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Subject: A cry for help rss

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Steve Hope
United States
Woodside
California
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Somehow despite me being a dedicated gamer my family has drifted into a world where they only want to play Monopoly when we decide to play a family game. There MUST be something better out there! Help me, geeks!

The cast:

Me: Gaming enthusiast, will play basically anything but like the game to have at least a little meat on the bones. Monopoly is kind of long/random for me, but Coup or Codenames or something like that is fine even if pretty light.

Wife: Likes to play games, but mostly "classic" games--happy to play cards, likes word games, likes games like Pictionary/Trivial Pursuit. She is pretty easygoing but has two BIG issues with games: long rules explanations (she likes to open a game and start playing) and games with negative surprises (she hates the Robber in Catan, burst into tears when playing Diplomacy even though she was doing the backstabbing b/c she didn't want to act nastily but was even more worried someone else would be mean to her).

Son: Pretty open to most games, very competitive, very opinionated about what others should do on their turn and can sometimes "rage quit" if players aren't playing the way they "should" to his detriment. Main consideration here is to find a game where there's not more than a sprinkling of "take THAT" behavior or he goes on tilt at some point.

Daughter: Hardest to figure out. Least enthusiastic about games generally, wary of new games, but usually enjoys herself once she is playing a game. Doesn't like particularly complicated games, but by and large amenable to most games--maybe it's just that she has a high activation energy to get pulled away from her screens/devices.

Hobby games we've tried--

Incan Gold, when the kids were younger (they're now 13 and 15). This had some success but I think nobody really loved it. We played it a few times.

Menagerie, again when they were younger. Simple set collection.

Pandemic, worked for a few games then the kids started fighting about role selection at the start of the game (still a few years ago) and we abandoned it.

...long interregnum of Monopoly...

Codenames--Son/Wife liked, Daughter didn't

Catan--Son/Daughter liked, Wife didn't

Any advice? Ideally a 45-90 minute game that the four of us would enjoy, some (win-win) player interaction good but not critical, low rules overhead, not too deep/complicated but enough that it doesn't seem silly/pointless.

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Ticket to Ride or a variant.
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Jason Hopper
United States
Hermitage
Tennessee
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On the shorter side of things, but maybe 7 Wonders or Machi Koro?
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Andrew J.
United States
Missouri
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I've had really good success with Sushi Go! as a light-weight card-drafting game that plays quickly and is easy to explain. The party edition is great, too.

(Random aside: burst into tears has got to be the saddest phrase in the English language...now I'm sad too )
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John
United Kingdom
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Maybe Carcassonne

Clubs is an easy to learn climbing game (kinda like a trick taking game) with friendly looking cards and plays in ~ 30 mins
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Ludvig Stigsson
Sweden
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Concordia
Concept
Dixit
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Shaun Morris
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Tokaido - This one is like one of those small Japanese sand gardens to me. It's fun and just oh so relaxing to play.

Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game - 8-bit video game theme with a DnD inspiration. Quick and easy to play. Maybe a sprinkling of take that.

The Networks - Potentially too complex for your wife's tastes but I found it pretty quick to pick up and play. This is a sandbox-y game where for the most part you kind of just do your own thing. You're building a TV network and whereas it's a common pool there's little to no take that. The Network cards offer some take that but you can just remove them from the game and the game wouldn't suffer for it at all.

The Grizzled - Quick and easy rule set. Fast to play. Fully co-op and the game actually limits table talk so it'll minimize any arguments. It's exceptionally difficult to beat but it's one of our favorite games in my group. My group is 1 and 12 (1 win, 12 losses) for this game but it gets a lot of requests anyway.

Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King - It's got a fairly light rule set. Perhaps a slight sprinkling of take that due to the buying mechanism that opens each round. Actually has a pretty deep strategy for such a light game.

The Voyages of Marco Polo - Might be a bit too complex for your wife's tastes, but it's not hard to learn. It's a dice worker placement game themed on the voyages of Marco Polo. I didn't notice any take that or meanness in the game.

Pocket Dungeon Quest - A very light, fully co-op tile based game.

That's all I think of off the top of my head.


