There’s no way around it — taking risks is a scary thing to do. And while scary things often get easier with practice, it’s not necessarily to take huge risks on a regular basis. (Although more power to you if you figure out a way to try!) Still, there are small ways to take more risks in a fun, low stakes way.
By playing board games that require small-scale risk, you can condition yourself to accepting both reward and failure without the stress (or life upheval!) that larger risks can bring. Here are five board games that will strengthen your risk taking muscles and make you a tiny bit more fearless, all while having fun in the process. Grab a few friends and get your risk on.
Zombie Dice is the perfect game for beginners. In this dice-rolling game, you’re a hungry zombie, pushing your luck to roll more delicious brains without rolling the shotgun blasts that will end your life. As you play, you’ll have opportunities to re-roll that could get you closer to your ultimate goal of 13 brains (first player there wins!) or that could end your life entirely. It’s fun, fast, and literally rolling the dice within the parameters of the game will help you to figuratively roll the dice in your own life. Bonus: check out Wil Wheaton and the Tabletop gang playing Zombie Dice (and two other games!) here.
When you play Incan Gold, you and your opponents are competing to win the most treasure from an old Incan temple. On each turn, you’ll flex your risk-taking muscles by deciding whether to stay in the cave to win more treasure. The longer you stay (and the sooner your competitors leave), the more jewels you stand to win, but you’ll risk mounting threats from hazards like spiders or mummies that will wipe out your store of treasure. It’s a tense game, which makes it a great way to build risk tolerance. And what’s not to love about a game that comes with tiny tents for hoarding your treasures and an actual sack full of (plastic) gems?
While real estate bidding might not sound like the most enjoyable premise for a game, For Sale is a surprisingly fun way to shore up your tolerance for financial risk. In the game’s first round, you’ll buy up properties; in the second, you’ll put those properties up for auction. Deciding whether to buy and sell conservatively or without fear will help have you mitigating your real-life financial risk like a pro in no time. Plus, if you buy or sell poorly, you can console yourself with the tiny baby animals hidden in each of the game’s cards.
Ticket to Ride
While Ticket to Ride (and its accompanying suite of expansion packs and spin-off games) isn’t a “push your luck” game in the traditional sense, it offers plenty of opportunities to weigh risk against reward. As you build train routes across 1900s America, you’ll be faced with choices about whether to focus your attention on connecting cities or on making the longest train route possible. Who hasn’t wanted to spend a pleasant couple of hours with friends pretending to be railroad barons? Check out Wil Wheaton and the Tabletop Games crew playing Ticket to ride here.
Can’t Stop is an extremely simple dice game — the gimmick behind it starts and stops with the fact that the board game is shaped like a stop sign — but don’t let the basic premise fool you. It’s deceptively fun, and a good way to work on pressing through risk to reward. On each turn, you’ll roll dice, arrange them in pairs, and try to move your markers to designated spaces before your opponents do. (Seriously, it’s way more fun than it sounds.) Once you play, you’ll see why it’s been a classic for so long (the game was out of print for years until public demand finally got it reissued).