The effects of COVID-19 have left people itching to get out of the house, and with that, have left families- like my own- to spend a whole lot more time together than usual. With all this spare time together, it’s very easy to get bored and sick of each other. Easy solution: Family Game Night!
Everyone loves family game night! If you don’t, you’re lying. Family Game Night is a very fun way to hold competitions with your family members. However, with that, it can be rather difficult to find the perfect game that’s fun for all ages with their own particular favorites. Here are ten board games to try with your family!
1. Ticket To Ride
This game has been around for a while and has numerous expansions to its name.
Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who can fulfill their Destination Tickets by connecting two distant cities, and to the player who builds the longest continuous railway.
For those doing research before purchasing any games for your family game night, I’ve gotcha’ covered. There is a junior format of the game, for parents with younger children- Ticket to Ride: First Journey. The board is much smaller and instead of forty-five colored train cars, you get twenty.
Through their turns, each player collects trains of various colors, which they can lay on tracks of the matching colors. Through a variety of short and long routes, these tracks connect cities on a map. On each turn, kids choose whether to get a new ticket with two destinations to connect, get more trains, or lay down tracks. When a player runs out of trains, points are allocated based on the success and length of each player’s railroad connections.
What’s even better is that the game is based on actual maps based on their time period. You learn a little something whilst you play. It may seem intimidating, that’s why I recommend playing the First Journey even if you are an adult for your family game night.
2. Game of Life
I know what you’re probably going to tell me.
“Why on earth would I torture myself with playing a game about life itself when I can’t go out and do any of the things in the game for a family game night?!”
Many people cope with social distancing in many different ways, I personally love playing simulation games like TheSims in situations like this.
Most of you probably know this, but for those who don’t: Spin the wheel of fate and take a drive along the twisting roads families have enjoyed for more than 40 years! Chose a College or Career path and start down the road of life, making money and having babies. You’ll have adventure after adventure until you reach retirement. If you reach it first, you get a big chunk of change – and if you’re the wealthiest player in retirement, you win!
In The Game of Life, there is only one major life-altering decision you can make – Start College or Start Career. It starts at the beginning and it determines your income for (potentially) the remainder of the game. There are “Trade salary cards with any player” boxes you can land on but those were added later to balance out the game.
If you go to college, you are saddled with $100,000 of debt but you could get a career with a higher salary. Let’s ignore the other mechanics of the game (how paydays are determined, other benefits like the Computer Consultant gets paid $50,000 anytime the spinner stops between numbers or comes off the track) but the basic premise is that to get a higher payday you need to go to college.
The directions included in the game can be confusing, and they are not well laid out. They are always by our side when we are playing, and we have to refer to them often. There are even some aspects of the game that we skip over because we are unsure of what to do.
While the game board is entertaining with hills and bridges to go over, it is not easy to put away. We put all of the small pieces on the bottom before the game board goes in. The board is trifold, and if it is not folded the right way, it does not fit. The bank and money need to go in between layers, which is also not easy to do.
The “people” pieces that are used are incredibly small and get lost easily. They also fall out of their designated holes in the “car” game pieces.
Despite the cons, The Game of Life is a fun game, perfect for your family game night. Children love playing it because they enjoy making grown-up decisions. Adults enjoy playing it because of the outlandish life events that come their way. Everyone likes playing it because of the companionship and challenges it offers.
Monopoly is a board game currently published by Hasbro. In the game, players roll two six-sided dice to move around the game board, buying and trading properties, and developing them with houses and hotels. Players collect rent from their opponents, with the goal being to drive them into bankruptcy. Money can also be gained or lost through Chance and Community Chest cards, and tax squares; players can end up in jail, which they cannot move from until they have met one of several conditions.
The game has numerous house rules, and hundreds of different editions exist, as well as many spin-offs and related media. Monopoly has become a part of international popular culture, having been licensed locally in more than 103 countries and printed in more than 37 languages.
