Before starting my foray into non-computer gaming, I have to admit that I thought the same as most may about board/card games (collectively known as tabletop games); that they are out dated, a dying pastime and any recently made games are either cheap rubbish or overly complicated affairs, only played by super nerds*. (*I have to point out here that I consider myself a super nerd too, just with video games, so in no way I intend this term to be insulting) Sure, I had fun with them when I was younger, but all of the good games have already been made, there can’t be any original ideas left.
But I was wrong! Over the last year or so, I have discovered that there are still great new games being made that are original and really good fun to play. To illustrate, here are three examples of great new accessible games that I have tried and can be played and enjoyed by people of any age:
Released in 2010, this is a deceptively simple card game needing quick brain power and quick reactions. It really is for any age, my four year old often beats my mother at this one!
The game comes with five wooden objects: a white ghost, a red chair, a grey mouse, etc. and a pack of cards with pictures of these objects. For each card, one of the objects is the answer, and the player to work out the answer and grab the correct object wins the card. if the card has a picture of an object with the same colour as the real wooden version, then that object is the answer. The tricky part comes when the card does not have the correct colour for anything. In this case, the answer is the object that is NOT on the card and does NOT have any colour of any object on the card.
It takes a short time of playing to get your brain used to the game, but when you do it is seriously addictive! It can cause so many moments of unsure hesitation, followed by ‘Aha!’ and then a frantic grab for the correct item. Or, if you manage to guess the correct answer before others, you can start to doubt yourself as you casually pick up the object while everyone is still thinking, then get such a feeling of relief when everyone else agrees that you were right.
I’d recommend this to anyone as a simple but addictive quick-fire game that can engage a mixture of age groups. The compact size makes it good for playing on the go, or taking along to e.g. family gatherings.
Yes, I did spell that right. This game was funded by a Kickstarter campaign in 2015, but it already feels like a classic. The name was chosen to be spelt differently on purpose to try and make it sound unique (although it is actually the Italian spelling for lattice).
The game comes with a board with a grid marked on it, several tile cards with different tropical themed pictures in different colours, and counters (called ‘sun stones’). The idea of this one is to get rid of all of your cards, by placing them next to a card on the board that has the same shape or colour. So far, so dominoes.. With this one though, if you manage to match the colour or shape of two or more sides of the square, you can win an extra turn, which can be used straight away, or kept till later. There are also special wind cards that can be used to ‘blow’ a piece already on the board by one square in order for you to play a better move.
A game of Latice starts slowly, but after there are a few pieces on the board it gets more interesting, as there are more options available and you have to plan your moves. The best part of the game is using the extra turns to string together a long chain of moves, finishing half of your remaining cards in one turn! The colour/shape matching is easy enough for young kids to pick up quickly, but there is a lot more strategy needed if playing with only adults, either offensively to rack up chains of moves, or defensively to block other players. an even higher level of strategy can be used by checking the tiles already played, and therefore working out what is left.
So, this is on the surface a simple game, but it has a lot of hidden depths if you want them!
Have you ever wanted to play a game that simulates a sushi restaurant? Even if not, this is a great fun card game, released in 2013.
The game consists of over 100 specially printed cards, each with super cute pictures of various types of sushi. The pictures are really very nicely drawn, and the art style and quality of the actual cards is one of the main draws of this game for me. Cards are dealt out to the 2-5 players. There are three rounds, and the idea of the game is to collect the best scoring meal of sushi in each round. You do this by selecting one card from your hand to keep, then passing all the other cards round to the next player, as if they are on a Yo Sushi style conveyor belt. Play continues like this until all of the cards are finished and everyone has made their ‘meal’, then points are counted. The different cards score differently, for example, you only score points for sashimi if you have three of those cards, and for maki, only the people with the most and second most in their meal score points. This brings an element of strategy to the game, as you need to be aware of what cards are available in the round as they pass by you and also keep an eye on which cards other players are keeping in their meals.
Although the game may sound slightly complicated, after one round it is easily picked up and each card is printed with reminders of the scoring. This really is another fun game that is accessible for children, but also holds enough complexities to keep adults interested too.
So, there were just a few examples of great, new, easy to pick up and fun games that are out there now. I really am only scratching the surface though, and there are countless games like these for all skill and age levels released every year. Off the top of my head, aside from the above three, I can also strongly recommend checking out Dixit, Forbidden Island, Super Rhino or Spooky Stairs (more for a younger audience). If your excuse for not playing tabletop games is that they are old and boring, get out there and try one of these new titles now, you won’t regret it!