5 Great Reasons

5 Great Reasons to Play Board Games With Your Children

In a world where we finally have virtual reality headsets, video calling, and we can watch movies on demand with a click of our remote, board games might seem a trifle quaint. Many of us think of them as those things we did before TVs, back when all we had was radio, and everyone rode dinosaurs to school. But if you’re a parent, and you’re looking for a way to interact with your kids, there are plenty of reasons to turn off your electronics, and pull out something a little more old-fashioned. The following reasons are brought to you by Very Well and Think Fun.

5 Great Reasons to Play Board Games With Your Kids

Reason #1: Bonding

It’s no secret that the more stuff you do with your kids, the closer you become. It’s the reason so many parents keep reading their children bedtime stories long after they’re able to read the books themselves, for example. Board games are a lot like that. They give you an activity to do together, and it helps you make good memories with your kids. As long as everyone is having fun, a family game night will be something your kids look forward to.

Reason #2: Education

Gamification has become a huge part of the classroom and the workplace because people of all ages love playing games. More importantly, though, games promote learning. From the simple mechanics of counting the spaces you rolled on the die when you move your pawn, to learning grammar and spelling for reading off cards, there are all kinds of lessons to be learned from board games. Even if those games aren’t expressly designed as teaching tools. They get the brain moving, and that can have all kinds of benefits for many years to come.

Reason #3: Replay Value

Another great benefit of playing board games with your kids is that board games are a one-time cost that you can play over and over again. You can even play them by candlelight, in the event the power goes out and you need a way to wile away the evening. Repetition can also be comforting, which will give you and your kids an activity they associate with positive times past. So every time you play, and you have a positive experience, that just sets up an expectation for the next game night.

Reason #4: Teaching Forward Planning

Board games are more than just action and reaction; a lot of them require players to be able to look ahead in order to seize victory. While it can be frustrating for kids who aren’t used to that kind of mental exercise, the lessons these games teach can be invaluable. Especially as they start navigating the world, and realizing that everything requires a long-term plan in order to achieve the results they want.

Reason #5: Understanding Rules

Kids, traditionally, don’t get along well with rules. Board games (and games in general, really) help ease them into the idea that rules exist for a reason, and if you want to come out ahead then you need to follow them. With that said, though, it is important to make sure you scale the game you’re playing to the level of the kids you’re playing with. Because older kids can always play simpler games, but younger children who may not be ready for more complex games may have a negative experience trying to punch outside their weight class. This can have the opposite effect you’re hoping for. On the other hand, though, if your kids want to give a game a try, don’t hold them back. See whether they have what it takes to roll the dice.

Board games are something you can start your kids on while they’re young, and enjoy with them for the rest of their lives! Even if your kids are toddlers, games like Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and other, simple board games will be enough to get them started having fun today.

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Dive Into the Beauty of the Moors with Azul

Azul is the perfect game for art-lovers and strategists alike.  Set in the royal halls of a Portuguese palace, this game pushes you to embrace the interior decorator inside of you in an effort to please King Manuel I with your tile-laying skills.  With gorgeous tiles and fast-paced gameplay, Azul is a beautiful game that you won’t soon forget.

The Story of Azul

The highlight of Azul comes from its wonderful theme and intriguing backstory.  Azul is named after “azulejos”, the beautiful white and blue ceramic tiles that were first introduced by the Spanish Moors.  When the Portuguese king Manuel I visited the Alhambra palace in southern Spain, he was captivated by these stunning tiles and demanded that they be used to decorate his royal palace back home.  As the player of the game, you’re one of the tile-laying artists tasked with the challenge—are you up for it?

Pieces of the Game

Azul also stands apart from the crowd thanks to its gorgeous playing pieces.  Each player gets their own playing board fitted with a tile wall and score tracker.  The tiles are made from a shiny and attractive resin that makes placing them on your board incredibly satisfying.  The game also comes with several different tile repositories, which are cute little decorated disks that hold the tiles you have to choose from.

All of the components of the game are made from sturdy and attractive materials that make Azul a game of supreme elegance.  Instead of using flimsy cardboard or peeling stickers, Azul really invests in the visual and physical elements of the game.  You’ll remember Azul for years to come thanks to their impressive attention to quality and detail.

Laying the Tiles

The game goes on round by round, with players taking turns collecting the tiles from the repositories and placing them in a row.  Players will take all of the tiles of the same color from a repository, continuing until all of the tiles have been collected.  At the end of each round, players will then be able to take tiles from the row and use them to fill their board and win points.

You can earn points for placing the tiles in specific patterns or completing certain sets on your playing board.  You’ll have to choose your tiles with care, however, as any unused tiles will cause you to lose points and move further away from winning the game.  