Players take turns in order with the initial player determined by chance before the game. A typical turn begins with the rolling of the dice and advancing a piece clockwise around the board the corresponding number of squares. If a player rolls doubles, they roll again after completing that portion of their turn. A player who rolls three consecutive sets of doubles on one turn has been “caught speeding” and is immediately sent to jail instead of moving the amount shown on the dice for the third roll.
A player who lands on or passes the Go space collects $200 from the bank. Players who land on either Income Tax or Luxury Tax pay the indicated amount to the bank. In older editions of the game, two options were given for Income Tax: either pay a flat fee of $200 or 10% of total net worth (including the current values of all the properties and buildings owned). No calculation could be made before the choice, and no latitude was given for reversing an unwise calculation. In 2008, the calculation option was removed from the official rules, and simultaneously the Luxury Tax was increased to $100 from its original $75. No reward or penalty is given for landing on Free Parking.
Properties can only be developed once a player owns all the properties in that color group. They then must be developed equally. A house must be built on each property of that color before a second can be built. Each property within a group must be within one house level of all the others within that group.
4. Scene it?
Scene It? is an Interactive film series created by Screenlife, in which players answer trivia questions about films or pop culture. The games were first developed to be played with questions read from trivia cards or viewed on television from an included DVD or based on clips from movies, TV shows, music videos, sports, and other popular culture phenomena.
Players choose either a short or long game and adjust the Flextime game board. For a short game, the board is folded so fewer spaces show. Each player throws a six-sided die to see who goes first. Then, the player rolls both the ordinary die and a customized eight-sided “category die” to see how far they move, and what challenges they face.
The challenges can range from a trivia card question, a DVD challenge, (“My Play” or “All Play”), or they may have to draw a “Buzz card” (Cards are often renamed in special editions such as a “Prime Directive” card in Star Trek Scene It?). If the roller wins the challenge, they can go again, but if they lose, the dice are handed to the next player.
This process keeps going until someone hits the All Play to Win stop sign, in which that player must win one final All Play, in which everyone participates, in order to win. If not, they go to ring 3 of the zone called Final Cut. There they must answer 3 questions right. If that falls through, then on the next turn they only have to answer 2 questions, and if they fail that as well, they answer 1 question on every following turn. If a Final Cut challenge is won, then they win the game, and they get to watch a victory scene on the DVD.
There are various versions of Scene It? and my family has collected a bunch of them over the years. My personal favorites are Disney and Friends. Both I’ve played on multiple family game nights.
Clue is a murder mystery game for three to six players that was devised in 1943 by Anthony E. Pratt from Birmingham, England. The game was first manufactured by Waddingtons in the UK in 1949. Since then, it has been relaunched and updated several times, and it is currently owned and published by the American game and toy company Hasbro.
The object of the game is to determine who murdered the game’s victim, where the crime took place, and which weapon was used. Each player assumes the role of one of the six suspects and attempts to deduce the correct answer by strategically moving around a game board representing the rooms of a mansion and collecting clues about the circumstances of the murder from the other players.
Numerous games, books, a film, television series, and a musical have been released as part of the Clue franchise. Several spinoffs have been released featuring various extra characters, weapons, and rooms, or different gameplay. The original game is marketed as the “Classic Detective Game”, and the various spinoffs are all distinguished by different slogans.
The game consists of a board that shows the rooms, corridors, and secret-passages of an English country house called Tudor Mansion (named Tudor Close, Tudor Hall, Arlington Grange, Boddy Manor or Boddy Mansion in some editions) in Hampshire, England in 1926. The game box also includes several colored playing pieces to represent characters, miniature murder weapon props, two six-sided dice, three sets of cards (describing the aforementioned rooms, characters or weapons), Solution Cards envelope to contain one card from each set of cards, and a Detective’s Notes pad on which are printed lists of rooms, weapons, and characters, so players can keep detailed notes during the game.
At the beginning of the play, three cards—one suspect, one room, and one weapon—are chosen at random and put into a special envelope, so that no one can see them. These cards represent the facts of the case. The remainder of the cards is distributed among the players.
