Engaged Family Gaming Holiday Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

The holidays are approaching quickly and some amazing new games have come out this year. The EFG team was fortunate to have been able to see most of these games in person at New York Toy Fair early this year. There are so many more games than we can fit into one article, so if you need more ideas check out the links at the bottom to other articles that may inspire your gift shopping or wishlist creation.

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 less experienced gamers.

Dungeon Drop

The titular “Dungeon” in Dungeon Drop is created by dropping an assortment of colored cubes onto the play surface. Each colored cube represents a different object ranging from grey pillars (which help form the rooms) to orange keys, and green Boblins. This simple gameplay loop can be taught in a few minutes and gameplay is fast.

Ship Shape

If you are looking for a unique and engaging game, Ship Shape is a great choice. It is a 3-D puzzle game where you take on the roll of a Captain trying to fill the hold of your ship with  treasure, cannons, and contraband to try and get the most coins for the visible contents. With the recommended age beginning at eight years old, this is a game that is great for so many members of the family.


Try and seal your victory in Starlink by creating constellation. This party style drawing game is engaging and can play three to six players. Players draw a secret word and on their turn they need to try and draw the secret object by connecting stars. Players earn bonus points for fitting their constellation inside the telescope circle.

Abandon All Artichokes

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.

Back to the Future

The story of Back to the Future comes to life in this cooperative board game. Just as in the movie, you need to fix the 1955 timeline by repairing the DeLorean, getting the clock tower ready, and keeping Marty’s parents love on track before the picture fades. Back to the Future-Back in Time features some unique touches including the dog Einstein as a playable character, and the clock tower doubling as a dice tower.

If You Like…

So many games are released each year. There are some old favorites that publishers re-imagine, and many times these games can become our new favorites.

Marvel Splendor

The Marvel Universe has been merged with Splendor. This new version included new tactics, new updates to the rules and new win conditions. Players need to gain infinity points using the Infinity gems. They use these to recruit heroes and villains, and when the right moment arrives, claim the Infinity Gauntlet.

Tsuro Phoenix Rising

Tsuro Phoenix Rising add some great new components to the classic Tsuro game. In Phoenix Rising, players now have double sided tiles that sit in a special tray so they can be flipped over during gameplay. Unlike the original, if you are sent off the board, it does not mean you are out. Instead you can be reborn from the ashes once per game, and continue playing.


The game Kingdomino took the boardgame world by storm winning the Spiel De Jahres in 2017. Now there is a My First version that is for players ages five and up, with a dragon theme. Dragonmino takes the same tile drafting and placement mechanism, and simplified it further for younger players. With each match with the tiles players earn a dragon egg and are trying to collect eggs with baby dragons inside.

Dragon’s Breath the Hatching

Dragon’s Breath The Hatching fits into two categories: Games for Young Gamers and If You Like. Haba took the popular Dragon’s Breath game, which is a great game for young gamers, to the next step. The Hatching is a versatile addition to any family’s game collection. It can be a stand alone game, or expansion to the original Dragon’s Breath game. As an expansion it adds a fifth player.

Games for Young Gamers

Duck Duck Dance

Duck Duck Dance is a movement game for players age two and up. There are three simple steps to the game. First roll the over-sized dice to reveal dance moves, perform the dance moves, then flip card on the board to reveal an audience member. The game ends when all audience members are revealed. Duck Duck Dance incorporates many skills needed for toddlers: Gross Motor, Sequencing, Counting, Imitation, Turn Taking, and Vocabulary building.

Panda’s Picnic

Panda’s Picnic in the Park is a matching game for players age two and up. The game comes in a picnic basket and players take turns pulling items out of the basket and matching them with things on their plate. There are multiple ways to play. Learning skills include: Color and Shape. Pretend play, turn taking, gross and fine motor skills, and vocabulary building.

Bandit’s Memory Mix Up

Bandits Memory Mix Up is a game for two to four players ages three and up which challenges memory. This game has players take the spy glass and placed five garden tiles inside then shake it up. One garden tile is removed secretly. The challenge: remembering the removed tile. The first player to identify the missing tile wins. There are also variants which support solo and large group play. Play reinforces the skills of turn-taking, visual discrimination, and memory.

Smoosh and Seek Treehouse

Smoosh and Seek Tree house is a cooperative game for two to four players ages three and up. In this game players are working together to find all the different Woodland animals playing hide and seek in the tree before Mr. Prickles climbs the ladder. Players worked together to remember the location of the different seekers when they think they have located a seeker they state who they think it is pick up the disk and smash it into the smash to to reveal who’s hiding. If they successfully find a hide or they place a token to show that seekers has been found. Game play reinforces memory, simple strategy, cooperation and fine-motor skills.

2020 Award Winning Games


The 2020 Spiel Des Jahres  winner Pictures is a unique party game that takes place over five rounds. The game begins with a field of 16 photo cards placed in a four by four grid. Then each player uses a series of unique items to best represent one picture. Items include: 2 Shoelaces, 6 Wooden, Building Blocks, Wooden cubes and Picture frame, picture cards in a hand drawn style, and 4 Sticks plus 4 Stones.

Once the pictures are recreated, each player guesses which pictures the objects represent. Players earn points by correctly guessing, and having your picture correctly guessed. Materials pass, allowing all players to use all five different materials, and the creating beings again.

The Crew

The 2020 Kennerspiel Des Jahres, the Crew combines two unique gaming styles, cooperative 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. For a small game, and modest number of components there is a lot of game packed into the small box.

For More Gift Ideas

To support families during the unique times we are in, we put together some articles this spring. These articles suggest some great games that would also make great gifts. Plus the EFG Essentials is our “go to” collection of games that we recommend.

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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By Linda Wrobel

Managing Editor: Board Games Mother, Educator, and Board Game Editor.

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