Christmas is nearly here!!! It's the best time of the year, especially for children! With that in mind, I have put together a list of the top 10 children's games for Christmas. As a home schooler, I spend a lot of time playing games with my seven-year-old son. In this list I tried to include games that children can play by themselves but that aren't a total drag for the adults too!
10 - My First Stone Age - This is probably the least 'adult friendly' on the list, but I included it because it teaches the basics of worker placement, gaining resources to get something else and has some memory thrown in for good measure!
My First Stone Age teaches: Memory, planning, worker placement and resource management all at a basic level.
9 - Dobble - The picture matching game has seen many iterations, but the base game remains the same. The iconic circular cards all have multiple images on them but each card share one (and only one) identical image with every other card. This voodoo is used as the basis for a number of ways of playing and a lot of fun.
Dobble teaches: Shape recognition and reflexes.
8 - Loony Quest - This is a spacial awareness game that tasks players with drawing an accurate line. An image is placed in the middle and everyone is given a transparent plastic sheet and a dry wipe marker. Players then attempt to trace a path or shape that will fit over the goals on the image. When the time runs out you will lay your sheet over the image and see how good you were! This game is probably the one on the list that needs most adult help but is so much fun I had to include it.
Loony Quest teaches: Spacial awareness, co-ordination, re-imagining and hand control.
7 - Port Royal Unterwegs! - A card game of luck and planning. Port Royal Unterwegs! is a streamlined version of Port Royal, and as such is very approachable for children. Each round a player draws cards until they want to stop or they draw two ships of the same colour and bust. If they choose to stop they can take income (the backs of the cards show a gold coin and operate as currency) or add cards to their tableau to score points and more. The special powers are few and easy to understand and if they enjoy it it can be mixed with the first game!
Port Royal teaches: Push your luck, basic tableau building, multi use cards and logical decision making.
6 - Saboteur - This is a game of route making and trust! Roll cards are dealt to each player, which will either be a standard gnome or a saboteur. The saboteurs will always be on the smallest team, if there are any at all. Not knowing if you are working together is brilliant and really makes the game. The normal gnomes are trying to make a path to the gold ,which is one of three cards face down a distance from the start card.
On a turn a player with play a path or an action card, or discard a card from their hand and then draw another. Saboteurs are trying to stop the other gnomes, by laying dead ends, traps on other players or simple and innocently routing the path in odd directions. My son loved this game. The added tension of working out who to trust while trying to achieve your goals really grabbed him. Saboteur 2 adds more roles and complications but the first game is more than enough fun for children.
Saboteur teaches: Path laying, teamwork, deduction, careful planning and non verbal communication.
5 - Diamant/Incan Gold: Greed. It's something we all understand. In Incan Gold, and the recent reprint Diamant, you are out for as many gems as possible. Players start in a camp and will make five journeys into caves. Each step of the journey is represented by a card that will be flipped over. Players put their pieces on the tile and take any effects, such as gaining gems. Then they must decide to carry on or return to camp and bank their loot.
If players carry on they potentially get more loot but also potentially bust on a trap card. The first trap card is fine, but the second of the same type busts anyone still in the cave. There are three of each of the five trap type cards in the deck and every time one of those players bust on a trap, one of those traps is removed from the game.
Diamant teaches: Push your luck, playing and calculating the odds.
4 - Ice Cool - Flicking plastic penguins that can jump and curl is always a winner, and Ice Cool has proven that. From it's neat board in a box system that creates a playing area bigger than should be possible, to the high quality plastic penguins, Ice Cool is a great game. The Penguins have subbuteo style bases that are weighted, which means that with the right kind of flick they can jump and curl around the board. The scoring is slightly wonky but this can easily be changed.
Ice Cool teaches: Dexterity and hand eye co-ordination.
3 - Ticket to Ride First Journey: This is an even more approachable version of modern staple, Ticket to Ride. With a simplified rule set and shrunk down map requiring less trains to get from one station to another, First Journey presents the core rules and mechanics of the main game in a bite size way.
First Journey teaches: Set collection, route planning and pre-planning.
2 - Quirk! - On paper Quirk sound ok, the art is nice enough and the combination of Go Fish and Charades sounds good. I didn't anticipate just how well this game would go down with children and families and it's become my surprise hit of the year. You attempt to collect 'quirks' (three cards of the same type) by asking the other players if they have one of the cards you already have in your hand. Except you can't just ask for the card, you must do a verbal or acted impression of it. This leads to a lot of fun and shenanigans and whenever it is played the first game is always followed by a second, then a third...
Quirk teaches: Recognition, logic and set collection.
1 - Rhino Hero/Rhino Hero Super Battle - The game enjoyed by adults and children alike. Both iterations of Rhino Hero task you with creating a tower out of sturdy cards. There is a bit more to it than that but the experience is not really about winners and losers, more about building an unfeasible big tower together. Rhino Hero has less building cards, but more in the way of mechanics to some degree. Rhino Hero: Super Battle is simpler but has more impressive buildings and both can be combined for five player fun.
Rhino Hero teaches: Co-ordination!
Nick can also be found at Board, Deck & Dice