Gaming Thru’ the Holidays

We are a family of gamers.  These days, that probably brings to mind video games, and while that’s a proper vision for the men in my household, we also love board, card, and dice games.  One of the many wonderful things about moving to the Seattle area was the realization that independently-owned game stores still exist.  There are two within five miles of our house, as a matter of fact.  We’ve always loved table gaming, but easy access to these shops has increased our time spent at it.

I thought I would share the games that got the most use over our winter break, in case anyone is looking for a new family game.

At Mom and Dad’s, we played an old favorite, Catch Phrase.  (All game links will take you to their pages at, a great site for reviews and information.)

It’s definitely a party-style game, which is why we really only play it with Mom and Dad, although the kids are old enough now to do pretty well with it.  According to the box, it is both “frenzied” (sometimes) and “hilarious” (usually).

We also played a long game of Carcassone at Mom & Dad’s.

Carcassone is extremely popular in the board gaming world, and for good reason.  We turned Mom and Dad onto it a couple of years ago, and for months, they played it every day.  There are several really good expansions available, as well.

At home, Jason and I played a game I gave him for Christmas in 2010, which hasn’t gotten much play since then.

I read a review of Globalization on GeekDad at some point, which is what led me to buy it.  This line from the review sums it up nicely for me: “Risk meets Monopoly, minus most of the boring stuff.”  It’s complex, but we really enjoy it.  I hope to give it more time this year than we did in 2011.

One that got a lot of play, and usually does once we pull it out, is my absolute favorite of all time: Dominion.

I cannot say enough good things about this game.  It’s a card deck building game that is different every time you play.  If I could get people to play it with me, I would play every single day.  (Yes, I love it perhaps a little too much.)  We usually play at my insistence and end up playing at least two games in a row.  We began teaching the boys to play on New Years Eve, and they love it, too.  (The only thing that would make it better for them is the ability to shuffle well, as there is a lot of card shuffling involved.  They’re going to be practicing.)  Sadly, we don’t own any of the many available expansions for Dominion.  Yet.

A new-to-us game that we gave some time to last week is Strut.

This one was designed by a local and has been featured on the check-out counter at our game shop for months.  I finally asked for a demonstration one day and had to have it.  It’s a dice and card game, fast moving, and a brain workout.

Last, but certainly far from least, is a game we received from some very good friends for Christmas.

I hadn’t heard of Castle Panic before we opened the package, and I have no idea why.  It’s great.  Just today I saw it in one list of “favorite games of 2011″ online.  It says ages 10 and up on the box, but Kalen had no problem with it.  I would say 8 and up, unless you have a problem with your eight-year-old talking about slaying monsters.  My eight-year-old has been “slaying monsters” and such since he could walk and talk, so it was nothing new for him.  We really like the fact that it’s a cooperative game – everyone wins, or everyone loses – so group strategizing is a must.  I love listening to the boys develop their strategies, and I’ve decided this is a great beginning strategy game.  Additionally, there’s a solitaire play option, which is GREAT for Kalen, who often wants to play games when no one else is in the mood.

We also played a game of Clue early in the break, but I assume everyone is familiar with that one.  If not, click the link and learn!

And that’s it!  Phew!  If I’m being honest, I wish there were more in the list.  There is little else I enjoy more for family time than gathering around the table for a game.  We have many more favorites, which we simply didn’t get to over this break.

What do you and your family enjoy playing?  If you’re not into board games (and I know some people very much do NOT enjoy playing), what do you do during family time at home?

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10 Responses to Gaming Thru’ the Holidays

  1. Oooo, Castle Panic looks really fun. We play Settlers of Catan with Michael’s family (I like it a little better than Carcassonne, but to be fair, I’ve only played the video game version of Carcassonne). With my family, because there are so many of use, we play a lot of Bananagrams. We also play card games…Hearts (yes, with more than 4 people…I had no idea it was considered a 4-player game ’til college) and Countdown.
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    • AimeeWrites says:

      We’ve had Settlers for awhile now, and we haven’t been able to give it much time. The boys weren’t into it when we first got it, and as you know, it’s 3-player. I did print out 2-player modified rules the other day, so Jason and I may give it a go. It’s probably time to give it another try with the boys, too.

      Oh, “real” Carcassonne is a hundred times better than the Xbox version. Trust me.
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  2. Julie Paris says:

    Myles just got Settlers of Catan for Christmas from my sister and he loves it.

    My favorite board game is Sequence but I only like shorter games- I have a hard time sitting still more than 30 minutes when playing games.

    • AimeeWrites says:

      I’m totally the opposite – if I love a game, I want it to go on and on! (Not so much for boring games like Monopoly, though.) I’ve never actually played Sequence, but I know it’s wonderful. We should try it out – thanks!

  3. Gretchen says:

    I am so jealous of this post! I love board games, but Jimmy HATES them. So I’ve moved to the computer games, because I can play them by myself. Jude likes games, but we always just play Battleship or Sorry or one of the usual ones. I will totally keep these in mind. Castle Panic might be heading our way.
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    • AimeeWrites says:

      Oh nooo! I don’t know how I’d cope if Jason didn’t like games!

      Okay, if it’s just Jude and you, some recommendations:

      Lost Cities
      Castle Panic, definitely
      Carcassonne – lots of fun with two players
      Blokus – meant for four players, but easily adapted for two, and GREAT for strategy and spacial thinking
      Rolling Through the Ages – might take a little patience to teach it to him, but it’s fun once you get it
      Cards – do you play Spite & Malice? ( That’s a huge hit with Nicky; he’s been playing it with my mom for years. I grew up playing it, too.
      Get Jude shuffling cards, and when he can do it comfortably, go for Dominion!

      Of course, I suggest supporting any local board game stores. When we were in Atlanta, there were none left in our area. So sad! Gotta keep these folks in business! (

      Sigh…I do so love games.

      AND, you should totally bring Jude up to Seattle next summer. We’ll run around, seeing the sights, during the days and play board games in the evenings. (See how I keep working a visit up here into our discussions?)

  4. Mom says:

    Did I miss Ticket to Ride in your list? You put us on to it and we are addicted. It is always are go to game, especially if we aren’t feeling particularly energetic. Has it been overdone? Hmmm. We still love it! Thanks for telling us about it.

    • AimeeWrites says:

      No, you didn’t miss it! It’s still one of our favorites; it’s just one of the many we didn’t get around to over the holidays!

      Maybe I should do a follow-up post: Favorite games we did NOT play over winter break…

  5. Arnebya says:

    We love Catch Phrase! We’re also into Guesstures and Taboo lately. And my MIL bought us something called You’ve Been Sentenced. It’s wonderful! We are the family who sits around thinking of homophones or words that have silent letters, so anyting word related is a hit with us. Castle Panic looks like something to try as it’d be out of our typical box.
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  6. Suzi says:

    I introduced my neice to Scrabble at thanksgiving. So I got her Quiddler which is a rummy like card game with words.

    We’re a big word game family, though we like Sorry and Uno too. I never played carcassone till I put it on my ipad. Its hard. :)

    We also bought my neice Risk this year for Christmas.
    You have GREAT game ideas. I will pass them on!
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