Sam Kerriton writes:
Dear Father Geek,
HELP! My brother and his wife and three kids (two boys, 10 and 8, and a girl, age 5) are coming to my house for Thanksgiving. I’m not looking for cooking advice but gaming advice! What games can you suggest I play with the kids and parents that are NOT “gamers”? I know of several “gateway” games, but could really use some solid suggestions. Have any?!
Looking GREATLY forward to your response!
Thanks for writing in Sam. Deep fry the turkey. Delicious!! Oh wait… that is the cooking advice that you do not need.
I am pleased that the boss gave me this question to answer since it is a situation that every one of us is commonly in. Well over half of my modest collection is comprised of games that I would not even place in my top 100. I would never choose to pull them out when I have the serious game nights with my gamer friends. I acquire many of them because I think they are games that I can get to the table when I have company over. They are the types of games that non-gamers will at least tolerate, and maybe even enjoy.
I find myself in your exact situation for most family gatherings. My two boys are still very young, but I have a collection of six nieces and nephews that are between the ages of 7 and 11 that come attached to some parents that only agree to a game when I coax them into it.
The following recommendations I have for you are focused on the older two kids and also games your brother and his wife have a good chance of enjoying at some level. I do not mean to exclude the five year old girl, but in some cases, she should probably be paired with a sibling or parent. You know her attention span better than me, so I will leave that to your judgment.
Additional Criteria include:
- Quick Play — It is a lot easier to convince family to sit down for a 20 minute game before or after dinner than it is to schedule an afternoon.
- Easy to Teach — Unless you are a gamer, you have about three minutes tops before you lose the interest of anybody you are explaining rules to, especially kids.
This first list are games I have personally tried with visiting family to varying degrees of success. The list is not in any particular order:
Bang! by DaVinci Games
|This is a fun card game that depicts a wild west shootout. Everything is symbol driven, but although it does not require reading skills, it’s often just as complex to interpret the symbols as it would be to just read the effect. There is very little strategy involved with the game, but if the group of people you are with are willing to get into the theme a little bit, it can be fun. It is somehow gratifying to shout out “Bang!” as you take a shot at your neighbor.
The game has 3 or 4 expansions, which you can get all bundled together if you buy the Bang! Bullet.
RattleSnake by Fantasy Flight Games
Castle Panic by Fireside Games
The Great Dalmuti by Avalon Hill. Designed by Richard Garfield
Ca$h ‘n Gun$ by Asmodee Editions
The following list of games are ones that I think would work really well and are on my list to try as soon as I can:
- Tichu — A trick taking card game
- Forbidden Island — A Pandemic-lite, cooperative board game for all ages
- Gumball Rally — Reviewed on this site, and one I think would work great
- Monopoly Deal — Also reviewed on this site. I cannot wait to give it a try for Thanksgiving this year.
I look forward to comments from readers with more suggestions for family games. Like you Sam, I am always trolling for ideas.