Azul Sequels

Azul has come out with several sequel games that expand on the premise of the initial game without losing any of its artistic splendor.  In Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, players lay down windowpanes in a beautiful stained glass window instead of building an intricately tiled wall.  The translucent pieces and double-sided player boards are even more beautiful and fun to play with than the initial game.

Azul: Summer Pavilion is another sequel game inspired by history, although this one is based on a story that never came to be.  After King Manuel I completed his royal palaces, he ordered the construction of a summer pavilion (but died before it began).  In this sequel game, players take on the roles of master artisans who lay tiles, build stars, and earn bonus tiles for special tasks.

Build Your Pattern and Please the King with Azul

Azul is suitable for ages 8 and up, with simple rules that you can explain in a matter of minutes.  It can be played by 2-4 players, which makes it well suited for small groups and families.  Because the game has such a unique aesthetic element to it, it’s the perfect romantic game for a date night or anniversary.

Playing time lasts 30-45 minutes, but it’s fun enough that you could easily play a few games back to back without getting bored.  In a world full of unimaginative and aesthetically lazy games, Azul really stands out for its attention to detail and its unique theme.  Players will have an excellent time stepping into the role of artists and creating their own beautiful picture.  After only one play of this dynamic game, Azul will have you considering a career in interior design!

 

How to Play Azul

Dominion is the Deck-Building Game of Kings

Dominion begins with a simple premise: you’re a power-hungry monarch looking to turn your small kingdom into a vast dominion you can call your own.  To capture the anarchic lands around your kingdom before your monarch rivals have an opportunity to steal them out from underneath you, you’ll have to build a deck of cards so powerful that no one stands a chance.  https://youtu.be/csQ6Vu-pqpY

Collecting Cards

At the beginning of the game, each player begins with a small deck of identical cards.  During each round, players will have the opportunity to grow their deck from a common pool of cards to help them gain Victory Points and win the game.  There are four different types of cards you can collect in Dominion.  The first type of cards are Victory cards, which are useless except for their Victory Point value. Curse cards are the opposite of Victory cards, taking away Victory Points from your total score.  One of the most useful types of cards is a Treasure card, which gives you Coins for purchasing more cards.  Action cards are also useful, which give you certain effects such as the ability to draw or get rid of cards or even hurt other players.

Action, Buy, and Clean Up Phases

Each turn contains three phases that every player must go through.  The first phase is the Action phase, where a player can play one Action card (unless otherwise specified by the card).  The second phase is the Buy phase, where a player can play their Treasure cards and earn Coins for buying more cards.   After these two phases are done, the player discards their used cards and replaces their deck with 5 new cards.  One of the most interesting parts of Dominion is that you must use your non-Victory cards in the turn after you receive them, otherwise you’ll have to give them up.  This gives everyone an equal opportunity to succeed each round, leveling the playing field and making it that much more difficult to ensure victory.

Winning the Game

Throughout Dominion, each player is trying to amass the greatest number of Victory Points while preventing their competitors from doing the same.  The game will only end when either all of the Province cards have been drawn or when one of the three Supply stacks is empty.   You have to collect Victory cards to succeed, but the more Victory cards you collect, the less room you have in your deck for useful cards that can help you fight the competition.  Success requires you to skillfully balance collecting Victory cards while leaving yourself enough room to maneuver the purchase of powerful Province cards.

Dominion Expansions

Dominion was released in 2008, and since then there have been several standalone expansions as well as some that you can integrate with the original game.  The Intrigue expansion allows you to use powerful Hybrid cards that earn you Victory Points in addition to giving you useful abilities.   Dominion: Seaside adds in Duration cards, which create effects that last far beyond their initial appearance and can throw a game-changing wrench in the works.  No matter which expansion you choose, you can open up the world of Dominion and turn a simple deck-building game into a complex menagerie of cards.

Rule Your Kingdom with Dominion

Dominion serves 2-4 players, which makes it a great card game for small groups of friends.  Because it’s suitable for ages 13 and up, families with teenage kids can enjoy the world of Dominion, although it may be too advanced for younger kids.  Playing time is only 30 minutes, so it doesn’t have the same time commitment as other fantasy games such as Catan or Dungeons & Dragons. Dominion is a simple and fun deck-building game with a delightfully narcissistic premise and intriguing gameplay.  The continued element of luck requires you to be flexible throughout the game in order to win the most Victory Points.  Although Dominion was not inspired by Magic: The Gathering, anyone who loves that game will surely find a home with this game that inspired a whole slew of future deck-building games.  Claim your throne and expand your kingdom with Dominion—it’s your destiny!

How to Play Dominion

Go Where No Man Has Gone Before with Terraforming Mars

Popular board games like Risk and Pandemic deal with the incredibly high stakes of worldwide catastrophe and war.  Terraforming Mars, however, leaves Earth behind completely in an effort to build a sustainable life on our closest neighboring planet.  In the 25th century, giant corporations seek to initiate projects to make Mars hospitable.  As players of the game, you’ll have to work together to achieve these goals while also earning points for your own commendable work.

