Home » Board Games
Category:

Board Games

There are times when game recommendations come from unexpected sources. I was quite surprised to hear about a game going to Kickstarter through a fan page for the small company Svaha

Frya is a card stacking game abstract strategy game with 68 cards which funded on Kickstarter in 2021.

Game Overview

  • 1-4 players
  • Ages 4 and up
  • Playtime 5-25 minutes

Gameplay

In Fyra, each player selects a “team” color. The goal of the game is to be the player with the least of your color showing when you run out of cards. Each card has four corners. The corners may be the same or different colors in the four colors: purple, yellow, blue, red.

To begin the game, two cards are placed in the middle next to each other face up. Each player receives three cards. On their turn each player puts down only one card. The must match what is under it exactly. If a portion of their card (one, two or three corners) match what is under it they draw a card at the end of their turn. Part of the card may hang off the end, and the pile grows outward with each turn.

If a player is able to match all four corners of their card they do not need to draw a card. If there are no matches at all the player puts their card adjasent to the cards and must draw two cards. When a player runs out of cards they are out of the game.

To scorce, the player who has run out of cards counts the number of corners with their team color showing at that point of the game. Play continues until only one player remains with cards.

Family Game Assessment and Final Thoughts

Fyra is a game with a wide appeal and wide accessibility, playable by children ages 4 and up. That said, it has enough strategy for grown-ups. With no text to read and only colors to match Fyra is approachable by every level of gamer. An additional feature is the distinctive designs on each color to accommodate players with color blindness or play in poor lighting. The rules are very easy to learn. The game teaches in just a matter of minutes at a rough minutes. Even with the easy rules, the strategy is challenging. This is a game that is easy to learn and hard to master.

Where to Find Fyra


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!

The EFG Essentials

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

Roller Coaster Challenge is a STEM single player game that is great for kids ages six and up. It includes cards with 40 challenge. This article will walk you through the process to complete a challenge. We received a request for clarification on how to play from a reader when we featured the the game in our article Games for Beginning Readers. Confessions time, I have terrible spatial relations, so I had the help of my son to complete the challenge below.

If you do not already have a copy, buy Roller Coaster Challenge on Amazon!

Step 1: Select A Challenge Card.

There are four difficulty levels Easy, Medium, Hard, Very Hard. The cards are all numbered, and each card is slightly more challenging as the numbers increase. Each card has the starting locations of some of the pieces, and the other pieces that are needed to complete the challenge are at the bottom of the card.

Pieces needed for Card 10

Step 2: Place the Starting Pieces Per the Card

Use the icons on the card to set up the initial board. Some of the icon can be confusing at first. As you get more familiar with the pieces it become faster to pull and set up the beginning pieces.

Step 3: Complete the Challenge Using the Remaining Pieces

Using the pieces listed at the bottom of the card complete the roller coaster so the ball can go from the top to the bottom. This can take much trial and error. If you really get stuck the answer is on the back of the card.

Step 4: Test Your Roller Coaster!

See if your coaster makes it to the bottom!

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to complete one challenge, you can go thought the deck to more and more challenging setups. These steps are also applicable to other games by Thinkfun. There are an array of challenges and themes in Gravity Maze, Laser Maze, and Circuit Maze.


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!

The EFG Essentials

Follow us onFacebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

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!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to a type of card game mechanic:

Trick Taking

The Trick Taking mechanic is one that many people have been exposed to through traditional games such Hearts or Bridge. Our family loves the card game Set Back, which was my first exposure to this mechanic. It is now found in many more games and that list is ever growing.

Trick Taking games play in “Tricks“, which are the rounds of play. While there may be variations game to game, typically, each Trick ends when all players play the final cards in their hand. Players then determine The winner of the Trick (round). In many Trick Taking games, the player to start a trick (round) also sets the suit or defined type of card needed to be played in order to win that trick. The type of card that leads is what sets the winning card type for that trick. To win the trick, the player who placed the highest value in the defined perimeters of the game that led (started the trick) wins that trick (round). However there is also a Trump, which is the card or suit which will automatically win the trick if played.

The other main rule in Trick Taking is that players must play a card of the same type/suit as the card that led the round if you can even if it is to your detriment, with the exception of Trump cards/suits.

Examples of Trick Taking Games:

  • The Crew
  • Fox in the Forest
  • Indulgence
  • Marshmallow Test

Examples of Trick Taking Games using a Standard Deck of Cards

  • Bridge
  • Hearts
  • Set Back

That’s all for this week. Be sure to check back next week for another definition. In the meantime, I want to hear from you! What is your favorite trick-taking game? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this post with your friends.

You can also look at our other board 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

Your Family Game On!

