As we’re now in the inevitable countdown to Xmas, this week here at Geeking Out we thought we’d look at some Geeky family board game fun.
Having a five and and eight year old, both of whom are highly competitive, as well as a wife who is sort of casually geeky (likes her Sci-fi and dc TV shows, reads a fair bit of fantasy), my family is pretty receptive but at the same time we still need stuff that is fun and accessible for all. So let’s run down some options, shall we?
King of Tokyo
Who hasn’t wanted to destroy downtown Tokyo in a kaiju rage frenzy? Exactly. Combining simple mechanics and glorious giant monster mayhem, this dice-based throwdown is perfect family fodder (or beer and pizza fodder, for that matter). Collecting atomic energy, using cards to mutate and unleash power attacks, it’s a tremendous and deceptively easy game that makes for a great twenty minutes/ half hour. Its very brevity is its strength, as it hold the attention of a little one but has enough replay value for all. Its worth saying that, with older children, you might want to consider its bigger brother King of New York which has more complex mechanics; however, with KoT’s expansions back in print to bring giant pandas, evolutions and Hallowe’en insanity into play KoT has all the monster nonsense you could ever need!
Settlers of Catan
It’s absurdly trite to call Settlers a classic, but it’s not without reason. Arguably the greatest crossover board game, it has won countless awards, intensive global competition and a huge fan community. At its heart however it remains a simple trading game that my youngest manages to beat us at consistently – yet the bigger one will break it out with his friends, and we will sit with ours (plus a glass or two of grown up juice). The new edition has a frame for the game board which is a simple but welcome change. There are many expansions available but otherwise than Cities & Knights only the 5-6 player expansion need distract you. It’s the most consistent gift we buy for friends with kids, and with good reason.
My half-Austrian cousin and his girlfriend brought this over with them when they came to stay many years ago. It absolutely encapsulates a slightly more complex, yet still absolutely accessible gaming experience that will capture avowed non-gamers – there is an intuitiveness to its city building mechanics that bring out the cutthroat competitiveness of kids of every age. There’s a bit more maths, a bit more devious cunning required here, but nothing that the whole family can’t manage. As an added bonus, the app version is highly addictive and a greater taster.
This is the ultimate gateway drug for gaming. With beautiful plastic miniatures, this classic fantasy board game lets you explore a mythic world and quest for treasure while fighting monsters and each other. With numerous expansions that add other regions, equipment and magic (as a family we’re particularly fond of The Sacred Pool which adds various steeds, both noble and ignoble), it’s a glorious way to spend a couple of hours that will absorb the whole gang.
So that’s a wee taster of some ideas for your family this season. Let us know what you think, what you’re tempted to try, and what have we missed? Write us a comment or two!