Board Games for Family Fun and Entertaining
Enjoyable Games to Play with Family and Friends
After you've had a few people over for a meal, and everyone is feeling mellow, you need a great way to finish a great evening. Entertaining is easy if you pull out one of these tabletop games. This lens tells about seven of my favorite board games.
Have you tried any of the award-winning table games known as "family strategy games", "designer games", "gateway games" or "Euro games"? They are interesting and fun, not silly or too easy. Generally each of these themed games has a storyline and the game play makes sense in the context of the story and setting.
Scoring well depends more on your planning and strategy than on luck, but winning the game is not the main point of playing it. How you manage your resources and opportunities is what makes them really interesting. There are no teams. No one gets eliminated. You play alongside each other, but each player builds their own progress depending on choices that they decide to make. This is why you can play the same game over and over again and not get tired of it.
What makes these games fun to play?
- you can learn and enjoy playing the game in one sitting
- the game takes thirty minutes to two hours, with a definite ending caused by the game itself
- no boring wait times for other players' turns because you're busy planning your next move
- strategy is involved, and each time you play you can try a different approach
- players who don't plan ahead can still enjoy themselves
- you play alongside each other, rather than against each other
- no one loses their turn or is eliminated
- being mean to other players does not make the game go better
- you don't really know who is going to win until the final scoring
Strategy Board Games Make Great Presents
Give a gift that keep on giving
If you give someone a movie, they'll watch it once, or maybe even a few times. If friends are over, no one interacts much while it is on. BUT ... if you give someone a strategy board game, they can have years of entertainment value from it. At the end of a game, time has flown, everyone feels that they've really enjoyed each others' company, and they all hope you will invite them back to do again another day.
If you are going to stay with someone for a vacation, one of these games make an excellent thank you gift. You can have the pleasure of introducing them to some new fun and maybe even let them in on some of your favorite strategies. You will have no worries about what to do if the time drags or you can't find enough to talk about. and after you'll gone, they will remember you fondly every time they bring the game out for an evening's entertainment.
Bonus - expansion packs make great additions for future gift-giving. Give the game one year, and just when they think they have mastered it, throw in some complications with an expansion pack or two. The game takes on a whole new twist, but still has the familiar feeling of an old friend.
GAMES, GAMES, GAMES
Which board games should I buy?
Here are my seven favorites for the most play value and satisfaction. Read on to see why you'll like them too.
Takenoko Board Game - Our Best New Game for 2012
This game was a 2012 Christmas present in our family. We played it three times on Christmas day and then met for a rematch a few days later because it was so much fun. Takenoko is a fun strategy game that is easy to learn and moves quickly. Each game takes about 45 minutes. There's lots of replay value because you draw objective cards from a large pool so your goals change each time you play. The story centers around a gift from the emperor of China to the Japanese emperor - a hungry giant panda - and an imperial gardener who would rather be tending Zen gardens, not constantly trying to grow bamboo to feed the sacred pet.
Roll for weather, place plots of land, irrigate, and try to grow colored bamboo to feed the panda exactly what he craves. The game ends when the first player has completed 7 to 9 objectives and received the approval of the emperor. 2-4 players can play this game. Rules and objectives change with the number of players. There are also some bar-raising modifications for advanced players.
Stone Age Board Game - Our Best New Game for 2011
For 2 - 4 players
I got this game for Christmas. It's a winner! Four of us read the rules and played it in the afternoon. As with most games, actual play is easier than reading the instructions. There are lots of options and choices to make - this keeps the replay value high. We liked Stone Age so much on first try that we played it again at the end of the evening, and set up another date to rematch a few days later. It is definitely an addicting game.
Later in the holiday, my husband and I played and found that this is a great two-person game. There are a few limits that you don't have in a four-person game, but you still get more opportunities to make the moves that gain you points.
Should I hunt for food, grow grain, make tools,cut timber, build huts, pan for gold? What is the smartest path to survival? Strategy matters but there are many way to be victorious. This game is easy to learn, and is infinitely interesting. Four people can play; it is a fun game for two or three players as well - just adjust a couple of the rules.
Puerto Rico Board Game - For 3 - 5 players
Eurogame fans have given Puerto Rico great reviews, and no wonder. It is really interesting. You start with three doubloons, one plantation and your wits. Soon you are building processing plants, warehouses, trading goods for money or shipping goods for points. As your prosperity increases, you can begin to buy the coveted bonus tiles. Each turn is full of possibilities! Even the other players' turns will give you opportunities to increase your property and wealth. There are no boring moments.
Because there are no dice, your play is all about strategy. I am still trying to figure out my best approach. I think up a brilliant plan and lose? What's with that? Now I have to play again, and see where I went wrong. No dice means there's no random luck involved. It's all about the strategy. This game has infinite replay value. Puerto Rico has been chosen Best Strategy Game in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands and the USA. Well-deserved in my opinion.
This is the original version for 3 to 5 players. The games includes colonists, goods, plantations, buildings, game board, player boards, trading and shipping tiles and rule book.
Alhambra Board Game
For 2 - 6 players
This tile-laying tabletop game is my current favorite. Every time I play, the results are completely different. Should I take money? Should I build? Who will win? Who knows - that's the beauty of it. We recently played with six people and two had never seen it before, but they caught on fast, had a lot of fun (and did not come in last!)
