Ah, holidays. A time to gather with family and friends for feasting and fun. Board games are a fantastic way to bridge gaps and enjoy quality time together while dinner warms in the oven, but getting your family to try new games might just be like trying to get pants on a badger.
To make the transition smooth this year, here are 10 newer style games to try according to classic tastes.
If your folk like a good old roll-and-move game, Jamaica will add a little excitement to your evening. Instead of plodding around a board tripping over money bear traps your opponents have laid for you until everyone is broke, bored, or otherwise disengaged, Jamaica is an exciting race. Everyone takes control of their very own pirate ship and must steer their vessel wisely around the island of Jamaica in order to reach the finish line with more money than everyone else. There are pitfalls along the way, but also hefty treasures and an occasional battle or two. Monopoly really turned me off to the whole roll-and-move genre, until I found Jamaica – it isn’t classic roll-and-move precisely (and yay for that!), but the racing element blends excellently with the randomness of dice.
Coming up with the story of your life in a game can be pretty interesting; growing up, the experiences you go through, the trials and tribulations. CV has it all. You start the game as a child and roll dice to see what opportunities life has to offer you. Each round you will collect cards that represent different aspects of your life ranging from jobs, health, possessions, and friends. The tableau of cards you build will help lay out the story of your life. Will you become an intern magician with a bicycle or a multi-millionaire philanthropist? Play CV to find out!
If you like Clue try Hoax
Imagine that Mr. Boddy, the famed victim of Clue, has been laid to rest. His killer captured and the mystery finally resolved. What happens next? Well the family fights for the inheritance of course!
In Hoax everyone is playing a member of the Vargas’ family or household. To ensure that you inherit the family fortune (and win the game) you must out all the other players by catching them in a lie. Each round players will claim to be an identity and other players can accuse them of lying or use resources to investigate their claims. If you get caught lying about your identity, you are outed from the game, but if someone accuses you falsely, they are out. Whomever is the last claimant standing wins! It is a devious logic puzzler sure to challenge your wits, which is extra great since it comes in a tiny box and plays incredibly quickly.
You can purchase a copy of Hoax here.
If your family likes to draw or especially if they can’t Telestrations is guaranteed to be a big hit. Each player gets a sketchbook where they will try to draw a word dictated by the roll of a die. They only have a limited amount of time and then they must pass the sketch to the next player. That player will have to guess what the word was based on the sketch and write it on the next page. Then in a game similar to Telephone, the next player will have to draw that word into an image. The breakdown of meaning through misinterpretations and poor art skills can result in absolute hilarity! There are a bunch of versions, including Telestrations: After Dark for when the kids have all gone to sleep and you want to draw butts.
Just as in Jenga, steady hands will be a big benefit with Go Cuckoo. This unassuming children’s game from HABA amused the heck out of us! The game has you drawing sticks from a can to use in building your nest. Every time you place your sticks you have the option of placing one of your eggs in the nest. If it stays put, you’re one step closer to winning. If you egg takes a tumble, you’ll have to take more eggs and try again. Those who manage to balance all of their eggs in the nest must then try to place the mama cuckoo to win the game. It is simple, sweet, and darned difficult at times. Have fun razzing your relations as they try to delicately place their sticks and have a good laugh together when the whole nest comes tumbling down! Seriously, this one’s excellent. You can read our full review of the game here.
Pick up a copy of Go Cuckoo on Amazon.
Not only is 12 Days a trick taking game like Hearts, but it is also Christmas themed! You’ll be bidding for the 12 days of Christmas plus one card each for Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Each turn you’ll have to gift a card to the player on your left and then play a card from your hand. The lowest value card wins the round and collects the cards. After 12 rounds, players score points for each Holiday card they’ve collected. This one is a nice filler game for that time between stuffing your face full of food to the inevitable food coma later.
You can get 12 Days in the Calliope store.
If your family is like mine, they love word games. Breaking Games’ Letter Tycoon is a fun variant on the theme. Players will take turns forming words from their seven-card hand. They can use any number of cards and even add to their word from a three-card community pool. Words will earn them money and stock rewards that can get them patents. These patents give the owner rights over 1 letter so that anytime another player uses that letter, the owner gets paid. It’s a little like Scrabble and Monopoly mixed together, but a lot more fun.
Hankering for something like Uno? Play a hand of The Game
Instead of a competitive game where everyone is trying to get their hand down to one card so they can shout “Uno!”, IDW’s The Game is a tense cooperative card game. The goal is similar to Uno in that you must get rid of cards in your hand, but in this one there are 98 cards in the deck and you are discarding cards in order onto 4 piles. Two piles count up from 1 and two count down from 100. The trick is you cannot reverse the direction of a pile, so for example if you want to play a card onto the descending pile and it is a 79, you must play a card lower than 79. The only way to play a card higher is if you have a card that is exactly 10 higher than the current number.
And if you are at all turned off by the strangely morbid skull on the cover, you can pick up a reskinned version by the talented artist, Beth Sobel, on the Gamecrafter here.
Chess is all bout the king, but in Hive, your precious pieces are looking to protect the Queen…bee. Yes all your pieces are insects. Using a hexagonal grid, players will try to out-maneuver their opponent while still protecting their queen. Each piece has it’s own set of movements and powers. Not only can you move your piece around others, but the beetle tile can also climb over other insects, the grasshopper can jump huge distances, and all sorts of other awesome insectoid movement options. This chess-like game offers you a whole new way to puzzle your way past your opponent – no board necessary! Any flat surface will do for these gorgeous, chunky plastic tiles.
Ok, if your family is serious about going to battle and has played their copy of Risk to the point where you feel like waving the white flag, you can shake things up without totally blowing everyone’s mind. Risk Legacy is a new spin on the game. It offers a story as you play and requires you to play multiple times to get through the whole tale.
Each time you start a game, things will change. Rules will be added, new pieces will come into play, and events will change the face of the game forever – and we mean FOREVER. You will be asked to tear up cards, write on the board, or even test your willpower against opening secret compartments. The legacy game format breathes new life into games like Risk and is a great way to open your friends and family up to new mechanics while starting off with a game they are familiar with.