Our Favorite Games To Play Right Now (With or Without Kids)

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: mountain house reveal: our light-filled neutral & textural living room

While up here at the mountain house, we mostly play hide and go seek, DIY easy Pictionary with words they can read and easily draw (surely they could play Pictionary Junior??) and we puzzle. But I realized I need help in the board game category for sure. HELP. Are there any new board games to play with little kids?? And are there any fun games for two grownups, sans kids? Brian and I have never been the type to play games just the two of us, but maybe if someone said “Emily and Brian you’d love this game and it kills hours of time” I’d try it…

So I asked my team: What games are adults playing these days?? And in general, what are people playing while stuck at home? This line of questioning quickly became a blog post idea so here we are. These are all the fun games EHD (and the Hendersons) have been into as of late:

Kid-Friendly (6 and under)

From me: I thought that we had reached “board game age” at 4 and 6  – and in a way we have if we are on teams, but I need more help because what we have is getting real old. So far our kids are super into (and thus we’ve exhausted) the following: Uno, Guess Who, Trouble, Sorry. We’ve tried monopoly and they like it but they end up fighting over money and real estate and basically the richest person wins and guys, we are hipster liberals and it’s too painful to listen to. I don’t want to be conservative about messaging, but, well, we are. Then we tried “Life” for nostalgia’s sake a few times and it’s equally weird and dated.

The only game that we’ve tried that is new-ish is Chickapiglet (and for older kids, Chickapig). It’s a memory board game and has animals and POOP and it’s pretty fun. And guess who helped invent int? DAVE EFFING MATTHEWS, yes the singer/songwriter

For the Whole Family

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: mountain house reveal: how we designed our super kid-friendly family room

From Julie: Exploding Kittens – I was very skeptical of this game when my niece and nephew first coerced me to play and wasn’t a fan of the title either. But there is a reason why over 9 million copies have sold, it’s so fun! Kinda like UNO with the addition of magical enchiladas. Intrigued?

From Ryann: CattanI am thrilled I am the first to recommend this because it’s the first board game that I’ve played in like 10 years, and it would feel pretty silly to recommend Monopoly after all these years. This is coming from someone who is NOT a board game fan so hopefully, you’ll heed my words. This game is a blast. It’s best played with 4 people but I think 3 is okay too and it is about building a civilization but the best part is the strategy of it all. Oh, and the board game itself is different every time you put it together, so each time you play it’s like a different game.

From Mallory: Spyfall This is the ultimate game to play with the whole family and the best part is that all you need is an iPhone. Literally just go to this link, start a new game and it will assign you character. Everyone except for one person knows their “role” and the “location” except for one person who is the spy. The whole point of the game is to guess who the spy is before the spy guesses the location. The catch? You have to talk to each other and ask them questions (and the way we play it, we all act out our action or role while we’re talking). It’s hours of endless entertainment. 10/10 recommend. 

From Julie: SequenceMy family has been playing this game since I was a freshman in high school and now my 8-year-old nephew is learning to play. It’s all about strategy and the best part is that it’s great for a large group of 12 to play but just as fun one-on-one. My sister and I used to play for hours on end but that’s probably more due to the fact that we are very competitive with one another.

Games for Two

From Ryann: Qwixx Despite the fact that my boyfriend and I are horrible at math, we seem to love games that have to do with numbers? Maybe it’s the only way we are equally matched since we are equally bad at counting. That said, this game is addicting and SO fun. It involves a bit of strategy which I like, but it’s easy to get the hang of quickly. You can probably play with kids, too!

From Sara: 7 Wonders DuelMac and I love playing board games, but most of the games we had you needed 3 or more players. So I started hunting down the best two-player board games out there and Duel (not to be confused with 7 Wonders, the board game) was the highest reviewed game. It’s a game of strategy and luck that doesn’t get old, because the strategy you decide to take depends on the cards dealt. We also have the Pantheon expansion set.

From Sara: PatchworkThis is another two-player game, but much simpler than Duel. If you like puzzles or Tetris, this is the game for you. You move around a board collecting pieces to piece together a “quilt.” It’s easy to understand, moves fast, and is a light enjoyable game.

From Sara: Ticket To RideThis is a cult classic, and can be played by 2-5 players. This game is all about strategy and secrecy as you race to build connecting railways. It’s one of my favorite games to play with just Mac or with a larger group. There are several different versions of this game, but North America is our favorite.

From Mallory: BattleshipThis is a CLASSIC. I forgot how good it was until we played it the other day. Play on a team or one-on-one, it’s a real gem!

From Mallory: Connect 4 – This is another classic, and it’s way more fun than you’ll remember. And how about yet ANOTHER classic?? Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. IF YOU HAVE A NINTENDO WII THESE GAMES ARE SO FUN AND WILL NOT DISAPPOINT. The best Mario kart courses are coconut mall and rainbow road.

Advanced Strategy Games

From Sara: WhitehallIf you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan, or love a collaborative game, this is a great detective game. As police officers, you’re attempting to catch the infamous Jack The Ripper as he makes his way across London. While one player does play the role of Jack, there isn’t any need to lie in this game, which I appreciate. Games that rely on me on having to perform stress me out. This can be played by 2-4 players, and make sure you’re playing with someone who likes critical thinking and deduction.

