Want to get the kids away from the iPad and the adults away from their phones? There’s no better way than to bring the family together with a boardgame!
The past few years has seen a welcome resurgence in the social aspect of playing board games whether with friends, family, or at local clubs and cafes. This also means that there are SO MANY board games around that it can be quite daunting when picking one out to play with your family. Some are lucky enough to live near a board game cafe or shop (well, aren’t you a lucky-ducky?) but others need a bit more of a hand (extends a hand to you).
This selection is based on games played with a variety of nieces and nephews from the ages of 7 - 14, and adults varying from 21 to… well, you get the idea!
Game Type: Dexterity, Versus
Players: 2 - 4
Game Time: 15 - 30 minutes
In Ice Cool, all players are penguins attending school. One player acts as the hall monitor while the other players take on the role of the students. As a student player, you have ditched class because you are hungry and you are out searching for tasty fish from around the schoolhouse. The Hall Monitor, in turn, is trying to catch all of the students bunking class and collect their ID cards. Worth noting that all players take at least one turn as the Hall Monitor. As players achieve their goals during the game, they’ll draw victory point cards. At the end of the game, the player with the most VPs wins.
This game is loved by my nephew, aged 9. I would recommend using a surface you can get all the way around in order to be able to ‘flick’ your penguin properly!
Game Type: Deduction, Word Game, Team
Players: 2 - 8
Game Time: 10 - 15 minutes
Codenames is a team-based deduction game whereby the players are trying to interpret clues as given by a team captain ( the Spymaster).
Spymasters, who give clues, sit opposite their teams, who guess clues. Teams need to be split as close to evenly as possible, both in numbers and skills. The spymasters look at the selected key card, visible only to them, identifying their codenames, their opponent’s, and the bystander’s and assassin’s codenames. When they are ready, the team whose color is in lights on the border of the key card goes first. That spymaster will provide a one-word clue, along with a number denoting how many words are associated with the clue.
The team’s job is to find the codenames, trying not to pick the assassin, before the other team.
There are a variety of different Codenames around both word and image-based (including a Disney version) but the favourite around our table is Codenames Pictures.
TICKET TO RIDE
Game Type: Euro Game, Versus
Players:2 - 5 (depending on version)
Game Time: 30 - 60 minutes
In Ticket to Ride, each player has to attempt to build a network of railroads by connecting various cities together. On any given turn a player can draw train cards for use in building railroads later, they can build a connection from one city to another (if they have the appropriate number of matching train cards), or they can draw new ticket cards which will give them two cities which they can score points for connecting.
This game is a great gateway game for people who are a bit uncertain about playing or who are a little worried about learning new rules (as it can be a bit daunting) as it has a very simple premise and the rules are uncomplicated. Saying that, this game is also good for playing with those who like a bit of healthy competition - which is very much a go-to in our household!
EXPLODING KITTENS/ BEARS VS BABIES
Game Type: Card, Versus
Players: 2 - 5
Game Time: 15 minutes
Slightly cheating here, I know, but I love both Exploding Kittens and Bears Vs Babies equally and they couldn't take up two separate slots - so here we are!
Just don’t ask why you should play Exploding Kittens. It’s fun. It’s got kittens. It’s got EXPLOSIONS. It’s pretty much made for everyone and I have yet to play with anyone who does not like it.
Exploding Kittens is essentially a kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette. Each player takes turns drawing cards until someone draws an exploding kitten and ‘dies’ through this epic kitty-fuelled explosion. You can, of course, stop your fate ending in a burning kitty-fuelled fireball by using cards from the deck which let you avoid exploding by peeking at cards before you draw, forcing your opponent to draw multiple cards, or shuffling the deck.
Bears Vs Babies is a great little game, some people prefer it to Exploding Kittens and some would argue strongly otherwise. What we like? YOU GET TO BUILD MONSTERS! MONSTERS THAT THEN EAT BABY ARMIES! It's fun and you get to build a barracuda with a kitty tummy who sucks at dancing, among many other crazy creatures!
What more do you want?
Game Type: Co-Operative
Players: 2 - 5
Game Time:30 - 45 minutes
In the world of Pandemic, there are four different virus strains threatening to destroy life as we know it and it is your teams job to stop or ‘cure’ the virus strains.
The game starts with players stationed at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta and nine cities across the globe have disease outbreaks. Players must move around the board and use their actions to cure these disease hotspots. To make matters worse, on each player’s turn, these diseases will spread to other cities and can also get a lot worse in the cities already infected.
Players have to balance keeping the illnesses under control with finding the cures before time runs out. If players are able to cure all 4 diseases in time, and keep the outbreaks under control, they will win the game. If not, the world is over-ridden with disease, you lose and it’s all your fault.
It comes with a very clear and concise rulebook, that even has a section about “commonly overlooked rules”, which should prevent any outbreaks (of arguments) in your home !
What do you think of the first 5 choices? What board games would you like to see in Part 2?