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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. Below is a list of relatively inexpensive games 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!

Hoagie

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!


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People of all ages have enjoyed Chess for ages.  Not only is it a fun pastime, but it also provides many benefits for children, including developing critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and strategic planning.

 Teaching your children how to play chess can be a wonderful way to spend quality time together. It also gives them a lifelong hobby they can enjoy. In this post, we will go over the basics of chess, including the movements of the different pieces, as well as some tips on how to teach your children the game in a fun and engaging way. We’ll even throw in a little extra and share some strategies that might help them improve their game (and maybe yours too)!

The Basic Rules of Chess

Each player takes turns making a single move. Players cannot choose to skip a turn – they must make a move. Each chess piece moves in a specific way and must be moved according to its legal movement. (see below). Pieces cannot move through pieces of either color without either:

  • stopping (in the case of a piece of the same color) 
  • capturing them (in the case of a piece of the opposite color).

How the different chess pieces move:

There are 6 different pieces in chess. 

  • King: The king piece can only move one square in any direction.
  • Queen: The Queen is the most powerful piece. It can move any number of squares in any direction, horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
  • Rook: The Rook can move any number of squares horizontally or vertically.
  • Bishop: The Bishop can move any number of squares diagonally.
  • Knight: Knights move in an L shape, two squares in one direction then one more space after a 90-degree turn.
  • Pawns: Pawns are interesting. They can only move forward one square at a time. The exception is on their first move where they can move forward two squares. They can only capture other pieces diagonally.

Castling

Castling is a special move in Chess, and is the only move where two pieces move within one turn. It is a special rule where your king can move two spaces to its right or left. Simultaneously, the rook on that corresponding side moves to the space on the opposite side of the king.

There are four key rule the must be followed in order to complete a castling move. First, the king and rook must still be in their starting squares, and never moved over the course of the game. Secondly, all of the spaces between the king and rook need to be clear of other pieces. Third, the king may not be in Check. Finally, the spaces the king will travel and land on may not be vulnerable to attack in the next move.

Ending the Game

As the game progresses, players must be mindful of the concept of “check” and “checkmate.” When a player’s king is under attack, it is in “check.” When a player’s king is in check and there is no way to move the king out of the attack, it is “checkmate” and the game is over. 

Tips for teaching your kids how to play chess. 

Here are some tips on how to teach your children the game of chess in a fun and engaging way:

Start with the basics: Begin by introducing your child to the different pieces and their movements. Let them practice moving the pieces on the board and familiarize themselves with the layout.

Use visual aids: Children often learn better through visual aids such as pictures and videos. There are many resources available online, including interactive chess tutorials, animations, and diagrams that can help explain the rules and different strategies.

Play with them: Playing chess with your child is the best way to teach them the game. As you play, point out the different tactics and strategies you’re using, and explain the reasoning behind your moves. Engage them into deciding what moves are best to make. Instead of just telling your child how to move the pieces, ask them questions and get them to come up with their own moves. This will help them think critically and develop their problem-solving skills.

Keep it fun: Remember that the most important thing is to make the learning experience fun and engaging. Use humor, praise, and positive reinforcement to keep your child motivated and interested in the game.

Be patient: Teaching your child chess can take time and patience. Make sure you’re ready for a long-term commitment and that you’re there to guide and support them along the way.

Story Time Chess

One product out on the market designed to help teach young children how to play Chess is Story Time Chess. This unique Chess set is formatted in a simple way that is approachable to children as young as three-years-old. What makes Story Time Chess unique is they have created a story to explain how each chess piece moves with reason for their movement within the story. So for example, the King is scared, so he moves on tiptoes and very slowly. This provides a connect to the children on why the king only moves one space. There are also exercises that go with each piece/character to teach their movement. Besides the storybook, the game has standard chess pieces, but they have a small slot. These slots allow parents to put in a picture of the character that corresponds to the story. This visually helps coordinate the traditional piece with the character in the story.

Story Time Chess has gotten wide praise and has won quite a few rewards. Two notable rewards are winning the 2021 Toy of Year Award, and winning the Mom’s Choice Awards.

Ways to Encourage Engagement

Reward their progress: You could give rewards for progress made. For example, every time your child successfully checkmates you, or every time your child beats an opponent (even if it’s you). This can make the game more engaging and fun for your child.

