With the start of autumn in the northern hemisphere and the weather cooling off for many of us, more time is going to be spent indoors. This time of year often brings about feelings of coziness as we sit around the fire and wrap ourselves in blankets. As a result, I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about my top 5 board games that bring about a cozy feeling.
My definition of a cozy board game
Before I start my list, I thought a definition of cozy board games would be helpful. Some games are going to feel cozy to me that don’t feel cozy to you. Here’s what I look for in a cozy board game.
- The rules are light and easy to learn. Games with simpler rules tend to feel more relaxing because I can focus more on the game and less on the rules.
- The theme is welcoming and low-stakes, focusing on nature, animals, or a slice of life. There are a couple of games on my list that might not be considered low-stakes, but I’ll explain why I included them anyways.
- There is a lower amount of competition. When a game is highly competitive, it doesn’t feel relaxing or comforting to me.
- It plays in a short amount of time. Games with longer playing times tend to generate a feeling of higher stakes in me compared to shorter games that can be played multiple times in a sitting.
Now that my definition of cozy board games is out of the way, onward to the list! I ranked them from least cozy to most cozy.
Aquamarine by Postmark Games comes in at number 5 on my list. This is a roll-and-write game where you dive underwater to make discoveries. You can read more about it in this separate blog post.
It is number 5 on this list because the theme feels the least cozy to me. This is one of the games I alluded to earlier, where the theme has a higher stakes feel since exploring underwater depends on managing your oxygen levels. However, you also get to see the beauty of all of the different types of sea life, which I find comforting. I compare it to watching a documentary about the ocean, where you are separated from the potential stresses of diving underwater.
The primary reason Aquamarine is on this list is that the gameplay feels so smooth and easygoing. Your next turn is primarily decided by the roll of the dice, so you can just be in the present moment. In addition, drawing polyomino shapes and enclosing sea life within them feels rewarding and satisfying.
The next game on this list is Unsurmountable, designed by Scott Almes and published by Button Shy Games. Unsurmountable is a single-player 18-card wallet game where you are laying out cards with routes on them to form a climbing path up a mountain. I talk more about it in this other blog post.
Unsurmountable is lower on this list for the same reason as Aquamarine: the theme of mountain climbing has a higher-stakes feel. However, the theme is contrasted by the cute and silly artwork on the cards. All of the cards are illustrated with a light-hearted cartoon style that showcases the climbers as having a carefree approach to getting up the mountain.
The gameplay is comforting to me because I enjoy building things in games, and you create a pathway up a mountain in this one. There are multiple difficulties, and at the easiest difficulty, you can almost always win. Sometimes it’s nice to have a light puzzle to engage with that you know you’ll be able to solve easily.
#3: Cat Lady
Cat Lady is number 3 on this list. It was designed by Josh Wood and published by AEG. Cat Lady is a card drafting game where each turn you select a row or column of cats and cat-related cards from a 3 x 3 grid. I discuss it in greater detail in this separate blog post.
Cat Lady comes in at this position on my list because of the cute cards, welcoming gameplay, and adorable theme. As a cat lover, I enjoy placing myself in the role of a cat lady trying to get as many cats as possible while keeping them happy and satisfied. Many of the cat cards have cute names, such as Sir Cuddleface and Pablo Picatso, which add to the joy of the game.
Floriferous takes the number 2 spot on this list. In Floriferous, you collect sets of flowers to score points. You can find more information about it in this blog post.
Floriferous is part of Pencil First Games’ nature line, such as Herbaceous, Delicious, and Sunset Over Water. All of those games could easily fit onto this list, but Floriferous comes out on top for me. It perfectly balances complexity, luck, and strategy. I can easily teach it to almost anyone, from new gamers to experienced ones, and they all have a good time.
Floriferous also has some of the most beautiful and comforting artwork I’ve seen in a game. All of the flower illustrations are done in a watercolor style that is relaxing to look at.
#1: Tussie Mussie
Coming in at number 1 on this list is Tussie Mussie, an 18-card game designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and published by Button Shy Games. In Tussie Mussie, you are giving flowers to one another while trying to collect sets of them that score well together. During your turn, you draw two flower cards and select one to be presented face-up and one to be presented face-down to your opponent. Your opponent then has to choose one to add to their collection, and you get the remaining flower.
Tussie Mussie takes the top position on this list because it is the epitome of a cozy game. It’s effortless to learn, revolves around the welcoming theme of giving flowers, has a gentle amount of competition, and plays in a short amount of time. When I started making this list, Tussie Mussie was the first game I thought of.
I’ve played Tussie Mussie with so many groups, and everyone adores the theme of giving flowers and enjoys the I-cut-you-choose gameplay. The beautiful flower artwork by Beth Sobel elevates the game even further and enhances the feelings of comfort from it. This is the second game from Button Shy on this list, and I think it’s because the 18-card form factor is very easy to set up and play.
What are your top cozy board games?
Now that I’ve talked about my top 5 cozy board games, I’d love to hear about yours! What qualities do you look for in a cozy board game? Let me know in the comments below.