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Linda Wrobel

It is a perpetual challenge to find a game that can be played with a small or large player count. Skyjo fits the niche of being played with up to eight players without being a party game. It is the first game from Magilano. I happened upon this game listening to a podcast about board games. Most of the games the discussed were heavier weight game, and then one mentioned Skyjo. It sounded perfect for my family, so I found it online. It was an instant hit!

Skyjo is a set collection card game for two to eight players were your goal is to get the least amount of points per around.   The recommended age is for eight and up. The game does scale down especially once children can understand the negative cards by relating them to take away. Unknown cards in front of each player and fifteen different cards that can be revealed, gives Skyjo just enough suspense to provide just a bit of tension in the game.

Game Components

  • 150 Playing Cards
  • Score pad


Players receive twelve cards face down at the beginning of the round they reveal two cards. On their turn a player can either draw a revealed card from the discard pile, or they can take a card from the draw pile. If a player selects a revealed card from the discard pile, they must use it either for one of their face up cards or flip over a card and use it there. Should they choose an unknown card from the draw pile, then players can either substituted for a visible card or flip a card as well.

The round ends when one player has revealed all twelve of their cards. One final turn occurs for the remaining players. Finally, players reveal their remaining cards and calculate points. There is a risk to ending the round, because that player must have the lowest score or their points are doubled.

Additional rounds are played until one player meets or exceeds 100 points. The player with the lowest score wins the game. There is one special condition in the game. If a player has three cards in a row a vertical row that are the same number they may remove the entire column.

Family Game Assessment

Skyjo is a great addition to any game collection. It supports of wide range of players and scales well at all player counts. Being able to support up to eight players is a huge asset. It is challenging to find a game, which is not a party game, that supports such a high player count. Skyjo’s rules are simple and easy to learn. It fits a casual gaming and multi generational gaming setting.
  Once they are familiar with the gameplay, young gamers could play independently.  Skyjo comes in a small box that is easily packable and portable, and can be brought pretty much anywhere. Players need a larger play space because each player has a three by four grid of cards in front of them. So it doesn’t make a good restaurant game or small space game.

Final Thoughts

Skyjo is a must for a family game collection. It is small, inexpensive, simple and easy.  As a bonus it also supports a wide range of player counts, making  perfect for family gatherings.

Buy Skyjo here on Amazon!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!

Social Deduction is a mechanic found in both video games and board games. In a Social Deduction game, players have a hidden roll and/or objective and typically a person who betrays the other players. The other players try to deduce the roll of their opponents based in the choices and actions they take. In many Social Deduction games player roles are secretly assigned. Depending on their role, player may have a different win condition or objective.

These games often call for players to lie, be deceitful, and try and undermine the other players, which can be challenging for some, and especially for younger players.

Social Deduction games, especially with hidden traitors, often have themes suited for older kids and adults. The target audience typically included teens and up across both board and video games.

Board Game Example

Human Era, players are randomly and secretly assigned the role of crew members in the last time machine. Players need to save space and time from the chaos created by human time travel. However, there is a problem, some crew members are machines or cyborgs (half humans-half machines) who have their own agenda.

Other Board Game Examples

  • Shadows Over Camelot
  • Hand to Hand Wombat
  • Betrayal at House on the Hill

Video Game Example

Among Us is a popular online app and Steam game. Players are on a spaceship and there is at least one imposer, who is an alien. Players have to figure out the impostors, before the impostors kill too many humans. The humans try to decide who is a alien and throw them out of the ship.

Thinking critically about the games our kids play and the way that our kids play them provides great insight. It is also a great way to connect with them. You’ll understand the games they enjoy better. You might even enjoy them a little better too!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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As a parent I groan a little when the summer reading, summer math, packets, etc. come home. We all know kids work so hard for academic gains during the school year. The break for the summer is a great mental reprieve for kids, and for families, but those school year gains are hard to hold onto. No one wants to see those hard acquired skills fade over the summer months.

So as an elementary teacher of over 20 years, here is the inside information from the teacher side of summer assignments. Much as we main groan when they come home in the folder, those summer assignments and online resources are an attempt to mitigate the “summer slide”. Summer slide is the loss of skills acquired during the previous school year. It is the almost inevitable regression that all teachers face in the beginning of a new school year. Some skills that students showed they had mastered in the previous school year are forgotten and require reteaching. The summer work is the teacher’s last resource to supporting the skills over the summer to minimize this loss.

