Family Game Night 2010

Playing games are great for families, bringing them together with a shared experience that can make them closer. When there are different ages and genders of kids in a home, they often don’t watch the same TV programs, want to see different movies, and have different interests. Most games are gender neutral, can bring a family together in an activity that fosters communication and sharing. The more time the family spends together, usually the closer they will be.

Why do I like to play games? Because they’re fun, and those who play games with me also know I enjoy winning! I always joke and use Coach Herm Edwards’ line ”You play to win the game”. When a family or group plays games, it’s an alternative form of entertainment, and it’s a social experience like no other. Although I don’t play games to learn about people, it’s amazing how much I’ve learned about families and friends through playing games; and they will also tell you they’ve learned too much about me.

Last year we featured our favorite games of all time. This year, we’ve come up with two new lists:

  1. Our favorite new games of the past decade. Often we like to stay with our favorites, but there are hundreds of new games introduced every year, and we have our favorites from the last decade on this list.
  2. Our favorite card games from this decade (featuring card-based games like Uno, not games played with a standard deck of cards). Card games are making a comeback, as they are fun, strategic, affordable and portable. The newer card games play more like board games, and are not only fun in the home, but great for traveling with kids; often a great way to pass time while traveling and still have a great family or group experience.

Our Favorite Games of the Past Decade

Listed in Alphabetical Order

  • Apples to Apples Party Box

    This game is all about comparisons of things, and you’ll often be amazed, shocked and amused on how people think. There is a different judge on every round.

    Everyone is dealt cards with nouns on them, and then the judge draws a green card with an adjective for all to see. The other player then chooses their noun, which they think best describes the green card. The judge then chooses which he or she thinks is the most appropriate, which makes it a little bit like dealing with the judges of figure skating or gymnastics in competitions because you wonder at times what they’re seeing or thinking! This Party Box set comes with more than 1,000 cards total, and will entertain for a long time.

    Manufacturer: Mattel
    SRP: $24.99
    Ages: 12+

  • Bananagrams

    It’s a new version of Anagrams, and the game play shares some similarities with Scrabble. The major difference is that there is no board, no special bonus squares, and you don’t get slowed down when you play with those who don’t have patience! You are basically making your own crossword (you don’t have to share!), and are rewarded for speed. And you can bend the rules; create handicaps or other “family rules,” so the game will even out when playing with kids.

    Manufacturer: Bananagrams
    SRP: $14.99
    Ages: 6+

  • Blokus

    My oldest daughter calls this “Best Game Ever!” And she’s right: This is probably the best game many people have never heard of. In 2003, it was voted Europe’s Game of the Year. It’s really easy to play: Each player must begin at one of the corners of the board. The order of play is blue, yellow, red, green. Each new piece that is placed on the board must touch another piece of the same color, but it can only touch at the corners, never along the sides. If you can’t play a tile, you miss a turn. When you run out of tiles, you win. There is so much strategy, yet it’s so simple to play, and the game is different every time. You’ll be amazed at how engrossed kids get in this game that’s basically so simple. You will, too. While you can play with fewer than four people, this game is best when played by four.

    Manufacturer: Mattel
    SRP: $29.99
    Ages: 5+

  • Connect 4x4

    Connect 4 x 4 is a classic four-in-a-row game, but now it has a new twist. It’s a now a four-player game, making it perfect for family game nights. With the new double-sided grid, you can score on both the front and back sides of the game.

    Game play is simple: Pick a line, drop a checker in on each turn, and hope that your opponents don’t foil your strategy before you get four checkers in a row! In the new version, your front and back positions count for the four in a row, so you have to be extra strategic. The game has also added “blockers,” which can be used to block your opponents on both sides of the grid in one turn. However, make sure to save your blockers for when you really need them. You only get two and they are valuable!

    When you’re finished playing Connect 4 x 4, convenient locking top and bottom slides keeps the pieces on the grid so you never have to worry about lost checkers.

    If you grew up playing Connect 4, you’ll quickly realize that Connect 4 x 4 is like having both an old favorite and a new game all in one. You can still play the game with two players, but now also have the option of playing with four. The double-sided grid adds a welcome challenge and complexity for long-time Connect 4 players. A word of warning for younger players: the added complexity may be a bit challenging to understand at first, but once they do, they’ll definitely be hooked.