Show them professional games and Grandmasters: Show your child some professional games, videos and even watch live games with them. This will help them understand the game at a higher level and provide a good motivation for them.

Five tips to Improve Your Skills 

Study the basic tactics: Learn common tactical motifs such as forks, pins, double attacks, discovered attacks, and so on. There are many resources available online, including chess puzzles and instructional videos.

Analyze your own games start to finish: After you finish a game, take the time to analyze your own moves, both the good and the bad. Try to understand what went wrong and how you could have played better. The endgame is the stage of the game where there are fewer pieces left on the board. It can be a great opportunity to improve your technique and find the best way to finish the game.

Learn from the best: Study the games of grandmasters and try to understand their thought process and reasoning behind their moves. As you improve, it’s important to play against players who are better than you. This will help you to identify and improve on your weaknesses.

Keep it simple: A good rule of thumb is to keep your play simple and avoid overcomplicating things. Try to focus on the most important aspects of the position, such as king safety and piece activity.

Practice, practice, practice: The most important tip of all is to play as much chess as you can. The more you play, the more experience you’ll gain, and the better you’ll become at the game.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, teaching your child how to play chess can be a rewarding experience for both you and your child. Not only will they learn valuable strategic thinking and problem-solving skills, but they will also gain confidence and self-esteem as they improve at the game. By starting with the basics, breaking the game down into manageable chunks, and making learning fun, you can help your child develop a love for chess that will last a lifetime. Remember to be patient, encouraging, and to make it a fun family activity. With a little bit of time and effort, you can help your child become a chess prodigy in no time!


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

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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.

Games for the Whole Family

Planted

Buy Planted here at Target

  • Card Drafting/Resource Management/ Set Collection
  • 2-5 Players
  • Age 10+

There is something very satisfying about caring for plants and watching them flourish. Planted takes the premise of collecting and caring for plants and couples it with beautiful artwork and components. This Target exclusive game had a high production value for the price. Players collect Resource Cards and Item Cards at the beginning of each of the four rounds. Then players draft their cards by picking and passing the cards to the right or left, the direction changes each round.

Planted plays over four rounds with a very simple card drafting mechanism. The game design keeps beginning players in mind. The player boards and nursery board do a great job of communicating clearly for the players. Each round players draw 6 Resource cards and 2 Item cards. Over the round players pick a card simultaneously, reveal and gather any resources based on their cards.

Planted takes some more complicated gaming mechanics and has streamlined their play as well as provided lots of visual support on the player boards, cards, and nursey board. For novice gamers this have become a great new gateway into set collection, resource management, and card drafting.

Chonky Donkey

  • Party Game
  • 3-8 Players
  • Age 12 +

Buy Chonky Donkey here on Amazon

Party games are wildly popular and easy to find, but may have a similar gameplay or theme from each other. 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. This game has question cards and answer cards. First the reader flips an answer card and all the players (except reader, who is in “the hot seat) submit a question card that they feels goes with the question, or is just ridiculous. 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.

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.

The Crew Mission Deep Sea

  • Trick Taking, Cooperative Strategy
  • 2-5 Players
  • Age 10+

Buy The Crew Mission Deep Space

If you like The Crew, another adventure is available. In The Crew Mission Deep Sea, players search for the lost city of Mu beneath the ocean depth with in this sequel to the award winning game, The Crew. Using an easy to learn cooperative trick-taking gameplay the players take on different missions to tell the story. Completing each hand under certain conditions completes each mission and advances you through the story on your search for Mu. Just like in its predecessor, as you complete each mission additional rules and conditions might applied to future missions.

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+

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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 Kidz Evolution

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

Buy Zombie Kidz Evolution on Amazon!

Your successes or failures 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.

Zombie Teenz Evolution

  • Legacy/Cooperative
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Zombie Teenz Evolution here on Amazon

The zombies are causing trouble around the town and you must work with your friends to find all the ingredients for the antidote to save them. Zombie Teenz is another game in the same world as Zombie Kidz Evolution. This is a stand alone game which can also be combined with Zombie Kidz Evolution. Just like in its predictor, this is a cooperative legacy games and evolves as you play. If your family likes Zombie Kidz Evolution, the this adds just a little more complexity and challenge for players.

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.

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.

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.


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!

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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.

History

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.

Examples

  • 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

Your Family Game On!

