While the rest of the world fighting over the last PS4 and the Xbox One on store shelves, why not take a breather with some family-friendly board games? These are five of my favorites and we've found that they make great birthday and holiday gifts for families who are tired of screen time.
1.) First up we have Labyrinth, an amazingly fun, easy-to-play board game that pits wizard against wizard in a constantly changing maze. To play you pick treasure cards and then hunt for those treasures by moving the maze walls left and right, up and down, cutting off other players from their prizes and opening up new avenues of escape. There's no reading so it's great for the little ones. The game is fast-paced and encourages strategic thinking.
2.) Next we have Carcassonne, a game of domination that uses a very simple set of tiles to allow you to build beautiful cities and complex roads. The game requires no reading - one you know the rules the turns become second nature - and the maps you create become increasingly complex as you play.
3.) Cargo Noir is a bit more complex – it requires some counting – but you play the head of an international crime syndicate shipping smuggled goods around the world. You drop off jewels, cars, and money to various ports of call and make money in the process. The winner makes the most money and loses the least cash on the high seas.
4.) For older kids I'd recommend both Small World and Dominion. Small World is a game set in a fantasy world full of odd creatures that are vying to control mountains, plains, and underground caves. By fighting against other players you take over land and become king of Small World. It doesn't require much reading but it's a little complex for those under the age of seven.
5.) Dominion is a card game with a twist. You create a deck of powerful spells and tools and then cast curses on your enemies as you vie to acquire treasure and land. It requires a lot fo reading and plenty of strategy but it's great family fun and very engrossing.
Board games get forgotten in this age of always-on iPads but since most of these are less than $40 and can be played again and again they may be just the ticket for a winter afternoon by the fire.
What games does your family play?
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