Players are instructed to assume the token/suspect nearest them. In older versions, play begins with Miss Scarlett and proceeds clockwise. In modern versions, all players roll the die/dice and the highest total starts the game, with play proceeding clockwise. Players roll the die/dice and move along the board’s corridor spaces, or into the rooms accordingly.
If you haven’t played the game then you’ll have no problem picking it up, making it a perfect game for your family game night.
Here’s the catch, all your opponents have to do is disagree with you. They can offer an explanation why but if you’re playing a group of super competitive people or just one person who is a bit self-centered then the game can get drawn out as you try to figure the Holy Trinity of Who, What, and Where. If playing with newbies or children the game can go a lot quicker as they often reveal a little too much when disagreeing with you.
Candy Land (also Candyland) is a simple racing board game currently published by Hasbro. The game requires no reading and minimal counting skills, making it suitable for young children and a great choice for your family game night. Due to the design of the game, there is no strategy involved: players are never required to make choices, just follow directions. The winner is predetermined by the shuffle of the cards. A perennial favorite, the game sells about one million copies per year.
The race is woven around a storyline about finding King Kandy, the lost king of Candy Land. The board consists of a winding, linear track made of 134 spaces, most red, green, blue, yellow, orange, or purple. The remaining pink spaces are named locations such as Candy Cane Forest and Gumdrop Mountain, or characters such as Queen Frostine and Gramma Nutt.
Players take turns removing the top card from a stack, most of which show one of six colors and then moving their marker ahead to the next space of that color. Some cards have two marks of color, in which case the player moves the marker ahead to the second-next space of that color. The deck has one card for each named location, and drawing such a card moves a player directly to that board location. This move can be either forward or backward in the classic game; backward moves can be ignored for younger players in the 2004 version of the game.
Prior to the 2006 edition, the board had three colored spaces marked with a dot. Two of these spaces were designated as “cherry pitfalls” and the other was situated in Molasses Swamp. A player who lands on such a space is stuck (all cards are ignored until a card is drawn of the same color as the square). In the 2006 version, dot spaces were replaced with licorice spaces that prompt the player landing on it to simply lose the next turn.
The game is won by landing on or passing the final square and thus reaching the goal of the Candy Castle. The official rules specify that any card that would cause the player to advance past the last square wins the game, but many play so that one must land exactly on the last square to win. The 2004 version changed the last space from a violet square to a rainbow space, meaning it applies to any color drawn by a player, thus resolving any dispute about exactly who wins the family game night.
Pictionary is a charades-inspired word-guessing game invented by Robert Angel with graphic design by Gary Everson and first published in 1985 by Angel Games Inc. Hasbro purchased the rights in 1994 after acquiring the games business of Western Publishing before eventually selling the rights to Mattel. The game is played in teams with players trying to identify specific words from their teammates.
Each team moves a piece on a game board formed by a sequence of squares. Each square has a letter or shape identifying the type of picture to be drawn on it. The objective is to be the first team to reach the last space on the board. To achieve this a player must guess the word or phrase being drawn by their partner, or if the player lands on an “all play” square, one player from each team attempts to illustrate the same concept simultaneously, with the two teams racing to guess first. The first player to land and guess correctly at the finish wins.
The team chooses one person to begin drawing; this position rotates with each word. The drawer chooses a card out of a deck of special Pictionary cards and tries to draw pictures that suggest the word printed on the card. The pictures cannot contain any numbers or letters, nor can the drawers use spoken clues about the subjects they are drawing. The teammates try to guess the word the drawing is intended to represent.
There are five types of squares on the board, and each Pictionary card has a list of five words printed on it. Players must then draw the word which corresponds to the square on the board on which the team’s marker is:
P – Person/Place/Animal
O – Object
A – Action
D – Difficult (Words More Difficult to Represent on Drawings)
AP – All Play
AP category (and a random selection of check-marked words in other categories) are designated as “All Play”. For “All Play,” the teams compete against each other. Each team designates a player whose purpose will be to draw pictures. The team that guesses the word first gets to advance and take the next turn. If none of the teams guess the word, the turn passes to whichever team should have been next. One may not point or gesture to an object
A one-minute timer, usually a sand timer, is used to compel players to rapidly complete their drawing and guessing.