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Adam Nikolaus
United States
Milwaukee
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King of Tokyo perhaps? It has Yahtzee style mechanics with very simple rules(for wife), player conflict without having to much direct take that(for son), and it's a relatively fast game so it wont drag on forever(for daughter).
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John Burt
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Kainrising wrote:
On the shorter side of things, but maybe 7 Wonders or Machi Koro?


7W has moderately complex rules, and confusing iconography, so not a good choice. Machi Koro is a mean game, also not good.

Here's what I suggest:

Step 1) loan Monopoly to a friend, say a work buddy nobody at home knows, who will accidentally destroy the game ("I had NO idea that boardgames are flammable!").

Step 2) give them several days to process this horrible tragedy, and then in an effort to console your family in their grief over the loss of their favorite game (gag - sorry), introduce these games:

Splendor: a pretty, lightweight game with simple rules.

Ticket to Ride: Europe: less mean than the USA version.

Tajemnicze Domostwo, Dixit and/or Codenames: Pictures: basically, lightweight games similar to codenames, but with images, which seems to be particularly appealing to women.

And PS, I totally agree with your wife about Catan: it's a horrible game and the robber is a jerk.
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Ken Shogren
United States
Rochester
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Sounds like we have similar family scenes in regard to games. I've had the best luck with games that are fast to teach, easy to catch on to, and yet offer some opportunity to "play better". Also, games that are competitive without being so confrontational work better. So to that end...

Ingenious
The Great Heartland Hauling Co.
Tsuro
Love Letter
Can't Stop
Too Many Cinderellas

There are others in this same style and weight that might work well. And as "the gamer", I have found that I enjoy playing these games too.

Best of luck!


Edit: Adding...
Takenoko
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Steve Hope
United States
Woodside
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Thanks for the ideas so far, everyone!

TTR seems like a good idea and I think we even have it around somewhere and tried it once...Will have to fish it out.

Carcassonne is a game I don't like for whatever reason, it might be popular but I don't want to sentence myself to it.

Splendor and Love Letter both seem like good ideas. I need to look into Dixit.

King of Tokyo is a fun idea and actually very popular with my 5yo nephew, but I think watching him play the game has turned my family off from it and I think the conflict theme would be a problem for my wife.
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Matt Logan
United States
Peoria
Illinois
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Alhambra is an excellent family game that meets all your requirements.
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Leo Zappa
United States
Aliquippa
Pennsylvania
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The two that have worked best for us by far have been
Splendor and Love Letter. Try these!
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David B
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Check out Celestia. It's a remake and I never played the original but it is good light fun, doesn't take real long, and although you rely on others you are out for yourself in the end. Very few possible options to stick it to one another but the victim still gets a reward usually. It's small and cute and the kids will like shuffling their pawn into the captain's seat.

Good luck in your search and bringing the family together.
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Brian Fahl
United States
Brookfield
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I give a +1 to Tokaido.

Also, your family might like Takenoko, Machi Koro or Ninja Camp.

Tokaido might not appeal to your son if he needs a hyper-competitive game. It really is a take your time and smell the roses kind of game. Everyone in my family really likes it. It's no one's favorite game, but it is usually one that we can all agree on.

Machi Koro
is very Settlers-like. But it has less player interaction. There are some buildings that allow you to take from other players, but for the most part it is a race to complete your city.

Takenoko
is a tile-laying set collection game that is pretty easy to play. It's a light weight game with no real player interaction. Very appealing to look at. Who doesn't like Pandas?

Ninja Camp is an elevated version of Hey, That's My Fish! Plays fast. Great filler game.
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J .M
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I would try San Juan (second edition). It's quick and easy to to teach,most of what you need to know is written out in front of you. There are good choices to make and you are involved on every turn.
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Tim Tix
Germany
Hamburg
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+ 1 King of Tokyo
+ 1 Machi Koro

Furthermore
Colt Express
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Adrian Schmidt
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It's very hard to say from just reading a description of course, but I'd guess that your daughter's main issue with boardgames is the behaviour of your son. Kids usually don't overlook stuff like that quite as easily as adults do.

You might want to experiment with co-ops, but I think there is also a rather big risk that your son might get even more upset with other people's actions when they're on the same side.