The EFG Essentials

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

Lords of the land are always looking to expand the land in their domain. In Kingdomino you are trying to expand the land you hold, but must choose to land carefully as your neighboring Lords are trying to do the same.

Buy Kingdomino on Amazon

Game Overview

Kingdomino
  • Publisher: Blue Orange Games
  • Ages:8+
  • 2-4 Players
  • Playtime: 15 minutes
  • Game Mechanic: Tile Laying

Game Components

  • 4 starting tiles
  • 4 castles (3D)
  • 48 dominos (a number on one side and land on the other side)
  • 8 wooden kings (4 colors)

Gameplay

Set Up

Each round dominos player lay out, three in a 3 player game and four in a 2 or 4 player game, and placed face down with just their number showing and ordered in ascending order. Next, players flip them to show the land. The meeples are shuffled in a players hand and randomly pulled for the first turn order. Player choose in the order their meeple appears their tile for the first round. Once all players select their tile for the round, player place another row a tiles following the same guidelines. The meeple on the tile closest to the box places their land first and selects their next tile for the next round.

On their turn a player completes two steps. First they place their tile according to connection rules (explained below). Then move their meeple to the next row of tiles to make their selection for the next round. There are 12 rounds in a 3 or 4 player game and 6 rounds in a two player (since players take two turns per round)

Connection Rules

  • Players must build a 5×5 grid, and each domino is considered two squares.
  • The domino may connect to their starting tile (which is consisted a “wild ” and any landscape can connect) or another domino that has one or both landscapes matching. These can connect horizontally or vertically.
  • If a domino can not be placed to either the starting tile or a tile with one landscape matching it is discarded and cannot score points.

Scoring

The areas of the same type of land only score if there is a crown (or crowns) on one or more of the tiles. To calculate the score players take the number of land tiles of that type and multiplying my the number of crowns in the same land area. The player with the highest score wins.

Family Game Assessment and Final Thoughts

Kingdomino is a award winning game for a reason, simply it is an amazing game. It won the 2017 Spiel des Jahres (Game of the year) among an impressive list of nominations and awards across multiple countries. This is a game that is easy to learn and hard to master. The rules are simple and easy to teach a child or novice in just one turn.

While Kingdomino lists the target age of players as 8 and up, there is no reading involved in gameplay. We found that it scales down to about age 6, especially if the child have experience playing a range of games. The 15 minute play time helps for younger children too.

This is also a versatile game to travel with. The tiles are nice and heavy making it a good game to take to a picnic or camping. The box is on the smaller size, and while not pocket or purse size, it is easy to pack for a trip or game day. The short play time and simple rules also help to make this game is a great addition to any game collection.

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!

The EFG Essentials

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

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!


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

Meeple

Meeple refers to tokens used to represent people, animals, or creatures in board games. Most commonly they are wooden, and the typical shape is like a person. However, they are also found in a huge range of animals or other shapes as well as a range of materials.

The Meeple has become a ubiquitous symbol of board games. Gamers can find many items to decorate their game spaces with Meeple art or objects. Meeples come in a huge range of games and serve a range of purposes within games. Some examples of their application in games can include: marking the players location on the board, as a score tracker, to mark and effect on the board, or claiming a tile.

Wooden Meeples from Fire in the Library

History

The word Meeple come from the blending of “my people” in reference to the game Carcassonne. The term Meeple emerged in 2000, and credited to Alison Hansel for creating the word. In 2015 Meeple was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Dragoon Meeples
Metal Dragon Meeples from Dragoon

A Few Examples of Meeples in Games:

  • Fire in the Library: “typical” meeples
  • Dragoon: Metal or plastic dragons
  • Carcassonne: Where it all began
  • King Domino
  • Fire Tower: Rising Flames Fire Hawks (Featured in cover photo above)

So there you have it! Our guide to meeples. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or just starting out, we hope this article has helped introduce you to the wonderful world of meeples and shown you how much fun they can add to your gameplay experience. Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts on our favorite gaming token! Do you prefer wooden ones, like most gamers? Or do you like something a little more flashy and eye-catching? We want to hear from you!

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

Your Family Game On!

The EFG Essentials

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

Playing games can evoke strong emotions in players of all ages. Sportsmanship can be challenging for some children as they are learning to play games, as well as learn to manage their emotions. Parents do not despair if your child struggles when they lose a game. Learning good sportsmanship is a critical life skill and board games can help support this development.

One common challenge for many kids is that they are highly competitive. This competitiveness plays out in a few behaviors or challenges when playing games (whether they are video games, board games, sports, or games in Gym class or on the playground). The main challenge is that they “need” to win, and some children struggle when they do not win.

