Replenish the game cupboard to while away the time until the vaccine reaches everyone
We are coming up soon on almost a year of too much together time with our nearest and dearest. Where I sit in England, we are in the midst of Lockdown #3 and the numbers are still climbing.
“Please stay home, you idiots!” is the constant refrain of the officials, although they usually phrase it more politely.
If you are lucky enough to be in a bubble with at least one other person chances are high that you are heartily sick of all the games in your game cupboard by now. So I’m here to rescue you with recommendations for some less common but fun games to add some novelty to together time.
Notes on the Field Testing Team
We are currently a household with two adults and two college students. All of these games would work well with middle schoolers on up, but some of them may be a bit challenging for elementary school-aged children.
All of the following games were introduced into our house by my middle child, a serious board game aficionado. When faced with rapidly packing up a dorm room and flying across the pond last March she prioritized board games over clothing a choice we mocked her for when we realized she had brought along exactly one pair of trousers. Turns out we soon saw the wisdom of her choice. Who needs pants during a pandemic? Bring on the games.
Pandemic: In The Lab
I’m assuming you have heard of the game Pandemic which catapulted in popularity for obvious reasons in 2020. If you don’t already own it, start there. It’s a cooperative game where everyone works together to eradicate the globe of deadly diseases. There are additional extension packs you can purchase to modify game play for more variety. Our favorite is In the Lab which we now prefer to classic Pandemic alone. This version adds an element of researching and producing the vaccines necessary to end the pandemic. Winning this cooperative game is highly satisfying.
This is my favorite. It’s fast, combines a little luck and a lot of strategy with a healthy dollop of bluffing to fool your family members. Based on the famous physics thought experiment, you try to guess how many alive cats, dead cats, or cats still in the box are present. If you enjoy the classic card game BS, this takes that basic concept to a new level.
Like Schroedinger’s Cat, this game is a great choice when your college student comes out of her room at midnight just as you were ready to take your yawning self off to bed and suggests now would be a great time to play a game. It’s quick and requires equal levels of strategy and luck. The gameplay is simple but genius. You hold one card, draw a new card, and choose which to play each turn. The goal is to be the person with the highest-ranking card at the end. But each card does a different thing and holding high cards can be perilous. It’s an excellent little game.
There are a whole bunch of Fluxx card games out there so chose any one of them. We have the Exo Flux version. This is one of those games that could last five minutes or fifty. The rules and the goals to win the game are constantly changing thus the name. The nice thing about this is who is winning or losing changes in an instant so you never have someone sulking about getting too far behind.
This is a brand new game from the same people who made Schroedinger’s Cats. Here everyone works together to satisfy the scientist and earn good dog status by remembering to bark, shake, beg, or otherwise respond appropriately to the increasingly challenging instructions. It is recommended for age 14+ but a younger child with a good memory could enjoy it as well. If playing with adults, an alcoholic beverage or two will definitely increase both your enjoyment of the game and the difficulty level.
Choose your marbles carefully from the marble dispenser to trigger an explosion that earns you the marbles you need to concoct your portions. This game combines serious strategic consideration with the fun of playing with marbles for a satisfying game playing experience
Most of the games listed above have some kind of 2 player option but are even better with 3 or more players. Most of them last an hour or less making them a good choice for some positive in-person human interaction before heading back into your own corners for the evening.