This is the basic game for 2 to 6 players. Setup takes less than 10 minutes. A game takes about an hour. An eight year old could play it; adults love it.
This gorgeous package contains the basic game and all five expansions. It will keep you busy building variations of your city for years, and it's a great deal. Take it easy, though. Learn the basic game first and then add on a few complications at a time!
This expansion add six gates to the city. Diamonds are added for buying power, camps so you can place tiles outside the walls and ten character cards that are obtained by auction and give the owner added powers.
Adding this expansion gives you four different modules. You don't have to use them all - you can pick one or combine several.
Kingsburg Board Game - from Fantasy Flight Games
For 2 to 5 players
Kingsburg is a family strategy game that anyone age ten or more can play and enjoy it. Your job as a governor is to gain victory points, decide how to build up the kingdom and gain help from the advisors of the king's court. You have five years to accomplish your goals while fighting off the kingdoms enemies in battle. If you paid too much attention to building and too little attention to your army, you could be in trouble! One of the great things about this game is that you aren't pitted against other players. Winning will depend on your wise choices, skill, and a little luck with the dice throws.
Kingsburg is a stand-alone board game. It is an entertaining game to buy for yourself to play with family or friends, and it is a wonderful, fun game to give as a present. You can't go wrong with this one.
Ticket to Ride Board Games - The Classic Favorite Game
For 2 to 5 players.
The first and most basic game is Ticket to Ride. It has over 400 five-star customer reviews on Amazon. You play on a map of the United States and have seven days to be the player who visits the most cities. Everyone has a lot of fun and gets a dose of geography as a side benefit. Children as young as 8 years old can learn and enjoy this cool game. There are 225 train cars - think carefully about where you'll place them! Longer routes give you more points, but can you get to your destination in time? Terrific replay value!
Can you make it to your destination? Short route to get there quicker? Long route to get more points? Adapting because someone wiped out your next move? Click to the left of this text to see a two-minute video about the gameplay of Ticket to Ride.
This version is more challenging because it has more options. Travel Europe, build stations, build on other players railway lines. Use your locomotive wild cards to get across the water.
Designed for 2-3 players, Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries takes you on a tour through Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.There are ferry and tunnel routes like TTR Europe. This version is available for a limited time since it has been discontinued by Days of Wonder.
Ticket to Ride Map Expansion Packs
If you already have the original Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride, Europe, you can add new maps to change up your game. Each of these games adds a new location and new elements to the game. More hours of fun, and a geography education too!
The Asian expansion set gives you two challenging new maps on a durable, double-sided board. Routes join the Middle East, Russia, India, China, Korea and Japan. Side one features cooperative team play for 4 or 6 players. Side 2 is the traditional play for 2-5 players featuring ferry routes and Himalayan Mountain tunnels.
This double-sided game board for 2-4 people lets you choose to travel through India or Switzerland. In the India game, in addition to scoring points for claiming routes, completing tickets and getting the train path, players can score bonus points for connecting the cities on one or more tickets with two distinct routes. The Switzerland side is a reprint of the mega-popular game first published in 2007 for 2-3 players. "If you like Ticket to Ride but wish it had more player interaction and tension, India and Switzerland will be welcome additions to your game nights."
Set in the vast wilderness of Africa at the height of its exploration by explorers, missionaries and adventurers, this one-sided, vertical board map explores central and southern Africa. There are 45 terrain cards of three different types, each associated with different route colors. Players draw terrain cards just like train cards and use them to double the value of the routes they claim. Designed for 2-5 players.
For 2 to 5 players
This is the first Euro-game I played, thanks to my kids. I was hooked right away. I wanted to keep playing to see how must better I could do the next time. I even wanted to sit and piece the tiles by myself because they are so lovely and intricate, and the combinations seemed endless. I have started adding expansion packs. I have also given this game as a gift several times.
This is the basic game. It's all you need for hours and hours of fun with family and friends.
More points, more possibilities! If you have the basic game, you can start adding expansions. This was the first expansion pack released, although there is no reason to buy them in any certain order. Inns and Cathedrals is great because it makes it possible for one more player to join in.
You need the basic game to play these expansion packs. This is the second expansion. Trade goods bring extra value to players who finish cities. Collect as many as you can. Builders give an added tile draw, pigs increase the value of farms,
Are my favorites your favorites?
Click on the game you enjoyed the most:
If you would like to know more about how these entertaining games are played, check out the following articles on Wikipedia. Then scroll down to read my seven recommendations. Find out why they're my favorites and could be yours too.
- Gameplay for Puerto Rico
In this article you can read a brief description of how Puerto Rico is played, as well as some strategy, a couple of balancing fixes, and an expansion.
- Gameplay for Alhambra
This article describes the basic board game of Alhambra as well as all the expansion packs that are available.
- Gameplay for Carcassonne
In this article you will find the basic gameplay plus lists of expansion packs, mini expansion packs, compilations and spinoffs for Carcassonne, including the computer game for iphone, ipad, smartphone, Xbox and Nintendo.
- Gameplay for Ticket to Ride
Here you will read about the gameplay for the original board game, plus expansions, spinoffs as well as computer, iphone and ipad game versions, and the Xbox video game.
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