Playing Cards

Terraforming Mars comes with over 200 different project cards that you can buy and use during each round.  These cards represent different projects that aid in your overall goal of terraforming Mars, including small things like introducing plant life or giant tasks such as mining the moons of planet Jupiter.  Some cards will also give you immediate bonuses or help boost your resource production.

While buying the cards comes with a small cost, the cost of putting them into play depends on the size of the project.  You’ll have to build up enough income to afford some of the costlier projects if you want to beat your fellow competitors and win the most victory points.

Terraforming Rating

Your Terraforming Rating is a special indicator that determines your victory point score, your income, and the amount of resources you produce.  Every time you perform an action that furthers the completion of one of the three main terraforming conditions, you’ll boost your Terraforming Rating and become that much more powerful.

Successfully Terraforming Mars

In each round, players go through three phases.  The first phase is the research phase, where each player is given the opportunity to buy randomly drawn cards.  Then, during the action phase, players can perform 1-2 actions such as playing a card, using the action of a card in play, or small tasks like converting heat into a temperature raise that slowly help to terraform Mars. 

While each player’s goal is to obtain victory points through buying cards and completing projects, the ultimate goal of Terraforming Mars is to complete the three terraforming conditions that make Mars habitable.  Once the oxygen level and temperature have both been raised to sufficient levels and enough of Mars has been covered by ocean, then the game ends.  Players will then count all of their points based on their Terraforming Rating and achievements, and the player with the highest score wins.

Terraforming Mars Expansions

Terraforming Mars comes with five unique expansions that add cool elements to the game such as the planet Venus or a Martian government.  With the Hellas and Elysium expansion, you’ll play with a new double-sided board that can make gameplay last for hours of fun.  The Venus Next expansion transports the game from Mars to Venus, as mankind’s colonization of the planets knows no bounds.

The Colonies expansion adds different areas around the solar system that players can use to produce resources without needing to play cards.  The Turmoil expansion adds the intriguing element of a Martian government that players can manipulate to achieve their own ends and earn elusive bonuses.  Several more expansions are currently in the works as Terraforming Mars continues to be a popular game for all kinds of players.

Terraforming Mars Is Out Of This World

Terraforming Mars can be played by anywhere from 1-5 players.  The fact that the game is so versatile means that you can enjoy it just as easily playing it on your own as you can with your entire family or friend group.  While there are many interesting elements and complex strategies involved with Terraforming Mars, it’s not too difficult to comprehend, and should be suitable for ages 12 and up. 

Terraforming Mars is a bit of an endeavor, as playing time usually lasts around 2 hours.  If you add one of the optional expansions to the mix, you may be looking at an entire night spent building cities and hurling asteroids.  Still, Terraforming Mars is certainly interesting enough that you won’t become tired of it before the game is over.  With a creative premise and endless potential for strategy, Terraforming Mars is one of the top strategy board games on the market.

 

How to Play Terraforming Mars

Wealth and Prestige Reign Supreme in Splendor

Nobles and merchants abound in Splendor, a chip-collecting card game that requires you to earn wealth and prestige in order to be crowned the victor.  If you’ve ever had a longing for the days of nobility and art, you’ll love the Renaissance theme that brings back memories of a time filled with wealth and luxury.  Splendor is an intriguing wealth-building game that’s simple to learn but full of complex strategy and opportunity.

Tokens, Cards, and Tiles

The goal of Splendor is to buy as many gems and build as many shops as possible to earn prestige points and win the game.  Gems are represented by different poker-style chips called gem tokens, which come in seven colors from shining emerald to captivating onyx.  The combination of cards and chips may make Splendor seem like a game of poker, but there’s a lot more to this imaginative game.

Players will purchase and reserve 90 development cards, which each have their own price tag of a certain number of gems.  These development cards can be purchased to earn prestige points alongside certain special bonuses that may invite a visit from a Noble.  The game comes with 10 noble tiles that get triggered once a player reaches a certain amount of bonuses, gracing them with their presence (and extra prestige points, of course).

Buying and Reserving

Each turn, players are given one of three choices: they can collect gems, buy and build a card, or reserve a card for later.  When collecting gems, players can choose three different kinds or two of the same kind of gem depending on their needs and their long-term strategy.  If players buy and build a card, they have to pay its price in gems before they can add it to their playing area.

Reserving a card for later is one of the sneakiest elements of the game, as this move can either be used to ensure that you get a certain card or be used to prevent another player from getting it.  It pays to be devious, however, as reserving a card also earns you a golden joker chip, which you can use in place of any type of gem.

