Top Five Picks for Family Game Night
At our house, any night that we can make family game night happen, is a good night. Finishing dinner, getting baths and homework out of the way, and prying phones, ipads and video games out of everyone’s hands is an accomplishment on par with completing the New York City Marathon. While playing video games. But every once in a while, we get it together and are able to share this quality time (the holy grail of modern family-hood) together.
I love it because as my 8 year old gets older, we don’t share as many of those times together. He’s off doing his own thing. Sometimes it seems the only time the whole family really talks is when we’re stuck in the car for a road trip. Dinner doesn’t count. My husband and I spend dinner begging the kids to eat while they try to figure out how to escape from the table.
But back to games. Have you noticed how board games have gotten amazing? All of these cool board game shops have sprouted up. My son loves to gaze in the window at all the exotic imports from other countries that promise to carry us to exciting, magical worlds.
They’re a far cry from the games I grew up playing, though we still play the classics as well. Clue, Uno and Battleship are some of our old school favorites.
But these newer games are so cool and so creative… kids don’t even realize that they are mastering some pretty excellent reasoning and strategy skills while playing them. And it’s not just the kids. I loooove getting to use my brain this way. I can almost feel the cobwebs blowing away, like someone spraying some mountain fresh Febreeze into my skull. Games are good for people – of all ages.
Below are our top picks. Every member of our family loves each of these, including my 4 year old. Sometimes he legit plays, other times he is kind of playing his own game in his head. But it’s ok… the most important thing is that we have fun and connect as a family. No screens. Just lots of talking, laughing, calculating and scheming.
1. King of Tokyo
This game really opened the door to the wonderful new world of modern board games for our family. My son had his 7th birthday at our local game shop and all the kids played King of Tokyo. It was a rollicking good time. The goal of the game is to reach a certain number of victory points while not running out of health. Each roll of the dice allows you to either gain victory points or health, or attack an opponent and deplete their health or victory points. You get to roll the dice a few times, as you decide what your priorities are. On nights where we don’t have a ton of time, we just play to a lower number of victory points.
2. Forbidden Island
This is a new addition to our collection and we’re hooked. Forbidden Island is a “collaborative” game, so we need to work together. Either we all win, or we all lose. So far, we have mostly all lost. But we are learning! The goal is to capture four treasures and escape the island before all of the “tiles” that it consists of floods. Each player has different skills that they can use to help achieve the goal. There is a lot of discussion about what each of us should do before every turn and who should be responsible for what. I love to see my older son’s thought process and listen to him make his case for what to do next. Or my four year old, as he picks up a card and tells us, in his gravest voice, that a tile is flooded.
Catan was one of the first “German-style” board games that inspired many of the others that have gained popularity in this genre. It comes in several versions. We play Catan Junior. The game is won by the first player to build all 7 of their “pirate’s lairs.” In order to do so, they need to collect resources. Players can trade resources with each other or with the marketplace, and strategize as they try to build on areas on the board where their opponents need to build. My older son loves the trading aspect.
Such a simple game, yet so fun. You set up the game tiles at random and the goal is for each player to get their “jewel” to the opposite side from where they start. Each tile has walls on it and you can’t go through the walls, but you can turn and shift the tiles to open up a path. This game is easy to get the hang of and it only lasts 20 to 30 minutes. We do have to help the little one with his turn. He’s not quite able to figure out the best move yet.
5. Ticket to Ride
This is our newest discovery, which my husband found after going on a serious board game research bender (thank you internet!). It came highly recommended and deservedly so. The object of the game is to build train tracks along the routes specified on the cards you are secretly holding, while trying to interrupt your opponents as they build their routes. You get points for completing your routes. The longer your routes, the more points you get. My four year old cannot play this game but he has a great time just putting his trains down on his “turn,” and that works for us. This is a longer game, but it is loads of fun and will not disappoint. I can see us playing it for years to come.
I could easily have made this list longer. Qwirkle is a go-to that my whole family loves. Blokus is another fantastic choice, great for little brains. My younger son loves Rush Hour. And every kid should play ZooLogic. Chris at Keep Thrifty says Hoot Owl Hoot is another fun collaborative game – definitely going to check that out. (Thanks Chris!)
Do you have any family game night favorites?
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