    Manufacturer: Hasbro
    SRP: $19.99
    Ages: 8+

  • Electronic Catch Phrase

    Ever play “Hot Potato” with a spud that ticks and talks? Welcome to Electronic Catch Phrase, the battery-powered blend of clue deduction and race against the clock. Two teams of two or more players each alternate turns, guessing the answers to clues in 11 categories, from Food & Drink to Tech & Inventions. Set the timer on the discus-like game unit, and the clue-giving countdown begins; if a team’s guess matches the response on the game’s readout, pass the unit to the opponents. Just don’t get caught holding the game unit when the buzzer sounds (after about a minute of increasingly insistent beating), as the other team will score a point. With its infectious mix of fast, nerve-wracking, high-pressure passing the buck, Electronic Catch Phrase spreads a serious case of fun.

    Manufacturer: Hasbro
    SRP: $29.99
    Ages: 12+

  • Famous Name Us!

    Famous Name Us! is a pop culture trivia game in which players or teams compete to “get a clue and figure out who.” Four clues are given to describe a famous pop culture icon. The fewer clues needed to guess the answer, the higher the score. Famous Name Us! features hundreds of celebrities and fictional characters from “The Simpsons,” Harry Potter, MTV, Nickelodeon, and more.

    Manufacturer: Discovery Bay Games
    SRP: $14.99
    Ages: 8+

  • The Game of Things

    Laughter is what it’s all about in The Game of Things. In each round, players write an answer to a topic such as “Things you would like to ask a psychic” or “Things you shouldn’t do with glue.” Answers can be as outrageous and hilarious or as straightforward and precise as you like. Everybody then takes turns trying to eliminate each other by guessing which player wrote which answer. The last person left wins the round. The Game of Things comes packaged in a wooden box with a sliding lid. Contents of The Game of Things: 300 Topic Cards 1 Answer Pad 1 Score Pad 8 Pencils Instructions.

    Manufacturer: Hasbro
    SRP: $29.99
    Ages: Adult

  • Loaded Questions

    What would you title your autobiography? How many minutes does it take you to get ready in the morning? What one word best describes your life? These are Loaded Questions, and they have no right or wrong answers.

    If you’re looking for a fun adult party game that everyone can play at the same level, this is it! The questions will evoke laughter, spark discussion, and have you reminiscing about things you hadn’t thought about in years.

    The four question categories are:

    • Hypotheticals
    • Anything Goes
    • No-Brainers
    • Personals

    The question might be:

    • If you could change one event in the course of world history, what would it be?
    • What is your favorite brand of deodorant?

    On each round, one player is the roller who pulls a question. All the other players write down their answers, and the answers are read aloud by the previous roller.

    It is up to the current roller to guess who gave which answer. The roller advances one space for each correct match.

    There are also “Reversal” spaces, where the roller will write an answer down, and the other players must guess what he or she wrote.

    The first player to land on the Win! Space and match every player’s answer correctly, wins the game.

    Manufacturer: All Things Equal, Inc.
    SRP: $24.99
    Ages: 13+

  • Monopoly Here and Now World Edition

    Monopoly is probably the most famous game ever invented. You can almost call it a staple of our culture, and it’s played around the world. The question is: Which edition is best? The classic, if you love dealing out those dollars. The Electronic Banking edition? Star Wars or Disney editions (or any of the special editions for everything from favorite movies to hometowns) for those die-hard fans are always cool.

    I like Monopoly Here & Now because the spaces on the board have more meaning to me. St James Place, Pacific Avenue or the Reading Railroad—and Depression Era Atlantic City—don’t have the same meaning today as features from cities like London, Shanghai, and New York. The old energy utilities have been replaced by modern versions, like wind and power. The houses and hotels are also updated to reflect today.

    The biggest change to this version is the electronic money management bank. The unit makes transactions easy, and if you want to take a break, your information is stored. If you love the classic, this version might not be for you. However, if your kids like technology and you want the feel of modern times while playing Monopoly, this edition reflects today’s world.