Besides supporting your child with the material sent home by their teacher and school, board games can help with some incidental learning and skill reinforcement. The nice thing with using board games for skill reinforcement is that it does not feel like work to the kids. Choosing games that support, or extend the skills they have been working on are a great asset for families!

There are a few key things to help guide the selections of board games to bring to the table.

1. Keep is easy

If the game or skill is too hard your child will get frustrated. This is a case of less can be more. As a parent or caregiver the goal is reinforcing skills, not new learning. I know we all want to push our kids to do even better. If you want to reinforce a skill, repeated practice is needed, and if a skill is very challenging it is a lot more work for the child. Most kids are not going to be engaged in a game and want to play it multiple times if it is very challenging.

While too hard is frustrating for kids there is a certain amount of struggle that is beneficial, and this is called Productive Struggle. This productive struggle is the delicate balance of challenge but no so much challenge as to create frustration. On example may be for a beginning reader who just finished kindergarten. They can read simple words, especially ones that are easy to sound out. If there is a game with some reading, it might be frustrating to have to read all the words on a card, but just asking for reading the ones within their skill level will prevent frustration, and put them in the band of productive struggle.

2. High interest

Fun fact, kids have been known to read a book a level or two harder than what they normally can read, if it is a high interest subject. If the game is high interest there is more motivation to persevere through any reading challenges. Additionally if the topic is something that they have a lot of knowledge it makes the material much more approachable and accessible.

This high interest pushing the level happened with my younger son. In second grade he was a struggling and reluctant reader. We played What do you Meme Family Edition, he was so excited to read the silly cards, he took his time and read each card in his hand carefully. This careful reading leads into the the next tip…

3. Wait time

If a child is playing a game with a skill they are not fully proficient in, all players need to allow for wait time (thinking time). Wait time allows the child time for processing the task and mentally work it out. I have to be honest, this can be the hardest thing to do, just biting you tongue while they have their productive struggle.

Wait time is the most valuable time for developing their skills and supporting their previous learning. When my son was reading the What Do You Meme: Family Edition cards, it was tempting to jump in an help him read the words, but that time to go through the decoding process and independent succeed was critical. It did mean the game took a little longer, and it was worth every extra minute.

4. Celebrate their success in the task

We all like to be recognized for accomplishments, and kids flourish with praise. One thing I have found very powerful with my students and my children is to let them know that you understand that they had to work hard and persevere through. Cheering them on and complimenting their hard work is a powerful tool to support them. Rather that saying something like, “You’re so smart” name what they did.

Powerful Phrases to Praise Hard Work

  • Wow, you really worked hard and looked at all the letters part by part.
  • What strategy did you use to find the answer? (Great for math)
  • You didn’t give up!
  • Your really put in a lot of effort

For more ideas on ways to celebrate success, check out 25 Words of Encouragement for Kids to Promote a Growth Mindset

Have fun!

These are intended to be incidental learning experiences that are light and fun. Kids will be much more receptive and eager to play if they find it fun.

Check out some of our articles with specific game recommendations.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you
 find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!

The gaming definition this time around is a term that is applicable to board games, but can also be found in some video games:

Deck Builder

A deck-building game is a card game where players begin with low-value or undesirable cards. Over the course of the game, players curate the cards that are in their deck. As they add new cards, it creates a new individual draw deck to optimize what they draw. Players accomplish this curation by both discarding and/or adding different cards to their personal decks. The ways players can add new cards to their deck varies game to game. Many games have a central field or market which players can select from to acquire more powerful or desirable cards.

The First Deck Builder Game

Dominion by Rio Grande Games is credited with being the first deck-builder game. They also won the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) in 2008. As of the time of this writing, Rio Grande Games has published 15 expansions to Dominion. You can learn more about Domino of the Rio Grande Games site here.

Are Collectible Card Games the Same as a Deck Builder?

A Deck builder card game is different from Collectable card games. In a deck builder all the cards a player will need are included in the game box. Players are trying to improve the cards in their deck over the course of the game. In contrast, Collectable Card Games (CCGs) players work outside the game session to craft a deck by collecting cards often in random sets. Much time, effort and money is used to create a strong deck. Once a game begins the cards in the deck do not change. Some of the most well-known Deck builders are Magic The Gathering and Pokémon.

