Black Friday 2020, Board Games for Families (and non-gamers!)

If you know me at all, you will know that I love board games — for me, there is nothing better than getting a group of friends or family around the table together to play a game altogether. The game itself doesn’t matter, but it is the act of getting rid of other distractions and uniting together for an hour or two of silliness and fun. Quality time together.

That’s why I think Board Games make the best presents. It’s not about the game, it’s never actually about the game. A board game is just the promise of wanting to spend time with each other — the game is just the excuse we use.

Board games have evolved massively over the last decade or two, and I am by no means an expert, but I love introducing people to new games and experiences.

So, with Christmas around the corner, I often get asked about board game thoughts and recommendations… well, Uncle Ed has some board game suggestions for families who are looking for a great stocking filler — and for Black Friday, Target has all of these on sale!

These are all personal favorites, played and tested well, and are great for families or those new to board games — this is by no means an exhaustive list, there are so many excellent games out there, but here is a great selection to get started with!

Quick and silly games

Small packages, with great surprises inside, these games are also great for when you just have time for a quick game… but be warned, you’ll want to play these over and over again!

Spot it ($4)https://www.target.com/p/spot-it-party-game/-/A-14654570#lnk=sametab

Super quick game, that will test your reflexes, suitable for all ages — spot the matching symbol on cards, but act quick as everyone else is trying to go at the same time! There are a variety of ways to play this game (collect the cards or get rid of the cards etc), but this is a great game for all ages, and will always leave you ready to play one more round! (I always keep a copy in my teaching backpack ready, just in case!) (2 players and up!)

Happy Salmon ($7) — https://www.target.com/p/happy-salmon-card-game/-/A-53285797#lnk=sametab

Silly and quick, this game will have you all up on your feet yelling at each other, making fun gestures to one another, in a race to run out of cards first. I have played this with 4-year-olds, all the way up to 84-year-olds, this is raucous fun! It gets loud and silly, and you’ll have a great time playing this! (up to 6 players, or if you buy two packs (Blue + Green), you can go up to 12!)

Love Letter ($6) — https://www.target.com/p/love-letter-board-game/-/A-78308942#lnk=sametab

Don’t let the small size of this one fool you, this is a great game of bluffing and pushing your luck, which has been a great favorite. I once took this with me on a long school trip for the students to play… they ended up playing it for 4 hours straight on the bus!

The system is simple but addictive, where each of you wants to be holding the highest card at the end of the round — so that you can get your love letter to the intended person. Each round is a maximum of 5 minutes, and this game will keep you wanting to come back for more! (age 10+, 2–4 players)

Word Games

Who is the Lord of spelling in your house? The awesome applicator of alliteration? The one who likes to show that they have read the dictionary Well, these games will take the place of Scrabble, but keep all the word play fun!

Just One ($12.50) — https://www.target.com/p/just-one-board-game/-/A-76151697#lnk=sametab

A recent favorite of mine, is a co-operative word game, where you all are trying to get the guesser to correctly guess a word by giving clues, but if multiple people write the same clue, then you have to erase them totally! How many words are you allowed to write? Just one! A simple game, but lots of fun for all ages (up to 7 players)

Codenames ($15)- https://www.target.com/p/codenames-board-game/-/A-50364627#lnk=sametab

This word game has become a massive party hit — two teams face off against each other, where Codemasters give clues about a series of words on the table. Try to guess which ones are the intended words, but be careful not to hit the other team's codenames, or worse yet, the assassin. Simple to learn, tricky to master, the more smack talk between teams the better! (Age 8+, 4 players and up, the more the merrier!)

Qwirkle ($12.50) — https://www.target.com/p/qwirkle-board-game/-/A-10968755#lnk=sametab

Ok, this one isn’t a word game, but it is the perfect anti-scrabble! Line up tiles by shape and color, with all the planning and strategy of scrabble, without the need for spelling or a dictionary! age 6+, 2–4 players

Larger Games

Monopoly has destroyed too many families, for far too long… and the game itself is far too long! Here are some slightly more complex games, with longer playtimes, but are all fantastic alternatives to the great family divider!

Pandemic ($17.50)https://www.target.com/p/pandemic-board-game/-/A-14203019#lnk=sametab

The co-operative game, for 1–4 players, is perfect for 2020. Work together to stop the outbreak of diseases across the world, in this stressful test of your teamwork. (Age 10+, 2–4 players)

Ticket to Ride ($25) — https://www.target.com/p/ticket-to-ride-board-game/-/A-14204015#lnk=sametab

This game has become a modern classic for board games, a little longer than the other games on this list, but this is a real Mylechreest family favorite (we play the app version against each other, internationally, most weeks!). Be the first to build train tracks across the USA, looking out for your other players along the way. Resource management, and a healthy dose of luck, will help you in this popular game — 2–4 players, Age 8+

Settlers of Catan ($25) — https://www.target.com/p/settlers-of-catan-board-game/-/A-10979101#lnk=sametab

This game has become a staple of the “modern era” of board gaming. If you don’t have this game in your collection, please do yourself a favor and add it now! Collect resources, and take control over the island of Catan, before anyone else does. 3–4 players, age 8+

Good luck with your present hunting this year, and happy gaming!

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Edward Mylechreest

Brit in NYC, trading the West End for Broadway, and still misspelling theatre apparently