With a few strategies and some planning, you can support your child’s development of good sportsmanship.

Teaching the Expected Behavior and Strategies

It is not intuitive for children to know how to cope with strong emotions and they benefit from learning strategies and social expectations. There are a few ways to support their development of these skills and strategies.

  • First and most importantly the adults and other kids playing need to consistently model being a gracious winner or loser. This is key, because kids often imitate what they see.
  • Share your thoughts and emotions regardless of whether you win or loose. By sharing your feelings of disappointment when you loose and at the same time being calm and a good sport.
  • Plan beforehand what to say to the winner or to fellow players if you win. Kids need to have a script to follow at least to start. By knowing what to say, they can have an appropriately response ready without escalating the situation.
  • Strategize coping with strong emotions. Kids have strong emotions, as do adult, but many kids do not know how to cope with their strong emotions. You want to try and begin with situations which will minimize creating strong emotions and the increasing the potential for more emotions. Before sitting down to play a game, reminders of belly breathing strategies as well as appropriate behaviors when upset (such as hitting a pillow).
  • Plan what to do and say and practice by roleplaying.

Be Selective with the Games

Choosing games thoughtfully and with your child in mind can really help to build success and support their development of sportsmanship. The time a game plays and the game mechanics (how the game is played) can drastically impact the way it is received by the child.

Cooperative Games

To eliminate some of the competition cooperative games are a great option. The players work together to win against the board. A great example of this is the game Hoot Owl Hoot. In this game players are trying to get all the Owls back to the nest before the sun rises. Everyone works together to meet this goal, and if they don’t succeed they just don’t succeed. Since everyone works together there is not the same “sting” of loosing.

Short Game Play

If you want to incorporate competitive games, try to find short games that can be replayed quickly. By having a short time investment, they can be played multiple times. So if the child does not win, they can immediately try again. The short games also have less emotional investment due to less time investment.

Time and Patience

New skills take time to acquire and habits can take four times as long to extinguish. It will take many repetitions and many sessions of practice to internalize the new skills and strategies when playing games. Being competitive can be a great asset, kids just need to learn social expectations and how to self regulate.

Suggested Games for Preschoolers

  • Hoot Owl Hoot (cooperative)
  • My First Castle Panic (cooperative)
  • Bandits Memory Mix Up (short game play)
  • Hiss (short game play)

Suggested games for age 5 to 7

  • Zombie Kidz (cooperative)
  • Too Many Monkeys (short game play)
  • Cauldron Quest (cooperative)
  • Dragomino (short game play)
  • Happy Salmon (short and silly game play)

Suggested games for 8 and up

  • Forbidden Island (cooperative)
  • Blockness (short game play)
  • Pandemic (cooperative)
  • Last Defense (cooperative)

For Older Kids

  • Chonky Donkey (Short and Silly for ages 12+)

Final Thoughts

So, the next time you see your child visibly upset from a game, know that it’s all part of the process. Congratulations! Your child is learning how to manage difficult emotions and develop important life skills. Board games can help support this growth – and luckily for us parents, they provide tons of opportunities for teachable moments.


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!

The EFG Essentials

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

Buy Abandon All Artichokes on Amazon!

There is nothing like a day spent in the garden. In Abandon All Artichokes you are trying to get an assortment from the garden and have no artichokes. Abandon All Artichokes has won multiple awards including: Geek Dad Game of the Year, Parent Choice Silver Honor, and American Tabletop.

Overview

  • Publisher: Gamewright
  • Ages: 10+
  • 2-4 Players
  • Game Style: Deck Building (deconstruction)
  • Components: 100 Cards
  • Playtime: 20 minutes

Abandon All Artichokes is a fast paced deck building/ deconstruction game where players are trying to take their personal decks and draw a hand without artichoke cards at the end of their turn. A deck building game has players curating the cards that are in their deck to optimize what they draw.  Players accomplish this by both discarding and adding different cards to your personal deck.

Gameplay

To begin the game players have ten artichoke cards as their personal deck.  The remaining non-artichoke cards are shuffled and create The Garden Stack.  From this a field of five cards create the Garden Row. Then players draw five cards (out of their ten) into their hand. At the beginning of the game they are only artichoke cards.

On your turn players complete five phases.

  • Replenish: Refill the field of five cards in the Garden Row by drawing and placing cards from the Garden Stack
  • Harvest: Select one card from the Garden Row and add it to your hard. It may be played at any time during your turn
  • Play: Play any number of cards from your hand, however you must be able to fulfill all the requirements on the card.
  • Discard: Discard all cards in your hand face up to your personal discard pile.
  • Draw: From your personal deck, draw five new cards.

