Do you like board games? Of course you do. So do we! So imagine our delight when, last year, we discovered that the Tottenham Hotspur Belgian contingent, led by Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli, and Jan Vertonghen, are big-time board gamers, with a special affinity for Settlers of Catan.
Based on Jan's twitter feed, it also looks like they've hooked in a couple of new players into the #BoardGameLyfe -- Kyle Walker and Eric Dier are also pictured, but this is a four-player game so based on the seating locations I'm guessing Walker is just photobombing or watching the others play.
Catan with my friends! Guess who won? ;) pic.twitter.com/gKJ1IUnatL— Jan Vertonghen (@Jan_Vertonghen) September 10, 2015
(Sidenote: I'm awfully worried by the lack of Toby Alderweireld in this picture. Does he not play Settlers with the other Belgians? Is he not accepted as Belgian by the rest of the Brotherhood? Did people get tired of him trying to trade two sheep for a wheat? This calls for an intervention.)
As neat as this all is, Catan is soooooo 1998, you guys. It's a long season, you need better board games. So I came up with a list.
5. Scotland Yard
Look, it's a map of London! It's British! It's a chase-the-bad-guy spy thriller with tons of replay value! There are subways! It's a classic that you can play with up to six people, so you don't have to leave Toby out in the cold. Plus, everyone can pretend that Ade is Mr. X, which might make it more fun when you win.
A cute family-friendly game about bamboo famers and a hungry panda bear. The pastel colors are adorable, the game is fun, approachable, and easy to learn, and it comes with cute colored bamboo pieces and an ACTUAL CARTOON PANDA PIECE. I mean, who doesn't love pandas? Does Toby Alderweireld hate pandas? I don't think so.
Pandemic is thrown in here because it's a cooperative game where you play as a team of scientists trying to stop the spread of deadly diseases before they destroy the Earth's population. So it's about teamwork, which I hear is important when you're on a professional football team. It's also pretty difficult to win, which means it has a lot of replay value. Lots of little fiddly bits that can go flying if the table gets bumped, but no more than Settlers.
A classic tile laying game where you build and settle cities, roads, and farmland in medieval France. It's one of the original games that featured "meeple" and meeple are cool. The best part is the entire game, plus expansions, can fit inside a single cloth bag, making it great to take along on away trips. Needs a big table, though.
1. Cards Against Humanity
Rowdy, raunchy, and hilarious, this card game is incredibly fun to play in large groups, which means that now you have no excuse not to invite Tom Carroll to play. This is a game that is more fun when you're surrounded by people as sick and twisted as you are, which makes it perfect for a manly bunch of professional footballers. I've been in the locker rooms of sports players. I know what goes on. Bonus points if you can get Poche or Hugo involved.