    Manufacturer: Hasbro
    SRP:$ 34.99
    Ages: 8+

  • Pictionary Man

    Pictionary Man combines Pictionary with Charades to take this classic game to a whole new level of hilarity and fun! Get your clues from Pictionary Man himself—just look at the bottom of his foot to get your private clue that appears in the screen. Then it’s up to you to draw on the character, use it to act them out, and get your teammates to guess the word.

    Manufacturer: Mattel
    SRP: $29.99
    Ages: 14+

  • Pictureka

    Pictureka! It’s an outrageous, contagious picture hunt in this exciting game of visual hide and seek. Deal out the picture cards that have lots of different pictures on them. The cards fall in different configurations and different orientations, so you have to look sharp to win. The game includes 100 different mission cards in 3 categories. Can you… Find 5 rockets in 30 seconds? Be the first to spot the cow? Find 8 things that can fly after winning the bid? In this game it’s finders keepers: you get the card if you find the object fast—and first! Collect the most cards, and you’re the Pictureka champ! There is also a card version for on the go fun!

    Manufacturer: Hasbro
    SRP: $22.99
    Ages: 6+

  • Qwirkle

    Like all great games, Qwirkle is simple to play, but mastering it can take some time—and the more you play the better you’ll get. Qwirkle is as simple as matching colors and shapes, but also requires tactical maneuvers and well-planned strategy. The game consists of 108 wooden blocks with six different shapes in six colors. Using the blocks, players attempt to score the most points by building lines that share a common attribute—either color or shape.

    Manufacturer: MindWare
    SRP: $24.95
    Ages: 6+

  • Sorry Sliders

    This game is fairly new, and I’ll sum it up in a few words. Imagine playing Shuffleboard but with oversized Sorry pieces, with up to 4 people each having their own runway, and scoring based on the original Sorry. This game reminds me a little of Rebound with the pieces on sliders, but there is quite a bit of skill involved. It’s easy to play, you can master, but then someone can knock you off the board.
    This is a great skill and action game that makes a nice complement to the other games on this list.

    Manufacturer: Hasbro
    SRP: $24.99
    Ages: 10+

  • Ticket to Ride

    All the action takes place on a detailed, color-illustrated board map of North America. Inside you will find an instruction manual, miniature trains, train-car cards, and destination tickets for each player. Game play is straightforward and consists of only three possible moves per turn: drawing an additional train-car card, drawing a destination ticket, or building a train route.

    The basic play is to collect multiple cards of the same color and then claim a route to score points. Destination tickets present an added challenge by assigning secret routes and awarding bonus points for completion of these routes. Because the tickets are kept secret, each player’s plan for railway domination won’t be revealed until the end!

    Ticket to Ride requires only two players and can be played in less than an hour. However, there are many different strategies that can be applied. While your success relies somewhat on the luck of the draw, there’s a lot of strategy involved as well. You gain points for completed routes, but lose points for incomplete ones. Plus you can abandon strategies that won’t work out, and try to score points for other elements, such as creating the longest continuous route.

    Ironically, even though this is an American game, it won the coveted European Game of the Year prize.

    Manufacturer: Days of Wonder
    SRP: $50
    Ages: 8+

  • Wits & Wagers

    Not a trivia maven? It doesn’t matter whether or not you know the answers! When a trivia question is asked, each player writes an answer and places it face-up on the betting mat. Think you know the answer? Think you know who the experts are among your friends? Bet on your guess or theirs. The closest answer pays out according to the odds on the betting mat. Strike it big and you’ll be cheering like you just hit the jackpot!

    Wits & Wagers is a trivia game that lets you bet on anyone’s answer. So you can win by making educated guesses, by playing the odds, or by knowing the interests of your friends.

    Manufacturer: North Star Games
    SRP: $29.99
    Ages: 10 +

  • Would You Rather?