When you draw the five cards at the conclusion of your turn, if there are no Artichoke cards, you loudly declare ”Abandon All Artichokes” and you win.

Family Game Assessment

Once again, Gamewright has made a great family game. The mechanics of deck building in this game, and the deconstruction nature of the gameplay are both a great gateway to other deck building games. The deconstruction element is a more unique game mechanic and Abandon All Artichokes presents it in a way that is easy to learn.  This game is a “one round teacher”, meaning that by just playing through one round, players then completely understand the game play.  While the age recommendation is 10 and up, this is a game that can scale down to age 8 especially if they are an experienced gamer. With the quick 20 minute playtime, it is an easy game to find time to play as a family.

Conclusion

The EFG team got our first of look at Abandon All Artichokes at New York Toy Fair 2020. We knew it would be a hit once we played a round. This is a great addition to any family gaming collection.


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!

The EFG Essentials

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

The Engaged Family Gaming team has the mission to provide information and support families who want to play board games with their kids (and video games too). We work hard to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their children’s gaming. To facilitate this, we help parents who might not be “gamers” themselves learn to understand the games their children are playing and help them find great board games for their kids.

The “EFG Essentials” is a core collection of games we frequently recommend across different genres. The purpose of these essentials is to provide a starting point for families to engage with high-quality games. Below are our EFG Essential board games for kids.

Ticket to Ride 

  • Route Building and Set collection 
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Ticket to Ride on Amazon!

Ticket To Ride is the quintessential starting place for families looking for the next level in board games beyond Monopoly or Uno. This is the game that was the starting point for multiple members of the EFG team to become passionate about board games.

During gameplay, players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout the United States. Each player is working on completing their own secret routes. If another player claims a path they need, the player needs to try and find another path to complete their route, if possible. This also adds a potential “take that” element to the game.

On each turn you can only take one of 3 actions: draw Train Car Cards, claim a Route between two cities on the board, draw additional Destination Tickets. The object of the game is to score the highest number of total points. Points are earned from completing routes, and lost for incomplete route cards. Each round allows for players to plan, think strategically, and make tactical decisions.

Ticket to Ride has expansions for other geographical areas (EuropeAsiaIndia, etc), in addition to First Journey for younger players. We love the fact that this game has so many version and appeals to such a wide range of players.

  • See our review of Ticket to Ride here.
  • See our review of Ticket to Ride First Journey here.

Sushi Go

  • Card drafting 
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Sushi Go on Amazon!

Sushi-Go takes place in the fast-paced world of a sushi chef, you must be the most creative and the fastest of all to be the best! The game comes in a cute tin and plays two to five players.

Players start with cards in their hand based on the number of players. Then select one card to play before passing the rest of their cards to the next player to choose from!  The game plays in 3 rounds. The strategy of the game lies in making the most of the cards passed to you, while trying to stop opponents from making the combinations they need to maximize points. The most interesting dynamic of this game is the chopsticks.  They are played in one round, and used on a subsequent turn to play two cards at once from the current hand.  The chopsticks get passed on to be used by someone else.

Sushi Go! is a fun game to play with anyone, and it is a light streamlined game that is a perfect first card drafting game.

See our review here.

The Crew

  • Trick Taking, Cooperative Strategy
  • 3-5 players
  • Age 10+

Buy The Crew on Amazon!

Multiple award winner, the 2020 Kennerspiel Des Jahres and 2021 American Tabletop Casual Game, the Crew combines two unique gaming styles, cooperative game play and trick taking. Players take on the roll of a space crew trying to complete missions. The rule books tells the story of each mission as well as the conditions players need to follow to succeed. Once a mission is completes successfully players can move on to the next mission. The game has 50 mission, which increase in intensity both within the story and in the requirements needed to be successful.

The Crew does a great job of adding small elements to each mission to make the difficulty increase. It is done in a gradual way that keeps the game approachable for families. For a small game, and modest number of components there is a lot of game packed into the small box.

Abandon All Artichokes

  • Deck Builder (Deck Deconstruction)
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 10+

Buy Abandon All Artichokes on Amazon!

Winner of the 2021 American Tabletop Early Gamers category, Abandon All Artichokes has you build your hand of garden vegetables by deconstructing your deck of artichokes. In Abandon All Artichokes, players start with a hand of all artichoke cards. The goal is to abandon their artichoke cards and create a hand with other vegetables from the garden.

This is a great deck builder game for players new to that style of game, and has been referred to as a “my first deck builder” While the game is rated for age 10 and up this is a game that can scale down to slightly younger players. The non-artichoke vegetable cards have text with the actions the card allows. Young players being able to read the cards is helpful.

