A wise person once told me “a family that plays together, stays together.” I grew up in a competitive Midwestern family, we play A LOT of games. It is in my blood, and I fortunately married someone equally obsessed. Two more (of many) pros about that guy: he’s a fantastic teacher and reads most of our rules. We have a massive collection of board games.
I’ll briefly describe each pick with a pic, link and a tiny review of the game (by either myself or my kiddos).
Toc Toc Woodman kicks us off. Do you remember ‘Don’t Break the Ice’? This is similar, but less annoying to assemble. I remember reaching a point with my toddlers where I wanted to throw that effin’ ice game in the river. With TTW, just don’t bump the janky dining room table, your tree will tumble. It’s a quick game and doesn’t take too many reserves, just a steady axe hand. The bark falls off the core of the tree and you get points. Don’t knock the core pieces off though, or you lose points. Guess what folks, we are good at keeping the core pieces in a stack. I can’t remember who won, but I feel like we all won because, check that core!
Micro Robots is another quick game, and a game of the mind. You roll a die to determine where you start, roll again to determine where you end, and call out the fastest path before your opponents. Gus is a whiz at this game. Silently plotting isn’t a forte for all members of our family. We like the simplicity of this game, plus, we’re pretty into robots.
This next game is a play on rummy. We call it “take a shower rummy.” My Grandpa Ed, who happened to be one of the be one of the most fun humans to spend your breath with, was my teacher. We played it on vacation, in Mazatlan, before dinner each night. When someone won, they went to shower (sometimes with cockroaches) & fancy up for dinner. You need a deck of cards, and some basic rummy skills. Clear your mind of rummy scoring, and do the opposite. You don’t want points and you can play off of your opponents runs and sets. If you are creating a set that doesn’t yet exist, you need at least 3 of a kind, like rummy. If you are playing a run that doesn’t yet exist, you need at least 3 suited cards. It is simple and quick (aka racehorse rummy). You can lay down a single card if someone laid the foundation for you. You draw a card at the beginning of each turn, only the top card of either the face-down cards, or the discard pile, you can’t pick up a whole slew of discarded cards and play them. And, you have to discard at the end of your turn. Count up what is left in your hand when the first person goes out. I don’t aspire to write rules for games ^ obvi. Good luck with those rules – they may not even help me, if I forget, and need a reference.
Connect Four and Dominoes are readily available at our favorite local distillery, a spring break must-visit. We play a lot of dominoes lately, we have a portable set that travels conveniently in a mom-bag, and I downloaded a scoring app for my phone, we never seem to have pen and paper in said mom-bag.
We have a handful of pals that are almost always down for a board-game night, which is super fun after our kiddos hit the hay. We save some of the longer games for those nights, although our kids have played Small World. It has a billion delightful pieces and the map is pleasing. You select a race and a special power, like maybe you’ll be ‘vanishing kraken’. You put your race into play on the map, combat other races and spaces, and put your race into decline when it has exhausted its powers. The game is approximately 1.5 hours long, but if you have drinks and chatty players… I think Critical Failure has a song for that.
All of our games state an estimated length of game, number of players and suggested age on the side of the box. And, for the record, I haven’t met a ‘Days of Wonder’ game I haven’t liked.
Next up is my cutie husband and Stone Age. Our kids have played stone age, but I’m pretty sure they were playing World of Warcraft while we played this and sipped whiskey. The little wooden pieces that come with this game are my favorite. It has a similar feel to The Settlers of Catan. It is a bit lengthy but each turn is really fun. You can make a baby, feed your people, build huts, collect building supplies, and you get to roll dice. I’m a big fan. If I’m picking, the game generally has some small wooden pieces and dice to roll.
Guillotine is a kid-fave. We found space in our cabin to play it on the bed. We like to dip in a hot spring for our ‘stay in Montana’ spring breaks. Our room didn’t have a table for gaming, we improvised. The object is to gather as many victory points as possible while beheading French nobles. You collect cards that allow you to move the nobles around to find the valuable heads. Of course the ‘Piss Boy’ card is a fan fave.
Shut the Box is a game we don’t own, but we keep running into it. The first time we discovered it was at The Broadway Hotel in Phillipsburg, MT, après-ski in the cozy lounge. It doesn’t lose its charm, even after several rounds. This time we came across it on our adventure’ at Quinn’s. We played while we waited for dinner, every family-friendly restaurant should have one of these on the table.
Another swoon-worthy game is Tokaido.
I’m not sure why, maybe because you visit hot springs, and eat ramen and go to the shrine? I love Japan. It has pretty pieces. Games with pretty pieces and colors usually end up being fun. Did I mention I like pretty games? This is another game where you collect victory points to win. I don’t know if my kids love it as much as I do, but they’ll play it with me. Game play takes approximately 45 minutes and the rules are not complex. We’ve gifted this beauty before.
We are pretty lucky and happen to have a really fun local comic book store. The board game selection is wonderful, and the boys had some gift cards to burn. They picked Get Bit!, Kodama, and a robot card game that we have yet to play.
Get Bit! is fun, a shark attacks you in a game of ‘luck’ and you lose limbs if your person gets bit. The arms and legs actually come off of the little people in the game. It is quick and very simple!
This next pick was probably a total mom-nudge. Another beautiful game where you grow a tree and cute little tree spirits move in if your tree is magical enough. I mean, shut the front door, who doesn’t want that to happen? The spirits seem to spawn directly from Spirited Away or some other magical Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli masterpiece. The game itself we may have played slightly wrong, and it wasn’t quite as fun as we’d thought it would be, so if you want to borrow ours, maybe you should, instead of buying your own.
In case you need your own it is Kodama – The Tree Spirits.
Thanks for playing! We’ll do this again next year, we hope you’ll share our hashtag with us and please share your favorite games. We’re always on the lookout for new games! #gamesofspringbreak xo