Board games are the perfect family activity for the holidays. Whether you’re trying to deck the halls with boughs of jolly, or simply enjoy a silent night, the right game can take any holiday reunion to the next level. As you’re making time for loved ones this season, consider these top picks for your ‘nice’ list.
“Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their CODENAMES.Czech Games
In Codenames, two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.”
Why we like it: This spy-themed board game is both clever and fun, and has just the right amount of difficulty to keep the game engaging for the whole family. It gets an A+ for being the perfect fit for households with teens and adults.
“Just One is a cooperative party game in which you play together to discover as many mystery words as possible. Find the best clue to help your teammate. Be unique, as all identical clues will be cancelled!
A complete game is played over 13 cards. The goal is to get a score as close to 13 as possible. In case of a right answer, the players score 1 point. In case of wrong answer, they lose the current card as well as the top card of the deck. Thus losing 2 points. In case of lack of answer, the players only lose the current card, and therefore only 1 point.
You have the choice – make the difference!”– Repos Production
Why we like it: This game is simple to play, easy to teach, and can be learned in a matter of minutes. Being a word-association game, it’s a great choice for playing with groups and has the natural potential for familial inside jokes.
“Blokus (officially pronounced “Block us”) is an abstract strategy game with transparent, Tetris-shaped, colored pieces that players are trying to play onto the board. The only caveat to placing a piece is that it may not lie adjacent to your other pieces, but instead must be placed touching at least one corner of your pieces already on the board.”– Mattel
Why we like it: In case Grandma isn’t a fan of wordplay, Blokus is a great option. This simple, yet competitive game relies heavily on strategy, spatial reasoning, and requires enough mental work to stay interesting.
“In Kingdomino, you are a lord seeking new lands in which to expand your kingdom. You must explore all the lands, including wheat fields, lakes, and mountains, in order to spot the best plots, while competing with other lords to acquire them first.
The game uses tiles with two sections, similar to Dominoes. Each turn, each player will select a new domino to connect to their existing kingdom, making sure at least one of its sides connects to a matching terrain type already in play. The order of who picks first depends on which tile was previously chosen, with better tiles forcing players to pick later in the next round. The game ends when each player has completed a 5×5 grid (or failed to do so), and points are counted based on number of connecting tiles and valuable crown symbols.”– Blue Orange Games
Why we like it: This tile placement game is full of excitement, strategy, and an engaging bidding mechanic that is easy to pick up for both teens and adults. Let Kingdomino decide who in your family is wise enough to earn the throne.
“You are the leader of one of the great cities of the Ancient World. Gather resources, develop commercial routes, and affirm your military supremacy. Build your city and erect an architectural wonder which will transcend future times.
In essence, 7 Wonders is a card development game. Some cards have immediate effects, and others provide bonuses or upgrades later in the game. Others provide discounts on future purchases. Some provide military strength to overpower your neighbors and others give nothing but victory points. Each card is played immediately after being drafted, so you’ll know which cards your neighbor is receiving and how his choices might affect what you’ve already built up. Cards are passed left-right-left over the three ages, so you need to keep an eye on the neighbors in both directions.”– Repos Production
Why we like it: There’s a bit of a learning curve, but once you master 7 Wonders, it’s endlessly replayable and enough fun to keep the conversation away from politics and religion!