Qwixx

  • Roll and Write
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Quixx on Amazon!

Qwixx is a simple roll and write where all players participate in every dice roll. However, you must be strategic about the numbers and colors you select each turn. Roll and write games have a set of dice and each player has a scoring sheet. The genre of roll and write games have become more popular in the last few years, and Qwixx is the perfect game to learn the genre.

To play, there are six dice, two white, one yellow, one red, one blue, and one green. On a turn, the active player rolls and announces the total of the two white dice. All players have the option to mark any color on their sheet with the corresponding number.  The active player only has the additional option to add one white die with any one of the red, yellow, blue, or green dice to select a number on their record sheet. The more numbers you can mark off the more points you score. Players must choose carefully once you cross off a number you can not go backwards.

Kingdomino

  • Tile Laying
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Kingdomino on Amazon!

Kingdomino, the 2017 winner of The Spiel Des Jahres (The Game of the Year), and combines the universal simplicity of dominoes with kingdom building. It is a tile drafting and placement game for two to four players.  The game is played in short rounds.

First, tiles are laid out in a field and players take turns drafting tiles based on the order of the previous round. Players draw domino shaped tiles and lay them out in their 5×5 block kingdom. only one side of their domino needs to match the land the connect to, but it can gain them more points if both sides match. The goal is to sort their kingdom so that they have large contiguous terrain (lakes, forests, etc) to earn points. Points are calculated by taking the number of continuous terrain times the number of crown icons found on any domino in that terrain. The gameplay is quick, easy to teach, and the game ages down very nicely.

See our Spiel Des Jahres 2017 article here.

Forbidden Island

  • Cooperative
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 10+

Buy Forbidden Island on Amazon!

Forbidden Island puts players on an island that is slowly sinking into the ocean, and they need to work together to gather treasures then escape. Each turn is filled with tension as players flip over cards that indicate which tile will sink (and thus shrink the board). As the game progresses it really feels like the world is sinking.

The tiles are laid out in a set island pattern, and six cards are flipped from the Flood Deck. As cards are drawn from the Flood Deck, the corresponding tile on the board is flipped over. Which reveals a blue tinted version of the same piece. This represents the location “flooding”. If a flooded location floods a second time (via the same flood card being drawn later in the game), that location is lost to the abyss and both the tile and the corresponding flood card are removed from the game. 

The randomness of the tile layout leads to huge variety and replay value. The difficulty can be scaled to all abilities based on how high the water level starts the game. Even at the easy setting can provide a decent challenge for some of the most experienced gamers.

See our review here.

Pandemic

  • Cooperative
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Pandemic on Amazon!

In Pandemic, two to four players take on one of several roles, such as Medic, Dispatcher, or Researcher, in their quest to cure 4 diseases before time runs out and humanity is wiped out.

Game play follows a standard turn-based approach. Each player starts their turn by drawing from an event deck to determine where the newest infections are.  Then, they use location cards to move around the globe, treating diseases to prevent outbreaks.  Finally, they draw more location cards to restock their hand.  If a player can get three location cards of a single color and can get to a lab, they can create a cure.  The cure that won’t immediately eradicate the disease. Rather, it will make the disease easier to treat.

There is one way to win (working together to cure all 4 diseases), and multiple ways to lose (running out of time, being overwhelmed by diseases, etc.)  Players can change the difficult by increasing the starting number of infections.

See our review here.

Tsuro

  • Tile Laying
  • 2-8 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Tsuro on Amazon!

Tsuro is a tile laying game for two to eight players with a beautiful Asian aesthetic. In this game you are a flying dragon. Your dragon is represented by a colored carved token. Tsuro consists of tiles with twisting lines on them, a 6×6 grid on which to lay these tiles and a token for each player.

Each player has a hand of tiles. On your turn you do two things: place a tile from your hand onto the board next to your token and move your token as far as it can go along the line it is currently on. You continue to move it until it is stopped by an empty space with no tile in (yet), the edge of the board, or if you collide with player’s token. If your dragon reaches the edge of the board or collides with another player’s token, you are out of the game.

The goal of the game is to be the last player left with a dragon on the board. The strategy, therefore, consists of trying to drive your opponents either into each other or off of the board. While trying to extend your own route in directions that will make it difficult for your opponents to hinder your path.

See our review here.

Zombie Kids Evolution

  • Legacy/ Cooperative
  • For 2-4 Players
  • Ages 7+

Buy Zombie Kids Evolution on Amazon!

