6 Wonderful Board Games to Buy Your Kids Instead of the ‘Classics’

6 Wonderful Board Games to Buy Your Kids Instead of the ‘Classics’

Board games are a wonderful way to spend quality time with your family and friends but it pains me to see people buy the same old board games for their family if they didn’t really enjoy them as a child. While the hobby is getting more popular, the vast majority of people don’t know how many amazing games exist just beyond the half-dozen that get heavily advertised by the toy conglomerates.

While any time spent with your children away from screens is a very good thing, I can speak from experience as a parent of two now-grown children that there are reasons to bring modern board games to the table instead of yet another night yelling at one another about whether you really get money when you land on Free Parking.

1) Modern board games teach more decision-making. Too many board games of old rely on randomness and chance to determine outcomes. While all gameplay helps children learn rules and follow directions, when consequential decisions are involved, children learn to make decisions in a safe play-space that helps them feel confidence ahead of a time when they need to make them in the real world.

2) Games on this list evolved from earlier games — and solved many of their problems. Shorter play times are welcome in our busy age. Modern games usually don’t eliminate players as you go, so everyone gets to play the whole time. They have catchup mechanisms so you have a chance to win even if you fall behind. They’re often optimized to give kids a chance without having to ‘let them win’. They include cooperative games you can work on together. These changes help make games more about time well spent than frustration and the feeling of being left out.

3) Modern games that are more fun for everyone also means you’ll have a better time and young players can tell. Kids are sharp. They watch you, emulate your actions and detect falsehood. Your fake enthusiasm for that game with nasty-looking candy all over it? They can see right through it earlier than you think. Play a game you will all enjoy and your kids will love it. You might even find yourself more willing to play again and more often when everyone is having a great time.

So take a look at this list of alternatives which have delighted tens of thousands and really should delight millions. When you go to buy that a gift for the kids in your life, remember there’s a reason why Wal-Mart sells the ‘classics’ for $5. Instead, buy a modern board game that will truly delight your family.

Winning Alternatives To the ‘Classics’

Sushi Roll is a great new game from Gamewright
  1. Buy Sushi Roll instead of that game with rent and hotels — We are so busy these days, does anyone have time for a game that seems like it never ends, that has player elimination, and a confrontational air? Instead, try Sushi Roll, a delightful dice-game from Gamewright that can be played in 20–30 minutes and will delight everyone at the table. Everyone gets to play the whole game, you get three rounds of play to even out the luck of the die rolls, and a chance to swap and re-roll helps kids learn to make choices to mitigate luck and pick the times when it matters most. Instead of being directly confrontational (I take money from you), it’s competitive (we compete to acquire the most of some elements, while I collect sets independently in other cases). Add to that the charming look and intuitive game play, and you have a winner that will come out a lot more often than the Game That Takes All Night. Buy Sushi Roll on Amazon.

2) Buy Animal Upon Animal instead of that one with the ice — Dexterity games can be a blast, but when it’s mostly about luck, it can get a bit boring. Animal Upon Animal is a stacking game where you roll a die to set the stage for how you perform your turn, while still giving you a chance to pick what you will use. Even the younger players here get a chance to make choices about what animal they’d like to play each turn and how they would stack them. With small, nimble fingers used to this kind of activity, my kids would frequently beat me badly in Animal Upon Animal when they were young, try as I might. That’s part of why I’m saving it for my grandchildren one day. Grab it and enjoy the 15-minutes of laughing and fun. Buy Animal Upon Animal on Amazon.

So much fun stacking Animal Upon Animal with the kids.

3) Buy Qwirkleinstead of that one with all the words — Often called “Scrabble for Everyone”, the award-winning Qwirkle levels the playing field for kids and adults alike, allowing you to build lines like in that word game we all know, but using colors and symbols. It’s a charming way to let everyone play with the same level of knowledge by removing the significant advantage one with massive vocabulary has in that other game. Available in the original, a Travel Edition, and with variants, Qwirkle will hit the table more often when everyone feels like they get a chance to win. Ages 6 and up. Buy Qwirkle on Amazon.

Qwirkle has hit the table hundreds of times with our family.
The comic is some good fun, too.

4) Buy Simon’s Cat instead of that ‘one’ one — Simon’s Cat is a cute online cartoon but what I’m talking about here is the card game from Steve Jackson Games. This plays like THAT card game a bit, but the decisions are more interesting and there are not nasty cards that make children frustrated because they lose turns, draw a bunch more cards or when the rotation shifts. Simon’s Cat replaces that with variable numbers of cards in each suit, a manageable play-time, and charming artwork. For the ailurophiles out there, this is a huge treat! Buy Simon’s Cat on Amazon.