Examples Of Deck Builder Games:

  • Abandon All Artichokes’
  • Sushi Go
  • Dominion

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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What is better than a board game to make you laugh? The old adage “Laughter is the best medicine” is so true. Life can be stressful and uncertain. Sometimes, the only answer is a good laugh. It is even scientifically proven that laughter has health benefits, such as releasing stress, improving your immune system, and improve your mood. Learn more about the health benefits according to the Mayo Clinic here.

We love light games that are silly and ridiculous. Below is a list of relatively inexpensive games great for the whole family to make you laugh.

Chonky Donkey

Buy Chonky Donkey here on Amazon

Chonky Donkey has taken the party game and transformed the judge into the reader. In Chonky Donkey, just as in many other party games with cards and a judge, players submit a card to a prompt. However, this is where there is a twist, the judge is only a reader. As they read the cards summitted my their fellow players. the reader can not smile or laugh. If the reader smiles or laughs, the player who’s card they were reading gets the prompt card and the point. Should the reader keep a straight face the whole time, the reader keeps the prompt card and they get the point.

Exploding Kittens

Buy Exploding Kittens here on Amazon

Exploding Kittens is one of the silliest games in my collection, and is a family favorite. You can play as many cards as you like and you end your turn by drawing a card. If the card is an exploding kitten and you cannot defuse it you are out of the game. The last person standing wins. That’s it. The game really is that simple. The design is such that you never need to reshuffle the discard pile into the deck. There will always be a winner by the time the cards run out.  Check out the review here.

Not Parent Approved

Buy Not Parent Approved here on Amazon

If you are looking for something to get everyone laughing then check out Not Parent Approved. It is played in the same style as Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, with one player as the judge and the rest of the players trying to provide the best answer to the prompt card. The game has a large range of cards, and for younger players, parents may want to screen the cards for content.

Happy Salmon

Buy Happy Salmon here on Amazon

Happy Salmon is really, really stupid. But, in the best ways. This is a great game for motivating your family to get up, laugh, and shout their way through a game. You can even buy two copies (there are two different color versions) so you can get up to 8 players. That is WILD.

Invasion of the Cow Snatchers

Buy Invasion of the Cow Snatchers here on Amazon

Invasion of the Cow Snatchers is also a single player game with a hilarious theme from Think Fun. In this game players are collecting cows represented by colored disks, and the red bull must be collected last. There are fences of different heights that add challenges to each puzzle.

Shaky Manor

Buy Shaky Manor here on Amazon

Shaky Manor is a game unlike any I have ever played before, where each player is given a tray containing eight square rooms each connected by doorways. Players place an meeple, a ghost, and three treasure chest cubes into the tray. They then shake the tray to try and get the meeple and the cubes into a designated room without the ghost. The first player to do it five times is the winner. The game is noisy, silly, and loads of fun!


Buy Hoagie here on Amazon

Hoagie is a sandwich building game where each player is trying to build the perfect sandwich without any part getting spoiled by three oogies. It has a level of gross that kids and adults will find entertaining.  Hoagie is a light game that can be played with multiple ages all together making it a great game for the whole family. See the review here.

Unstable Unicorns

Unstable Unicorns is a card combat game that features whacky unicorns as you build an army. The art is adorable and gameplay loop as you pass between turns feels very similar to Magic: The Gathering (and I mean that in a good way). We enjoy it every time we play.

Go Nuts for Donuts

Buy Go Nuts For Donuts here on Amazon

Go Nuts for Donuts is a card drafting and set collection game where players are trying to collect the best donuts to eat.  Really, what better topic for a game can you have beside collecting donuts! Player bid on the different donuts available in the donut row. Players bid in secret, and at the end of the bidding players may only collect those donuts where they are the sole bidder. Each kind of the 21 kinds donut ( and two beverages) has either points it gains you, an action you can take immediately upon retrieving the card, or both. The artwork and text on the cards are fun and adorable and sure to make you smile.

What Do You Meme: Family Edition

Buy What Do You Meme?: Family Edition

What Do You Meme is a hilarious game that invites players to create funny memes using a stack of funny pictures straight from the deepest corners of the internet and a huge deck of caption cards. The problem is that the original version of the game is a bit… grown-up for our tastes. The good news for all of us is that there is a bespoke Family edition of the game that replaces the sex and drugs with fart jokes (which just makes it all around better in my opinion). Just look at the box. It’ll all make sense. This is the definitive edition of the game!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!

