With lockdown lasting a while longer, you may be looking for ways to keep your kids entertained and your sanity intact! Dirty Rascal Games is a family run online board game store and we are passionate about playing board games with our friends and family. We would like to share a few suggestions that are not only entertaining but might also hide a little educational value (don't tell the kids and they won't even notice!).
To make it onto this list we made sure that each of the games passed a few important tests;
- The grandparent test: We put the game complexity to the test by assessing whether a randomly acquired grandparent would be able to play it with our children.
- The popcorn test: We tested the budget by making sure that each game costs less than taking our family to the movies.
- The Rascal test: Each game has been tried and tested with our own family and rated at least 4 out of 5 foxes.
1. Sleeping Queens ($19.95)
Who's it for: 2-5 players, best suited for primary school aged kids (and their parents!)
This fantastic little card game has been a staple in many family's collections for years. It's beautifully illustrated and simple enough for younger kids to grasp the rules and be able to play with little assistance. In this game 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. Players need to use strategy, memory and a little math to rouse these napping nobles from their royal slumbers.
Sleeping Queens is one of the most worn out games in our collection, both our kids loved the game during their early school years. There's a simple math mechanic in how you draw cards which was never too difficult for them to work out but challenging enough to give them a sense of accomplishment in solving the problem. In our experience the importance of winning was soon overshadowed by the kids trying to collect their favourite queens regardless of their point value!
2. Anomia ($24.95)
Who's it for: 3-6 players, for all ages that like a bit of trivia under pressure!
Anomia plays off the fact that our minds are positively brimming with all sorts of random (but useless) information: things to eat, pop songs, websites, sports, etc. Under normal circumstances, it's easy to give an example of a frozen food or a dog breed, but you'll find that your brain works a little differently under pressure!
This game has been our oldest daughter's favourite for quite some time. The time pressure is a great equalizer between kids and parents and always creates a hectic, hilarious evening. This is one of those rare games that I enjoy playing as much in a family dynamic as with our more experienced gaming groups.
There are 3 variations of this game to best fit your play group, Anomia contains 2 decks of cards, Anomia Party contains 6 decks for more variety and Anomia Kids features pictures instead of words so that even the little ones can join in the fun! My suggestion is go for the party edition, once you try it you'll play it often enough that the extra decks of categories will be a welcome addition.
3. Love Letter ($19.95)
Who's it for: 2-6 players, but plays best at 4. Recommended for 8+ as players need to be able to read or remember the special rules for each card (asking for help will give away their identity).
This is the perfect pocket size game, able to take anywhere and play on a small table in a small amount of time. Extremely simple mechanics and a nice combination of luck and deduction make it challenging for a variety of ages and skill levels. This game is full of exciting and anxious moments from pulling off a lucky guess early in the game to knock out your opponent, to coming down to the last few cards in the deck and using your powers of deduction to work out what that last card might be. You'll need a good poker face to master this game!
If you think it's going to be a hard sell to get your little one to try a game all about soppy love letters or princesses then check out the Marvel Infinity Gautlet version!
4. 5-Minute Dungeon ($39.95)
Who's it for: A team of 2-5 frantic players who embrace chaos and work well under pressure!
5-Minute Dungeon brings a breath (whirlwind, hurricane?) of fresh air to the board game scene and is probably quite a different experience to what you may have experienced in the past! Best described as a chaotic, co-operative, real-time card game in which the players work together to escape a series of increasingly difficult dungeons. Complete each dungeon within the 5 minute time limit to be victorious.
This fast-paced game will keep even the most distracted child engaged and relies on communication and teamwork for success. There's no time to form a carefully considered plan -- and no predicting what dangers lie ahead. Each player having their own deck of cards and unique powers means there is opportunity for everyone to have their heroic moment and save the day by having just the right card at just the right time!
5. Sushi-Go Party! ($36.95)
Who's it for: 2-8 hungry players, perfect for larger families!
In the super-fast sushi card game Sushi-Go Party!, you are eating at a sushi restaurant and trying to grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. Score points for collecting the most sushi rolls or making a full set of sashimi. Dip your favourite nigiri in wasabi to triple its value! And once you've eaten it all, finish your meal with all the pudding you've got! But be careful which sushi you allow your friends to take; it might be just what they need to beat you!