5) Buy Codenames Disney, Marvel or Harry Potter instead of that memory game — Memory games have limited educational value, but coming up with words to associate multiple concepts is highly useful. That’s what Codenames will teach your kids. While the regular version is a hit with teens and adults, your kids can enjoy the same great experience with editions themed to Disney, Marvel and Harry Potter. Using the pictures or images, you and your family come up with one-word clues to get members of your team to guess multiple cards on the board. In the Disney version, you might clue “Cat-3” to get them to guess Shere Khan from the Jungle Book, Raja the Tiger from Aladdin, and Figaro from Pinocchio, with the ‘3’ denoting that there are three that cat references in some way. Get the version that suits your kids’ favorite franchise — they don’t get more popular than Disney, Marvel and the Boy Who Lived. The Harry Potter one is fully cooperative, which can add to the experience, too, and can be played with as few as two players. Buy Codenames Disney, Codenames Marvel, or Codenames Harry Potter.

The Disney, Marvel and Harry Potter Editions use pictures and words.

6) Buy Forbidden Island instead of that mystery game — As with Codenames, cooperative games are a modern wonder of board games that brings the family together. This fun game of searching for treasure and stopping an island from falling into the sea is a family-friendly take on the same designer’s co-op hobby game, Pandemic. While that game is wonderful, Forbidden Island works best for the younger set, allowing you and your family to explore the island, work together to discover the cool artifacts included with the game, and to escape before the island sinks. Buy Forbidden Island on Amazon. Sequels Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Sky are also a good time if you enjoy the original. Ages 6 and up.

A treat for all players, Forbidden Island lets you work together to save the island and escape.

Don’t Limit Games to the Holidays

Make playing board games a regular event. Plan a family game night, even if you can help yourself and you buy the ‘classics.’ Any time spent playing board games with any age-appropriate board game is an investment that benefits everyone in your family.

Keep playing them after your kids are off to college, too. They’re so good for you, a welcome respite from your day and they help keep the mind active. This is a modern tonic for our screen-obsessed culture; time to look at faces, talk and interact with people IRL. I believe you will find it to be time well-spent.


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PRESS RELEASE: PAX West 2019 Badges Now Available

Badge Options, New Show Hours Announced
 
SEATTLE, Wash. – May 30, 2019 – Badges for PAX West 2019 are now on sale. Show organizers ReedPOP and Penny Arcade will bring the West Coast’s largest gaming convention back to the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle Aug. 30 – Sept. 2, 2019 with a suite of changes and improvements to badge options and show hours.
 
This year’s event will see the return of four-day badges, which are currently available for $220. Meanwhile, individual badges for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are on sale for $55. BYOC add-on badges are also on offer for $45, allowing attendees to bring their personal gaming rigs to the show and reserve a place to enjoy the dedicated PC freeplay area.
 
Exclusive PAX West merchandise is now available for purchase as well. These items include show-branded zipper bags ($15), scarfs ($25), and office stationery sets ($55) that include a pen cup, stapler, tape dispenser, tray, and three pens. Online orders will be available to pick up on site.
 
The show will open its doors earlier than in previous years, providing entry to fans beginning at 9:30 AM each morning Fans have more time to explore PAX West’s multiple massive expo halls teeming with hundreds of exhibitors showcasing new and upcoming games.
 
PAX West also offers attendees opportunities to see and interact with industry luminaries, popular content creators, esports stars, and other exciting personalities across a variety of entertaining panels, tournaments, autograph sessions, concerts, and more.
 
The international lineup of PAX shows (West, East, South, Aus, Dev, and Unplugged), produced by ReedPOP in conjunction with Penny Arcade, comprise some of the world's largest gaming festivals. PAX events connect the industry's greatest creative minds from across the worlds of both video and tabletop gaming, directly to passionate audiences.
 
Working journalists and content creators interested in attending PAX West in order to produce show coverage can apply for media credentials starting in early June.
 
For more updates on PAX West 2019, follow PAX on TwitterFacebook, andInstagram.
 
PAX
 
PAX or Penny Arcade Expo is a festival for gamers to celebrate gaming culture. First held in Seattle in 2004, PAX has nearly doubled in size each successive year, with PAX Prime 2014 selling out of tickets in a matter of minutes. Connecting the world's leading game publishers with their most avid and influential fans, PAX expanded with a second show in Boston in 2010 and a third in San Antonio in 2015, making it the three largest gaming shows in North America. The first international PAX was held in Melbourne, Australia in 2013. In 2017, Penny Arcade established PAX Unplugged, its first tabletop focused show, held in Philadelphia.
  
ReedPOP
 
ReedPOP is a boutique group within Reed Exhibitions – the world’s leading event organizer. Launched in 2006, the group has become the number one producer of pop culture events across the globe as well as a full-service digital content provider and media company. Delivering once-in-a-lifetime fan experiences curated specifically for localized audiences, ReedPOP currently features events in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, India, Africa, and Australia, including: New York Comic Con (NYCC), Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), PAX West, East, South, and Australia, Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC), MCM Comic Con, BookCon, Oz Comic Con, EGX, Comic Con India, Comic Con Paris, Comic Con Seoul, Comic Con Africa, Star Wars Celebration, and ComplexCon. ReedPOP also runs and operates Gamer Network and its portfolio of leading gaming websites including Eurogamer, RockPaperShotgun, and GamesIndustry.biz. The staff at ReedPOP are a fan-based, globally focused group of professionals that are uniquely qualified to build and serve the communities with whom they share a common passion.
 