Your successes or failors affect the game in your future plays of the game, in Zombie Kidz Evolution. This is a perfect first step into Legacy games. Legacy games are played over a series of sessions and what occurrences in previous sessions permanently changes the game and can influence the next events in the game. In Zombie Kidz Evolution you are working together to protect yourselves and drive off the zombies in the school. All the staff at the school zombies. The rules start off very simply, and as the game progresses new rules and abilities are added.

Happy Salmon

  • Party Game
  • 3-8 players
  • Age 6+

Buy Happy Salmon on Amazon!

Happy Salmon is a great game for motivating your family to get up, laugh, and shout their way through a game. The rules also suggest being creative for a silent mode in locations where shouting is too disruptive. Each player gets 12 cards in their personal deck with three of each action card and the players who stand around a table. Each player shuffles their deck and flips it over so only one card is visible.

Once play begins, all players simultaneously say the name of the action on the revealed card. They are trying to find another player with a matching card. If no one has the same card the card moves to the bottom of their deck. If they find a match the two players perform the action and discard the card in front of them. The actions of Happy Salmon include: High Five, Fish Bump, Switch it up (where players switch places), and Happy Salmon (where players slap arms together) will leave players doubled over in laughter.  The first player to run out of cards wins.

Exploding Kittens

  • Player Elimination and Hand Management
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 7+

Buy Exploding Kittens on Amazon!

Exploding Kittens is one of the silliest games in our collection, and is a family favorite. There are fifty-six cards in the deck. The artwork is exactly what you may have come to expect from The Oatmeal. Characters such as Taco Cat and Beard Cat make an appearance alongside original artwork on each card. The game play is quite simple; the box claims it takes two minutes to learn. They weren’t kidding.

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. 

This game is a lot more fun than one might think it would be. It plays very quickly and is very easy to learn.

Check out the review here.

Evolution: The Beginning

  • Engine Building
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Evolution: The Beginning on Amazon!

The Evolution Series by North Star Games has multiple games in this line. In the Evolution games you are evolving your creatures with various traits to help their survival. Each animal needs to have enough food or they die out and can go extinct. There is something for everyone in this series. For elementary age students you can start with Evolution: The Beginning. This is a simplified and streamlined version of the game good for ages eight and up. For older children: Evolution, Flight (which is an expansion), Climate, and Oceans.

The Evolution: The Beginnings the perfect lighter family game. It has streamlined the game elements of the Evolution series. For players new to engine building board games this gives a framework for that genre of game that is easy to understand. An engine building game is where the players are building something that will ultimately produce points for them in the game. The theme of Evolution is also very engaging to a wide range of players. It can be played with a wide range of players.

Block Ness

  • Area Control/Basic Resource Management
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Block Ness on Amazon !

Loch Ness Monsters are taking over the Loch, in Block Ness by Blue Orange Games. Players are vying for the limited space and trying to make their monster the longest before running out of room. To keep space limited and challenging at all player counts the number of players impacts the size of the loch (play space).

Each player gets 12 segments of their color monster, including a head and tail. Each segment is slightly different, they vary both in length and height. As players add to their monster, they can place a new piece horizontally or vertically only. Monster pieces can also (and eventually will need to) go over other monster pieces. The must be taller than the existing piece to cross over.

Block Ness is a great family game, and it plays well multi generational. The rules are very easy to learn and only takes 15 minutes to play, making it a great addition to family game collections.

Splendor

  • Engine Building
  • 2-4
  • Age 10+

Buy Splendor on Amazon !

Splendor

Blending a  balance of easy to learn rules and deeper strategy, Splendor is a fantastic game for older children and grown-ups alike. Splendor is a simple and elegant set collection game for two to four players. This is a game that is easy to teach, quick to learn, and will take a long time to master. The bottom line here; Asmodee has a huge hit on their hands as this has become one of our family’s favorite games.

In Splendor, players take on the role of Renaissance jewelers who are working to build their prestige and attract the attention of wealthy noble patrons. They do this by gathering resource tokens and spending them on development cards that represent new designs, tools, mining operations, and store fronts. The game is essentially a race to fifteen prestige points. Players acquire gems in order to buy mines, which in turn provide more gems (and ultimately points). While the gem-dealer theme may feel thin at times, the card drafting mechanic and  engine-building gameplay will quickly make this a family game night staple.

Check out our review! 

Skyjo

  • Set collection
  • 2-8 players
  • Age 8+

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.

Players receive cards face down at the beginning of the round they reveal three 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 1 player has revealed all 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.

Check out our review here.

Drop It

  • Dexterity/ Abstract Strategy
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Drop It on Amazon!

Some of the best family games are easy to learn, but hard to master. Drop It has very simple rules and can be taught in minutes, yet has enough strategy within the simple rules to keep it engaging for all members of the family. Do not be deceived by the bright primary colors of the game, Drop It is more than a kids game!

