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Games with Two

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To Grandmother's House We Go - Gaming With Non-Gamers

Jason Moslander
United States
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Originally Posted at

So, I am going on a family vacation soon with some of my extended family, and this has me thinking. What games work well with non-gamers? What games will both the gamer and non-gamer enjoy? So, I figured I would give you all some helpful suggestions of games to play with your non-gaming family and friends. I also want to put some criteria on this. I am not going to discuss any party games, since most of these are geared toward non-gamers (Ultimate Werewolf, Wits and Wagers, Reverse Charades, and Telestrations I am looking at you). I also think that these games should play in less than an hour. Any longer and you start to lose the interest of your audience. Game length is one of the things that has turned so many off to gaming to begin with--yes, I am talking to you Risk and Monopoly. Finally, the game should be easy to learn. If it takes you longer than five minutes to teach the game, you may want to consider something else. That being said, here are some good choices that fit this category. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a starting point to give you some ideas of some good games that would work in these situations.

2-Player Only
A two-player only game that is a good fit is Hive. It is both easy to learn and easy to teach. Hive is a simple abstract strategy game. If you have someone in your family that enjoys games like Chess, this would be a good one to show them. It is very Chess like in it's nature, but is simpler, more portable, and quicker. You can knock out a game of Hive in 10-20 minutes, where a Chess game can take hours, unless you are using clocks. The game is easy to find and it's priced very reasonably as well--usually less than $30.

2-4 Player Games
I have a couple of choices here. Qwirkle and Ingenious are great choices. They are easy to relate to especially if your family enjoys Dominoes or Scrabble; these can be a good move into the world of designer gaming. Both games use simple shapes and colors that need to be matched up; both games use tiles that can be related back to Scrabble or Dominoes; and both are also easy to learn and quick to play. You can knock out a round of Ingenious in about 45 minutes and Qwirkle can be completed in under an hour. Finally, the price for both of these is very reasonable; both are retailing under $40. Qwirkle can also be easily found as most Targets carry it.

5 or 6 Players
Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride come to mind here. They both support up to five players, and you can play Carcassonne with six players if you get the Inns and Cathedrals expansion. Ticket to ride is a simple set collection game where you options are limited. You can do only one of three things on your turn: draw 2, draw new tickets, or play cards to create a route. The game can easily be taught in a couple of minutes and if you are a TtR expert, you can play handcuffed and no one will really be the wiser. The game is also easy to find, since some big box stores carry it. Carcassonne is simple to teach. You draw a tile and play the tile on the board. You can help each other decide the best placements, or try to influence players to help you, while hurting others. This game is always a good time and usually has a lot of people pleading and bargaining to get you to play your tile in a place that helps them and hurts everyone else. Tons of fun and it's cheap, running about $30.

Dice and Cards
Dice and card games are something that most people have dealt with at some point and in some form. No, I am not saying to bring your collection of Magic cards to grandmas. I am referring to simple trick taking games. Many people have played Spades or Rummy or some sort of set collection like Rummy. So, for card games, I recommend David and Goliath for trick taking and Coloretto for set collection. Both are quick games and their concepts are easy to understand if your family plays cards. For dice, I really enjoyed Bears! and although I haven't played them, Zombie Dice and Martian Dice have come out recently, and I have heard hardly anything negative about either one. Also, the classic Liar's Dice could also be a good fit. I wish I could give a better recommendation for dice games, but I just haven't played very many, so I have to go off of the critiques of others for this one.

I hope this list is helpful. Enjoy your time with your families over the summer and enjoy introducing them to the wonderful world of gaming. Maybe by Thanksgiving you can be playing Twilight Imperium 3 with grandma. Okay, maybe that won't happen, but one can dream. Right?

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