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Holiday Board Game Guide: how to make the most of gaming

With Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s coming up, the board gamer will undoubtedly want to have at least a couple board gaming sessions.  However, usually the avid board gamer will face a challenge during the holidays: being with people who don’t game as much or a large age range.

Because of this, I suggest having a few different types of board game nights over the holidays.

Family Party Gaming

-Games to be played on Thanksgiving or Christmas with large groups

-Games that work well with a bigger age range

-Games that are either short or people can walk away from table when not their turn

Game Suggestions

The Great Dalmuti or Clubs: These trick taking card games are perfect for large groups. There are short enough rounds that people can get up and get food, drinks in between.  Also, children familiar with gaming should be able to play at a younger age, probably 7 or 8 years.

BANG! I am very excited to introduce this Western themed card game to my family this year at Thanksgiving.  Can play 4-7 players and is a fun shoot em up secret roles game.  Can the outlaws take out the Sheriff before the Deputy takes them out?  Differing from The Resistance, people have more information to who is who and you can fight back!  I would guess kids 8 and up would have no problem with this game.

Bang, you're dead.

Bang, you’re dead.

Snake Oil: In similar fashion to Apples to Apples, Snake Oil requires a judge to choose their favorite marketing idea.  The judge gets a role, let’s say an Astronaut, and everyone else choose two cards to create their item they will sell.  The players then try to convince the judge which item is the best.  The judge then chooses and the player who wins gets points.  It requires more creativity than Apples to Apples, and kids of all ages love it.  For those non-reading kiddos, they will just need a partner.

Intro to Strategy Games

-For older players, 10 and up

-Mid size games (up to 5-6) which require some strategy and planning

-Games that will require more focus, less time to get up for food/snacks

Game Suggestions

Compounded: Better Gaming Through Chemistry: This kickstarter game is perfect for newer gamers but still challenging enough for the veterans.  Through four phases of the game, players pick, trade and place elements (gems) to form chemical compounds for victory points.  For 2-5 players and quick enough to get in a couple games in an evening.

Better Gaming Through Chemistry

Better Gaming Through Chemistry

RA- This Reiner Knizia game is excellent for gamers who love to challenge others in a bidding war for tiles that come out.  These tiles turn into victory points, choose wisely and don’t pay too much or you’ll have little to barter with in the later rounds.  This is 2-6 players.

Small World- For those that like the classic game Risk, Small World is a fantastic alternative.  Fairly easy to explain, players choose a power/race from five to choose from.  These races and powers allow for bonus points for various reasons, such as attacking other players or being on a swamp for forest.  Great for people who love attack/defend games but don’t like the aspect of being booted out of the game like in Risk.  2-5 player.

Avid Gamer Night

-For specific game night holiday sessions with avid gamers

-Longer games and rules

-Great focus required, have snacks/drinks on hand for maximum playing efficiency.

Game Suggestions

Battlestar Galactica- For serious gamers who want to put against the secret (and later revealed) Cylons on the Battlestar. Usually taking 2-3 hours, this game is for those serious gamers who set aside a whole day or evening for gaming.  Be prepared for accusations and arguments on who is a Cylon, and who is loyal.

Lords of Waterdeep (with expansions) This 2-6 player (expansion adds 6th player option) resource game can take up to 2 hours, and some serious resource/placing management.  Place agents on spaces to gain resources, money, and Intrigue and use them to finish quests and gain victory points.  The Scoundrels of Skullport expansion adds chance to pick up skulls (negative points) for quick rewards.

Relic Runners- The newest game from Days of Wonder (2-5 player), is a route placing/relic collecting game where pre-knowledge of the game gives a huge advantage to new players.  Be prepared to play at least two games to allow new players to grasp the strategy.  While this game doesn’t top Ticket to Ride or Small World, it does require some spatial reasoning and careful planning in order to gain the most points.

Collect them all!

Collect them all!

While there are many more games that could be listed in all three categories, picking the right ones for your family requires research and hours of gaming before the holidays begin.  Have fun!