Prestige Points

Whether you choose to collect gems, buy cards, or reserve cards, you’ll have to come up with your own unique strategy for collecting the most prestige points and winning the game.  The winner of Splendor is whichever player manages to collect 15 prestige points first—if there’s a tie, then the winning spot goes to the person who purchased the fewest development cards.  This can upset your winning strategy at the last second, so it pays to keep in mind alternative routes to earning prestige points.

Splendor Spinoffs and Expansions

Splendor was first published in 2014, with an expansion titled Cities of Splendor released three years later.  This expansion is really four separate expansions that can each revolutionize gameplay in their very own way.  The Cities will replace the noble tiles with city tiles, forcing you to fulfill certain objectives in order to win the game.  The Orient is a particularly fun expansion that adds three decks of cards, giving you special powers that you can tap into to dominate the competition.

Splendor also came out with a Marvel spinoff version that brings together your favorite super heroes in a quest to stop the evil Thanos.  Players will gain Infinity Points instead of prestige points, and they’ll also enjoy a different endgame trigger and victory conditions.  The Splendor spinoff is any Marvel fan’s dream come true!

Splendor: A Renaissance Card Game

Splendor can be played by 2-4 players ages 10 and up, so it’s best suited for small families or groups of friends.  Playing time lasts about 30 minutes, which is enough to allow players to enjoy a quick game or two in a night.  

Splendor is definitely a family-friendly game that’s simple enough for the kids to enjoy, but it also allows for more advanced players to experiment with riskier strategies.  Splendor will have you brimming with anticipation as you pick your cards and amass your wealth.  Who knows, you may even attract the attention of the nobility!

 

How to Play Splendor

Ascension: Build Your Deck and Claim Your Honor

Ascension is a deck-building game that was designed by champions of the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour.  Acquire and spend Runes to build your deck with powerful cards that help you slay foes and build your honor.  In the fantasy world of Ascension, good and evil are pitted against each other in the ultimate battle: the Chronicle of the Godslayer.  Can you come up with the best strategy to prevail against the monsters?

Building Your Deck

In the deck-building game of Ascension, each player is focused on building their deck and gaining honor through buying cards and slaying monsters.  Each player starts the game off with their own small deck of cards, which they then use to grow their deck with additional and better cards.  Cards come with honor points, so the more cards you purchase, the more honor points you receive.  

Each card will give you a new benefit, whether it’s more money for purchasing cards or more attack power for slaying monsters.  However, some cards give you extra special abilities such as drawing more cards or clearing cards you don’t want.  Your strategy for winning the game may change based on the cards you receive, so you’ll have to stay on your toes if you want to win the most honor points and beat your competitors.

Honor Points

While you can gain honor points from collecting cards, the real fun comes from killing monsters.  Attacking monsters also gains you honor points, and an important part of your strategy may need to focus on battling these nefarious creatures.  Ascension comes with a rotating market of cards you can purchase, and sometimes you may have no choice but to purchase a monster card and engage in battle.  Winning the game requires you to come up with your own strategy but be flexible enough to adapt to whatever the god of the cards chooses to give you.

Factions

Ascension comes with four unique factions that will focus on different strategies.  If you’re keen on avoiding the monsters, the Lifebound faction will give you greater power for purchasing cards and allow you to win honor without having to fight.  If you like cycling through your deck and playing as many cards as possible, the Enlightened faction will help you quickly build up money and attack.  The Mechana and Void factions also contain their own unique rules that can help you find whatever strategy works best for you.

Construct Cards

Construct cards are one of the most interesting elements of the game, allowing you to keep a card around for continued benefit even after you play it.  Depending on what type of construct you play, you might be able to draw more cards, rake in extra dough for purchasing cards, or even collect additional construct cards for further benefit.  Constructs aren’t invulnerable, however, as the death of certain monsters may wipe out most of the construct cards in your hand!

Ascension Expansions

Ascension has come out with multiple expansions that can also function as standalone games of their own.  Ascension: Darkness Unleashed features additional Energize cards and Monster cards, which can become much more powerful than their original forms.  Ascension: Dawn of Champions adds a fun twist to the game by allowing you to play as a faction leader, building your reputation and championing your faction to victory.  Buying one or more of these expansions is a great way to keep the original Ascension game feeling fresh for experienced players.

Ascension: Chronicle Of The Godslayer

One of the things that sets Ascension apart from most deck-building games is its detailed theme and emphasis on strategy.  It’s far from predictable, as the luck of the draw means that your strategy will have to shift with every new round.  Ascension can be played by 1-4 players, which makes it an excellent game for groups or for one’s own entertainment.  

Ascension is also suitable for ages 13 and up, and it’s simple enough to be the perfect introduction to deck-building games.  With a playing time of 30 minutes, Ascension is a quick and fun excursion into the fantasy realm that won’t get you bogged down in the details.

