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Board games have come a LONG way since I was a kid, thankfully, as it means my own children are actually happy to sit down as a family and play for more than 15 minutes. ‘Family Games Night’ means grabbing some snacks and tackling a fun game, enjoying playing it and not being (too) bothered about who wins, as long as we’re enjoying it!
I’ve got some amazing games here, both board games and other table top games, that would be brilliant additions to any family games shelf. We’ve been hard at work trying them all out over the past month or so, so here’s what we thought of them
Rummikub Black Deluxe
An updated version of the classic game. Stored in a sleek black tin you’ll find premium playing tiles, curved tile racks and a playing mat to make the most of your playing space. If you’re not familiar with Rummikub then it’s a fairly easy game to learn – and the aim is to get rid of your numerical tiles first.
You can set tiles down in tiles or runs, there’s no maths required at all – just the ability to spot a sequence and to move the tiles about with the aim to set your last tile down before someone else does! Our 7 year old managed to win his first ever game, which means that he’s always keen to play it to retain his title! We’ve also played with adult friends and get just as much fun out it.
Arlo said: “I won my first game, which I didn’t think I would. At first all the numbers made me a bit nervous but actually there’s no maths involved and its really good fun”
Age 7+, 2-4 players. Available at Amazon* including the classic and junior versions.
The Genius Square
This game just lives on our kitchen table now – played at any opportunity whenever we have a spare few minutes Sam took it to work too one day last week and everyone loved it there too in the break room. In the box are two frames, two sets of coloured blocks and some dice. You can play alone or against an opponent and the aim of the game is to complete your square first.
When the dice are rolled each player puts a blocker in the squares shown, then has to fit their coloured pieces to complete the square first. Sometimes it’s quite easy and other times it can be really hard! There are 62,208 possible puzzles to play, so not one you’ll got bored of in a hurry! Athena has chosen to play this against herself by seeing if she can beat her own fastest solve.
Athena said: “This is really clever and fun too. The more I play it the quicker I get at working out which shapes fit where.”
A very portable and cute little whale shaped bag holds 162 numerical tiles. The aim of the game is to use up all your tiles by creating a big crossword style set of sums. It’s really easy to get the hang of, and of course helps improve maths skills whilst having fun at the same time. Each player adds to their own grid of sums until they can’t go, they can then swap a tile to carry on, or use the Mobius tile (wildcard). When you’ve used your tiles you shout FLIP and everyone takes three more to continue adding to their grid until there are no more tiles left.
Because there are no limits on the types of sums used you can have players of different mathematical levels, so everyone can make the most out of the game. You need a decent bit of space on the table or floor to play this one.
Arlo said: “I had to remember some of my times tables to see if I could use up my tiles, which was tricky but I liked making a really big display of my tiles”
5 Second Rule
A speedy game that keeps everyone on their toes! A electronic timer gives you just 5 seconds to name three of whatever is on the card, some are a (lot!) harder than others… and if you can’t think of three then the next player has to have a go… BUT they can’t say anything that had been said by the first player. Tricky times! You work your way around the board (Trying to survive the Danger Zones) to be the first player to finish.
There are LOADS of question cards, so no fear of getting a card twice in the same game, or in a good few games! You can try and trip opponents up by Switching and Passing on tricky questions to other players. It’s absolutely great fun! We let Arlo just say two answers as he’s five years under the ideal age range – though sometimes he comes up with three anyway!
Sam said: “Trickier than I thought it would be but a lot of fun and it’s great finding out how much the kids know for some of the questions, or seeing how they’re imaginations work too.“
Race around Europe
From the creators of Ticket to Ride, which we have several editions of already – including the kids edition, we were excited to try this one. The aim of the game is to travel around countries in Europe, by foot, plane or boat. Now despite there being a board all the ‘action’ takes place on your own card holders, with no other players being able to see what you’re doing until you’re ready to reveal your journey. The board is needed to work out which countries you can get to by foot (ie – they share a border) plane, or boat. I must admit that even in my 30’s my geographical knowledge needed a bit of help – but it was great for the kids to see where all the European countries were in relation to each other.
It took a little while for us all to completely understand the rules (I think they could be set out a little clearer on the rules sheet actually) but we got there in the end. The tricky part of the game is that once you’ve got your first ten cards they can’t be moved from the slot they’re in. You need to replace them with a card from one of the 3 discard piles (so you know what you’re picking up) or a random card – luck of the draw comes into play there. Once we got the hang of it we really enjoyed it, the kids were asking us questions about some of the countries they didn’t know much about too.
Athena said: “Loved finding out about where all the countries in Europe are and learning their names. Once I understood about not moving my cards in the holder it was good fun but a game can be over quickly if someone gets lucky with their cards.”
Horrible Histories The Board Game
Anyone who is a fan of Horrible Histories (and who isn’t!?) will love this game, it’s full of gross, interesting and horrible facts to amuse and delight! There are four different booklets of full of multiple choice questions. These are either asked or acted out by the players. You need to move around the board, answering questions or choosing tricky Chance cards, which may send you forwards or backwards depending on the card you pick up!
You start in the ‘Savage’ stone age and progress through time up to the ‘Terrible’ 20th century to win. Definitely a game for the whole family to get involved with. We’ve all learnt so much just after one game, and we only had a fraction of the available questions!
Athena: “We both love to watch Horrible Histories so I knew when I opened it I would like this game and I did! Some of the questions are tricky but I like to try and guess the answers before I hear the three options.”
Ideal for ages 8+, 2-4 players. Available from the games selection at Wicked Uncle.
History Heroes – Kings & Queens and London
These two card games are from the fantastic selection from History Heroes. Each game in the series focuses on a different aspect of history and is full of facts and figures. The aim of the game is to prove your knowledge in a match against your opponent, or up to 9 opponents in fact! Each card has facts about the character pictured of varying degrees of difficulty. Guess the character right? Win the card! There are also some more suggested ways to play too. Each card is illustrated with bold graphics, which make them even more fun.
Both my kids have also just sat and read through the pack of their own accord, like a history book but in flash cards. The more you learn about the historical figures and places the more chance you have of winning future games. I have definitely learnt a lot too, especially about the city of London so when it says “a game for 8 – 80+” they’re not joking. These games would be a great way to spend time at Christmas gatherings with older generations too. Also very easy to pop in your bag for a game on a train, or at a restaurant etc.
Arlo: “I really loved finding about the Kings and Queens especially the really really old ones. It’s fun to see how much mummy and daddy (don’t) know either! Haha!”
I’m sure any family would get a LOT of fun out of any of these games, my family certainly has – and it’s meant that we’re spending less time gawking at screens and more time having fun round the table together – you want more than that!