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Essen Spiel 2022 took place from October 6-9, 2022 in Essen Germany. It is one of the biggest board game conventions in the world and is a big opportunity for publishers to showcase their offerings ahead of the Holiday season! We didn’t make it to the show this time, but publishers have been shouting to the mountaintops about their games! Below is a list of nine games from the show floor that we are very excited to play!

Gummiland

(Age 6+, Blue Orange Games)

Gummiland is a deck-building game meant for younger kids. The components are adorable to begin with, but the premise definitely suits it. Players are competing to capture all the Gummiz using adorable fruit cards.

Mech A Dream

(10+, Blue Orange Games)

Mech A Dream is a worker placement, engine building game set in a far flung future where humans and robots live side by side. Robots don’t have dreams in this world and this game is all about building machines that make dreams for the robots! I love the graphic design on the components that have been revealed so far.

Mist Over Carcassone

(8+, Z-Man Games)

We love Carcassone (and all tile laying games for that matter), over here. A new version with a spooky theme just seems like an absolute win. I’m particularly intrigued by the cooperative elements as they haven’t been a part of the Carcassone world before.

Turing Machine

(14+, Le Scorpion Masqué)

I have no idea if this game will even be fun, but The Turing Machine includes an “analog computer” that does calculations using perforated cards. Its a deduction game where you either cooperate as a team or compete to crack codes using the computation that are only possible using the computer within the game itself. I’m absolutely fascinated by how this could work to the point of distraction.

Evergeen

(8+, Horrible Guild)

Evergreen is a board game from the same designer as Photosynthesis and shares some of the same themes. This one is all about planting trees and placing other objects to help build a complete ecosystem. The components look lovely and I always appreciate a science themed game. Linda, our managing editor of board games, is very excited for this one.

Peter Pan

(Age Unknown, Zatu Games)

Peter Pan is a deduction game where each player knows the location of both a lost boy and one of Captain Hook’s pirates. Players can only share that information to each other via picture cards that provide clues. Then players venture through Neverland trying to find the lost boys and avoid the pirates.

Animals of Baker Street

(10+, IELLO)

Animals of Baker Street is a deduction, puzzle solving game featuring cure animals and a Sherlock Holmes theme. It is a cooperative game with a limited number of puzzles to solve, but it looks like there should be enough content in the box to keep it entertaining for a while.

Starship Captains

(12+, Czech Games)

Starship Captains is a 1-4 player eurogame that combines action selection and engine building. You manage a crew and operate a starship as you go on adventures and face different challenges. This is one that I absolutely must play as someone who loves Star Trek and other similarly themed games.


Those are just a few of the games that were featured at Essen this year. We’re sure that we missed some. Let us know in the comments if you found any that didn’t make it onto our list!

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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Here at Engaged Family Gaming, we love to talk about how teachers and homeschool parents alike can use games to teach different subjects. We have already talked about board games that can help you teach math and board games that can help teach reading. This time we are going to talk about board games that can be used to help teach history.

History is a tricky subject to teach using board games. They, generally, are too abstract to be able to realistically represent events that took place in the past. However, they can help teach the subject in two ways. On one hand, some of them are great at helping people memorize important dates, events, and historical figures. On the other hand, there are also games that are designed well enough to help capture the theme of a historical event. Both of these approaches can be a big help when trying to teach children about a given historical event.

Take a look below and see eleven games we found that can be used to help teach history in one of those two ways.

Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark is a game themed around the adventures of the two famous explorers of the same name. This is a period of American history that is often glossed over so having a fun tool to help explain what exploring what was an undiscovered country at the time is a good thing!

“The year is 1803. Take on the role of a team of explorers tasked by President Thomas Jefferson to chart the American West. Befriend the natives, live off the resources the land provides and be the first to set up camp on the Pacific coast. Players will have to manage hands of cards representing characters who will help to gather resources, recruit Indians and move forward in this race to discover the route from sea to shining sea. Beautifully illustrated, Lewis & Clark will have players reliving the exciting voyages of some of the most famous explorers the world has ever known”

Timeline Series

Timeline isn’t a single game. Instead, it is a series of games that features all sorts of different categories like Music & Cinema, Americana, American History, etc.

Gameplay is straightforward. Players are each given a hand of cards that have events on the front and their corresponding dates on the back. The goal is to slowly create a timeline of events. Players do that by taking turns placing their cards in the correct place on the timeline in relation to other events. If they guess correctly, then the card stays. If they do not, then the card is discarded and they have to try again.

