Fed up of Family Game Fight?
Tired of Monopoly? You’re not alone! Luckily there are a ton of great board, card and party games that are inexpensive, quick to play and far more enjoyable than the ‘classics’.
As a board game cafe owner, I always recieve the same question at Christmas: What games are good to play with family and friends, or, what can I play with my family that won’t result in a massive argument?
Of course this depends a lot on who you are spending Christmas with! These are games all easy to learn, quick to play and most of them are designed for all ages, (so we’ve missed out games like Card Aginst Humanity!) We’ve also given each game a conflict rating, which should give a little help in deciding if it’s right for your family.
Linkee is a quiz game which is a bit different to a lot of the standard quiz games. You’ll be answering general knowledge questions either alone or in a team, but the main goal isn’t actually answering those questions - it’s working out what links all the answers together. As you win rounds, you’ll collect the letters ‘LINKEE’, and the first team to get all of them wins the game. There’s a regular and a junior version - the junior version is still fine for adults.
Plays in: Under 30 Mins. Time to learn: Less than 2 minutes. Ages: Everyone can get involved but little ones might need a bit of extra help! How many Players: Pretty much unlimited with teams Conflict: Very low. There’s a mechanic that lets you ‘steal’ letters but you don’t have to use it.
Cash n’ Guns
In Cash n’ Guns you play as a gangster who has just pulled off the heist of a life time along with your other players. The loot is plentiful, with priceless paintings, diamonds, and copious wads of cash. Naturally you want as much of this loot as you can carry, but the problem is; as does everyone else. Each of you has a foam gun and the option to shoot the rest of the players and get their share of the goodies, but you can also pretend to shoot them and actually just fire an empty chamber. The theme and guns are cartoon in nature, and the props make it engaging for kids as well as adults.
Plays in: 30 minutes. Time to learn: 10 minutes. Ages: 8+. How many Players? 4-8 Conflict: Medium - Players can get eliminated from the game, but unlike Monopoly they won’t have to wait an hour to play again.
In Spyfall you and your friends or family are each dealt a card with a job on it and the place where you work. For example, you all get told you work at a hospital, but each individual may play as a janitor, a doctor or a security guard. To win the game, everyone must work out who the spy is by asking questions about the place of work that only the truly employed could answer, but without being too obvious since if the spy guesses where everyone else is - they win the game.
Plays in: 15 minutes. Time to Learn: 10 minutes Ages: Best suited to 12+ How many Players? 3-8. Conflict: Medium, and because you need to bluff, you’ll need to make sure everyone in your group is ok with lying.
In Dixit, every round one player will pick a picture card from their hand and provide players with a clue. All the other players then choose a card from their hand which best matches that clue. Players then have to secretly guess which card is the storytellers, but if too many people guess correctly, the storyteller loses the round, so this is a game about trying to give clues without being too obvious. This slightly more celeberal game is all about creativity and imagination; it's is sure to get everyone thinking!
Plays in: 30 minutes. Time to Learn: 10 minutes. Ages: 6+ (with a little help) How many Players? 3-6. Conflict: Very low
Ticket to Ride
While this is one of the more complicated games on the list, it still actually has less rules than a game like Monopoly, while also having some big advantages: Nobody gets eliminated, and nobody has to take anyone else's money, so there’s far less conflict and arguments generated. There’s also lots more strategy, as you try to earn points by placing trains across a map of America, trying to complete routes and hopefully not getting blocked by other players.
Plays in: 60 mintues. Time to learn: 15-20 Ages: 8+ How many Players? 2-5 Conflict: Low - some routes will get blocked off in larger games, but it never feels agressive.
In Timeline, players will try to place different historical events in a group timeline, trying to make sure they place an event at the right point in history. There are so many different timeline games you can choose your favourite, including some that are all about fictional universes, like Star Wars. It’s a quick game with only a few rules, but it’s really fun to play and suprisingly engaging for a game about history!
Plays in: 10 minutes. Time to Learn: 1 minute. Ages: 8+ How many Players: 2-8 Conflict: Very low
Penguins are loose in the school, in this ‘flicking game’. Yes, you really do flick the little wooden penguins about the box. Contained in the box are six different 3D rooms and the idea is that you are either a penguin who wants to get through the doors to obtain his delicious fish or you are the catcher penguin trying to stop the other penguins! This is a great kids game that is still fun for adults, has minimal rules and plays in minutes.
Plays in: 20 minutes. Time to Learn: less than 5 minutes. Ages: 4+ How many Players? 2-4 Conflict: Very low
Beasts of Balance
This is a little different from the other games on this list, as it is an app enabled game that you’ll need a tablet or phone to play. You are trying to build a world of wonderful and bizarre animals by physically stacking them on a bluetooth activated platform. Imagine a game like Jenga, but with a variety of different animals rather than simple wooden blocks. As you place them on the plinth they activate in your app. Your job is to try and keep everyone happy and score as many points as possible.
Plays in: 20 Minutes. Time to Learn: 5 minutes Ages: 5+ How many Players? 1-5 Conflict: Very low
Another ‘stacking’ game with a much more casual price point than Beasts. You build a tall house using the wall cards, which stack on top of one another. Inside there is also a daring Rhino who is scaling the homes checking for burglars and rogues. He is tricky to balance once the house gets quite a few levels high. Eventually everything collapses, but unlike in a game of Jenga, you don’t to spend twenty minutes building the blocks to play again.
Plays in: 5 minutes Time to Learn: less than a minute Ages: 5+ How many players? 2-5 (But everyone can join in) Conflict Very low
Dobble plays like a more advanced (and far more enjoyable) version of Snap. There are 55 cards, with 50 different symbols on them. Each card has just one matching symbol to another. The game includes several different ways to play, from a standard snap mode to a mode where you’re battling to give other players your cards.
Plays in: 10 minutes, Time to Learn: 2 Minutes. Ages: 5+ How many players? 2-8 Conflict: Depending on the game mode you play, Dobble can vary from being low to medium in conflict, but games are short and it’s always good fun.
This is a team based game with a few different versions available. In each game a grid of words are laid out and a ‘spymaster’ in each team will try to help the rest of their team guess which words they want them to pick up without being too obvious. Codenames involves a bit of word association, some sly strategy and lots of entertainment.
Plays in: 15 minutes. Time to Learn: 10 minutes Ages: 10+ How many players: 2-8+ Conflict: Low
Hopefully these games will allows for a lot more fun Board Gaming at Christmas. Let us know if there are any other games you think are great for Christmas, or even ones we should avoid!