Enter the cardboard forest
As the seasons change and daylight fades away, it can be hard to find time to appreciate all the natural beauty around us. Luckily there’s a way to enjoy some nature without having to brave the cold weather: cozying up with a few friends and a board game.
Gather around the kitchen table, take a break from doom scrolling, and get ready to learn some rules. Even if you don’t have anyone to play with, most of these games come with impressive solo modes. Here are a few of the best nature themed board games.
1–4 players, 30–45 minutes, 2/5 complexity
Cascadia is an easy to learn tile-laying game that has you trying to create the most harmonious ecosystem. Each turn is simple, you draft a new habitat tile and animal token that you must add to your existing area.
Each of the five types of animals score differently, so fitting them all together while also trying to create the largest of each habitat type is a tricky task. If you want to up the complexity, there are different variations for each animal. While Cascadia is a relaxing puzzle to figure out, it will have you coming back to play again and again for your next high score.
1–5 players, 45–70 minutes, 2.5/5 complexity
Wingspan has become the go-to game for getting players to try something a little more complicated than Catan, and for good reason. Each of the cards are illustrated with beautiful birds, and even come with fun facts so you can learn about our local avian friends.
In Wingspan, you’ll be collecting food, laying eggs, and playing new birds. You start with an empty board, but it will quickly fill up with powerful abilities from the birds you play. With tons of expansions featuring international birds, you’ll never run out of new variations. While this game does go up to five players, I would say that with any more than three, it takes a little too long to play.
If you’re still not convinced to try it out, just know that it comes with a birdfeeder for rolling dice.
1–4 players, 40–80 minutes, 3/5 complexity
Have you ever wanted to be an anthropomorphic woodland creature living in a quaint animal town? Who am I kidding, we all have. Everdell has some of the cutest critters and artwork available and comes with a 3D model tree that will wow anyone who plays it with you.
This is a worker placement game that will have you collecting resources and building your town as you prepare for the changing seasons. Every component of this game is top-notch, with squishy berry pieces that will have you struggling not to eat them, and a vast array of adorable player tokens. Dibs on the squirrels!
2–4 players, 60–90 minutes, 4/5 complexity
Perhaps the aesthetic of Everdell is right up your alley, but you want something where you can be a little meaner to your friends. That’s where Root comes in. Underneath its cute exterior, Root is a brutal asymmetric war game. Each faction to choose from completely changes how the game is played.
While Root lets you play out all your Redwall fantasies of epic woodland battles, be warned that this isn’t a game for players new to the hobby. If you have trouble learning the rules to one game, imagine trying to learn a completely new ruleset for each faction.
1–4 players, 90–120 minutes, 3.5–4.5/5 complexity
Instead of colonizing an island like in Catan, Spirit Island flips the script and has you playing as Indigenous spirits protecting their island from an onslaught of invaders. Each spirit plays very differently, and lets you choose just how complicated you want the game to be.
Spirit Island can be pretty tricky to get the hang of, but once you do, you’ll feel like a genius. There is enough content in the base box to keep you entertained for ages. This is a cooperative game, so you will be winning or losing together as a group.