Tabletop games make really great gifts for college students. They’re fun, and they help even the most introverted among us (guilty as charged) socialize. There are a lot of dedicated gamers in college, and we will talk about options for them. But for now, let’s just talk about games for college students who may just be casual gamers.
With this guide, I’m thinking about games that don’t take up a lot of space and are relatively simple to learn (making it easy for new people to join). I was specifically looking for games that are not going to play the same way every time. Yes, Cards Against Humanity is always an option but it does get boring after a while, especially if you play with the same people.
Munchkin is one of those gateway games. Once you’ve played it, you’re going to find familiar elements in a lot of other games, so it’s a good starter game. In the standard card game version, you start your turn by kicking down the door (a.k.a., drawing a card). If the card is a monster, you can either fight it, ask for help, or run away. If there’s no monster, you can loot the room by drawing another card, or go looking for trouble, where you face off against a monster from your own hand of cards. Why look for trouble? Because you want to be the first to get to level 10. You’ll also collect weapons and armor and other important objects to help you.
Sure, everyone can play nice and just work on leveling up and helping each other defeat monsters. But where’s the fun in that? You want to sabotage other players as much as you can. To that end, you can throw other monsters at players, steal their items, and otherwise put them at a disadvantage. Just be warned… when you start playing to keep others from winning, the game can get really long.
Munchkin actually comes in a few different themed game varieties. I’m partial to Cthulhu Munchkin, but there’s also Super Munchkin, Munchkin Zombies, and other sets. There’s a board game version, Munchkin Quest, as well as an RPG. In short, there are a lot of potential gift ideas here.
Play time: 90 minutes
The best way to describe Dungeon Dice is a dice-based version of Munchkin. It’s a Kickstarter project that god a lot of support. With each turn players draw a monster from the bag and decide whether to fight it or run away. As with Munchkin, you can get help from friends and share the treasure. You also collect other objects of power. Dungeon Dice is a bit more fast paced and it won’t take up as much space as you need with Munchkin.
Players: 2-5 (with 5-player expansion; otherwise, 2-4)
Play time: 20 minutes
Hanabi is a purely cooperative card game, and one that’s probably best played completely sober because you need to be able to communicate and make sense of information.
The deck contains suits of cards each numbered 1 through 5. The goal is simple: Play the cards in order, 1-5, in each suit. It gets tricky because you don’t see your own cards. You can only see what other players have, and you use the clues they give you to find out what you have. With each turn you can either discard a card, play a card, or given a player information (which costs you an information token; you only have a limited number and you have to discard a card or play a 5 to get a token back). If you play the wrong card, you lose a fuse token.
The game ends when you play all the fives, you use up all the fuse tokens, or the deck is used up. It sounds tricky, but it’s actually a lot of fun, especially if you’re not a big fan of highly competitive games.
Play time: 25 minutes
Quelf is possibly one of the most bizarre games you’ll ever play. It’s tagline is “Random has a new name,” and it certainly lives up to that. It’s a bit like your classic board game, but with a party game twist. As you move around the board, you draw cards that determine the actions you take. You may wind up having to burst out into song, or start speaking a certain way, or freezing like a statue for an entire round.
Quelf is definitely a game for extroverts and people who enjoy performing. However, if you’re playing with a group of friends who already know just how awkward you are and have been with you through all your crazy hi-jinks, you’ll do just fine, too.
Play time: 60 minutes
Fluxx is the perfect game for that friend who is a stickler for the rules…because the rules are always changing. Players draw a card and play a card. The point is to complete a goal, but that goal may change in the next hand, as might how you play cards or how many cards you can hold in your hand. Even the requirements to win the game may change. Every card played changes the game somewhat, so the experience is never quite the same.
Play time: 15 minutes
What games do you think are best for college students? Which ones did you favor in your college days and which ones are you playing now? Tell us about it!
Melissa is an independent writer and editor, as well as a board game lover. When she's not creating or perfecting web content, she's usually playing games with her friends or experimenting in the kitchen.