From Three to One Hundred and Three
Tabletop Games for the Whole Family
Games can be very personal to the people who play them. Certain strategies draw in different people, and various themes attract unique audiences. You may adore one game, and your best friend may shrug it off as "not their thing." Given so much variation in which titles players most enjoy pulling off the shelf, what do you do when you get a group together to play who have different gaming preferences? Whether they disagree on theme, bring different levels of experience, or have different skills and abilities, there are games that are so accessible and widely enjoyable, just about any group of players can enjoy them. They may even bring people who might not feel they have much in common together, whether by sharing similar struggles or successes within the game.
Families in particular may stand to benefit from such broadly playable games, no matter the age of the players. Games such as these can bring generations to a level playing field, such that older or more experienced players are able to compete or collaborate with children or gaming novices, without necessarily feeling as though they have an unfair advantage. Instead of deep and complex strategy, players of these games will have to rely on skills such as speed, hand-eye coordination, bluff, and storytelling, leaving the first-place spot up for grabs.
Spot It! is a very simple game of matching pairs, but the elements of speed and luck make it exceptionally accessible. Each Spot It! game keeps players on their toes with at least four mini-games that require players to do something different with their cards, be it getting rid of them, collecting them, or spotting a certain number of matches between them. Spot It takes next to no time to set up and only minutes to teach, but it can keep players engaged for much longer.
The various version of the game allow you to tailor it to the players in your family, as well. If you have younger players, just learning their letters, numbers, or shapes, Spot It! Alphabet or Spot It! Numbers and Shapes may be an excellent option for you. Older players, however, may enjoy learning a new language with Spot It! Spanish or testing their pop culture knowledge with Spot It! Hip. Who knows, your family members who lived through the nineties may have even brought along a fanny pack to show off.
Loony Quest is a light-hearted game that looks significantly easier than it is in practice. Anyone who begins the game with an "oh, that doesn't look so tough" is in for a shock, and therein lies this fast-paced game's charm. Each player must try to draw on their screen a line, shape, or series of marks that, when laid over the level map, earns them points and power-ups while avoiding pranks and penalties. What's surprising is how challenging it can be for even the most skilled players to estimate where their goals and obstacles lie, especially at odd angles and perspectives.
The game can also be played in two modes—normal and arcade. Normal mode allows any player afflicted by neither a penalty nor a prank to play normally, drawing on a white background with no particular restrictions. In arcade mode, however, you begin each game by revealing a Penalty token which impacts all players. this may require you to play with a straight elbow, one eye closed, or a number of other impairments, always good for a half-hearted attempt at hitting all the objectives and a laugh with everyone involved.
The creatives in your group will love the weaving of tales that takes place with each play of Storyline, a game in which the group works together to tell a story, be it a classic tale or the highly improbable. Children will savor the opportunity to have tell their own tales and imagine the wild plots the game encourages. The fairy tales your younger family members commit to memory may be one of your group's own creation, unique to you and your relatives—a inside joke for years to come, and possibly, a story that will be passed along as time goes by. Because the story is created by using an assortment of cards, it is easy for everyone to participate, even if they don't necessarily have an idea of their own, and each storyteller may add as much or as little embellishment as they desire.
Mischievous souls will feel right at home with Crossing, a playful game of fantasy creatures, gem-sprouting mushrooms, and devious theft. Bluffing may not be every players favorite game mechanic, however the light-hearted nature of the game and the ease of coming up from behind make this game a delight for all, and luck plays enough of a part that even those who have a transparent poker face are able to successfully participate. There may even be a strategy in that approach.
The gameplay may remind you somewhat of musical chairs, providing one less mushroom than there are players. Each player may choose to target a mushroom covered in gems to take from, though if they target the same mushroom as an opponent, both leave the round empty-handed. At some point, players will realize that instead of collecting gems from the mushrooms, they can collect them from each other. Thus begins a sly game of reading one another's coming moves and trying to head them off for your own benefit.
Next time you're headed to a family reunion or just dinner with the folks, bring along a game! Should you ever encounter a lull in the conversation or a restless child, you will be well equipped to capture the group's attention and create many memories to take home at the end of the evening.