Gaming isn’t always about serious strategy, staring at a board until your opponent makes their next thoughtful move. There are many games on the market perfect for players looking to add a bit of dexterity and/or silliness to their next game. This can be great for younger gamers who might otherwise have a hard time sitting still. Here are a few games I’ve played over the past few months that seem to fit the bill.
Become a real estate magnate by constructing the best and the most skyscrapers in New York. Players take turns claiming lots and placing buildings almost-Tetris style onto the game board. Larger buildings are harder to squeeze onto open spaces and are worth more points. At game end, bonus points are awarded for having the most buildings along specific streets as well as a special scoring that is different each game. New York 1901 is a solid entry in the family gaming category. Fun for the older folks, but still playable by the younger (early grade school) set.
New York 1901
Publisher: Blue Orange Games
Time: 45 mins
(Review copy provided by Blue Orange Games)
Take Slapjack, add in some silliness and a dart pistol and you have the kid-friendly boardgame Pingo Pingo. Accompanied by a changing soundtrack, players take turns playing cards and watching for the right conditions to slap the pile and claim a treasure. Meanwhile, events come up forcing a player to perform one of several actions, which include shooting at targets with the supplied gun. Mistakes cost a life point, and the player with the most treasures (and not dead) wins the game. Loads of silliness packed into a cool 15 minutes, Pingo Pingo is great for a family game night.
Time: 15 mins
(Review copy provided by IELLO)
Can your people leave the collapsing station, avoid the aliens, and make it to safety? Players take a turn by moving crewmember, destroying part of the station, and then moving one of the aliens. Get caught on a destroyed piece or eaten by aliens and your crewmember is no more. Reach one of the escape routes with a crew member to score points. The game is simple to understand, but the fun part comes in using special abilities and simply picking on the other players. A quick conflict-ridden game that allows players to really stick it to their neighbors.
Survive: Space Attack!
Publisher: Stronghold Games
Time: 60 mins
(Review copy provided by Stronghold Games)
In Pictionary you draw for speed, but in Duplik you draw for elegance. Duplik is a party game where one player describes and all others draw a detailed scene. Players then judge each other’s creations on ten, previously unknown, criteria. Players score points for correct drawings while the caller scores points for any player who meets a criteria. After points are awarded, drawings are shared around and hilarity ensues. Duplik rewards thoroughness (not necessarily skill) under pressure and is a great choice for a drawing-focused party game.
Time: 45 mins
(Review copy provided by Asmodee Games)
Traditional RPGs are games of the mind, but it doesn’t hurt to have spiffy little plastic figures on hand to help set the tone and sort through the complexities of battle. Figures can be bought unpainted or, for a bit more cash, they come prepainted. As a busy parent, I easily fall into the latter category. While any figurines aren’t cheap, they can add a bit of fun as players can see the unruly monsters gather around their poor characters, eager for a kill.
(Review samples provided by Wizkids)
Boardgames like Runebound pack the positive feedback loop gaining power in MMORPGs into a few short hours of a boardgame. This new (3rd) edition of Runebound provides a new-player friendly boardgame where everyone can choose their own character’s path to power. Players can gain in power by questing to explore locations, interact with the denizens of the land, or simply fight monsters. The first player to become powerful enough to defeat the final villain wins the game. With its open-ended options, playing a game of Runebound gives the enjoyment of adventuring in a MMORPG packed into a single evening of face-to-face game play.
Runebound, 3rd Edtion
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Time: 2-3 hrs
(Review copy provided by Fantasy Flight Games)
It’s nice when the art of boardgame design meets more traditional art. In Musée, players place art-covered cards into their three-tiered museum, attempting to place similar cards adjacent to each other in order to score points. Simple and fast to play, Musée features more than 60 pieces of wonderful licensed art from the fifteenth to early twentieth century. It is an attractive game appropriate for gamers and non-gamers alike.
Give the gift of face to face time with a boardgame. It’s time once again for me to preach to the masses on the greatness of boardgaming. Nothing beats the social aspect of in-person gaming with friends. Last year’s run-down remains a great list of recommended games. Here again are some great examples of boardgames to get you and your family gaming. You might not find all these titles at your local mega-mart but many can be found online or in a friendly local game store. Some may argue $50+ boardgames are expensive, but compare that to videogaming (and where multiple copies are required for multiplayer play) and the economics of boardgaming shows their true value. Good boardgames are timeless, just as good today as they will be years in the future. They will provide many more hours of entertainment than most video games. In that vein, feel free to delve into some past year’s guides for 2013, 2012, 2010, and 2009.
Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), protagonist of the third most translated book in the world, is back in the form of another boardgame. This time, it’s a young aviator who is leaving her grandfather’s house to fly to meet the little prince on his home planet. Players use cards to move their personal aviator across the map while collecting stars. The twist is in the turn order. The last place plane always takes the next move. The Little Prince is a quick little game that makes a good filler (a quick short game), but despite its art and straightforward rules it does have some aggressive play that may not fit well with younger players.