5. It’s Blunderful
Bicycle playing cards have been around for a very long time, but you might be surprised to know they’ve branched out into making other, unique card games as well. It’s Blunderful is for 4-8 players and is meant for a slightly more mature audience – think Teens and up. It’s Blunderful straddles the line of an “impress the judge”/ party board game, but it’s still a good time for older family members.
One player will draw a card with an awkward hypothetical situation and three possible answers. Each player will secretly vote what they think is true for that player who read the card and bet either 5, 10, or 15 points on their answer. The player then reveals to the group what answer they picked and the rest either add or subtract the points they bet, with the first to 100 points winning. It’s good cheeky fun with some interesting scenarios which makes for a great way to laugh at your family and friends with cards like ‘You found out your ex just won the lottery’ or ‘You called in sick to work and the local news captures you sunning on the beach’. It’s light, it’s easy, and it’s sure to offer a lot of laughs and embarrassed blushing.
Another quick and easy game, Tsuro is a tile-laying board game for 2-8 players and is one of the simplest games on this list. The board is divided into a grid of squares with two white notches in each space. Players put their token on any single notch they want to start the game. Each turn, a player will have two tiles in hand and place one directly in front of their token; each tile shows winding and twisting lines. These tiles can be placed with any of the sides adjoining, but as soon as a tile is placed in front of your token, you must then move the length of the line until its very end. At first this is simple fun, making a winding path across the board, however, these tiles always remain in place. When the board begins to fill up, players will find themselves interacting with each other’s tiles in a network of twists and loops. Worse still, if one player places a tile that also connects to another player in an adjacent space, they automatically move as well. When two players collide on the board, both of them are out of the game. If a player manages to launch themselves off the board, they too are out.
It’s a game of last man standing that’s usually over in 10 minutes but it is hilarious to watch these strange loops and argue over placing that final tile you have to play that will undoubtedly spell doom for your extended family member. It is incredibly replayable and always good for a laugh. It’s easy for young children to grasp the concept and even a good tool for helping teach basic logic solutions to win. For those who like the idea but think it’s too easy or maybe you’ve had enough of plain old Tsuro, the game also has two sequel games with my personal favorite being Tsuro of the Seas. This uses the same mechanics but introduces deadly dragons to the board who can move about and devour players, but also remove previously played tiles adding an extra depth of strategy.
Family time gets loud. Cheering, yelling, singing, laughing, the ambient volume of the room is going to go up, but it just so happens this simple little card game called Anomia is perfect for talkative families. Designed for 3-6 players, Anomia is a game of quick wit and paying attention. Each player has a small deck of cards and everyone will turn the top card over simultaneously much like a game of War. These cards will contain a colored symbol in the center as well as a word on the top and bottom of the card. Once each card has been flipped, players look to see if anyone else’s colored symbol matches their own. As soon as a match is spotted, the game is on!
You must then see the word listed on your opponent’s card and blurt out an example of that word (if it says fish, yell salmon) The first person to yell out an example and get it right will get the point. The key is not just speed, but accuracy. If the card says “fish” and someone yells “bowl,” that doesn’t work. Too bad! The winner then takes the card they won as a point, and here is the important part, once that card has been collected it now reveals that player’s card from the previous round as their active card. That means if this newly revealed card has a colored symbol that matches anyone else’s – you guessed it – it’s a chain reaction round and the yelling continues! Anomia is great because it’s simple and fast, and when the pressure is on people tend to make mistakes and say silly things. For those of you with only adult friends, there is even an X-rated Anomia which is perfect to play when someone in your friend group is bashful and shy, or simply doesn’t want to scream out an example of an STI.
For some reason, there is this innate need some people have to know more about something than anyone else. These are the people obsessed with Trivia games; designed to test your knowledge of what color socks an actor wore in that one episode of that obscure TV show that was canceled after one season and only aired in half of one country. While Trivia games can be a lot of fun, many people find them taxing and can actually feel quite down about themselves for not proving “as smart” as someone else. Colorbrain levels the playing field and makes Trivia easy, accessible, and fun without hurting anyone’s feelings. How perfect is that?
Built for 2-12 players (up to 4 individual players or 4 teams), each player gets an identical hand of cards which are just colors – for those who are colorblind, the name of the color is also printed on the card! Each trivia question that comes up will be about a color or a combination of colors, which players then play for their answer. If all players get the answer right, nobody gets a point, but one point rolls over to the next round. This point system can even stack multiple times to make for a huge bonus when you manage to stump the other players. Each team also gets one Colour Capture card to be played in desperate times in which they can steal a number of random color cards from another player for one round, handicapping their next question. It’s a Trivia game of your visual memory, not some obscure date or event, and for those with kids, they even make a Disney-specific version that plays just the same.
Nominated for well over a dozen awards across four years, Concept is quite possibly the ultimate family game for the holiday season. Undoubtedly someone in your family is obsessed with Pictionary or charades, and at least one other person in your family dreads the idea of miming movies or drawing weird doodles under the pressure of a time limit – no thank you. Concept delivers that same puzzling challenge of communication board games but takes away the awkward gestures and drawings. Designed for 4-12 players broken into teams, someone will draw a card with nine possible answers they must get their team to guess. Each answer is increasingly difficult to communicate, but worth more points.
The key here is the board of Concept itself. Broken into columns and loaded with beautifully illustrated images, the clue-giver must use tokens to communicate their answer. The main clue is represented by a large question mark token, with subsequent hints represented by small cubes. The icons on the board can represent colors, places, shapes, sizes, motions, all manner of pieces that – when put together – will create a concept. Players can also use the exclamation mark token and matching colored cubes to create a sub-concept which helps make the idea even more specific. There is no wild flailing or scraggily drawings, all the clues you need are on the board; it’s just a matter of putting the right pieces together to get the point across. The game also features numerous ways to play in terms of scoring or even forcing you to play increasingly harder phrases. It’s a modern take on the classic formula that takes into consideration those who might be just a little more introverted or shy but still want to be part of the fun.
And that wraps up our list of board games that are perfect for some good ‘ol family fun this holiday season. If you have any suggestions for fun, easy-to-play games for the whole family this holiday season, please feel free to share them in the comments section below so others can get an even broader scope of ideas of what to play that isn’t just Monopoly or Catan.