In Inc.'s June 2013 issue there is an interesting article about how board games help hone leadership and decision making skills. I was a bit skeptical at first, but there are some interesting points here that are worth exploring.
Most board games facilitate human interactions in a constantly changing environment with a wide range of rules and boundaries. It is in these unique and singular situations where the limits of your thinking and creativity are tested to get the desired outcome.
Board games sharpen focus
Games force players to choose which balls to keep their eyes on. And gaming is a whetstone for sharpening strategy.
In board gaming as in real life, we are resource constrained. We only have so many hours in a day or dollars to spend on the things we need and we must figure out the optimal strategy moving forward in order to have the greatest chance of success.
Most of the time, a single decision isn't going to make a huge difference for you, but the confluence of many decisions over a period of time can have a profound impact on the way events unfold.
Board games provide instant feedback on your decisions
Games give players a feel for the quality of their inputs, allowing them to quickly change tactics. With games, you get feedback on whether what you just did was effective or ineffective.
Board games also provide a safe environment for players to create and test strategies, tactics, and theories and get immediate feedback on the various decisions made throughout the game. This can be valuable practice for real-world situations by helping you understand how you make decisions and how you react to adverse situations.
Where do I go from here?
To get started, Inc.'s article recommends Amun-re and Acquire, both of which are out of production and would be pretty costly to get a hold of.
As an alternative, I would recommend Bohnanza a witty game of resource management and negotiation that is very approachable for casual boardgamers.
Pandemic, another great choice, is a co-operative game where you and your team are given the daunting task of saving the world from four super-viruses. Each player controls a character with unique abilities and must coordinate effort and resources to most effectively contribute to the prevention of world destruction. In Pandemic, lots of little mistakes can lead to disastrous consequences for fake-earth.
In the future, I am definitely going to approach board games a bit differently. I am going to place some focus on the decisions I'm making, both short and long term, and how that effect the overall outcome of the game.