I’m a big fan of “German” board and card games. These are strategy games, that play very differently from games such as Monopoly, in that the players will have lots of interesting decisions to make and skill will usually determine the winner. Some German games are no-luck 2-player complete information games like Chess or Go, but most have some luck elements, and they often are designed for more than two players. Some games are big “heavy” games that last two hours (or more), others are small “light” games that finish in 15 minutes.
They’re called “German” games because many of them appear first or only in Germany, where they are particularly popular. They’re also sometimes called “Designer” games, because the designer of the game is always prominently noted.
My favorite designer is Reiner Knizia, who has by now published more than two hundred games. Knizia has a Ph.D. in mathematics, and his games tend to have simple rules and an abstract mathematical element. The picture above shows one of his finest games: “Through the Desert” (also known by its German name “Durch die Wuste.”)
“Boardgame Geek” is a great site for finding out information about games. Aaron Fuegi’s Game Room web-site is another place to find links to lots of useful German game sites, including his ranking list of the top 100 games, based on gamers’ reviews.
The “Amazon.com” for such games is www.funagain.com, where you can buy them or read many reader reviews.
To find people to play with, your best bet is probably to do some research on the internet for game clubs in your area, or to ask at a local game store. People who play German games tend to be very welcoming of newcomers. In the Boston area, there are many gaming groups, which you can find out more about at the “Unity Games” web-site.