The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to board games:

Roll and Write/ Flip and Write

In games with a roll/flip and write mechanic, players role dice, or flip over a card(s) and make decisions based on the dice or cards. Typically player have a paper or dry erase record sheet to document their selections. This decision making is distinctive to this genre of games and the record page is typically more complex than just a score sheet. Roll/Flip and write games often involve other players simultaneously when the roll or flip occurs. However, player interaction is not required. Some Roll/Flip and write games also have a solo mode or variant.

Roll and Writes

Roll and Write games involve dice being rolled to provide the choices for the player or player group. The most well known roll and write is Yahtzee, but many more have come onto the market with a range of themes and complexity levels. Roll and Write games typically are small and portable and often have very streamlined rules. In some games players make decisions and participate with every dice roll, such as in Qwwix. Other times decisions are only made on your turn.

Examples of Roll and Write Games

  • Qwwix
  • Bloom
  • That’s Pretty Clever
  • Three Sisters
  • Harvest Dice

Flip and Writes

Flip and Write uses the same premise as when using dice, but utilizes cards instead. In these games there is a deck that is revealed to generate the choices for players. In a game such as Silver and Gold, there are patterns revealed by the cards as they are flipped and players need to mark their personal cards.

Examples of Flip and Write Games

  • Silver and Gold
  • Next Station London
  • Super Mega Lucky Box
  • Explorers

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Château is a brand new roll and write game coming to Kickstarter on February 7, 2023. You can follow the campaign here on Kickstarter.

Château is a quick to learn family game where you take on the role as an architect constructing the blueprint of a stunning château in Europe. Players select a Château and try to be the first to completely fill in all the squares on their boards by utilizing polyomino shapes.

One thing that is important to know, Château is a print and play game. This means that a physical copy is not provided, only the digital file and you are responsible for printing. This is quite important since not everyone has easy access to a color printer.

Recommended Components:

  • Two six sided dice
  • One pencil per player
  • printed Château Board per player

A career as an elementary teacher has prepared me well for a print and play game. I could not resist “teacher-ing” up my copy the game. While the intent is for players to print and mark their Château with pen or pencil, I raided my classroom and used dry erase pockets paired with dry erase markers. This allowed me to reuse the printed boards.

My next step is going to be to laminate the sheets with my personal laminator with heavier thickness laminate to make the boards more durable and again eliminates the need for reprinting.

Roll of 2 or 3

Optional Components/Tools

  • Dry Erase Pockets (find them here on Amazon)
  • white board/ dry erase markers
  • Laminator and laminate sheets
  • Cardstock

Gameplay Overview

  • 1-99 players (you are only limited by the copies printed)
  •  Ages 7+
  • 15 min playtime

Before the first roll of the dice, each player marks five adjacent squares on the player board to their left. Players roll two dice and simultaneously mark their boards to resolve. Each number on the die represents a certain outcome, which the board depicts. The two dice give you two outcomes per roll. Overall the number rolled for 2-5 is the number of adjacent squares you mark. There are some exceptions based on special abilities which vary by Château. (This is explained further below)

Options with roll of 5
  • 1 – Catapult, This is the one roll that results in interacting with another player’s boards. When a one is rolled, it is resolved first, and the players all mark on square on the board of the player to their left. A space containing a hammer may not be marked.
  • 2- A two square polyomino
  • 3 – A three square polyomino
  • 4 or 5 – for most boards you have four and five polyomino shapes respectively and must choose one to use and mark it off, and may not use it again.
  • 6- Item, Items are scattered throughout each Château. When a six is rolled each player selects one items and marks all of the squares off containing that item.


The Château all have hammers, and marking a space with a hammer allows you to mark an additional space. When players mark a hammer they may mark any other square, including another hammer. Thus gaining the ability to mark another additional square. Other players may not mark hammers in the initial five polyomino shape marked nor when a Catapult is played.

Individual Bonuses

Each Château has a unique bonus listed in the upper right hand corner of the board. Players announce their bonuses at the beginning of the game, before the first dice roll.

Château in the Base Game

Base Game and Expansions

In the preview file I received it contains the base game and two expansions. There are five château in the base game The United Kingdom expansion includes three châteaus. The Scandinavian Expansion includes three expansions.

