Originally posted to www.hoopcatgames.blogspot.com
A good game can be a great Christmas present that gives your family hours of face-to-face time around the table throughout the years. Sadly, many better-known stores tend to stock lots of mediocre games that will only be played once or twice before being put on the shelf to never come down again. So here is my family’s list of FUN games – games that children and parents alike will keep asking to play throughout the year. Some of these games have made their way to the shelves of national chains. Others you may have to order online or find in a specialty game store. Games are like movies or books – I’d rather have two good ones then ten bad ones. So in no particular order, here is our family’s list:
Incan Gold - Explore an ancient ruin and try to earn the most treasure in
this push your luck game. Every turn you decide whether to turn around and keep your loot, or keep going to try to earn more. But if you are still in the ruin when two matching hazard cards are revealed, you lose all your treasure from that round. (3-8 Players, 20-40 Minutes, Ages 8 and up)
Gravwell – Pilot your spaceship around a spiral path to be the first to escape the gravity well. Every turn you choose a card that will move you a number of spaces either towards or away from the nearest other ship. However which ship is closest is constantly changing as other players move. So if when you choose the wrong card to play, you’ll send yourself in the wrong direction. This game is easy to learn, yet hard to master.
2014 Mensa Select Game
(2-4 Players, 20-35 Minutes, Ages 15 and up, although in our family's opinion 12-year olds have no problems learning this game)
Monopoly Millionaire Deal – Unlike its namesake, this is a quick card game. The cards are a mix of cash, properties, actions to either make others pay you rent or take other players’ cash or properties. Gather a
million dollars’ worth of cash cards to win. Watch out, the tide can turn quickly in this fast-paced game.
(2-5 Players, 10-20 Minutes, Ages 8 and up)
Fill The Barn- Play your cards to plant & harvest crops to earn the most money. Except the barn is not big enough to store all the crops, so make sure you harvest before your opponents. Use droughts to prevent harvests, junk to fill valuable barn slots, or mice to eat a harvest and make more room for your harvest. (Full disclosure, this game is one of my creations).
(2-6 Players, 30-40 minutes, Ages 8 and up)
Ticket to Ride – Connect railroad routes across a map of the U.S. and Canada.
It’s fun watching your railroad spread, just beware that your opponents
don’t spread first onto tracks that you need to complete your routes.
2004 Spiel des Jahres winner
(2-5 Players, 60 Minutes, Ages 8 and up)
Forbidden Island and/or Forbidden Desert – These are both cooperative games where players work together rather than compete against each other. In Forbidden Island the challenge is to gather the cards to retrieve treasures from an island before it sinks beneath the waves. In the sequel Forbidden Desert, you must find the parts to assemble a flying machine before they are buried by the desert sands while keeping all members of your party properly hydrated. Forbidden Island is the easier of the two challenges.
(2-5 Players, 30-45 Minutes, Ages 10 and up)
Qwirkle – This is very simple game with very simple rules, yet still has
strategic depth. Make lines of tiles that share either the same color or
same shape. Six in a row is called a Qwirkle and earns extra points.
2011 Spiel des Jahres Winner
(2-4 Players, 30-45 Minutes, Ages 6 and up)
For Sale – This quick property flipping auction game plays in two rounds.
During the first round, players bid on different-valued properties. Beware opponents who drive up the bid and then pull out and stick you to overpay. The properties bought during the first round are sold off during the second round, with players jockeying to secure the best offer prices available. The winner is whoever has the most money when the dust clears.
(3-6 Players, 20-30 Minutes, Ages 8and up)
For other great gift ideas, we highly recommend Casual Game Revolution’s list of recommended casual games. While I have not played every game on this list, I can tell you that I have never bought a game from this list that turned out to be a dud. There are a few dud games I have bought for my family, and those mistakes could have been avoided had I checked the CGR recommended list first. My final word of advice: a $25-$40 game that is played over and over again is a far better deal than a $8 game you only play twice.