No great drawing talent is required; instead, players gain an edge if they have a good imagination when guessing, empathy for their teammates, and/or a general ability to communicate in restricted circumstances. A board is provided, just to keep score on, which focuses on the competition. Pictionary was a big hit when it first appeared and has been a classic on the party game scene ever since, making it an excellent choice for family game night.
Sorry! is marketed for two to four players, ages 6 and up. The game title comes from the many ways in which a player can negate the progress of another while issuing an apologetic “Sorry!”
Players move their three or four pieces around the board, attempting to get all of their pieces “home” before any other player.
The objective is to be the first player to get all four of their colored pawns from their start space, around the board to their “home” space. The pawns are normally moved in a clockwise direction but can be moved backward if directed. The movement of pawns is directed by the drawing of a card.
The board game is laid out in a square with 16 spaces per side, with each player assigned their own colored Start location and Home locations offset towards the center, one per side. Four five-square paths, one per color, lead from the common outer path towards a player’s Home and are designated their “Safety Zone”. On each side are two “Slides”, grouping four or five spaces each.
Older versions of Sorry! contain a colored “diamond space” directly one space back from each start square; a pawn of the diamond’s color may not move forward over this square. Instead, a pawn of that color must diverge from the outer space square towards their “Home”. The diamond space and corresponding rule were removed from subsequent editions.
Each player chooses four pawns of one color and places them in their Start. One player is selected to play first.
Each player, in turn, draws one card from the deck and follows its instructions. To begin the game, all of a player’s four pawns are restricted to Start; a player can only move them out onto the rest of the board if he or she draws a 1 or 2 card. A 1 or a 2 places a pawn on the space directly outside of start (a 2 does not entitle the pawn to move a second space).
A pawn can jump over any other pawn during its move. However, two pawns cannot occupy the same square; a pawn that lands on a square occupied by another player’s pawn “bumps” that pawn back to its own Start. Players can not bump their own pawns back to Start; if the only way to complete a move would result in a player bumping their own pawn, the player’s pawns remain in place and the player loses their turn.
If a pawn lands at the start of a slide (except those of its own color), either by direct movement or as the result of a switch from an 11 card or a Sorry card, it immediately “slides” to the last square of the slide. All pawns on all spaces of the slide (including those belonging to the sliding player) are sent back to their respective Starts.
The last five squares before each player’s Home are “Safety Zones”, and are specially colored corresponding to the colors of the Homes they lead to. Access is limited to pawns of the same color. Pawns inside the Safety Zones are immune to being bumped by opponents’ pawns or being switched with opponents’ pawns via 11 or Sorry! cards. However, if a pawn is forced via a 10 or 4 card to move backward out of the Safety Zone, it is no longer considered “dangerous” and maybe bumped by or switched with opponents’ pawns as usual until it re-enters the Safety Zone.
Players who have a pawn that has not moved too far away from its starting piece, and draw a card that allows them to move a pawn backward, can (and should) elect to move this pawn backward. Move a pawn in such a situation backward enough, and the pawn is suddenly almost home.
The 7 can be split; it is often possible that one of the pieces ends up on a slide, thus increasing the value of this card. It also provides an additional opportunity for pawns to get Home, so long as there’s another pawn on the board to use up the remaining spaces.
All other things being equal, moves that cause a pawn to end up in front of an opponent’s start square are poor choices, due to the high number of cards that allow that opponent to enter. Some feel that leaving a pawn on one’s own square just outside “Start” (also known as the “Dot”) is a poor position to be in since new pawns are blocked from entering play.
There are numerous strategies and tactics employed by skilled players. One such strategy is to leave the last pawn in the “Start” square and move the other pawns around the board while waiting for a “Sorry” card.