Family Game Assessment

Château grabbed our family and friends right away. We played with mixed ages and still learned the game in just a few minutes, and by the third roll of the dice, the game flowed quickly and easily. Out of pure chance, we had quite a few ones roll. There was laughter and just a little frustration when we once again passed our boards to the right. Inevitably, our plans were thwarted as the opponent marks a square of their choice. The tension certainly built up as we looked around and some people had more complete boards, and we could see them closing in on the win, with the rest of us just a few squares behind. The game was such a hit after the first play that we immediately wiped of the boards, picked new Château and played again.

Game in progress with Chateau in a Dry Erase Pocket

Having actual architecture featured creates a link to geography and history which adds a layer beyond the game. The artwork is beautiful and accentuates each location. With the expansions, the available Châteaus cover a wider geographic range, offering more history to explore outside .

The number of Château is fixed, however, by printing additional copies, the player count in nearly infinite, since players will make unique choices with the placement of polyominoes. The format of all players using the same two dice to make their choices on squares they mark, allows a significant flexibility in player count.

Final Thoughts

Château is a great game for families. The cost is quite reasonable and affordable, and even if you use more premium materials, such as card stock, and lamination. The cost per board for a family size set is low. The rules are so simple, the game takes just minutes to set up and learn, making it accessible and fun for a huge range of players both in age and experience. This is one to watch for the Kickstarter launch and back on day one!

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!

The gaming definition this week is applicable to board games and tabletop role-playing games, the term applies widely beyond gaming:

Analysis Paralysis

The term Analysis Paralysis is common in board games. However, it is applicable in all gaming, and within decision-making in work and life in general. With Analysis Paralysis many choices are available, often too many choices. The decision maker out of anxiety or a fear of making the wrong decision my take excessive time making their decision, or in extreme cases make no decision at all.

In-game settings, the player spends an excessive amount of time considering their options and plotting the implications. This excessive time can often negatively impact other players by extending the game time and forcing long waits between turns. Often players overthink their options. It can be very frustrating for other players in the game when the gameplay time is extended for this reason. These long wait times take away from the game experience of other players. There are multiple ways to address and mitigate some of the decision making which will be discussed below.


The idea of being paralyzed by decision-making is an old one. We can see a reference to it, though not used by name, in Aesop’s fable The Fox and the Cat. The fable tells of a Fox and Cat that each has tricks to escape the hounds. The cat only had one trick and the Fox had “a whole sackful”. Once threatened by the hounds, that cat did its one trick for an escape without hesitation. The Fox meanwhile started and restarted with different tricks and was unable to escape. You can read the full story here. The idea of the fable is that one may have so many options their failure to act on any of them can be detrimental.

The phrase Analysis Paralysis is credited with being paired together in an 1803 pronouncing dictionary. These words became paired for their rhyming, and also for the memorable phrase they created. The concept has long existed but this phrasing captured it in a more concise manner.

Ways Minimize Analysis Paralysis

With Analysis Paralysis being an old problem, there is a classic game that has come up with a solution. In Chess, players can use a Chess Clock. This is a special clock with two clocks so players can track their available time to make their moves.

Strategies to Minimize Analysis Paralysis in Gaming:

  • Timers/chess clock: By limiting time it reduces the negative impact on other players. A timer provides incentives to prevent overanalyzing the choices, as well as a hard stop to analyzing choices.
  • Choose games with limited choices per turn. By starting with fewer choices it reduces the need for a long analysis of choices.
  • Slowly include games that add more choices. Rather than jumping right to a game with many choices, try to increase the game complexity and choices available incrementally to build the habit of a short decision-making time.
  • Perfect decisions are not the key, so building a culture where perfection is not the goal. The culture at a gaming session is critical to the comfort of players overall, but it can play a major factor in decision-making. If a player feels safe to take a risk and not worry about negative comments they may not be so fixated on making the “right” move.
  • Focus on your main objective, if there are multiple. In more complex games there are usually multiple parts of the game and aspects to focus on. When there are many decisions to make, it can be helpful to go back to the main objective to limit the scope of your choices.

