Imagine a beautiful evening at the lake. You and your loved ones are seated around the table, enjoying leisurely conversation after eating a delicious meal. You’re tired after a full day of sun and fun, but you’re not quite ready to veg out in front of the TV or retreat to individual spaces where everyone scrolls through their phones. It’s the perfect evening for a game. You can always bring out an old favorite, like Monopoly or Clue, Life or Battleship. But if you want to spice up game night—or even make a rainy day more welcome—consider one of these unique and innovative games that appeal to a broad range of ages.
TELESTRATIONS: This drawing game is a mix of Pictionary and the old-fashioned party game Telephone, where a sentence gets passed along from person to person, and everyone laughs at the twisted outcome. With this game, the first person picks a card and tries to draw the object represented. That person passes their drawing along to the next person, who must figure out what the drawing represents. The drawing keeps getting passed along until it reaches the last person. When everyone compares the guesses with the original object, laughter ensues.
TACO CAT GOAT CHEESE PIZZA: A family favorite, this fast-paced matching game is played with a unique deck of cards. Each card has an image of one of the items featured in the game’s title, or a special action. Players take turns putting down cards while saying the next word in the sequence, “taco, cat, goat, cheese, pizza.” If their card matches what they say, everyone slaps the pile. The last person to slap the pile takes all the cards, thereby hindering their chance of running out of cards at the end. Think of this one as the game-equivalent of simultaneously patting your head and rubbing your belly.
SUSHI GO: Ever wanted to be a sushi chef? This clever pick-and-pass game is for you. Players combine the foods on the cards to create the ideal sushi meal and earn the highest number of points. The strategic challenge comes with deciding when to take or decline a card.
WINGSPAN: In this beautifully illustrated, award-winning board game, one to five players ages 10 and up create bird habitats to attract the best birds to their aviaries. Each bird is worth points and has a special power that can help players as they build their sanctuary. The further you get into the game, the faster your birds help you accumulate points; the player with the most points at the end of the four rounds wins. Wingspan’s complex and engaging premise has earned many fans among gaming enthusiasts and hobbyists alike. Since it was released in 2019, over 18,000 members have joined the game’s Facebook group.
EXPLODING KITTENS: In this funny take on Uno, players draw cards, hoping to avoid the exploding kitten card, which means they are immediately out of the game. But, if a player has a defuser card—like a laser pointer or catnip sandwich—the explosion is defused, and they keep playing. Other action cards provide opportunities to coerce fellow players to pull the exploding kitten card.
Set: Whether played alone or in a group, this fast-paced game for ages 8 and up challenges the cerebrum. Players use the right and left sides of their brains as they study cards with different visual images and use logic to identify a set, a group of three cards whose features are either all the same or all different. When the cards start flying, will you remember what to look for?
Happy Salmon: In this active game for 6 to 12 players, each person pulls a card from their stack. Players call out the action on the top card (like a fist pump or high five), hoping to find another player with a matching action. When they find another player whose card matches, those players perform the action together and then discard the card. The first player to discard all their cards wins.
Blank Slate: Does everyone in your family or friend group seem to finish each other’s sentences? If so, you may enjoy Blank Slate, a party game with cards that contain a word followed or preceded by a blank. Players fill in the blank on their slate, and if their completed phrase matches that of other players, they get points. Players get the most points if they match with only one other player, so it pays to be clever.
Playing a new game builds cognitive and strategic skills and fosters meaningful connection. With so many innovative and exciting games to choose from, every family can find a few to make game nights and rainy days even more fun. ✦