Due to the 11 (switching places), 4 (moving backward, as noted above), and “Sorry” (allowing the player to send virtually any pawn back to its start) cards, the lead in the game can change dramatically in a short amount of time; players are very rarely so far behind as to be completely out of the game. This should be considered when playing a “Sorry” or an 11.
Slowing the game down is a risky yet effective move when given the opportunity. Essentially, when a player has the chance to switch with or hit the apparent leader, even though the move will not be to the player’s immediate advancement around the board, the movie should be made to keep the leader out of “Safety” and more importantly, out of “Home”.
All these instructions will be found in the manual and it may appear intimidating, but it’s very easy to pick up if you haven’t played before or haven’t played in years. Trust me. It’s the perfect choice for a family game night together.
Scrabble is a word game in which two to four players score points by placing tiles, each bearing a single letter, onto a game board divided into a 15×15 grid of squares. The tiles must form words that, in crossword fashion, read left to right in rows or downward in columns, and be included in a standard dictionary or lexicon.
The board is marked with “premium” squares, which multiply the number of points awarded: eight dark red “triple-word” squares, seventeen pale red “double-word” squares, of which one, the center square (H8), is marked with a star or other symbol; twelve dark blue “triple-letter” squares, and twenty-four pale blue “double-letter” squares. In 2008, Hasbro changed the colors of the premium squares to orange for TW, red for DW, blue for DL, and green for TL, but the original premium square color scheme is still preferred for Scrabble boards used in tournaments.
In an English-language set, the game contains 100 tiles, 98 of which are marked with a letter and a point value ranging from 1 to 10. The number of points for each lettered tile is based on the letter’s frequency in standard English; commonly used letters such as vowels are worth one point, while less common letters score higher, with Q and Z each worth 10 points. The game also has two blank tiles that are unmarked and carry no point value. The blank tiles can be used as substitutes for any letter; once laid on the board, however, the choice is fixed. Other language sets use different letter set distributions with different point values.
Tiles are usually made of wood or plastic and are 19 by 19 millimeters (0.75 in × 0.75 in) square and 4 mm (0.16 in) thick, making them slightly smaller than the squares on the board. Only the rosewood tiles of the deluxe edition vary in width up to 2 mm (0.08 in) for different letters.
Traveling versions of the game often have smaller tiles (e.g. 13 mm × 13 mm (0.51 in × 0.51 in)); sometimes they are magnetic to keep them in place. The capital letter is printed in black at the center of the tile face and the letter’s point value printed in a smaller font at the bottom right corner. Most modern replacement tile sets come at .700″ X .800″.
S is one of the most versatile tiles in English-language Scrabble because it can be appended to many words to pluralize them (or in the case of most verbs, convert them to the third person singular present tense, as in the word PLUMMETS); Alfred Butts included only four S tiles to avoid making the game “too easy”. Q is considered the most troublesome letter, as almost all words with it also contain U; a similar problem occurs in other languages like French, Dutch, Italian, and German. J is also difficult to play due to its low frequency and a scarcity of words having it at the end. C and V may be troublesome in the endgame, since no two-letter words with them exist, save for CH in the Collins Scrabble Words lexicon.
In the notation system common in tournament play, columns are labeled with the letters “A–O” and rows with the numbers “1–15”. (On Scrabble boards manufactured by Mattel as well as on the Internet Scrabble Club, rows are lettered while columns are numbered instead.) A play is usually identified in the format XY WORD score or WORD by score, where x denotes the column or row on which the play’s main word extends, y denotes the second coordinate of the main word’s first letter, and WORD is the main word. Although it is unnecessary, additional words formed by the play are sometimes listed after the main word and a slash. When the play of a single tile forms words in each direction, one of the words is arbitrarily chosen to serve as the main word for purposes of notation.
When a blank tile is employed in the main word, the letter it has been chosen to represent is indicated with a lower case letter, or, in handwritten notation, with a square around the letter. When annotating a play, previously existing letters on the board are usually enclosed in parentheses.