Sushi Go Party! Is a great gateway game into some more complex titles. It introduces the concept of 'card drafting' (choosing a card from your hand and then passing the rest to another player) which forms part of many other amazing games. This is one of our go to games for new players and is so much fun to play and never fails to get people hooked enough to take their next step into the hobby that we love.
6. Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza ($19.95)
Who's it for: 2-8 players, Snap aficionados looking to take their game to the next level!
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza is filled to the brim with hand-slapping mayhem! As in Snap or Spot It!, each player places a card from their hand face up into a community pile while saying the word taco, cat, goat, cheese or pizza in sequence. If the card you played matches the word you said -- SLAP! -- everyone slaps their hand on the deck, the slowest player picking up all the cards. Whoever gets rid of their cards first wins! For some extra fun and silliness, special action cards such as the gorilla, narwhal, and groundhog which require players to perform a certain action (beating your chest 3 times for gorilla) before slapping the deck!
*WARNING: Be prepared for hilarity, confusion, laughter to the point of tears and the occasional sore hand from over-excited slapping! (We recommend keeping those fingernails trimmed.)
7. Hey, That's My Fish! ($18.95)
Who's it for: 2-4 penguins or other assorted fish lovers.
Hey, That's My Fish! Is a fun little game that's easy to play but also contains enough strategy to keep older players entertained. Players try to catch as many fish as possible with their waddle of penguins by moving them in straight lines over hex-shaped ice tiles with 1, 2 or 3 fish on them.
This is a great little game to break out when you want something light but still engaging. It plays quick and doesn't out stay its welcome which makes it easy to play two or three games in a row. If you're creative and up to the challenge, painting the little penguin miniatures isn't too difficult and looks amazing on the table!
8. Dixit ($51.95)
Who's it for: 3-6 players, great fun for the whole family.
First published way back in 2008, Dixit is the grandaddy of a whole genre of board games that involve players using their imaginations to interpret meaning from wonderfully fantastical abstract art.
In Dixit one player takes on the role of the storyteller each turn and selects a card from their hand featuring an interesting, weird, beautiful illustration and then makes up a phrase to describe it (but not too closely!). Each other player then selects a card of their own which best matches the phrase with the intent of trying to trick the others into thinking that their card was the original inspiration for the phrase. The storyteller collects all of the selected cards and shuffles them before revealing them to the group, then each player then votes on which card they think was the storyteller's choice.
Having artistic children made this genre of games very popular in our house. We love exploring the different themes and stories that each new image provides, and a new set of cards released each year for Dixit keeps the game fresh and exciting. Our kids enjoyed this type of game so much that they were keen to try more complex games building on the theme such as Mysterium.
9. Cat Lady ($39.95)
Who's it for: 2-4 players and their cats.
In Cat Lady, players are cat lovers competing to collect the best assortment of cats, accessories and costumes. Embrace your fondness for felines in this fun family frenzy of fur! During the game, you and your fellow cat ladies will draft cards three at a time, collecting toys, food, catnip, costumes, and of course lovable cats. But watch out! Make sure you have enough food for all of your feline friends or your hungry cats will subtract points from your score.
Our family are all cat lovers and so this was an instant success for us. After all, who doesn't like collecting the cutest little costumes, toys and treats for their furry friends!
10. Kingdomino ($29.95)
Who's it for: 2-4 players. Kings, queens, princes and princesses 8 and up.
Kingdomino is a simple puzzle game where players compete to create the best kingdom by grouping matching domino pieces together to create fields, lakes, forests, mountains and swamps. The challenge comes in trying to acquire the best dominos for your kingdom as each round only provides a limited selection arranged from the most valuable to least valuable (indicated by crowns on the tiles). You could take the mountain tile full of gold-laden mines but by doing so, relegate yourself to the last pick next round, or do you take that square of stinking swamp this turn to get the first pick of the riches to come?
If your family appreciates a calmer gaming experience, kingdomino provides a satisfying and thinky puzzle as you arrange your dominos in just the right way to create a beautiful kingdom. There's just enough player interaction in drafting the best tiles to keep you engaged with other players at the table but ultimately allows you to build something without worrying about other players bringing chaos to your nice and orderly fields, forests and lakes. I am guilty on more than one occasion of picking tiles that may be worth less points but fit nicely with my neatly arranged plots of land!Also consider: Queendomino, Fairy Trails, Sagani