Five Games That Won’t Turn Family Game Night Into Family Fight Night

Five chess pieces stand grouped on a table (a queen, a bishop, a rook, and three pawns). They are not in a game, they are just decorative. The text reads, "Five Games That Won't Turn Family Game Night Into Family Fight Night" and the website title,

Our family likes games. Our family doesn’t like fighting.

It’s interesting how a simple game can get people riled up. Like, okay: picture Monopoly. Picture everyone at the table playing. Are people having a good time? Is everybody having a good time?! In your mind’s eye, is that game board still on the table or is it and all of the pieces flung across the room? Yeah, it’s not a good end to game night.

These games are different. And given that many families are gathering for Thanksgiving and other big days coming up, I thought you might like to read about a few you can try out. All of these games are play-tested with my family and/or friends and have been a hit. I hope your family has as many excellent memories playing these games as my family does. Okay, here we go…

Five Games That Won’t Turn Family Game Night Into Family Fight Night

1. Put away the guaranteed fight games. They’re classics for a reason. I don’t dispute that. Monopoly. Risk. Scrabble. Look, I love these games, but I love my family more. Skip the classics that bring out the competitive edge in far too many of us. Besides, you don’t really want to hear the hotels clatter around inside your vacuum six months from now after you missed one during clean-up after Uncle Bob tossed the board when your son smirked as he landed on his hotel-stacked Park Place, do you? Yeah, I didn’t think so. (If Hasbro wants to send me the super-deluxe ultra versions of these games so I can test playing them with my family and see how we do, by all means, they are welcome to reach out. Or HeroQuest expansion packs, they can send me those for free, too.)

2. Pick up one of the greatest card game I’ve ever played. The Great Dalmuti is the best. It’s fast-paced, it’s funny, it’s got (truly!) friendly rivalry written all over it! Richard Garfield, inventor of Magic: The Gathering, took a game he’d been introduced to, refined it, coated it with a medieval layer and launched a phenomenon that’s part class warfare, part Presidents and Scumbags, and all fun. I’ve played this in groups as large as eight with an age range of 6-75 and every single person loved it. This winter I got together with 5 high school friends and brought a deck. A few days later, at least two of them picked up their own deck of cards to play with their families! Get The Great Dalmuti, you won’t be disappointed.

3. Let your family’s creativity shine with this super-portable, highly-accessible game of charades. One of the tricky things about category-based charades is whether different generations understand what’s on the cards. That can be tricky, but this set works. Charades by After Dinner Amusements has four categories per card – movie, TV show, song, and book – and that gives you 200 items to try out. We’ve played this one in crowds ages 6-75, too, and it’s been fun. Here’s an example of TV shows: Breaking Bad, Adventure Time, The Wire, Downton Abbey, The Bachelorette, Golden Girls, and My Little Pony. I’d say that runs the gamut. By the way, After Dinner Amusements has a whole series of these tiny card games, all of which are in mini tins that fit in the palm of your hand for easy portability.

4. Turn digital fun into analog fun with Wordle: The Party Game. Okay, this one I don’t have yet, but I’m getting it. I’m hopeful they developed this one well, and it appears to be multiplayer, which I like because online Wordle is typically a solo affair. I do play digital Wordle every day and at the time of this writing, I’m still at 100%, thanks mostly in part to being obsessed with reading and writing as hobbies, plus my favorite 2-player board game since I was in preschool is Mastermind. That’s a good “I play winner” rotating game, as well, and I’ve played that with kids as young as 4-5 so it can work for you, too. At our house, I often play one kid in Mastermind while I play one kid in Connect Four simultaneously, that’s a blast!

5. Turn the analog board game to digital with the Jackbox Games Party Packs series. It’s been interesting watching generations who decried video games for decades suddenly enjoying so many games on their phones and tablets, especially over the last three years. But I don’t hold that against anyone. Instead, I take it as a sign that more people are ready to try a PC-based party game than they thought. Jackbox Party Packs are tremendous fun, featuring 4-5 mini games per title. Some of our favorites include Quiplash, Fibbage, and Murder Trivia Party. And yes, they have family filters for content (well, most do, just don’t forget to use them!). Yes, you can play Jackbox on most modern gaming platforms, including PlayStation, XBox, and Nintendo Switch. Even though I’m a PlayStation gamer, my platform of choice for Jackbox is Steam. I can use it on my laptop, hook it up to the TV, etc.

Hopefully you’re reading this in time to place an order before your family gathers for their next meal, worship service, or other occasion so you’ve got something new and fun in your back pocket to keep the evening light and filled with laughter. You’ll be ready to say GLHV before each game and GG after it’s over! Thanks for reading.

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