This mechanic helps to reinforce players’ knowledge of when events happened in relation to each other.

The Grizzled

There is a lot of attention placed on World War 2. It is regularly studied in class. It is the subject of nearly countless movies and numerous video games and board games. World War I, on the other hand, is not often given much attention at all. This is in spite of the fact that it is a fascinating war that took place across several continents and featured cavalry, navy, air combat, and trench warfare.

The Grizzled is a cooperative game that helps right that wrong by putting players in the combat boots of soldiers trying to survive trench warfare until Armistice. The emphasis of this game is on avoiding the hardships and pitfalls that soldiers would have dealt with. If even one member of the team died, then the game is lost.

This is by no means a “light” topic, so parents and teachers should tread carefully. But, then, World War I is as tragic and terrifying as it is interesting in a historical sense. So if you are going to teach it, you may as well go all in right?

7 Wonders

7 Wonders is a drafting game where players take on the roles of seven great ancient civilizations. Gameplay is divided into three “ages” that help demonstrate the development of human civilization through antiquity.

The game may not depict actual historical events, but it does a fairly good job of explaining how civilizations develop and the interdependence between resources and great scientific or artistic achievements.

Twilight Struggle

I’m 35 years old. So I don’t remember the vast majority of the decades-long standoff between the United States and Russia. Twilight Struggle is a game that uses clever mechanics to help illustrate the delicate balance of power and aggression between the two nuclear powers.

This game is a bit on the long side and can take a long time to teach, but you would be hard-pressed to find a game that is better at helping visual and tactile learners understand one of the more pivotal periods in modern world history.

Memoir ’44

Memoir ’44 is hex based miniatures combat game that thrusts players into battles that mimic historical events during World War II. This is done using units, tactics, and victory conditions that mimic some of the famous skirmishes that took place throughout the war.

There are multiple expansions as well that include different sections of terrain and different parts of the war.

This likely isn’t a game that will teach much about World War II on its own. But, it is a great game to play while talking about some of the reasons behind the war and how it ended. Memoir ’44 illustrates that sometimes the best job a game can have is to keep the students interested while the real teaching is happening elsewhere.

Axis and Allies

It is impossible to talk about board games that can be used to teach history without at least mentioning Axis and Allies. A&A is a strategy war game where two to five players take on the roles of either a member of the Axis (Germany or Japan) or a member of the Alliance (United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union). It isn’t just about battle though. Players control both the military for their chosen country AND its wartime economy. Victory is given to the country that captures major cities across the world.

Axis and Allies presents a historical scenario and encourages players to change history over the course of a few hours!

Ticket to Ride – Multiple Editions

I know. We probably put Ticket to Ride on every one of these lists, but we can’t really help it. The game is almost universal in its appeal and in its applications.

Ticket To Ride is not going to be a history lesson in and of itself. But, several of the expansions are ties directly to the expansion of the railroad system that crisscrosses the entire country. Besides, you likely already have the game anyway for other reasons (or at least you should) so why not have another reason to pull it out and use it?

Catan Histories of America: Trails to Rails

Catan is a classic euro board game. This version includes a fixed board that is a reasonable facsimile of the United States. The same rules apply here as in the standard version with a few exceptions. The biggest among them being that the win condition is the delivery of all of your goods across railways.

This is a great game to help discuss the westward expansion of the population of the US and the rise of the Railway system and its importance to the US economy at the time (and now)!

Sapiens

Sapiens is a game where players take on the role of a clan chief that is exploring a fertile valley looking for a new home for their people. This is a tile-laying game with an exploration theme. The art style is bright, colorful, and engaging in a way that will keep players interested as you talk with them about the challenges that faced early man as he fought for survival.

Founding Fathers

Founding Fathers is a strategy game that takes place during the dawn of the United States. Players take on the role of famous political figures like George Washington, John Adams, and others all the way up through Abraham Lincoln. Players work together to solve problems like war, financial panics, and eventually the division between the North and the South.

This is an excellent way to help reinforce the struggles of forming and guiding the United States. This is not a game for early gamers, but is rated for players age 8+.

For Additional Games to Support Learning


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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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.

Doomlings

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.

Akropolis

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.

Planted

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.

Octopie

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


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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.


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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

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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!


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

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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

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