 

How to Play Ascension

Break Out the Pen And Race Against the Clock With Telestrations

Nothing livens up a party like Telestrations, a drawing-based game that will have you scratching your head and asking, “Is that supposed to be a cat or a pony?”  While charades has been a time-honored classic for parties, Telestrations gives it a run for its money by adding a unique premise and a more complex method of gameplay.  Telestrations’ simplistic set up and gigantic supply of secret words to draw from will keep you playing this game for years to come.

Sketching The Secret Word

The game begins with each player being given his or her own drawing book, marker, and a card with a list of secret words.  A player then rolls a die to determine which of the six secret words each person has to sketch, and players have 90 seconds to draw that sketch to the best of their ability.  You’ll have plenty of opportunity to sketch, however, as the books get passed back and forth from one player to the next during each of the three rounds.  

Getting Creative

While you may think that the best artist in the group is going to have the upper hand, this isn’t always the case with Telestrations.  One of the most fun elements of the game is the way it allows for endless creativity, forcing players to come up with creative and unique ways of depicting their secret word.  You may not be a Picasso, but that doesn’t prohibit you from coming up with some pretty funky drawings.  You may also end up winning points simply by appealing to sense of humor of the player making the guess, so know your audience!

Guessing Game

Telestrations puts a fun and unique twist on this guessing game that makes it much more interesting than charades.  Instead of each person having to guess what one player has drawn, each player will pass his or her book to the left for the next player to guess.  Once each player has finished writing down their guess, players pass the book again to the next person, who will then draw the word that the previous player guessed.  This back and forth of guessing and drawing continues until each player ends up with their original book.

Awarding Points

The person who wins the game isn’t always the person who was able to draw the best.  At the end of each round, each player is given three points to award.  The first point goes to whichever player drew their favorite sketch.  Whether it’s the funniest sketch, the best-drawn sketch, or even the worst-drawn sketch, each player gets to choose their favorite according to their own rules.

The second point goes to whichever player made their favorite guess.  This can just as easily go to your savvy sister who guessed correctly as it can to your clueless aunt who was way off base.  The last point is awarded to each player if and only if the final guess corresponds to his or her secret word.  The final winner is whoever managed to win the most points throughout the three rounds.  With the potential for endless creativity and comedy, you’ll be sure to enjoy Telestrations regardless of who wins.

Sketch Against The Clock With Telestrations

Telestrations is suitable for ages 12 and up, although you can definitely accommodate younger kids by using simpler secret words to guess from.  Telestrations can be played by 4-8 players, which is great for parties or large families.  Because game time only lasts around 30 minutes, it isn’t too big of a commitment.  The flexibility of how many rounds you play allows you to stretch or shrink Telestrations to whatever length you prefer, making it a versatile game that can fit any kind of party.

The biggest thing that makes Telestrations stand out is the fact that it gives you erasable sketchbooks and markers to draw from and unique secret words to choose from.  This makes the experience neater than charades while also retaining the guessing game aspect that makes charades such a widespread favorite.  Give it your best guess, bring out your inner artist, and have a roaring good time with Telestrations!

It’s Queen Bee vs. Queen Bee in the Game Of Hive

Chess is a time-honored classic that pits two players against each other as they strategically move pieces around a game board in order to capture the other side’s King.  The game of Hive turns chess on its head, getting rid of the game board and replacing the pawns and rooks with spiders and beetles.  Hive lets your build the game board yourself as you deftly place these hexagonally shaped bugs in an attempt to capture the powerful Queen Bee of your rival hive. 

Insects of the Hive

There are 22 total pieces in the game, so each player gets 11 pieces for their hive.  Each of the pieces contains a colorful insect carved onto a shiny black or white hexagonal tile. Unlike a traditional beehive, both hives in this game are populated with additional insects that defend the Queen Bee and attempt to trap the other player’s Queen Bee.  Each player gets one yellow Queen Bee piece, which can only move one space at a time.

Players also get two brown Spiders pieces and two purple Beetles pieces.  While Beetles can only move one space at a time, they can climb over other pieces and prevent them from moving.  The Spider, on the other hand, can move three spaces around the outside of the layout, which tends to be more useful early on in gameplay rather than later.

The three green Grasshopper pieces can jump over pieces in a straight line, while the three blue soldier ants can move as many pieces as it likes around the edge of the hive.  Each insect must be deployed to either protect the Queen Bee or surround the other player’s Queen Bee.

Capturing the Queen

Players take turns setting down their pieces and forming patterns, allowing them to play their pieces however they see fit.  The Queen Bee piece must be played within the first four turns of the game, which gives each player a limited amount of time to develop their opening strategy.  Every turn after that forces you to decide between putting another piece on the game board or moving one of your current pieces.

The publisher recommends a couple of opening strategies, although potential strategies are limitless.  One recommended strategy is to place a Spider, Bee, and Ant in a V formation, allowing the Ant to protect the Bee while the Bee is free to roam.  Another strategy is to form a V with two Spiders and a Bee, giving you the freedom to move quickly to block your opponent.  Once a Queen Bee has been surrounded on 6 sides by the other player’s pieces, the game is over.