From Mallory: PandemicHere’s a new one. Months ago, my friend Riley brought this over to my house and it’s all too fitting. It’s a little terrifying because it might hit slightly close to home, but because it’s so real it feels really good when you win! Also, I used to play the app version of this game all the time — Plague inc, so if you have ever played that, you’ll like this.

From Sara: Arkham HorrorIf you like highly involved, long-form games, as well as sci-fi and mystery this should be at the top of your list. It’s constantly evolving, with several expansions, but also several different ways to play the original set. Mac and I play this A LOT. We make an evening of it, set mood music, and play for 2-3 hours. It’s complicated at first, but don’t let that deter you from giving it a try. The base game is for two players only, but you can add players with some of the expansion packs. This game can also be played solo!

From Julie: Magic: The Gathering Never in a thousand years would I think I’d be this invested in a game. About a month ago my boyfriend started to teach me how to play Magic: The Gathering, a game he has been playing since the second grade….not intimidating at all (sarcasm). It was very confusing at first but once I got the hang of it I was hooked and now we will play for hours most nights, plus it is fun to beat him. 😉

Party Games (Great for Full Homes with Adults)

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: how to have a great holiday cocktail party in a tiny apartment

We know this category isn’t super relevant right now unless you have a full house. But if you have a handful of grown-up family members or roommates then things are about to get FUN with these games. Plus when we can socialize again what better way to celebrate than to throw a game night? Might as well have some of these ready to go.

From Sara: One Night Ultimate Werewolf This is basically mafia, but kicked up a notch. It’s a game of deception and truth-seeking, as your group tries to figure out who in the group is a good villager and who is a werewolf. It’s extra fun because no one has to play narrator – there’s an app for your phone that has a top-notch narrator run the game for you. Perfect for large groups as you can play with up to 10 people

From Sara: JackboxOk, so this isn’t technically a “board game” but it’s the most epic party game we’ve ever played. Jackbox Games creates games that can be played by large groups of people via their phones. The games are hilarious and easy to get the hang of, and you’re guaranteed to laugh through most of the play. They’ve even got directions on how to play Jackbox Games remotely right now. You’ll need some sort of platform to play, but if you (or your partner/child) has a Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Apple TV or iPad, Amazon Fire TV, or a computer you can buy the games and play. We’d end up playing a few rounds of a Jackbox game at almost every get together we had.

From Mallory: Cards Against Humanity I assumed everyone would put this on their list, but when Ryann told me it wasn’t included in the blog post yet, I just had to add it. HOT TIP: Don’t play this with your parents unless you’re very comfortable explaining what a glory hole is to them

From Jess: Red FlagsThink of Red Flags as a mix between Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity. Every round someone in the group is the “suitor” and everyone tries to pick a description card from their hand that sounds like the ultimate date for that person (hence Apples to Apples). BUT then, the person next to them tries to foil their perfect date description by adding a negative description card to that date (and these negative descriptions are often hilarious – hence Cards Against). It’s a great party game, but I will admit that it works a little better if you at least know the people you’re playing with somewhat, so you can try to pick a date card for them that really fits.

From Jess: Anomia At our EHD game nights, Anomia is one of our favorites! It’s a card game that just requires some quick common knowledge. I won’t get into the details because I won’t do it justice but it’s SO fun and SO intense. The first time we played it, Velinda could only get out what sounded like farm animal sounds and we could not stop laughing. If you don’t know what Anomia means it’s “a form of aphasia in which the patient is unable to recall the names of everyday objects” according to dictionary.com. I can say from experience that you will absolutely experience that in this game in the funniest way… especially is you are playing with Velinda:)

Games You Can Play Virtually

From Mallory: Google FeudWant to play a party game but sans the party? Google Feud is the ultimate option because you can play it ON ZOOM or in real life. If you’re going the zoom option, just share your screen and make some teams. Chase and I played it w the whole extended family a few weeks ago and it was a BLAST. Shoutout to Uncle Chris for coming up with the idea.

From Jess: Personal Trivia: Ok so this one requires some work on your part but every Sunday my friends and I take turns creating a trivia game (Well the winner is in charge of the following week’s game:)). They have been so fun. There is usually four rounds, each with a different topic. It can be anything from pop culture to geography to “name that song” to facts about your hometown, anything!

Then from this spawned another idea to do with my family that they are all surprising into! I’m creating a game called (name very much pending) “How Well Do You Know Your Family??” The name needs help. But since my extended family is pretty spread out, we don’t get to see each other often enough (pre-pandemic) and don’t really know, for example, what each other’s favorite TV show is. So I am going to create a Google Survey, send it to everyone to fill out and then make a fun multiple choice game out of it. I will likely have to be the “game show host” and not participate but the plan is to make it really funny (I want A LOT of laughs) and a fun way to all connect. I mean we might as well take advantage of this time, no? If any of you have funny questions I am taking submissions in the comments:)

Now we pass it over to you. Has this new normal made you a gamer? What games are you playing?? We want to know. xx

Opener Image Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Mountain House Reveal: Our Light-Filled Neutral & Textural Living Room

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