Board games can take you on grand adventures to strange worlds, dungeons filled with beasts, and puzzling realms of danger. But sometimes, you don’t want a grand adventure – all you want is to sit back in a cosy, idyllic world, kick up your feet, and spend time just relaxing. If that’s you, read on for a list of the most cosy, calming board games you can spend an afternoon with.
Whether you’re looking to lounge around with deers, otters, and bears, or just looking for a light puzzle game to get those smaller gears working, there are plenty of brilliant, relaxing board games on the market. They’ll take you on walks through parks, familiar surrounds, and even let you spend mindful minutes looking after arrays of pot plants.
Here are a few of our favourite cosy board games, perfect for quiet afternoons.
Our Top Picks
- See My Shelfie on Amazon.
My Shelfie is a cosy, organisation-themed board game all about bringing home a new bookshelf and arranging your favourite items on it, in a nice order. In turns, 2-4 players will grab items from a shared living room board, and then place their items on their shelves, following particular rules and personal goals. While the game is technically about creating the tidiest shelf and winning by completing individual goals, the more important part of gameplay is mindful placement.
You’ll spend your time in the game thinking deeply about your next moves, and slowly creating your ideal space – and this process is compounded by the delight of the game’s 3D bookshelves, which create a more engaging organisation experience.
- See Succulent on Amazon.
Succulent is one of many board games that focusses on the act of planting and rearing natural gardens, but it stands out amongst the pack for its colourful and appealing artwork, which brings to life every flower and succulent plant you’ll look after in gameplay. It really is a gorgeous game, and this artwork makes the play loop all the more satisfying.
As you play, you’ll spend your time pruning and planting gardens, working towards becoming a recognised and masterful horticulturalist. Like other games on this list, you will compete with other players, as you work towards rearing particular gardening projects – but ease back on the competitive aspect, and you’ll find a colourful and cosy board games experience.
The Tea Dragon Society Card Game
In The Tea Dragon Society Card Game, you’ll build a variety of warm memories with the help of tea-loving dragons. While this card-based game is adapted from the Tea Dragon Society graphic novels, you won’t need to be across the franchise to enjoy the lovely vibes here.
All you need to do is kick back as you progress through a number of seasons, creating memories with your companion Tea Dragon (each adorable critter is named after a tea flavour), and aiding their growth by purchasing particular cards and playing through special events. Beyond being premised on wholesome activities, The Tea Dragon Society Card Game is also a beautifully-illustrated adventure, with a cosy art style that makes each card flip a pure joy.
- See Calico on Amazon.
Calico is an adorable tile placement board game that involves sewing the cosiest quilt to satisfying a roaming array of cats. If cats like the patterns you’re creating, they’ll land squarely on your blanket – proving your worth and skill as a creative blanket maker. Even with quilting alone, the theme of Calico would be appealing – but once you add in those lovely cat companions, you’ve got a real recipe for relaxation.
In each turn, you’ll ‘sew’ a patch onto your blanket, and attempt to create particular patterns and patch decorations by following the game’s rules. You’ll want to attract the most cats possible in every turn, as they wind up adding to your final score, but you can also spend your time with Calico just decorating your space and revelling in the game’s pretty artwork.
My Lil’ Everdell
My Lil’ Everdell is an easier version of Everdell with streamlined mechanics, easy-to-learn gameplay, and a lovely bunch of characters guiding the action along the way. While most players will be able to learn how to play base Everdell, this version makes the whole experience much breezier, and more accessible for everyone.
In gameplay, you’ll still be placing workers and building out a nature-filled city, but a focus on simple mechanics and mini-challenges will help you become more engaged in a well-paced story where competition takes a backseat to learning and adventuring. There’s real beauty in My Lil’ Everdell, and it’s a great entry point to the Everdell board game universe, no matter your age.
- See My City on Amazon.
My City is a lightweight tile placement legacy game perfect for multiple sessions between two or more players. The ultimate goal of this experience is to develop a town while simultaneously following rules set out in episodic ‘chapters’ of the story. These determine building placements, occasionally add in new tiles, and allow players to create more ambitious towns.
While up to four players are technically competing to make the most coherent and rule-following towns on individual player boards, the actual gameplay itself doesn’t rely on competition – rather, it’s more about taking your time, easing into gameplay, and choosing where to place your next building. You can certainly lord your victory over other players if you wish, but that’s not the real crux of the game. Sit back, take your foot off the pedal, and enjoy a more cosy board game experience with My City.
Azul: Summer Pavilion
Azul: Summer Pavilion is a light-hearted and brightly-coloured Azul adaptation that takes the primary mechanics of this classic puzzle game, and flips them around. While competition is possible, as in My City, Summer Pavilion is best played as a slower, more thoughtful tile-laying experience. During your turn, you have simple goals – collect a number of coloured tiles from a central arena, and place them on your individual player board to form star-shaped patterns.
You can also block other players (definitely not relaxing) or spend your time creating pretty artworks, care-free about the final score outcome. The real joy of Azul is in seeing your individual mosaics coming together. It’s a game best played with that beauty in mind.
- See Meadow on Amazon.