Hive Expansions

Several expansions to Hive have been released that add new pieces with their own unique moves.  The Mosquito piece can be used as a wild card, taking on the movement of whichever piece it currently touches.  The Ladybug expansion released in 2010 and Pillbug expansion in 2013 create additional offensive and defensive opportunities that can allow you to pick up other bugs or rescue your ailing Queen Bee.    Because the original gameplay of Hive is only 20 minutes, these expansions can extend playtime and make Hive last almost as long as a chess game.

Build the Hive and Capture the Queen

If you’re looking for something a little more kid-friendly than chess, Hive is the perfect option.  It’s just simple enough that kids can enjoy it while still allowing for adults to enjoy a more complex game.  The beautiful wooden hexagonal tiles are also one of the biggest standout elements of the game, creating a visually stunning board as the game goes along.

Similarly to chess, Hive is designed for only two players.  While this is not the game for family game nights or group hangouts, it’s an excellent game for couples or lighthearted tournaments.  Hive is suitable for ages 9 and up, so two kids squaring off can have just as much fun as a parent and child can.  The more you play Hive, the more you’ll begin to uncover the numerous strategies and methods you can employ to win the game and avoid the dreaded stalemate.

 

How to Play Hive

Hop On Board for The Ride of Your Life With Ticket To Ride

One of the most annoying parts about playing a new board game is the time it takes to learn the rules.  Some games are so complicated that it feels like you need to sit through an entire course just to understand the basic rules of the game.  With Ticket To Ride, you’ll be off on your adventure in less than 15 minutes.  This game is the perfect mix of simplicity and fun, forcing you to weave and wind as you build your railway routes across North America.

Connecting The Endpoints

When the game starts, each player begins with four train car cards and three Destination Ticket cards.  The game board shows a vast map of the United States and southern Canada, and your Destination Ticket cards show you which two cities on the map you have to connect.  Keep it to yourself, however, as it’s your job to secretly build your route without alerting the other players to your goal.

Every turn you get three options: either you draw two railway car cards, draw three Destination Ticket cards, or play one of your cards to claim a route and earn points.  Claiming routes is a super fun part of the game as you get to victoriously place your colorful little train cars along the route.  As you claim more and more routes, the game board begins to fill up with a bright web of red, yellow, and blue train cards that weave their way across North America.

Winning The Game

In order to win the game, you have to earn the most points by successfully connecting your secret Destination Ticket cities.  You can also earn a magnificent ten-point bonus if you succeed in building the longest continuously connected set of routes.  By building longer routes and connecting cities from across the country, you can earn enough points to blow the competition out of the water.

The fun of the game comes from navigating risk and fear.  Do you add more cards to your hand to give yourself a better shot at winning?  Or do you nab the route you need in order to keep it from falling into the hands of your rival?  Whether you win or lose, you have to marvel at the intricacy of the custom-molded train cars and beautifully illustrated cards.

Ticket To Ride Spinoffs

Ticket to Ride was released in 2004, followed shortly after by six spinoff board games as well as a few card and electronic games.  If North America isn’t your jam, you can play Ticket to Ride across a sprawling map of Europe, Germany, Poland, or even the Nordic countries.  Certain expansions even allow you to play with new map collections including The Heart of Africa or the Old West.

While Ticket to Ride comes with a pretty large game board, Ticket To Ride: Rails and Sails ups the ante by including a giant double-sided board that features both land and water routes.  If you’re interested in playing Ticket to Ride with younger players, the First Journey version of the game features a smaller board and shorter game time that’s suitable for ages 6 and up.

Get Your Ticket To Ride And Start The Fun

Ticket to Ride is the perfect game for new players who are looking for something simple and entertaining.  Gameplay is suitable for 2-5 players ages 8 and up, so it’s an excellent board game for family game night or a lazy Sunday morning.  And although its simplicity is one of its greatest features, you’ll find that this board game is plenty interesting enough to keep you engaged throughout the entire 30-60 minutes of game time.

If you’re a locomotive junkie or you’re simply looking for a new board game to add to the mix, you’ll love the imaginative world of Ticket to Ride.  With circuitous routes traversing a beautifully illustrated game board, Ticket to Ride is just as much an adventure for your eyes as it is for your mind.  Hop on board and enjoy the ride with this entertaining and creative board game that will be sure to make “conductor” your newest dream job!

 

How to Play Ticket to Ride

Exploding Kittens: No Cats Were Injured in the Playing of This Game

When looking for a fun new game to play with friends and family, you might be looking for something with higher stakes than UNO and a little more entertaining than charades.  What could come with higher stakes than a board game literally inspired by Russian Roulette?  Exploding kittens comes with the same nerve-racking concept of Russian Roulette without the risk.  Cat-lovers and thrill-seekers alike will enjoy the wild intensity of Exploding Kittens.