In Drop It, each player has a collection of shapes in one color, and players drop them down the vertical game board to try and score points. The challenge come in meeting the criteria to score points. Along the side and the bottom there are colors (or shapes depending on the set up you select) and if your piece touches the side of the same color it does not score any points. Pieces also may not land touching another piece of a matching shape or color. The player with the most points when they run out of shapes wins.

King of Tokyo

  • Push Your Luck 
  • 2-6 Players 
  • Age 8+

Buy King of Tokyo on Amazon!

Attacking Aliens, Rampaging Lizards, Giant Robots, Mutant Bugs, and Ferocious Gorillas: this game has them all! King of Tokyo is a game for two to six players that combines a board game, a dice game and a card game. You play as one monster whose main goals are to destroy Tokyo and battle other monsters in order to become the one and only King of Tokyo!

At the beginning of the turn, each player rolls six dice. The dice show the following symbols: numbers 1, 2, or 3 (representing Victory Points that can be earned), a lightning bolt (representing Energy that can be earned), a heart (representing Healing), and a claw (representing Attack). The player with the most Attack dice goes first (the fiercest). Each turn consists of 4 steps: rolling and re-rolling the dice, resolving the dice, buying cards and using their effects, and the end of turn decision.

The fiercest player will occupy Tokyo, and earn extra victory points, but that player can’t heal and must face all the other monsters alone! When you add in cards that can have a permanent or temporary effect, like growing a second head, body armor, nova death ray, etc., you get a VERY exciting game. In order to win the game, one must either destroy Tokyo by accumulating 20 victory points, or be the only surviving monster once the fighting has ended.

See our review here.

Fire Tower

  • Area Control and Hand Management
  • 2-4 Players
  • Age 14+

Buy Fire Tower on Amazon!

Most fire fighting games are cooperative, but in the game Fire Tower, you compete with other players to protect your fire tower from the fire and spread the fire to your opponent’s tower.

Players are working to defend their Fire Tower, the nine squares in the corner of the board, and to breach their opponents. In the Fire Tower squares fire can spread, but water and fire breaks can not be used. Players take  a range of actions depending on the card they play. There are Fire cards that spread the fire regardless of wind direction.  Water cards put out the fire in a small area. Fire Break cards create areas the fire is unable to burn, but may not be added to adjacent spots with a Fire Break. Once fire reaches the orange square in the corner that player is eliminated. The player with the last unburned tower wins.

See our preview from when this was on Kickstarter here.

Dragoon

  • Area Majority/Influence
  • 2-4
  • Age 13+

Buy Dragoon on Amazon!

Dragoon, by Lay Waste Games, is a game where players take on the role of mighty dragons that are competing to build their treasure hoards on a remote island. Dragoon is a game that squeezes a lot of strategy out of a very small rule set. The game board is a cloth map and the components can come as metal or plastic. the Metal pieces are stunning and give the game a unique elegance.

A game of Dragoon takes place over a series of rounds. Each of these rounds has three different phases: Populate, Action, and Tribute. The goal in Dragoon is to be the first player to accumulate more than 50 gold at the end of the turn. Players do this by moving around the gorgeous map and choosing to either claim or destroy the settlements that pop up across it. Claiming a settlement gives a chance for gold each turn based on a die roll. Destroying it grants an immediate gold increase.

See our review here.

For Young Gamers

Rhino Hero

  • Dexterity
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 5+

Buy Rhino Hero on Amazon!

Rhino Hero is a competitive  3-D stacking game where players are building a tower of cards and moving Rhino Hero up the tower.  This is a great games for younger players and involves no reading.

This dexterity game directs players were the wall cards need to go on each turn.  Players have wall and ceiling tiles.  On their turn, the player first builds the wall in the place indicated on the ceiling tile and then place their ceiling tile.  Actions indicated on some of the ceiling tiles and those benefit the player, such as skipping the next player.  The game ends when the tower fall, a player places their last roof card, or all the walls are built. 

Animal Upon Animal

  • Dexterity
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 4+

Buy Animal Upon Animal on Amazon!

Animal Upon Animal is a dexterity game perfect for young games, where players are stacking wooden animal pieces.  On a turn, players roll a special die to determine what happens on their turn. If the player rolls one pip they add one animal, two pips the add two animals, the crocodile image has the player place one animal on the table touching one side of the base animals, therefore further expanding the base. The hand icon has the active player choose one of their animals and give it to another player who then has to add it to the stack. Finally the question mark icon has the other players determine which animal the active player has to add to the stack.

