Gaming at the Holidays

Gaming at the Holidays

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and with Thanksgiving being so late this year, it’ll almost be Christmas then. That means lots of time with family, so before I talk about what you might want to pick up for that new gamer or that person you want to get into gaming on your shopping list, let’s talk about the games that you can play with your family.

There are a few requirements that I put on these games. They have to be a theme that people will generally enjoy, that probably means not that much theme really. Because there will be some people who don’t like fantasy or sci-fi or horror or romance or whatever the theme might be. The games also have to look nice or have some interesting pieces to them. That attracts people to the games. The games also have to be family weight games and easy to teach. If it’s too complex, you probably won’t play it.

Image Source: Board Game Geeks

So let’s hop into some games that I think will work well in most groups:

Ticket to Ride: It’s a classic, but there’s enough game to it that it’ll be palatable for someone who considers themselves a serious gamer. But it’s also simple enough that when you play it, you can probably teach a grandparent or a younger cousin how to play it. The little train pieces are fun to play around with as well, so it looks good. This is probably the game that people will be most apt to have played as well.

Century: Golem Edition: Yes, you can do spice road, but that is just more bland. This version has more toy factor with the gems and the art work is very cute and looks good on the table. This is a bit more complex, but what you’re going to be doing on your turn is still simple and limited to one thing. That means that people, while they will have to strategize, won’t be swamped by too many things to do.

Pandemic: If you need a cooperative game, I’d recommend the classic. Pandemic has nice playability and it’s a bit more complex than some other cooperative games that I could recommend. The cubes and the player powers are going to be things that people enjoy. And because it’s cooperative, if you have someone in your family who gets too competitive, you’re all working on the same team.

Sagrada: This game is just beautiful as you are drafting dice to create stained glass windows. If you are worried about some of the tools being too complex, you can pick and choose to get the right level of difficulty. This game looks amazing on the table and it’ll draw people over so that they can join in and play.

Image Source: Shut Up and Sit Down

Sushi Go Party: I actually considered putting down just plain vanilla Sushi Go, because that game is simpler, but Sushi Go Party offers more variety and people will probably want to play it again, so you can change stuff up. It’s a good fast and simple card drafting and set collection game.

Second Change: This is the game that you can pull out instead of Yahtzee, which I still recommend, but if you want to introduce something different in that drawing on paper. This one you’re putting together tetris types of shapes to see who can fill in most of the area. It’s a concept that people will understand easily and one that you’ll play again and again and again. Plus, you get to doodle.

Just One: Another cooperative game, and this one in the party style. I am personally sick of games like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity that get pulled out around the holidays, and Just One is different than that. The cooperative nature is great, and the little bit of a Scattergories feel is a lot of fun, plus, trying to come up with a clue that will help, but that no one else will put down is a fun challenge.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Letter Jam: Even more cooperative game play, this time with a word game. Instead of pulling out Scrabble, teach people Letter Jam where you are all trying to figure out your own word and give clues. What this helps with is a runaway winner problem that games like Scrabble can have if someone understands game play better than other people do.

Splendor: I debated between Machi Koro and Splendor but either are good here. It’s all about building your engine in a simple way to get more things. These games look nice and are easy to play. Splendor gets the nod because that’s the one that has the poker ships that everyone loves.

Image Source: Me!

Ice Cool: Sometimes you have young kids in the group. While they might be able to get games like Ticket to Ride, if they aren’t familiar with games at all, you can still play Ice Cool, and I’d recommend getting Ice Cool 2 for the holidays so you can play a massive 8 player game. This is just a simple and silly 8 player game that you can play with young kids or likely have fun with aunts and uncles who are up for a silly good time.

Now, that’s only 10 games, there are so many games out there. But I wanted to give a variety. What I like is that Ice Cool with Ice Cool 2 and games like Letter Jam, Just One, Second Chance, and Sushi Go Party!, they are all able to handle a larger player count. That means if you want to get everyone involved you can.

What are some games that have been pulled out at family holidays? Are there some that you never want to see again? Are there some family favorites that get played every year? What would you introduce your family to this year.

Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!

Email us at
Message me directly on Twitter at @TheScando
Visit us on Facebook here.