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5 great board games for a Covid winter

I mentioned in this space last week how I was flabbergasted on a recent trip to Target when I saw how many (good) board games they stocked. I'm a board game fanatic (no, not Monopoly), a fact that I try to keep secret. But there are so many (thousands and thousands) of great board games out there. To like them, you have to like thinking, competing and – most importantly – the people around you. It's a great way to spend time with them.

I promised I'd tell you which games to buy. Sorry Target, but I decided to branch out and just give you the best five games for people who don't play board games but think they might like them.

"Wingspan:" (Best with two or three players) Do you like birds? Great. But do you love them? I never thought much about birds ... until I started playing "Wingspan." This is a beautiful card-based game with 170 bird illustrations, ceramic eggs and a 3D bird-feeder into which you roll the dice. Players are trying to build their own aviaries (to score points). This is a good game for couples who prefer not to get into fights while playing against one another. It's more like two-player solitaire. Takes about 90 minutes with two players.

"King of Tokyo:" (Best with 4-6 players) This game works well with younger people (sometimes called "children"). It's a dice-rolling game in which you play monsters, robots, aliens, etc. trying to destroy Tokyo. The goal is to knock the other players out and you do this using a mechanism called push your luck, or "do you want to keep risking it?" This is also a fast game (20 minutes) if you're worried about getting bored.

"Dominion:" (Best with three players) This is a "deck-building" game in which each player starts with an identical (small) deck of cards, and the goal is to add better and more powerful cards to your deck while trying to score more points than your opponents. This is a simple, relaxing card game that takes about 30 minutes.

"Quacks of Quedlinburg:" (best with four players) Don't be scared by the name; many of the best board games are from Germany. This is good for older kids and adults. It's another push-your-luck game in which players are charlatan doctors (quacks) in the Middle Ages brewing up valuable potions. But if you push too far, your pot explodes and you get fewer points. (This suddenly is very expensive on Amazon. So maybe you hold off until they get more in stock. It should be $60.

"Pandemic:" (Best with four players) This one you can find at Target, or pretty much anywhere. "Pandemic" is a "cooperative" game, meaning the players are all working together to beat the game. And yes, this is about fighting off a global pandemic (it was released in 2008). Each player's character has a special skill as you try to eradicate constantly-spawning colored cubes (diseases) from cities around the world. Creates a lot of great talk around the table. Of all the games on this list, this is the one where it doesn't work to be drinking adult beverages. You really have to pay attention or it isn't fun.