Meadow is one of the most peaceful and relaxing board games around. In this delightful nature-themed adventure, you’re essentially playing the role of a person going on a nice walk, and seeing a variety of lovely things – bugs, plants, and animals all illustrated in a painterly style on collectible cards. On your turn, you’ll choose which cards to draft to your hand, eventually allowing you to create a small menagerie of gorgeous beasts.
You can play this game alone or with friends, with the primary gameplay revolving around nabbing the most valuable cards for your deck by fulfilling select criteria. While there is technically a winner at the end of the journey, it’s also very easy to play Meadow as a quiet, cosy tabletop adventure where every new card flip brings welcome sights.
- See Parks on Amazon.
Parks is another nature-themed board games experience perfect for a quiet afternoon. In this adventure, you’re traversing an American national park, keeping an eye out for various wildlife (depicted on gorgeous, sunset-hued cards) and collecting memories from all the places you visit. Each trip will take you under an hour, making this the perfect board game to whip out when you’ve got a free afternoon, and you’re looking for a brain cleanse.
You’ll find prettier cards, and more varied wildlife as you travel with your chosen companions (or alone) on a walk to remember. As you travel, you’ll also be able to experience new seasons within the game, with each bringing new pathways and memories to unlock.
- See Canvas on Amazon.
Speaking of gorgeous board games, it’s hard to go past Canvas if you’re looking for a wholesome, cosy, and relaxing experience. In this lightly competitive art game, your task is to create the most beautiful, criteria-fulfilling artworks by layering transparent cards on top of each other to form a more complex image. Cards you collect as you play include lone figures, absurdist imagery, cityscapes, fruits, and other items – each of which can be stacked to form unique art.
While the game is technically about facing off against other players, this is a game that’s still very enjoyable without pressure. It’s best to play Canvas at your own pace, discovering new cards and forging artworks that adhere to your own fancy. There’s real joy in watching how these images come together, and that joy should never be forgotten, even in the spirit of competition.
- See Kanagawa on Amazon.
Kanagawa, like Parks and Meadow, spotlights a gorgeous walk through nature as players explore a Japanese-themed landscape and restore beauty to the world by ‘painting’ its splendour. Similar to Canvas, this tabletop experience allows you to appreciate the world by focussing on artistic subject matter – plants, animals, characters, and traditional buildings. Create the perfect print that celebrates this world and its many seasons, and you’ll succeed in your overall lesson-learning goals.
There is an element of chance in victory, however, as players are essentially tasked with choosing whether to take cards from set rows, or hold off in the hopes of finding greater success down the line. With a balance between risk and reward in this card draft, you never know how a round of Kanagawa will pan out – but even if you lose, you’ll still have a great time looking at each gorgeously painted card.
- See Cascadia on Amazon.
Cascadia is very similar to Parks in its approach to nature, with some key twists along the way – largely, its focus on animals over humans. In Parks, you’re essentially taking a walk through nature and observing everything you see. In Cascadia, you’re guiding and reshaping nature by creating new habitats populated by complimentary animals, each of which should occupy an appropriate environment.
Each player in this adventure will slowly and meticulously build out their own individual terrains, making decisions about where best to place adjacent tiles and how to arrange animals for the most harmonious setting. Each placed creature will score points based on set rules, allowing players to forge more powerful ecosystems as they encounter new creatures, and contend with fresh demands. Lay off the competitive aspect, and you’ve got a calming, colourful, nature-filled adventure perfect for relaxing with.
The Gardens is a familiar and warm-feeling game that takes place solely within the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney – a landscape that many will likely have travelled before. If you’re keen to repeat the exercise in tabletop form, you’re in for a gorgeously-illustrated treat. In this game, you’re walking through the iconic Royal Botanic Garden, placing cards to represent monuments, and then monitoring how people feel about their time in the gardens. Earning happiness is key – and this requires placing specific features, including flower beds, pots, trees, and decorations, to liven up the atmosphere.
The player who squeezes the most positive visitor reactions from their gardens is the one who technically wins – but really, everyone who plays is a winner, given how gorgeous the experience is.
- See Verdant on Amazon.
Verdant is one of the newest games on this list, having just landed in stores following a successful Kickstarter campaign. While you might not be aware of it yet, it’s well worth checking out, with its houseplant-themed gameplay feeling absolutely perfect following the sting of global pandemic-induced lockdowns. During this time, many of us got into gardening, with pot plants providing the perfect relief for low-light apartments and sadder times. In colourful tabletop form, you can now create more positive memories amongst these delightful plants, with Verdant allowing you to create your own thriving garden.
The ultimate goal of the game is to create the cosiest space possible by arranging houseplants in the ideal order. You’re given specific criteria – light requirements, enough care – and then you’ll set off to create your chosen space, placing various tokens to help the growth of your plants, and of your happiness. As in other cosy board games, the ‘win’ state is fairly loose, allowing you to spend your time with the game expressing your creativity, rather than competing.
If you’re looking for more board game adventures to explore, check out our other guides:
- The best board games to play solo
- The best board games to play in co-op with friends
- The best board games to play at a party
- The best puzzle-based board games
- The best spooky board games to play on Halloween
- The 8 best dungeon crawler board games for adventurers
- The best story-based adventure board games
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