Don’t play this with an English major, they will kick your butt before you realize what happened. If you are an English major, since it’s a family game night, go easy on your family.
10. Disney’s Villainous
I saved this one for last because it’s meant for more older demographic and is a bit more challenging to understand the first time you play on family game night (or any occasion).
In Villainous, each player takes control of one of six Disney characters, each one a villain in a different Disney movie. Each player has their own villain deck, fate deck, player board, and 3D character.
On a turn, the active player moves their character to a different location on their player board, takes one or more of the actions visible on that space (often by playing cards from their hand), then refills their hand to four cards. Cards are allies, items, effects, conditions, and (for some characters) curses. You need to use your cards to fulfill your unique win condition.
One of the actions allows you to choose another player, draw two cards from that player’s fate deck, then play one of them on that player’s board, covering two of the four action spaces on one of that player’s locations. The fate deck contains heroes, items, and effects from that villain’s movie, and these cards allow other players to mess with that particular villain.
If the instructions are hard to follow, there are multiple videos online about how to play. But once you start, you’ll be hooked on playing every game night.
The Disney Villainous board game puts you in command of the company’s most evil – and interesting – characters. It becomes a melting pot of ‘what if’ scenarios as a result. What if Jafar was able to claim the Genie’s lamp before Aladdin ran off with it? What if Maleficent took her revenge against the kingdom after all, or Captain Hook defeated Peter Pan? Although it’s fair to worry that this would make the game depressing, that’s not the case. Classic heroes like Ariel or Robin Hood will be doing their best to foil your efforts, and they’re really annoying – making it easy to see things from the baddie’s perspective. Particularly when your opponents keep siccing goody-two-shoes on you with gleeful abandon.
You see, villains aren’t known for their generous disposition. With that in mind, Villainous has you scuppering everyone else’s plans to make sure you can achieve your goal first. That means dropping various do-gooders onto their board in order to foil their efforts. Drawing a hero from your opponent’s deck allows you to place them anywhere you like, blocking potential moves and being a general nuisance (especially when you can only defeat them with a well-placed ally). This helps Villainous stand out from the crowd – it’s a game that revels in being just a little bit mean.
There are six villains to choose from in the base game – Maleficent, Ursula, Prince John, Jafar, Captain Hook, and the Queen of Hearts. Getting them their way requires you to scheme through beloved Disney films, and each character’s objectives and abilities are different. More specifically, they’re rooted in the villain’s unique personality. As an example, Ursula wants Triton’s Trident and Crown but can only hold onto them by banishing foes with binding contracts. At the same time, the Queen of Hearts is able to ‘shrink’ her enemies. This demonstrates thoughtful attention to detail that defines Villainous. It adds replay value, too; each character offers a different experience.
The same can be said of a baddie’s arch-nemesis. Their heroic counterparts are specifically designed to counteract their playstyle. For instance, the greedy Prince John must gather 20 power tokens to win. Unfortunately, his hero deck is full to bursting with handicaps that’ll take power tokens away. This leads to a clever tug of war between players that can swiftly turn the tables. Is your opponent getting close to winning? Drop Robin Hood on their board to throw a spanner in the works.
Those boards are beautiful, by the way. Key scenes have been recreated in a painterly style with love and care, and no expense has been spared on the artwork. Meanwhile, its cards go above and beyond with lavish, character-specific decoration. Even the backs feature eye-catching patterns. You might end up distracted on your family game night.
The movers are Villainous’ piece de resistance, though. These are substantial yet abstract 3D figurines that capture the essence of each character in an understated, classy way. It’s a premium touch for a game that isn’t actually very expensive.
That’s a good summary of Villainous; it’s so much better than you could have ever expected. Yes, it’s complicated. It’s also the opposite of the best cooperative board games – the whole point is to screw each other over. Yet this is why the game works. It has enough depth and spice to keep you playing on family game nights for months, to say nothing of all those Disney Villainous expansions.