Amy, I haven't heard of any of the games you've mentioned, but I might see if the library has them. I've been super into trying new board games too, lately!
Kendra, I totally agree with you about Monopoly - sometimes I'm in the mood for it and it's tons of fun, and other times I get bored quickly. I also have certain properties that I'm emotionally attached to, but unfortunately they're not the best ones to have strategy wise. But I always buy them anyways and then end up losing. I can't say I've played too many themed monopolies, but I always love looking at what they made the board like.
I just got Pandemic from the library and learned how to play. It took us 3 tries on the "introductory mode" to win, but it was a lot of fun. As Kendra mentioned, it's a collaborative game, meaning you and the other players are working together to beat the game, rather than competing against each other. I don't think I've played a collaborative game before and I liked that aspect of it a lot. The premise of the game is you're trying to cure four diseases before they get out of control. The game board is a map of the world, and you move around treating outbreaks, creating research facilities, and developing cures. I feel like it's going to take awhile to really figure out strategy, but it completely held my interest for all three rounds we played.
I also tried a ton of new games when I was home on break. The first few that are coming to mind are
-Colt Express - The game board is a 3-D train with 4-6 cars (depending on number of players) and two floors. You're playing as bandits robbing the train, and the object is to be the richest bandit at the end of the game. It's super complicated, but I've never played anything like it, and it's a ton of fun once you get the hang of the rules and start to come up with strategies.
-Codenames - The object of the game is getting your teammate(s) to guess your team's 8-9 words out of the 25 words on the table, but each turn you can only give one word as a clue. It's challenging to think of ways to link several of your team's words with a single clue, and to try to imagine how your teammates will be thinking of it.
-One Night Ultimate Werewolf - So if you know of the werewolf game, it's that, except there's only one night. You draw cards to tell you what your role is, then during the night, almost everyone has an action, such as switching someone's card or looking at someone else's card, and then everyone "wakes up" and tries to figure out who did what, and who is the wolf. All you have to go off of is that one night. You either kill the wolf/wolves, or you lose. It's pretty fast paced and exciting! The most contentious round we had, we spent like 10 minutes with everyone yelling at each other and accusing everyone else of lying because nothing made sense and we could not figure out who the wolves were... and it turned out nobody had picked the wolf card that round.
-The Voting Game - In this game, you read a card like "Who would you trust with a secret?" "Who is most likely to have a book written about them?" and random stuff like that, and then everyone votes for one of the players in the game, and if you get the most votes you "win." This one is kind of meh in my opinion... I feel like you have to be playing in a group where everyone knows each other extremely well, and it's definitely more of a party having fun game rather than anything that lets you get competitive.