We here at Plugged In like watching movies as much as anyone, which is just one reason why we understand that stepping away from the screen can be extremely beneficial. As enjoyable as family movie nights can be, we know that the world is full of other great ways to connect.
That’s where board games can make a nice alternative. Whether it comes in the form of light party or heavy strategy, board games help us bond with strangers, friends and family alike. Like a movie, the appeal of the medium focuses our collective attention together for a few hours. Unlike a movie, however, board games almost always necessitate talking with one another (unless a rule prohibits talking). And not only will people talk about the game, but they’ll often talk about other aspects of their lives, providing all players with a great way to bond with one another.
But we know that finding a fun and easy-to-learn game for the whole family to play isn’t always the simplest task. Nor is it easy to convince friends and family to play those games that most people have in their game closet: You can only play Monopoly so many times before tossing the board into the fireplace.
That’s why we’ve put together five lesser-known family-friendly games that you and your loved ones can enjoy time and time again!
Hues and Cues
Player count: 3-10
In Hues and Cues, players attempt to place their player markers on the correct color space based on a one-word cue. With 480 colored squares to choose from, it’s harder than it sounds.
Each turn, one player will draw a card that has four different colors on it. After choosing one, they must then describe the color to the other players by using only one word. But here’s the catch: Common color names cannot be used. For instance, maybe the color is a shade of green, and you say “grass.” Now, all other players place their markers down on the square they believe to best match the word you gave—but no two players can share the same square. The cue-giver then has the opportunity to give a second, two-word clue, and players place their second marker down. Finally, points are scored based on how close everyone was to the correct hue.
Hues and Cues is a very simple game that will often leave players debating over just how orange “sunset” is and whether “raspberry” is more purple, pink or red. Additionally, because players guess in clockwise order, guesses can range far across the board, leaving lots of laughter as one player reveals that they thought “chartreuse” was a shade of red. The game will help cue-giving children think critically about descriptions and cooperation, as the cue-giver only gets points if people guess close to the correct color. For families who love colorful guessing games, look no further than Hues and Cues.
Poetry For Neanderthals
Player Count: 2+
You are a Neanderthal poet, trying to gracefully get your Neanderthal team to guess a word in order to score more points than the other team. But everyone knows that Neanderthals can only speak in and understand one-syllable words. If you use words bigger than that, the other team will hit you with the “No! stick,” a large inflatable club, and you will lose the point.
Poetry For Neanderthals is made by Exploding Kittens, the company that also made, well, Exploding Kittens. If you’ve played similar word-guessing games such as Fishbowl or Taboo, Poetry For Neanderthals is easy to pick up, as its unique twist is that you may only use one-syllable words in your descriptions.
The game challenges players to think through how they talk, and it will help children learn about using synonyms. For instance, “zero” would not be an accepted word, but “none” would. Because the inflatable club is meant to be used to bonk others on the head, there will be laughs, but parents may need to make sure younger children don’t get carried away with the sudden power that comes with holding the club. For families who love word-guessing games with a twist, this one will fit right in!
Wing It: The Game of Extreme Storytelling
Player Count: 3+
Free Printable Version Available: https://flyingleapgames.com/products/print-play-wing-it-the-game-of-extreme-storytelling
You’re hiking up the side of an active volcano, and you realize it’s about to erupt. You’ve got a snobby orangutan, 38 packets of instant pudding and five dead succulent plants at your disposal. What do you do to escape? Looks like you’re going to have to Wing It!
In Wing It, players will have three resource cards in their hand, and one person will read aloud a scenario card. Based on that scenario, each player will then take one minute making up a story about how they use their three resource cards to solve it. The person who read the scenario card will then choose whose story they thought was best.
This game puts players in fantastical situations with absurd resources—the perfect circumstances needed to allow everyone to unleash their inner storyteller. Children will have fun as they learn how to put their problem-solving skills to the test, and the stories those around the table come up with will have everyone crying with laughter. For families looking for a game about improvisation, Wing It is perfect.
Player Count: 3-8
You pull up a card, and it reads “Top ___”. On your whiteboard, you write “hat” in the blank. Everyone flips their cards, and you see they’ve written “gun,” “gear” …and someone else has also written “hat.” That’s good news for you—the only way to get points is to match answers with other players.
In Blank Slate, players must write a word that fits into a blank space that is preceded or followed by a word. However, you must think about what other people would put, as you need to match answers with others to get the points needed to win. However, if everyone matches, then no one gets points. I wish you the best of ___!
Blank Slate can be taught in a minute and played in a few more. Players will flex their word association muscles as they try to not only come up with a word for the blank; they need to think of what others would put! If your family members believe they can read each other’s minds, this game’s the one for you!
Player Count: 4-10
You won’t last long if you try to stick out. Instead, blend in with everyone else, adopt the herd mentality and try not to get the pink cow!
In Herd Mentality, players all write an answer to a question. For instance, “What’s the biggest animal you could lift up?” You get one point if your answer is the same as the majority answer. However, if one person is the odd one out, then they receive the pink cow. While the pink cow is with them, they can still get points, but they cannot win the game, and the only way to get rid of the pink cow is if another player is the odd one out. First to eight points wins!
Like Blank Slate, Herd Mentality tries to get players to think about how others might answer a prompt rather than trying to stick out with a unique one of their own. Because players are trying to match with one another, everyone will think (and sometimes overthink!) of what matches the prompt while still staying simple enough for others to guess as well. For families who want to compete against one another through cooperation, this game will suit your needs.