Strategies To Minimize Analysis Paralysis Outside of Gaming

  • Focus on your main objective, if there are multiple: Just like in gaming, when there are multiple objectives, what is the main or most important one. Use that to guide your focus and narrow the relevant choices.
  • Set a time frame/ timer: Create a hard time limit if one does not already exist. Time limits help to focus the analysis by having a firm ending time.
  • Prioritize the Options: Try to eliminate some of the less optimal options. One great strategy is making a list so you can see the options and then cross off less important or optimal options.
  • Take a break: If you are able to, take a break from analyzing your choices. By stepping away from the active analysis you can come back with fresh eyes to the options to aid in decision-making.
  • Ask for Advise: If there is an expert or someone more experienced you can seek their insights and thoughts. They may have a valuable perspective to focus on the most important options you have in your decision-making.

Final Thoughts

Analysis Paralysis is often a term used in gaming, but is certainly not limited to gaming. Many of the strategies above can be applied to all aspects of decision-making. If you find yourself frozen, and struggling to make a decision see if one or more strategy helps you.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get

Your Family Game On!

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you
find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!

The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to board games:

Legacy Games

Legacy games are board games played over multiple sessions, typically with the same group of players. Each play of the game can create permanent changes to the game affecting future plays. These changes occur in a variety of ways, such as opening envelopes to reveal stickers to add to the board, additional cards, and/or additional rules/powers.

Legacy games often include a story told over the course of the sessions. Most Legacy games can only be played through one time. Some games give players the opportunity to buy a refill pack to make the game replayable a second time.

There are also some games that once you finish the campaign, the game is playable using the rules the Legacy portion finished on for future regular games. One example of this is Machi Koro Legacy. It has ten different games over the course of the campaign with the eleventh and subsequent games repeatable as a “regular” game. However, most games are not playable again once the last session is complete.


Game designer Rob Daviau is credited with creating the Legacy Style game. The first game published with this mechanic was Risk Legacy in 2011. He also designed Machi Koro Legacy, and codesigned the Pandemic Legacy series with Matt Leacock.


  • Pandemic Legacy (Seasons 1,2, 0)
  • Zombie Kidz
  • Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

So, what do you think? Do you like the idea of a game that can only be played through once, or would you rather have the option to replay it multiple times? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll keep this discussion going.

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get

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The board game industry just keeps putting out amazing games. We have gone through some of the new games that have caught our attention, and fit a wide range of ages, styles, and experience. Not to mention some themes that will grab your attention.

Games for the Whole Family

These games are easy to learn, and perhaps hard to master games that can be enjoyed by a wide range of players. These games are great for multi age game play and a range of gaming experience.


After major board game conventions there are always a few games that everyone is talking about, and that was the case for Doomlings. Once gamers go their hands on this game they could not stop talking about it. This was originally funded on Kickstarter and was picked up by Breaking Games to be distributed through major retailers.

Doomlings is a card game where you are trying to survive from the birth of lift to the end of the world. Each turn you are adding trait cards, but with each round an Age Card is drawn which affects all the players. Mixed in with these Ages cards are Catastrophe cards, which negatively affect everyone. When three Catastrophe cards have been drawn, that signals the end of the world and players add up their points to see who is the winner.

Chonky Donkey

Hilarity ensues with the latest party game from Gamewright, Chonky Donkey. In many party games, there is a judge of the cards submitted to a prompt in games such as Apples to Apples. Chonky Donkey takes it in a different direction. Instead of the judge selecting the card they like best, instead the reader must not laugh or smile. Especially when you know maintaining a straight face is required, it becomes increasingly challenging. If the reader laughs or smiles when reading an “answer” they player who submitted the card wins the card and point. However if the reader can maintain a straight face the entire time, they get the card and point.


Transport yourself to the Mediterranean and take on the role of a Greek architect to build the best city against your rivals. In Akropolis, players are drafting and laying tiles to build their cities. Stone can be earned from the quarries and used to select the best features for you city. Tiles can also be placed on top of existing tiles and those earn you more points at the end. There is a handy player guide so you easily can tell what features on the tiles have the potential to earn you the most points.

While the game box and enclosed rules are for two to four player, the publisher, Gigamic has also posted a solo mode varient on their website and you can print the rules here.


Caring for house plants can present its own challenges in remembering what each plant needs. In Planted by Buffalo games you are collecting house plants and trying to take care of them to earn the most points. There are multiple game mechanics going on throughout the game, but the cards make it easy to understand what needs to be done for each plant, and helps players streamline their strategy, and keep the game from becoming overly complex. The game is played over four rounds, and players can collect up to six plants. This Target exclusive game has top notch components for the MSRP of the game at $29.99 (and Target regularly has sales on their board games).

