How Do Board Games Differ From Puzzles?

how do board games differ from puzzles

Board games are typically played with two or more people competing against each other to reach a specified ending. They have rules to follow that ultimately result in someone or a team winning the game. They differ from puzzles in a few ways.

Puzzles are designed as solitary activities. Solving the puzzle is the goal. You try to outwit the creator rather than vie against an opponent. 

Some grey areas exist between board games and puzzles where there’s room for overlapping. Generally, some puzzles are also games, but not the other way around. 

What Are Board Games?

Board games are usually played on tabletops. They consist of playing boards, pieces or characters, spinners or dice, cards, and other components. Many of them require players to move a piece around a specified path on the board. Players will follow preset rules designed for an entertaining gaming experience while trying to win the game. 

Board games are sometimes based largely around luck or chance. Others are thought-provoking and based on skill. 

Types of Board Games

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There are three main types of board games–abstract strategy, cooperative, and role-playing games. Below is a brief description of each.

  • Abstract strategy – You must have at least two players. The game is built less on luck and more on skill. Their abstract nature means there’s no theme. Many games in this category have been around for a long time. An example of an abstract strategy board game is Checkers.
  • Cooperative – This type of game has players working together to reach a common goal. A team of players is trying to beat the game, not another team. All players have a vital role to play. An example of a cooperative board game is Pandemic.

Pandemic is one of the most popular and main stream board games to date. It has opened up the doors to the tabletop board game community and is a great game to pickup and play if you are new to cooperative and strategy board games. Click here to check the current price of Pandemic on Amazon.

  • Role-playing game – Most of these games are steeped in fantasy. They have themes and include characters that improve throughout the game. Players try to level up characters, respond to game outcomes determined by the roll of dice, and make decisions affecting other players’ characters. An example of a role-playing board game is Warcraft.

Board games come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, themes, and age appropriateness. Choose games based on who will be playing them. Many board games for children are good learning tools. Kids can learn about everything from numbers and letters to emotions and life events. Other skills learned from board games include logical thinking, problem-solving, deductive reasoning, and more.

Are Puzzles Considered Games?

Puzzles are considered games sometimes. Most of this depends on what type of puzzle it is. For instance, a puzzle that has a competitive aspect to it could be considered a game. An example of this is a Rubik’s Cube. Rubik’s Cube presents a problem for solving. You must rearrange the cube to get all of one color on each side. The game is a race against yourself or others.

A jigsaw puzzle is not considered a game. You work toward an end goal–to finish the picture. You could turn it into a game, however. Simply make your leisurely pastime into a race against others working the same puzzle. 

Some puzzles have rules to follow, much like board games. Think about a peg puzzle board. It consists of a board with some number of pegs inserted into holes. The goal is to hop pegs over other pegs to remove them from the board until there is one remaining. You must follow the rules to reach the goal. This kind of puzzle is a game you play by yourself. 

Types of Puzzles

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Puzzles aren’t all the same. There are several types of puzzles. Generally, they all present a problem to be solved or a toy to be figured out. Puzzles allow you to test yourself and hone useful skills such as logical thinking and reasoning. 

Here’s a list of some different kinds of puzzles. 

  • Word puzzles (crosswords, codewords, anagrams)
  • Picture puzzles (connect-the-dots, jigsaw puzzles, spot the difference)
  • Mechanical puzzles (Rubik’s Cube, folding puzzle, puzzle box)
  • Number puzzles (Sudoku, sequences)

Many more puzzle types exist. These are some of the most popular types. While puzzles may cause frustration, there are plenty of benefits associated with doing them.

Benefits of Puzzles

Research shows there are multiple benefits to doing puzzles. Puzzles serve as exercise for your brain. Just as you exercise the muscles in your body to make them stronger, you should exercise your brain to make it stronger. Mental exercise increases your level of cognitive functioning. 

Puzzles help improve your memory. Thinking your way through a puzzle helps your brain form new connections between neural transmitters. It also causes existing connections to strengthen, thus boosting your memory function.

Problem-solving skills are honed when doing puzzles. These skills are used in all parts of our lives. Puzzles force us to look at a problem, consider options, analyze different possible outcomes, and change course quickly if needed. We develop our critical thinking skills by solving problems in puzzles.

What Is the Difference Between Board Games and Card Games?

Board games vary in components, pieces, board theme, size, shape, and much more. The gameplay varies too. Card games are different because while the gameplay varies a lot, the materials used to play the games do not. 

One deck of cards serves as the base to play thousands of various games. There are games for playing alone, games to play with someone else, and games to play with multiple people. 

A board game typically comes with one set of rules prescribed for one game. Card games have different sets of rules all designed for playing with the same deck of cards. Both are played on tabletops but with different components and limitations. 

Final Thoughts

Board games have a competitive aspect that puzzles do not. While board games are meant to be played with others so there’s a social factor to them, puzzles are usually done alone.

Puzzles can be made game-like by adding a competition component. Puzzlers can compete against one another to see who can finish in the least amount of time.

Board games and puzzles both have benefits for participants. They range from increases in mental capacity to the satisfaction of social needs and even de-stressing. So get your game on, solve some puzzles, and have fun doing it!

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