Avoiding The Exploding Kitten

Exploding kittens is a card game that involves people taking turns drawing cards from a deck.  Card by card, each player draws until BOOM—one player draws an exploding kitten and loses the game.  The game only gets more and more intense as the deck continues to shrink, leaving everyone to wonder who will be next to explode.

Once you explode, you’re out of the game.  However, there are a few tricks you can use to stop the kitten from exploding and leave you to fight another day.  Defuse cards can be used to keep the kitten from exploding, with hilarious distractions such as kitten yoga, catnip sandwiches, or laser pointers (every cat’s favorite nemesis).

Sabotage Your Competitors

Sabotage is another unique feature of the game, as you can play certain cards that will allow you to attack one of the other players, sneak a peek at the deck, or even skip your turn entirely.  Some cards will even allow you to secretly move an exploding kitten to somewhere else in the deck, giving you the opportunity to strategically remove another player from the board the next time they draw.

The Nope card is a particularly nefarious move you can make that will allow you to stop another player in their tracks.  If another player uses a special move card to peek at the deck or skip their turn, you can play your Nope card at any time to keep them from using that card.  While this may not be a very subtle way of sabotaging your foes, it’s sure to stir the pot and add some spice to the game (while making enemies along the way!)

Cat Cards

While the kittens in Exploding Kittens can be deadly, the cats will be your friends.  Cat cards give you special powers you can use to get ahead.  Collect two of the same cards (Tacocat and Hairy Potato Cat are some of the best) to steal a random card from another player.  Collect three of a kind, and you can choose a specific card to steal.  These cats are more than just cute—they may end up being the key to winning the game!

Exploding Kittens Expansions

If the original edition is too tame for you, the NSFW edition of Exploding Kittens is sure to spice things up.  Both editions support 2-5 players, although the original is suitable for ages 7 and up while the NSFW edition is better suited for adults.  There are also several expansions including the Barking Kittens and Imploding Kittens expansions that can extend gameplay and add fun new rules that mix things up.  

Because the original edition features a game time of around 15 minutes, consider adding one or more of these expansions for a longer game.  Combining multiple editions also allows you to include up to 10 players, making Exploding Kittens a perfect game for parties with bigger groups of people.

Play The Game But Don’t Blow Up!

Exploding Kittens is a wicked good time that capitalizes on humor appropriate enough for all ages.  Adults and kids will both have a roaring good time avoiding the exploding kittens and collecting the special Rainbow-Ralphing Cat cards.  Exploding Kittens is a creative and imaginative game that shows that there’s plenty of humor anyone can enjoy.

Gameplay isn’t that long at 15 minutes, so Exploding Kittens is more of an appetizer of a game rather than a main event.  However, it’s funny and complex enough that you’ll want to pull it out anytime you have friends over to the house.  Pick a card and choose your cats wisely, because Exploding Kittens will quickly become one of your favorite new card games!

Codenames: A New Take On Spy Vs. Spy

Did you grow up watching Mission Impossible and wishing you could experience the thrill of being a spy?  If so, Codenames will give you the chance to put on your spy cap and take on the role of secret agent.  Sifting through the clues and choosing wisely is your imperative if you wish to identify all of your agents and avoid the deadly assassin.  This 2015 board game is fun for all players, because whether you win or you lose, everyone can enjoy deciphering the clues.

Spymaster

The goal of Codenames is to figure out which codenames in a certain set correspond with the hint you’re given.  Players will split into two teams of red vs. blue, and each team will select one member to be its spymaster.  The spymaster is an incredibly fun role, as you get to dole out hints to the members of your team in order to help them figure out the clues.

The hints that you give as spymaster consist of one word and one number.  These hints will be related to the cards belonging to your agents, but be careful—if your team selects the wrong card, you may end up helping the other team.  The fun part of the game is that you are allowed to choose whatever you want the hint word to be, which allows a skilled spymaster to come up with creative and guessable hints.

Field Operatives

The other roles can be just as fun, however, as anyone not designated the spymaster is automatically a field operative.  Field operatives get the fun task of having to guess which card belongs to their agent based on their spymaster’s hint.  Alongside your teams’ agent cards are agent cards for the opposing team, as well as innocent bystander cards.  If you slip up and end up selecting an innocent bystander, your turn is up!

The Assassin

While guessing the wrong card may end up helping the other team or involving innocent bystanders, there’s one card that means lights out.  The assassin hides among the crowd, looking to everyone like just your average guy.  But if you make a mistake and end up selecting the assassin card, it’s game over for your team!  The stakes are always high while the assassin is afoot.

