The British weather being what it is, it’s always a good plan to have easy activities for the smallfolk to hand.
So this week we’re looking at a couple of cracking wee family fun games.
Price: £25, CLICK HERE
Straight out the gate: this game is frankly brilliant. It plays a little like a cross between Dobble and Dominos, as it’s a rapid-fire symbol matching game. It can be played solo, team or versus in any of 3 modes: within 10 minutes we were all hooked from little miss age 5, through 11 and 13 year old, and even the missus who would normally choose a puzzle over boardgames any day!
It requires a little bit of maths but that can be as simple as tally marks (the things lockdown parenting teaches you about maths for 5 year olds!), and there are special action symbols to be remembered, but they’re fairly self-explanatory: bees are wildcards, burglar can steal your opponent’s turn, x2 double your points scored this turn, and there’s a circling arrow that gives you an extra turn.
All of us managed to get to grips with it, and it’s a definite hit.
221B BAKER STREET
Price: £23.99, CLICK HERE
The venerable 221b has been around in various forms since the ’70s, but the current version takes you through 75 cases around Holmes’s London. At its core, it plays like a slightly more complex – but less arbitrary – version of Cluedo, as you go round uncovering clues from various locations from the Newsagents to the Docks, Scotland Yard to the Locksmiths, and so on. Clues can be straightforward or cryptic, helping you gradually figuring out (typically) murderer, weapon and motive, before racing back to 221B to solve the case!
With some genuine strategy, particularly in the endgame, it’s great fun with older kids (my teenager does so enjoy beating me) but crucially also has a cooperative mode where you work together as the Baker Street Irregulars – meaning younger children, or those less inclined to be competitive, can be fully involved. This makes for a truly great, accessible family experience and it’s no wonder that the game consistently sells out over the Xmas period.
With 75 cases, you’re unlikely to get bored but there’s a further 50 in the expansion in case you do become obsessed!
Price: £12, CLICK HERE
Quirk is a fun twist on Charades with a dash of Uno, where you try to collect sets of animals or people by doing impressions of them (lion, robot…)
The grey cards are a bit harder (llama, yeti…) and the special cards allow you to steal, block or otherwise change the game.
Great fun, and just as good for 5 year-olds as 65 year-olds.
ON A SCALE OF ONE TO T-REX
Price: £10, CLICK HERE
Continuing the Charades variants, this game from the makers of Exploding Kittens is less about the guessing and more about the performance: everyone knows what you’re trying to act out, it’s the Intensity that is being guessed.
It’s a good twist, especially for those of us who aren’t quite as theatrical, and certainly lends itself to a casual drinks and boardgames vibe. The kids enjoyed it too, though, so it’s good to mix things up especially if you don’t mind feeling foolish. Quite noisy this one!
Price: £13 for 4 player version, CLICK HERE
This is an absolute staple in our house and goes everywhere with us – tiny, portable, comes with a handy carabiner for bags, extremely simple but fiendishly complex.
It’s essentially a take on Connect 4 minus the rack: you alternate tile placement on a table aiming to connect 5 before the other players – yes, you can play this with up to 6 (which frankly gets a bit bonkers, but still).
With many different set colours available, and in 2 or 4 player versions, it’s the king of travel games. It’s worth mentioning that Big Potato, who make this, also have a ton of print and play games available free if you register on their site! Good stuff all round.
Price: £6, CLICK HERE
Who doesn’t love a fidget toy? (Don’t answer that!) Combined with a bit of cup and ball action, you get Loopy Looper, a strangely satisfying skill game where you spin the ball round in a variety of different “tricks”.
It’s one of those things that should be vaguely irritating but somehow manages to be quite satisfying – and as a fairly cheap, easy distraction to occupy small people, it’s not bad at all.
RAILROAD INK: CHALLENGE EDITION
Price: £19.99, CLICK HERE
Roll and write games have a long history – Yahtzee and Pass the Pigs both leap to mind – where you roll dice and the results are used to somehow score points. In Railroad Ink, the dice feature train tracks and roads in various combinations and layouts, and you aim to make the most complete set of routes you can on the drywipe boards provided.
Highly portable, the challenge not only comes from the routes themselves but also completing Goals that change every game as quickly as possible. There are two core editions of the base game, Lush Green and Shining Yellow, each of which contains an expansion for variety: Lush Green allows you to build hiking trails through the forests, whilst Shining Yellow runs routes across the desert.
Both are a lot of fun, but we went for Lush Green simply because it appealed more. You can of course double up core sets, which increases from 4 to 8 players, and there are the two previous Core Sets Blazing Red and Deep Blue (volcanoes and lakes respectively) which are also compatible, although don’t include the Goals mechanic which is a key highlight in the game’s appeal.
Mini expansions from the conventional (such as introducing Underground networks) to the bizarre (invading Eldritch creatures) mean that you can tailor your game experience to your particular tastes! I’m not really sold on the weird expansions, for all my love of the mythos, but I’ll most likely get some of the more regular ones.
The lovely folk at Gibsons Games & Puzzles are kindly offering a giveaway prize of a game of your choice from their range, so here’s how to enter.
You can enter once on each social channel, and share via FB, to your story and/or retweet for an extra entry (NOTE: competition is available to UK entrants only)
Stick around over the summer for more reviews, giveaways and general nonsense!
And finally, the winner of our Kitbash Games giveaway is… Paul M Jacobus! Congratulations! Get in touch and we’ll get your prize sent your way ASAP!