I hope you find a way

EDIT: So you know where I'm coming from on this: your son sounds a lot like me when I was young.
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Kitkat Denchy
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I know my husband loves playing all sorts of games and wants the family to join in. I definitely understand your wife! Sounds a lot like me. When playing with family, the mom wants everyone to win and doesn't want to pick any of her children to take a hit even in a game. Our kids love the electronics too, especially the one who, if he starts to lose ends up trying to kill off his character so he can leave.

After all that, my suggestion is Time Stories. I have found that, even though I am very cheap, the investment is worth it. It is said once you complete the game and know the end, you can't really play again, but we definitely don't have that great a memory. Especially when you take into account different story expansions.

The game is set up easily and the rules are quick. It is cooperative, however, a strong character is needed to fight enemies. It takes thought and planning and even has some puzzles to work through. It is engaging enough that your family is working together and time flies.

The game is played in rounds. You can't beat it in one round. Each round takes about 60 minutes and can be put away between rounds. Just don't want to pack it up too long or you will forget where you want to go. Which reminds me, we need to get it out again very soon.....

On a side note. Resistance is fun. My kids love that one. It has two random people be spies in a minimum 5 player game.(Maybe have the kids invite a friend.) And everyone claims that they are not the spy. Everyone takes turns picking people they think they can trust and see if mission passes or fails. It is very quick and simple. Barely any set up. Just enough pieces to progress the game. You have to figure out who the spies are before too many missions fail and the spies win. It is great trying to figure out who is lying. See if you can tell when your teenager is lying to you. Maybe you can spot a few tells before they stop spending time with you
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Calvin Nicholson
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Gilmer
Texas
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I say give BANG! The Dice Game a try
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Gary Heidenreich
United States
Milwaukee
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Mondkalb123 wrote:
Ticket to Ride or a variant.


This or a dice game? Find a copy of Can't Stop or maybe Camel Up? Las Vegas?
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Collin Pastorius
United States
Great Mills
Maryland
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I would suggest Kingdom Builder. I know there are plenty of people out there that say there is no real strategy element to the game, but I've played several games of it now and there is! Simple rules, yet it can involve deep strategic thought. Being a spiel des jahres winner can't hurt my argument either, right? Check out Rahdo's runthrough of it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq1PxvxQ8I8
 
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Mark Smith

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I feel your pain but the suggestions already have some clout. My two not so little ones are the same age.
For the Dear daughter + for Takenoko with Elder Sign and sometimes the odd game of Imperial Settlers.
For my sometimessulky son + for King of Tokyo and Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game with some Dungeon Roll.

They both LOVE Warhammer Quest,him the pit fighter her the wardancer.
They really like Defenders of the Realm but they did not like Pandemic ???.
Small World is another firm favourite.
With some other odd crawlers making the table with Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game and the other DnD family of the same type.
Super Dungeon Explore and Run, Fight, or Die! having recent plays.

I have asked if they want to play Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) with the app and it looks promising and daughter put it on her tablet thingy for me.
Thing is at that age kids are hot n cold . They will will adore a game for a little while then drop it pronto. Good luck.
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Phillip Harpring
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Since Pandemic went well for a bit, you might try Forbidden Island or Flash Point: Fire Rescue, though they also have roles so you may end up with the same problem. Flash Point has a "family" variant where rules are streamlined and it removes the specializations.

I think the best suggestion I have would be Ghostbusters: Protect the Barrier Game. Fun theme, accessible gameplay, coop (but the son can try to bust the most ghosts or clear the most devices himself), and no specialized roles.
 
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Rob Steward
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Meridian
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Our kids--now 17, 14, and 12--consider these classics:

Puerto Rico - everyone is pretty much continually involved
Genoa - epic negotiation game. If you play Monopoly "properly", with a lot of dealmaking, this one might be a real winner for you.
Keyflower - rules aren't so complicated as the rulebook makes them sound (Try this: Keyflower Summary)

Hard to find games I'd also recommend (if you can find them!): Glory to Rome and Norenberc

(I left off games like Agricola and Roads & Boats, which have more/more complicated rules and concepts than Monopoly, and things like Dixit, which doesn't work so well with just 4 players...)
 
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