Should animals fall off while a player is trying to add one to the stack, the player who was placing the animals takes them if there are one or two that fall. Should more than two fall one two are kept and the rest returned to the box.The game ends when a player runs out of animals to stack, and the last player to place their piece can declare victory.

Hiss

  • Tile Laying
  • 2-5
  • Age 4+

Buy Hiss on Amazon!

Hiss is a competitive game perfect for very young gamers, where players draw tiles and try and build the longest snakes.  Each snake has different colors and players need to match the colors for adjacent snake pieces.  To build a complete snake they need to have a head, at least one middle body segment, and a tail. This is a game that easily scales down to the youngster players.

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel

  • Set Collection
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 3+

Buy Sneaky Snacky Squirrel on Amazon!

The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game is where you are collecting acorns to feed your hungry squirrel.  At the beginning of each turn you spin the spinner and that dictated the color acorn you can take or if another event occurs.  If a player lands on a storm cloud their acorns get blown back onto the tree. A sad squirrel means you lose a turn.  The thieving squirrel picture allows the player to steal one acorn from another player. The first person to fill their log with acorns wins.

This is a great simple game for very young gamers.

Hoot Owl Hoot

  • Cooperative
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 4+

Buy Hoot Owl Hoot on Amazon!

Hoot Owl Hoot is a cooperative game where players work to bring the owls back to the nest.  The goal is to get all the owls back before the sun comes up.  Each player has three cards dealt in front of them.  Players choose a color card to play, and draws a card to refill at the end of their turn.  With a color card the player selects an owl and move it to the next corresponding space of that color. If a player has a sun card they must play it, and the sun moves one space on the tracker. The difficulty can be increased by adding more owls to put back in the nest.


The EFG Essentials are reviewed and updated every few months to make sure we have the most current information for our readers. Last updated 7/31/21.


The EFG Essential Guide Collections

Check out our other Essentials Guides for great collections of games!

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!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

1 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

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!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many well-known games: Set Collection

Set collecting is such a ubiquitous feature in games, while a game may also have other mechanics, often set collecting is also incorporated.

In set collection players are gathering certain collections of a given item, often represented on cards. These collections have a designated value in the game or allow opportunity in the game.

Examples of set collection within a game.

In Sushi Go, which is primarily a Card Drafting game, certain cards score more points when collected in a set. For example, Sashimi cards score 10 points when a player has a set of three. Should a player only have one or two they score no points.

The game Mystic Market has players gathering different ingredients. When they collect a designated number of the same ingredient they can be sold. Players can also collect sets of ingredients to create potions.

Examples of Popular Games with Set Collection

  • Ticket to Ride
  • Splendor
  • Pandemic
  • Forbidden Island
  • Azul
  • Wingspan
  • Dragonwood

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

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

Your Family Game On!

The EFG Essentials

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

A Nessie pokes their head above the water.. then another appears…and another…and another. See if your monster can dominate the loch in this family strategy game Block Ness. In this game you’re using three dimensional pieces to try to add on to your monster and create the longest monster.

Buy Block Ness on Amazon!

Game Overview

  • Age 8+
  • 2 to 4 Players
  • Playtime: 15 minutes

Game components

  • Game board (pegboard style)
  • 4 sets of 12 loch monster pieces

Game play

Players begin with only the head and tail of their monster in the water. On their turn players add one piece onto their monster, either at the head end or the tail end. Once you place the new monster segment, move the head or tail piece to indicate the end of the creature. Players must make sure that their new pieces their pieces are adjacent to one of the head or tails of their monster. The pieces must be placed horizontally or vertically. Players will need to cross over other pieces of competing monsters, but they must be a taller height than the piece they are going over.

A player is out when the they no longer can place a piece to the head or tail of their monster. This occurs when there are no more available pegs, or your monster is blocked by other monster pieces.

The size of the play space also scales based on the number of players. The shade of blue indicated the play space, so fewer players have a smaller space they are competing to take over.

One tip we found very helpful was to sort all the pieces by size. Sorting the pieces shortest to tallest it allows players monitor what pieces remain. This helps strategizing how to use those to best build their monster.

Family Game Assessments

Block Ness is a wonderful family game. The rules are easy to learn, but with a plethora of strategy incorporated into the game. We have played with a mix of adults and kids and everyone was able to pick it up quickly. It was so natural for the kids one of them actually won the game.

While there is player elimination, it occurs very late in the game. Typically there is only another turn or two before the game is over. Gameplay is fast and a whole game usually is 15 to 20 minutes.

This is a fun light game that is great for any collection.

Final Thoughts

If you want a light family strategy game, Block Ness fits that need. It is easy to play with a range of ages and skill levels within the same 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!

The EFG Essentials

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail
Newer Posts

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More