by Becky Topol
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to play board games with your family! Once your turkey dinner is cleared away the tabletop just begs to be filled, so lay out one of these fabulous games that are easy and fun for the whole family to learn and play!
Escape is a fast, unique game that takes moments to learn and just ten minutes to play. Players take the role of an Indiana Jones-style team of explorers all working together to grab treasures from a collapsing temple and escape before it’s too late! Each adventurer has five dice, with special symbols on each side. These symbols dictate how you move, what challenges you accomplish, how the temple grows, and whether you can get out in time. Be careful of the Cursed Mask symbols though, they lock any die they appear on, and you or a partner must roll a Golden Mask to free it! Five Cursed Masks mean you’re trapped, and must hope that you have a teammate nearby to set you free. The action of the game is set against a soundtrack which acts as a timer, and players must listen for special cues such as gongs, running feet, and collapsing stone woven into the exciting music. Escape’s combination of music and fast-as-you-can dice rolling makes it a fun and frantic experience unlike any other game, and the ten-minute time limit means that even if you fail you always have time to try again!
Tokaido is a great for those who like to keep a sense of zen at family gatherings. This simple and breathtakingly gorgeous game is based on easy-to-learn mechanics and includes very little conflict between players. Each person takes the role of a different Edo-period character setting out for a journey along the Tokaido - Japan’s famous East Sea Road. The aim of the game is simply to have the best vacation possible by taking in all that the coast of Honshu has to offer. Meet new people, taste delicious foods, collect trinkets, visit beautiful sights, and soak in hot springs as you travel from Tokyo to Kyoto. Movement is based on a leapfrog mechanic, meaning that whoever is in back gets a chance to move. Players must think carefully about whether they want to move slowly in order to get more turns, or move fast so they can be the first one to the end of the journey. Whoever makes the most of their trip is the winner of this quick and beautiful journey along the Tokaido.
If your family fawns over Scrabble, you’ll want to take a look at Qwirkle. Like the classic word-grid game, Qwirkle relies on placing tiles in rows, but instead of letters, these rows are based on color and shape. This pattern-recognition basis means that it’s perfect for family members of all ages, even those who can’t read! The game consists of a set of tiles with images of different shape and color printed on them. Players must place these tiles next to others of the same color or shape, creating lines of tiles that have one trait in common, and scoring points for each tile played and each tile in the line. If you complete a line, you score a Qwirkle for six bonus points! Qwirkle is great for players of all ages, and since it has no board, it can be played on any flat surface! And for those of you who are traveling for Thanksgiving, we also have Travel Qwirkle - a set of smaller tiles in compact packaging that is played by the same rules as Qwirkle, but is easy to throw into a suitcase!
Any of these games are a great way to add extra fun to your Thanksgiving get-togethers! Of course we also have classic family favorites like Monopoly, Life, and Clue, but even if you’re looking for something a little different, you’re sure to find a great new game to suit your family and friends this holiday season!