Here at iSlaytheDragon, we sometimes receive correspondence from our readers (which we love!). Usually we handle these letters on our own and no one’s the wiser, but we thought this question would be a good one to bring to our readers. Gawie from South Africa writes:
I’m the only one in my circle of friends and family who REALLY REALLY enjoys board games. I’m always trying to twist their arm to join me for a game. 7 Wonders has really solved a lot of my problems because people actually don’t mind playing with me, since it’s fun and short. However, I agree with you that some variety is needed – not game after game of 7 wonders all the time. Is there another board game that’s as family friendly as 7 wonders that you would recommend?
Help Gawie in the comments!
@FarmerLenny answers:I’m surprised you say your family and friends don’t enjoy games that much, yet you call 7 Wonders “family friendly.” Your friends and family must be nearly there!
I don’t know how many players you hope to get involved, but the games I’ve seen have the best success are Settlers of Catan (which I’m bored of, but it’s popular for a reason) and Ticket to Ride. Settlers of Catan can play three or four (there’s an expansion to accommodate up to six players, but really, I’d start with the three- or four-player game), and Ticket to Ride can play up to five. Personally, Ticket to Ride is my go-to game for nongamers because each turn players only have one choice to make, so the game moves along quickly. Every person can make progress on a turn (unlike Settlers, where bad dice rolls can work against you and bad initial placement can hamper you), and as people get more into the game, they can play more aggressively. These are both for smaller crowds, but they’re great.
If you’re looking for a game that can accommodate the same crowd as 7 Wonders, some great family games are For Sale (up to six), Pit (up to eight), Incan Gold (up to eight), and Bohnanza (my family’s favorite, and it can fit seven). For Sale, Pit, and Incan Gold are super quick, but everyone I’ve taught them to loves them. These games are not as deep as 7 Wonders, though, and people will probably tire of them quicker. Bohnanza is a bit longer, but it really is a great game with lots of interaction. And if my family is any indication, they can play this one over and over and not get tired of it.
@Futurewolfie answers:I’ve had the most success with Ticket to Ride. While my family is willing to try games that I bring, TtR is one of the few they’ve actually ASKED for. Kill Dr. Lucky was also a success, and that game holds up to 7 players – but it can last 1-1.5 hours.
The Resistance is another game popular with my family. It takes up to 10 players, plays very short (about 30mins), doesn’t have a lot of rules to remember, and is one of the few games that can be played leisurely around a living room instead of at a table. (Leisurely in the sense that people can sit back in a comfortable chair). It takes a bit for people to get used to the concept, but once they do it’s easy for everyone to stay involved.
Other than that, it’s almost more of an art than a science getting your family to play games. Just remember that not everyone has to be a gamer to enjoy games, and not everyone will enjoy your favorite games. Getting your family to play requires patience. You’ve got to regularly bring up the idea of trying new games but not be overly pushy – people are a lot less likely to enjoy a game if they’re forced into it. When introducing a new game, focus more on helping them enjoy the game than trying to win – crushing defeats discourage repeat plays. Even if you have to sacrifice some of your fun the first few times, in the long run it will work out better for you when your family can enjoy a wider variety of games.
Consider Small World. It’s design and rules are quite simple, has a high replayability factor, suits 5 players, and is on the lighter side. However, it does involve frequent and direct interaction. If that’s not your family and friends’ thing – then maybe Zooloretto? It’s not as high on the replayability factor but just as family friendly regards game play and rules – good to bring out at a modest frequency.
I shy away from Smallworld as a family game. The game rules are simple, but there are so many powers it gets very confusing.
I would say anything by Days of Wonder. Some of my favorites are Pirate’s Cove, Shadows Over Camelot, and Mystery Express.
What about Carcassonne? Extremely easy to learn, not much to keep track of during play, can support a good number of people, and doesn’t take too long once people know what they’re doing. It worked pretty well with my parents, anyway.