Love bringing the family together around a table to play a board game? Tired of playing thirty year old copies of Monopoly, Scrabble, and 80's Trivial Pursuit? We've got you covered with a list of games a step outside of the games many families are used to playing.
In many ways, Catan is the new Monopoly (note: the game has officially been re-branded as Catan, rather than the earlier Settles of Catan, rest assured it is the same game). Not so much the gameplay, although the trading between players will likely strike a similar chord, but rather that Catan has become THE family game over the past two decades. If you haven't stepped up from Monopoly, now is as good of a time as any. Players compete to collect goods, which are used to expand their good-collecting empires so that they can eventually generate points to win the game. Catan is a family classic that has found its way to countless holiday gatherings. Sometimes simply updating to the new classic is enough to refresh family game nights.
Carcassonne is a game with an incredibly simple premise: pick a tile from a stack, and place it on the board to expand a road, city, or field. The game is deceptively competitive as players will look to out muscle each other to gain precious points that come from completing those roads or cities. The direct competition, however, is optional. Players may choose to play a "nice" game of Carcassonne in which they tend to ignore each other and rather try to build the biggest cities they can on their own. A game that allows you to play cutthroat and take out Grandma or peacefully play in your own corner? That's quite a variety in one small box.
#3 Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride allows players to build train routes across the country in an attempt to complete the longest routes and earn the most points. The gameplay is simple, you draw a card or two, collecting matching colors and use those to place trains across the board. Another game that has some sneaky cutthroat tendencies, battles for limited routes can be intense. Ticket to Ride is among the modern classics of board gaming, the simple gameplay allows for easy entry by new players, but the fun remains for veterans long after they complete their first journey. As an added bonus, there are a slew of different varieties of Ticket to Ride, depending on how many players you will likely have and which kind of gameplay you want. We'd suggest starting with the basic game first and exploring others afterwards.
Splendor combines the joys of family board gaming with the Vegas-like feel of real poker chips! Don't worry, not gambling is involved, but the poker chips included are quite nice to the touch. Players take turns collecting gems which can later be used to buy cards which provide more gems. This process repeats and players eventually start accumulating points. The first one to 15 points wins the game. Spelndor shares a common thread with many on this list in that is is simple to explain and learn, but provides a great amount of depth. Each game will present different options to players and they must decide the best course of action. As players vie for the same cards, there will be hollers of disgust as Aunt Sally steals the card you needed to win the game.
#5 Monopoly Gamer
I was promised no Monopoly!!! The thing about Monopoly is that the game, at its core played with the actual rules, isn't nearly as obnoxious as it has become over the years with each family member adding their own house rules. The Gamer version, in addition to being set in the awesome world of Mario, distills down the rules and allows the core game to shine through. The gameplay changes keep the game to a tight 30 minutes or less, keeping some aspects of Monopoly but ditching others to provide a more fun experience for everybody involved. The power ups, boss fights, and attacks will have players reminiscing about their favorite Mario games, from Party to Kart. The Nintendo theme might be a turn-off for older family members, but he streamlined gameplay under the familiar Monopoly brand will be sure to reel them in.
#6 Sushi Go Party!
A game based on sushi? Why not?? Sushi Go Party is an incredibly simple game in which players select a card from their hand and pass the rest to their neighbor. This repeats a few times and eventually you count up the points you were able to collect from the cards you kept. It doesn't get much simpler than that. The Party version we are recommending plays up to 8 players, making it one of the best choices for a larger number of players. Sushi Go distills a classic mechanic of modern board games into a super simple game and will provide plenty of fun for experts and beginners alike.
#7 One Night Ultimate Warewolf
One Night Ultimate Warewolf might seem familiar to many of your family members. It is a social deduction game which means everybody will yell at each other trying to lie and scheme to figure out who in your family is the warewolf. It is a modified, deeper, and better version of the classic Mafia card game. ONUW is great in bringing family together through lying, and isn't that what family gatherings are all about?
- Each player gets a unique role: A Werewolf, Seer, Troublemaker, or another, all with special abilities
- After a secret night phase that includes changing roles, players have just 5 minutes to find a Werewolf
- Includes a free iOS/Android app that makes playing incredibly engaging and addictive
Many families love word games, and many families use something like Scategories, Balderdash, or Taboo to scratch that itch. Isn't it time for an upgrade? Try introducing Codenames. The game places one player from each of two teams as the clue-giver and the remaining players the clue-guessers. Teams must correctly guess all of their codenames before the other in order to win. The words are spread across a grid of 25 cards, chosen from hundreds included in the box, and only the clue-givers know which belong to which team. The massive twist here is that the clues given out can only contain a single word. Guessing a single word is fairly easy, but the best teams will be able to string together three or four codenames under a single clue. Codenames is a great twist on the traditional "get your family to guess a word" games of the past.
#9 The Lost City of the Monkey God - Douglas Preston
Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But it wasn't until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal-and incurable-disease.
Suspenseful and shocking, filled with colorful history, hair-raising adventure, and dramatic twists of fortune, THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD is the absolutely true, eyewitness account of one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century.
#10 Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dialo
In Principles, Dalio shares what he’s learned over the course of his remarkable career. He argues that life, management, economics, and investing can all be systemized into rules and understood like machines. The book’s hundreds of practical lessons, which are built around his cornerstones of “radical truth” and “radical transparency,” include Dalio laying out the most effective ways for individuals and organizations to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams.
Best Books of 2020 continued.....
#11 Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
Perfect for fans of the Harry Potter series and Neil Gaiman, this fast-paced plot and imaginative world has a fresh new take on magic that will appeal to a new generation of readers. Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks--and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.
#12 Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly compelling, but also emotionally devastating.
#13 Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren
Everyone knows that all’s fair in love and war. But these two will learn that sabotage is a dish best served naked. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.
#14 Apollo 8 by Jeffrey Kluger
The full story of Apollo 8 has never been told, and only Jeffrey Kluger―Jim Lovell’s co-author on their bestselling book about Apollo 13―can do it justice. Here is the tale of a mission that was both a calculated risk and a wild crap-shoot, a stirring account of how three American heroes forever changed our view of the home planet.
#15 Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
#16 The City Of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty, an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and Uprooted, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts. After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for . . .
#17 Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki―son of a giant―blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassed manipulator.
#18 Vogue: The Covers by Dodie Kazanjian
In this stunning updated edition of the successful Vogue: The Covers, Vogue continues to pay tribute to its tradition of beauty and excellence with a compilation of even more spectacular cover art. In addition to featuring classic covers from the magazine’s 125-year history, this updated edition features every cover since 2010, with each cover displaying the magazine’s cutting-edge takes on style, fashion, and culture. Unforgettable new covers feature such celebrated subjects as Michelle Obama, Kim and Kanye, Lena Dunham, and more. This lavish, beautifully illustrated book even includes 5 new frame-able Vogue cover prints that can be removed from back of the book.
#20 The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery -- or at least, that's what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn't a real Avery, then who is he? In this, Boyne's most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart's Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.