moon Rabbit and Out of the Blue Toys in Albuquerque note there’s a full-on resurgence in the popularity of board games in the past couple of years. Lisa Gallegos, manager at Out of the Blue for the past five years, thinks this might be a rebellion against or reaction to all of our solitary screen time, but perhaps it’s best not to overthink it, and just enjoy the “throwback family fun,” with new classics like Kingdomino, a twist on dominoes in which you are a lord seeking new lands for your kingdom, or strategic, long-play games like Ticket to Ride or Settlers of Catan. Shana advises looking for games that have won the prestigious German “Spiel des Jahres” (Game of the Year) award; a coveted honor that rewards excellence in design. Apparently the Germans don’t play around when it comes to board games.