    After all, these Would You Rather choices are not real, but they are fun to think and talk about. You Gotta Be Kidding! gets kids and grown-ups thinking, laughing, reasoning, and having a blast making goofy decisions and completing the wild Would You Rather Challenges. Best of all, kids have fun speaking up for a change, instead of always saying “I do not know”. Watch imagination rule and confidence build as kids get comfortable standing up for their choice while laughing the whole time. Would You Rather eat a bucket of apple stems or eat 20 banana peels? Gross, huh? But you cannot say “neither” when playing this game. Even though nobody would be dumb enough to eat that stuff, each player still has to choose. So make your best choice and then speak up and tell everyone why. To win, you must correctly guess what the others will say and successfully complete your even more outrageous challenges as you try to move forward to the Finish Line.

    Manufacturer: Zobmondo
    SRP: $24.66
    Ages: 8+


Our Favorite New Card Games

Listed in Alphabetical Order

  • Monopoly Deal

    Monopoly has always been about the art of the deal, but now we’re talking about dealing cards as much as dealing in real estate. This is a fast-paced game of acquisition, dealing, and trading. Be the first to complete 3 property sets by collecting, swapping, and dealing. But you better be careful; one wrong card and you could lose everything!

    Manufacturer: Hasbro
    SRP: $6.99
    Ages: 8+

  • Sleeping Queens

    Imagine a place where there’s a queen of all pancakes, a king of cookies and a pack of over-protective dragons. If this sounds like something out of a dream, it actually is!

    Sleeping Queens was invented by 6-year-old Miranda Evarts, who thought up the game one night when she couldn’t fall asleep. She awoke the next morning and with help from her older sister, Madeleine and her parents, Denise and Max created this wonderfully whimsical world of napping nobles. As you immerse yourself in the Evarts’ fantasyland, you will find a game that helps develop memory, strategy, and elementary arithmetic skills. Just be careful when playing potion cards or you could wind up putting all the players to sleep! Rise and Shine! The Pancake Queen, the Ladybug Queen and ten of their closest friends have fallen under a sleeping spell and it’s your job to wake them up. Use strategy, quick thinking and a little luck to rouse these napping nobles from their royal slumbers. Play a knight to steal a queen or take a chance on a juggling jester. But watch out for wicked potions and dastardly dragons!

    Manufacturer: Gamewright
    SRP: $10.99
    Ages: 8+

  • Scrabble Slam

    Scrabble has inspired a whole new generation of word games that provide new challenges and excitement. The new Scrabble Slam! card game solves that problem! Its quick-playing word game fun for the entire family! This is a fast-paced word game where anything can happen. Race against each other as you lay down cards one at a time to change the existing four-letter word. “Game” could become “fame” and “fame” could become “fate.” The first player to use all of his or her cards wins! The game comes in a small box that is the perfect size to be slipped into a suitcase, bag, or purse! What better way to bring the family together on vacation than by playing games? This game combines the familiar play of the original Scrabble, which everyone loves, but at a much faster pace and in a more compact design. You won’t have to worry about losing the letter tiles somewhere in the car. Get ready for word-changing fun no matter where your family goes.

    Manufacturer: Hasbro
    SRP: $6.99
    Ages: 8+

  • Sorry! Revenge

    In Sorry! Revenge, players turn over numbered pawn cards and keep track of their score. The object of the game is to get “home” by collecting cards that add up to 21. But you’ve got to act and add fast in order to win. This is a great game for kids who are just learning basic addition, as well as older kids, and adults, who need a refresher.

    Manufacturer: Hasbro
    SRP: $6.99
    Ages: 6+

  • Uno Flash

    This electronic twist on a classic favorite picks up the pace of game play with its built-in timer. Players must be on their toes at all times because the electronic board randomizes game play. You never know who’s going to play next, or what you might be required to do. As if Uno wasn’t fast-paced enough, this adds a whole level of hilarious excitement to the game play.

    Manufacturer: Mattel
    SRP: $29.99
    Ages: 7+

  • Yahtzee Hands Down

    Try your luck and apply your Yahtzee strategy in Yahtzee Hands Down. Players try to create traditional Yahtzee dice combinations-three of a kind, four of a kind, etc.—with cards. Discard cards you don’t need and take a chance on getting cards you do. With no dice to roll, this game can be played almost anywhere, and the quick-thinking and fast action will entertain many different types of game players.

    Manufacturer: Hasbro
    SRP: $6.99
    Ages: 6+

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