Teeter Tower

Teeter Tower combines two favorite genres of family games, dexterity and cooperative games. This innovative game, combines rolling dice, cooperation and collaboration to place all the tiles before the pool of dice is used up or dice fall off the tower. You also can set the difficulty from Novice, Normal, Hard, to Insane to customize for your group. With simple rules Teeter Tower can be learned in minutes.

Everyone wins or looses (and then tries again) in this new spin on dexterity, strategy and cooperation. Challenge your family to build a tower upon the base block and successfully add the capstone block to with.

Next Station London

Take on the roll of planning subway lines in flip and write game Next Station London. In this game players are using a common deck of cards to dictate what their choices are for the next station they can select on their individual map paper. This plays over four rounds, and the neat twist is that each round players complete their line in a different colored pencil. Players are trying to score as many points as possible by adding lines to as many of the 13 districts as possible, go to tourist locations, and crossing the River Thames. No matter your choices you may limit future moves, so plan your routes carefully.

Summer Camp

For those of you who have enjoyed in the unique experience of summer camp this game will bring you back. For those of you like me who never went, you can get a taste of the unique dynamic. Each ga me players determine with three camp activities they will play in that game. By changing the actives each game it also changes which actions are available. On each turn, you play five cards from your personal deck. These cards will allow you to perform actions and acquire new cards. As you gain more cards, it adds to what you can do by gaining more power and abilities, and as you reach milestones, earn merit badges. Once a player earns all three merit badges, that triggers the end of the game, and the player with the most points wins.

Games For the Expert Gamer

Some of us have that gamer in our lives, or are that gamer, that loves complex games that take over an hour to play. These are new games that will be a good fit for making it a game day just to play one or two games.

Paint the Roses

You take on the roll as the royal gardeners for the Queen of Hearts in the fantastic world of Alice in Wonderland. You must work together to finish the royal grounds according to her ever changing whims before the Queen catches up to you. Each player has a secret Whim card which you may not share with the other players. However, there are some clues you are able to give to work towards your common goal, and some discussion is permitted with limits.

To move the gardeners players must guess the Whim cards, and if the card is guessed correctly the gardener token moves forward. If the players guess wrong when the Queen moves double her movement. There is also an expert mode that can be utilized. Since it is Alice in Wonderland, there is also the White Rabbit which moves when the gardeners pass the White Rabbit token.

For those who love the Alice in Wonderland theme, and are looking for a more complex game, this is a great option.

Ark Nova

Work to build the most successful zoo. To grow your zoo, you will build enclosures, work for conservation projects, and even release animals into the wild. With five actions to choose each turn, and the power of that card determined by the location on the tableau.

The Action Cards include: Build, Animals, Cards, Association, Sponsors. Build cards let you add to your zoo through building enclosures, kiosks, and pavilions. Animal cards allow you to accommodate animals. With the Cards you can gain new zoo cards (basically the others listed), Associations give you the chance to let your workers perform different tasks. Finally, Sponsors allows the player to play a sponsor into your zoo or to raise money for your zoo.

This is a complex game, and time is needed to learn to play. For the experienced gamers looking for a game with more complexity and time commitment.

Games that Fuel Your Nostalgia

These games include a theme or characters from something we remember. Hard to believe we fell in love with these in some cases 20 or 30 years ago (or more)!

A Goofy Movie Game

The 90’s seem even closer when you open up the box for The Goofy Movie Game. The map has all of the charm and bright colors that were the hallmark of the 90’s Disney, plus there is a Powerline concert poster picture on the back side of the map. As you move across the map, you are going to collect pictures for your scrapbook, and there are right from the events and locations from the movie! If you land on a spot to roll the die, you may send Goofy on a detour or get Powerline closer to the concert venue.

The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future

For those of us who remember watching the 1991 movie The Rocketeer, this board game will bring back some of your favorites from the movie. In the board game, The Rocketeer: Fate of the the Future, you are playing either as the Good Guys (Cliff Secord AKA The Rocketeer), Peeve Peabody, and Jenny Blake), or the Bad Guys (Eddie Valentine, Neville Sinclair, and Lothar). Just like in the movie, the Good Guys have the plans for the rocket that Cliff wears, and the bad guys are desperately trying to get those plans. Game play happens over rounds, but once the Luxembourg Zeppelin reaches Los Angeles, the final round is triggered and player with the most points wins.

