No matter your gaming group of choice, eventually you’re likely to be playing with family. And sometimes that means games of a certain type: lightweight, simple rulesets, and shorter player times. The nominees on this list all epitomize those characteristics, and are sure to be a hit with your family; no matter the age range!
Fireball Island: Curse of Vul-Kar
For those who grew up in the 80s, Fireball Island was one of the hottest games around. You and your friends moved plastic pieces around a 3-dimensional island, collecting treasures and avoiding obstacles. All the while making sure you didn’t incur the wrath of the dreaded idol at the top of the mountain. The unwary who triggered the traps would fall victim to a flood of fireball marbles that would carry away all that stood in its path.
Fast forward more than 30 years and Restoration Games has released a modernized and reimagined game that’s more than just chance. The treasures and dangers are still there, but now players have challenges to perform that will earn them points for end game. A fantastic game for the whole family.
Publisher(s): Restoration Games
Designer(s): Rob Daviau, JR Honeycutt, Justin D. Jacobson, Chuck Kennedy, Bruce Lund
Artist(s): Noah Adelman, Víctor Pérez Corbella, George Doutsiopoulos, David Kegg, Jason Taylor
Drop It from KOSMOS is a delightful dexterity game in which players drop wooden pieces into a clear tower to score points, but don’t let your piece touch the same color, or shape, or you’ll get nothing for your efforts. But even if you’re as careful as possible, the shifting nature of the pieces already in the tower mean that you’re never guaranteed to get points. With 4 distinct shapes, and 4 different colors, Drop It challenges players to think before they “drop it”. Add in a few different gameplay variants and tweaks for different player counts and Drop It becomes an instant family favorite. Read our full review of Drop It.
Designer(s): Bernhard Lach, Uwe Rapp
Artist(s): Not credited
Everybody into the pool, it’s swim time! Join Hippo as she and her friends take laps for fun and exercise. In Hippo players roll 3 dice in order to place their tokens in one of 12 numbered swim lanes. Select each number separately, or add the die faces together, to determine where to place your tokens. If the lane is full, tell another player it’s time to make room for the newcomers. Be the first player to get rid of all their chips to win the game. Hippo is an easy game to teach and play and is sure to be a great addition to your game collection.
Designer(s): Martin Nedergaard Andersen
Artist(s): Sarah Bourquin
In Scarabya players each act as archaeologists trying to find golden scarabs that have been buried around the globe. Turn over a card from the shared deck, and each player takes the indicated piece and places it into their dig site. Surround scarabs shown on your play area with pieces and you’ll earn points…the more scarabs you enclose at once, the more points you earn for each. Scarabya is an excellent introduction to polyomino style games. It’s colorful, plays fast, and is easy to teach.
Publisher(s): Blue Orange Games
Designer(s): Bruno Cathala, Ludovic Maublanc
Artist(s): Sylvain Aublin
In Eco-Links players race to to place path tiles onto their board to connect animal friends. This Korean import is a delightful game for 2-4 players. With fun, colorful art, and rapid gameplay Eco-Links is sure to be a hit for all ages.
Publisher(s): Korea Board Games
Designer(s): Günter Burkhardt
Artist(s): Soap Bear