Winning The Game

The winner of the game is whichever team is the first to correctly select all of the agent cards belonging to their team.  With 25 agent cards and two teams, gameplay is relatively fast at around 15 minutes.  Codenames is a simple enough party game that can easily fit in between rounds of conversation.  It also fits 2-8 players, so it’s something that a big group can play with no problem.

Codenames is suitable for ages 14 and up, so it’s probably a better fit for parties than it is for families with young children.  However, even bystanders can enjoy the fun of watching the adults and teenagers deciphering clues.

Codenames Spinoffs

Codenames has released several later editions that you can either play by themselves or integrate with the original game.  With Codenames: Disney Family Edition, you’ll guess Disney characters instead of secret agents.  This version is suitable for ages 8 and up, so it is perfect if you want to play Codenames with younger kids.  If you’re looking for something more adult, however, Codenames: Deep Undercover includes loads of adult references and double entendres not suitable for the kids.

They’ve also released Codenames: Marvel for anyone who loves the fantastical characters of the extended Marvel universe.  And if you’re a fan of the long-lasting cartoon The Simpsons, there’s even a version of Codenames that features characters and references from your favorite series.

Choose Wisely With Codenames

Codenames depends heavily on the skill of the players, but it is definitely an enjoyable card game that you can play from time to time without losing its luster.  If charades is growing stale and you’re looking for something with a little more structure, Codenames will give you the same level of puzzle solving with an added layer of excitement.  Bust out your gadgets and tap into your inner James Bond with Codenames!

How to Play Codenames

Party Like a Hero with Red Dragon Inn

Sure, everybody knows the story of the heroic adventurers who save the day, slay the evil monsters, and collect their share of the treasure.  But what happens to them after they’ve finished their righteous conquest?  A night of drinking, gambling, and roughhousing of course.  Red Dragon Inn is a comical game with rapscallion characters engaged in a debauched good time.  

Choose Your Adventurer

In Red Dragon Inn, players get to choose between four different heroic adventurers who’ve just come back from a fresh conquest.  Each character comes with their own special deck of cards that provides them with unique abilities during the game.  The first is Deirdre the Priestess, an elf under the protection of a goddess that can get her out of scrapes and help her heal.  

Fiona the Volatile, on the other hand, is a tough female warrior who can cheer on her fellow players to drink more heavily while turning her own drinks into greater strength.  Gerki the Sneak comes with plenty of cheat cards that make him an excellent gambler (as well as a few poisons hidden up his sleeves).  The last is Zot the Wizard, whose half-demonic pet rabbit Pookey aids him in his quest to drain the other players of their gold.

Gambling, Drinking, and Roughhousing

Every player gets their own board where they can store their decks, discards, and drink cards.  Players start out with ten gold coins and seven cards that they can use to gamble, drink, and gain the upper hand against the other players.  Each turn gives you several options: you can discard however many cards you like and redraw, you can play an action card, or you can buy a drink for someone else.

Buying a drink for someone else will add another drink card to their stack, but it also forces you to take a drink yourself by drawing a card from your own stack.  While this may end up raising your alcohol content and getting you one step closer to passing out, you may end up gaining fortitude from the drink.  You can only play one action card per term, and these cards will usually force the other players to either take damage or drink more.  

Hold Onto Your Coins—and Your Sobriety

Some action cards will trigger a round of gambling, which invites each of the players to bet their gold and play their gambling cards.  Some characters are better at gambling than others, so your character’s profile will play heavily into your strategy of whether or not to favor gambling or drinking.

If a player’s alcohol content gets too high, they’ll pass out and lose the game.  However, running out of gold coins from gambling too much will also kick you out of the game.  The winner is whoever manages to be the last person to hold onto their coins and stay conscious.

Red Dragon Inn Sequels

Red Dragon Inn has spawned a handful of standalone sequel games that can also be integrated with the original game.  Red Dragon Inn 2 adds characters such as Dimli the Dwarf, a gold-hoarder who can handle his liquor like nobody’s business.  It also adds Fleck the Bard, a music loving half-elf who steals the hearts of all the girls.

Red Dragon Inn 6: Villains puts a unique twist on the premise of the game by taking on the villain’s perspective.  With this dark and twisted sequel, you can engage in Boss Battle mode that pits all the players against one evil villain.  No matter which Red Dragon Inn sequel you choose, you’ll be able to enjoy fun new characters that can make the original game even more expansive.

Enjoy the Spoils of the Hunt with Red Dragon Inn

Red Dragon Inn is suitable for ages 13 and up, mostly due to its slightly adult themes.  It can serve 2-4 players, but adding expansion can allow for larger groups and parties of up to 8.  Playing time lasts around 45 minutes, which should make for a decent round of debauched fun.  With Red Dragon Inn, you’ll be sure to enjoy its lighthearted nature and clever spin on the classic “hero”.

 

How to Play The Red Dragon Inn

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