Sometimes I wish board games had more cultural currency, because then I could use them in analogies and metaphors. Alas, board games are such a niche interest that they can't really be used as a common cultural touchstone. In fact, culture has such a "long tail" that only the most popular works can ever be used as a touchstone. You have your footballs, your Star Warses, and your Bibles, all of which derive value from their popularity, even if their intrinsic value is in my opinion questionable.
Well, I'm just going to ramble about board games regardless of whether anyone "gets" it.
Even within board games, there are a few giants which all people are familiar with. There's Chess, Poker, Monopoly, Risk, Scrabble. And among nerdier people, everyone knows about D&D, Magic: The Gathering, and Settlers of Catan. All of which I have complaints about, although some more than others. By far the worst is Monopoly, which comes from an era when I think people just didn't understand game design.
I mostly play games in the Eurogame tradition, which is the one that includes Settlers of Catan. I might as well say that one of my favorite games is Dominion, a deck-building game from 2008. Dominion reached such popularity that it has been subject to a lot of imitation, and that's basically what the "deck-building" genre is. I play several other deck-building games as well, like Ascension and Eminent Domain.
One of the interesting design choices in Dominion is the near-complete elimination of "politics". In board games, "politics" refers to situations which depend on the power dynamics of the players. A typical political situation is if I have a card that hurts one other player, but I can choose which player to hurt. In Dominion, it is generally not possible to single out any opponent to hurt. In a game like Settlers of Catan, players trade goods with each other, which is inherently political.
Because there aren't any politics, Dominion ends up being more of a pure game of economic development. Each player has their own deck of cards, and they buy new cards to put into the deck. Most cards improve your deck, allowing you to buy even better cards to put into it. But you also want to buy "victory" cards, which actually make your deck worse. When the game ends, you count up the points on your victory cards, and the highest score wins. So the basic strategy is that you progressively improve your deck until a critical point, when you start "greening" and buying lots of victory cards (which are colored green). The most important part of playing well is knowing when to green.
The build-up/cash-out structure is shared by many other Eurogames, even ones that are not deck-building games. For example, in Race For the Galaxy, each player expands their galactic empire. However, halfway through the game, some players might choose to switch to a "consume" strategy, where they take the empire they have, and focus on making lots of victory points. Victory points don't help you expand your empire at all, but they are, after all, what's used to determine victory.
What's this a metaphor for? Man, I don't know. Life. Except that life is political.
Here's another metaphor. In Dominion, there are ways to remove cards from your own deck. Beginners often don't understand why this is useful. I bought those cards, why would I want to get rid of them? Turns out getting rid of cards is one of the most powerful abilities, because it's the average card in your deck which matters.
That right there, that's a metaphor for life. Life is like a deck of cards, and sometimes you want to get rid of some cards. And sometimes you want to go for the village/smithy engine or the duchy rush strategy or the double jack strategy, or maybe the metaphor is breaking down here...
I don't know where I'm going with this. Do any of my readers play board games?