Penny Arcade
 
Penny Arcade is a web comic focused on video games and video game culture, written by Jerry Holkins and illustrated by Mike Krahulik. With over 3.5 million readers, it is the most popular and longest running gaming web comic online. Penny Arcade is also responsible for the Child's Play Charity, the Penny Arcade gaming expos (PAX) in Seattle, Boston, San Antonio, Philadelphia, and Melbourne, multiple video games based on the brand, and multiple online video series.

PRESS RELEASE: Northstar Games’ Say Anything Celebrates 10 Years

PRESS RELEASE: Northstar Games’ Say Anything Celebrates 10 Years
It’s a Birthday Party…..For a Party Game!
(editor’s note: E.R. Burgess remains a fan of Say Anything even a decade later…)

Kensington, MD (August 3, 2018) – North Star Games’ hit party game Say Anything is celebrating a milestone rarely achieved in the party game market – 10 years of sales!  Since its initial release in 2008, the game has sold almost 1 million copies and won several prestigious Party Game of the Year awards, including those from fans at the Origins Game Fair and the BoardGameGeek.com.

In celebration, North Star Games is partnering with Target to launch a special Say Anything 10th Anniversary Edition.  This special edition includes updated components, refreshed graphics, and 180 new questions for you to answer as ridiculously as possible.

When originally released, Say Anything offered a breath of fresh air to the stale party game market.  Many party games came with pre-printed cards that players submitted as answers to questions.  Say Anything broke new ground in the genre by allowing players to answer questions in their own words.

“The game has succeeded because it’s like jet fuel for creativity.  Say Anything is uniquely good at giving players the platform to open up,” states Dominic Crapuchettes, Founder and Co-President of North Star Games.  “So no matter who you are, you can be funnier or weirder than you imagined you were, and it feels good.  We’re proud of that.”

Say Anything 10th Anniversary Edition is now available exclusively at Target Stores and Target.com for $19.99. Through August 11th, customers can get 10% off Say Anything 10th Anniversary Edition here, using the promo code: GENCON.

Ages: 13+; Players: 4 – 8; Play Time: 30 minutes; MSRP: $19.99.

About North Star Games
North Star Games is the publisher of award-winning party, family, and strategy games. Wits & Wagers is the most award-winning party game in history, Evolution is used in the Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Oxford, and Happy Salmon has become a gaming phenomenon. For more information on these games and more, visit www.NorthStarGames.com.

BGB Volume 102 – Q&A with Scott Alden, Lincoln Damerst and Nikki Pontius at Gamex 2013

BGB Volume 102 – Q&A with Scott Alden, Lincoln Damerst and Nikki Pontius

Gamex 2013 came and went earlier this summer. We were happy to host Scott Alden, the man behind Boardgamegeek.com and the convention for its fans, out to hang with us for the weekend. We played many games, enjoyed his company, and were happy to have Lincoln Damerst, one of the main BGG guys these days and host of the hit series of board game videos GameNight! and his lovely wife, Nikki Pontius, a Queen Games representative and producer of many a Kickstarter campaign, join us as well. We talk about many subjects from game cons to game libraries, Spiel, Kickstarters and a whole lot about GameNight!

This is part one of the conversation. Part two will come out next week when I return from San Diego ComicCon.

More game info…

Boardgamegeek.con is November 20-24

For many of us who can’t make the trip to Germany each year, BGG.con is our way to get exposure to the latest board games to come out at Spiel. I’ll be there in Dallas this year, as I usually am, to join in the fun. We chat quite a lot about it on the show.

More game info…

GameNight! from Boardgamegeektv

GameNight! is a great video series with some local L.A. gamers playing board games and then talking about them. 

More game info…

Queen Games

Nikki Pontius is a Queen Games rep responsible for a lot of the content of their Kickstarter campaigns and more. I personally adore the quality of Queen’s products and enjoy a lot of their games. Queen has been a generous supporter of Strategicon conventions and we are happy to have most of their titles in our library.

More game info…

Augustus | The Opinionated Gamers on WordPress.com

Augustus | The Opinionated Gamers on WordPress.com

Augustus | The Opinionated Gamers on WordPress.com

Augustus seems like the shoo-in for the SDJ this year, if only because of its box-size. The other contenders, including the amazingly fun Hanabi and the reasonably fun Qwixx, are just too small for the traditional prize. They’ve never given the award to a game in such a small box. But Augustus already has the traditional split from the Gamerati – with half of them calling it a lot of fun and the other half saying it is too light and “Gamer Bingo”. I’m trying to acquire a copy for my upcoming Friendcation, where I go to a resort and play games with some of the oldest friends (Hanabi and Qwixx are already packed) so we can get our own assessment. See below to get the opinion of the Grand Poobah of Gaming himself, Mr. Greg Schloesser.

Augustu s from designers Paolo Mori & Vincent Dutrait has quickly gained the moniker “Caesar Bingo,” and it does, indeed, fit. But please don’t let that deter you from playing, as there is much more here than the traditional game of Bingo.

Read on…