11 games the whole family can enjoy

11 games the whole family can enjoy

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SALT LAKE CITY — Do you feel a sense of panic and dread when your child drags out that old, battered Monopoly game? If so, perhaps it is time to find some new family favorites.

My family enjoys being a game-playing family. It's a huge endeavor. I mean, we have an entire closet dedicated to games, and it gets filled because my husband has some internal connection with the game aisle like other men have with the tool aisle.

Whether you're looking for a great birthday gift, shopping ahead for Christmas, or simply want something new to entertain your own kids, here's a list of new favorites and classics I'm sure your family will enjoy.

  • Rummicub. Kids like this one because it doesn't require them to hold a fistful of cards in their little hands. If you've never heard of it, it is basically Rummy with tiles.
  • Sequence. We like the classic version because it's simple enough for kids, but there are many different versions. The game is tic-tac-toe for grown-ups. You try to get five chips in a row, but players can only put their chips on places for which they have a matching card.
  • Quiddler. This is a great game for kids just learning to spell. You get a handful of lettered cards and try to make words out of them. Sound like Scrabble? Well it is, but one great thing about this game is you can earn bonus points by getting long words or the most small words..
  • Bananagrams. This is really just a spinoff of Scrabble too. In this game, each player builds his own crossword, instead of players all building on the same crossword. Kids will need help as they ask, “Is Arb a word?” and you may need to have a dictionary close by to answer some of those questions. You want to peel, not split!.
  • Sleeping Queens. You know how kids select gifts that they want when they should be selecting for their parents? This is how I got Sleeping Queens, but it has actually turned out to be a family favorite. In this game the goal is to “wake” the most sleeping queens. You can use sleeping potions to put others' queens to sleep, or use a knight to just outright steal one. You better watch out for the dragon though! This game also incorporates some matching and math, so you get to sneak in some learning while you are are playing.
  • Gubs. This is a game where you try to collect the most Gubs. There are numerous twists and turns as other players steal or trap your Gubs, and they need to watch out for the plagues, floods and wasps. You do have some protections with blindfolds, cures or feathers.
  • S'Quarrels. This is a game similar in concept to Gubs. The goal in this game is to “store” the most acorns before winter comes. Again, there are many things that can get in your way or help you along.
  • Ratuki. This game reminds me of speed. Each person gets his own colored deck. Each deck has the numbers 1-5 expressed in four different ways (dice, fingers, tic marks, numbers). You can build up or down, but whoever puts the five on the stack shouts “Ratuki!” and claims the entire pile..
  • Bohnanza.You may have heard of this one as “The Bean Game.” In this game, you plant bean fields and try to earn the most coins through your harvests. Some beans, like the garden bean, are rare and other beans are common, like the blue bean. Much negotiation goes along with this game as you try to barter for beans from your opponents.
  • Carcassonne.Build cities, roads, monasteries and farms in this puzzle-like game. Using tiles, you match up cities and rivers, and stake your claim for them. This game also has a number of expansions to add variety.
  • Moose in the House. This last one is great for younger kids but still enjoyable enough for adults. In this game, you “build” your opponents' houses. If they don't shut you out with a door, you can then put a moose in their house! No one wants a moose in the house, right?

I feel like I could go on and on with this list, but hopefully there's a little something here for everyone. Even if your family doesn't often play board or card games, pick a game that sparked your interest and give it a try. You may just find a new family-time favorite — and Monopoly can get “lost” for awhile!

All of these games can be purchased online from numerous sources like Amazon.com, but a local hobby or bookstore may carry a great selection of games.


Main photo: Carcassonne is a strategy, puzzle-like game. Sleeping Queens was developed by a child and is fun for all. In Gubs you collect Gubs, but watch out for twists and turns! (Photo: Tristen Dorough)

Tristen Dorough grew up in central Utah. She has worked in various business offices over the years but finds the most challenge and satisfaction in managing a home.

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