While this game follows the premise of the movie, it has a lot of cards, and steps within a turn. The complexity of the Rocketeer: Fate of the Future, , makes it a game better suited for an experienced gamer, rather than an novice.

Our Favorite Themes

We all have favorite themes whether they are books, movies, shows, or other games. There is something about playing a game within your favorite world or with a beloved character. There have been a several games released in the past year that tap into a favorite topic.

Exit Lord of the Rings: Shadows Over Middle-Earth

For all those Lord of the Ring fans, now you can complete secret assignment for Gandalf, and buy Frodo and the Fellowship time. Escape rooms are a great way to spend an evening with friends, and the Exit games are an escape room in a box. These have puzzles and clues to complete a series of tasks and meet the objective. Depending on how long you take and how many clues you need determines your ” score”. Exit games are ranked by difficulty level, and this one is level 2 out of 5, making it great for those inexperienced with Exit games.

Star Wars Villainous

Ravensburger has brought the Villainous property to a whole new theme…Star Wars! For gamers who love Villainous and the Star Wars villainous, this is a must buy. While the villainous games are not best suited for the novice gamer, they are a blast to play with your favorite villain! In Star Wars Villainous you can play as: Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, General Grievous, Asajj Ventress, or Moff Gideon. Each villain has their own objective they are working toward to win. So players need to both work on their villain’s objective and try to disrupt the progress of the other villains.

Wordle Party Game

The hit digital game Wordle has become an analogue party game using dry erase boards, where players take turns writing five letter secret words. Just as in the digital game. The other players need to guess the word in the fewest guesses. There are also four ways to play Wordle: Classic Play, Fast Mode, Timed Mode, Compete Mode. Classic Mode is the same format as the digital game. In Fast Mode, players race to be the first to solve the word. Timed Mode players are trying to beat the clock or earn the most points. Finally, there is a team mode, where players can play in groups.

For fans of the digital game, now you can play it in person with your friends and family.

Games for Younger Gamers

There are so many options for games for young children beyond the “classic” games everyone knows. What is great is the newer games tend to be more fun for the grown-ups playing with the kids. These are some of the newest games for kids age 7 and younger.

Burger ASAP!

Can you build the burgers to order first? In this wild party card flipping game, players each get 7 double sided ingredient cards and try to be the first to build the burger or burger from the challenge card. All cards must be used in each challenge, and you are likely to need to overlap cards. The challenge cards come in three levels of difficulty indicated by the number of stars at the bottom. There is also a puzzle aspect because there is only one solution to each challenge card.

With a Cherry on Top

For some of the youngest gamers who can resist ice cream sundaes. In this adorable games players roll the dice and count out that number of scoops and place them on the open spaces on the banana split. This beginning strategy game has players consider where to best place the ice cream scoops. When they place the final scoop on a banana split, the player gets to put a cherry on top and get the card.


Set your sights under the sea as you work to build the first octopus with eight tentacles with the same color wins. Being a Gamewright game, even in games for young gamers, they make sure to add a few elements to keep the game interesting for all players. What a player can do each turn depends on the die roll. If a pie is revealed during your turn you get a pie token. These tokens give you an additional action or the ability to block another player’s action.

Board Game Accessories

Being a gamer lends itself to collecting. Sometimes it is challenging to find an amazing fit or you want to get something that is not a new game. Perhaps you need a small item for a small holiday container. There are great accessories that can enhance the gaming experience for a huge range of gamers.

Game Storage On the Shelf

Storage of board games can get challenging. Depending on your storage situation you may need to store them on their sides instead of laying flat. One item I have invested in are bands to hold the box closed and minimize the change of pieces falling out. This also helps with traveling with games where the lid is a smidge loose.

Click here for Silicone Rubber Bands on Amazon

Click here for Elastic Box Bands on Amazon

Traveling with Games

There are bags for carrying games, and then there are bags! You can get a more basic tote bag to bring your latest favorite to game night, or go all out on a special game hauling backpack or tote.

Click here for a USA Board Game Bag

Basic tote from Amazon

Game Box Storage

Ticket To Ride storage bins

Bins for game components

Jazz Up Your Game

100 Wooden Meeples

Keeping it Neat On the Table

Foldable bowls

Dice Trays

Simplifying for the Little Games

Gamewright Card holder

For More Gift Ideas

EFG Essentials: Great Board Games for Kids

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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