When I was a kid, my family had the “big four” in our coat closet: Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue and Life. Later, someone added Risk. Family game nights weren’t exactly a weekly thing, but I still gloat to my dad about the one time I beat him in Monopoly, and hold the memory of our brood gathered around a dimly lit game table close to my heart.
These days there’s a big board game movement picking up speed in the geekverse, and for good reason. Board games bring us together for rare, delicious quality face time in an era where the pixel is king. With the popularity of boardgames on the rise, you have plenty of chances to find a game that everyone in your family will love to pieces.
I used to play video games and call myself a gamer, but that was sort of a half-truth. Now that my little family’s board game collection is headed in the right direction, I like to think that I’m finally an actual gamer. I’m learning that games need certain elements to be successful, and that a $12 game can be just as fun as a $40 game. It’s all about what type of game your family finds interesting and engaging.
Since there’s not really big-league marketing strategy in place, these games rely on word of mouth. If people played a game at the hobby shop or a friend’s house and they had one of those magical evenings where time stops and all that exist is the die, salty snacks and some good company, then they’re going to buy their own copy.
In short, good boardgames are popular because they’re good.
This dice-based game by Tasty Minstrel Games is best played with a small group, ideally with two players. This would be a great game to play with elementary-age kids. It successfully completed its Kickstarter campaign this past March, and when the game hit the e-shelves this August, it proved to be a huge hit.
In classic dungeon style, players “dungeon delve” using pre-determined characters and abilities to collect treasure. A bit of luck and strategy make this a fun tabletop RPG that’s complex but not overly complicated.
Goblins Rule, Fairies Drool
In this game by Game Salute and GAME-O-GAMI, all you need are the deck of cards and the tiniest penchant for rhyming. This game is fun, fantastic, and full of the hilariously gross things that kids are always into like snot and smelly socks.
The King of Tokyo
The designer of Magic the Gathering Richard Garfield has created yet another addictive simplistic game to while away some wonderful tabletop hours. During each turn, a roll of the dice (and a few subsequent re-rolls of dice you don’t want) determines how much you punch, heal, earn points or gain energy to purchase abilities.
The object of the game is to knock out opponents in Kaiju-style battles to become none other than the King of Tokyo. Since this game’s been out several expansions have been released to help make it even more replayable.
If you prefer not to battle against each other, a co-op game like Gamewright’s Forbidden Desert might be more your style. The object of the game is to combine your collective strengths to survive the perils of the desert and recover a lost flying machine. If any of you dies by succumbing to a danger of the desert or by running out of water, all of you lose.
This game is the sequel to the popular Forbidden Island game, but you don’t need to have played the first to enjoy the second.
I was skeptical of this game at first, but it’s garnered a ton of hype and offers a big fun to price ratio. The objective of AEG’s Love Letter is to be the one to get your love letters to the princess. This simple-yet-addictive game only features 16 different cards, which players use to knock other players down the tower and away from the princess.
Love Letter is a fun way to teach kids to use strategy and lateral thinking techniques to figure out which cards other players have and what their best move will be.
The recommended minimum ages of these games range from six to ten, but every kid is different. Check out the videos and reviews and find out if your kids have the skills to enjoy a game without too much frustration, and you’ll be well on your way to creating (or continuing) a weekly family game night.