We are a board game family. My husband was collecting them well before we met. Some of our games are in German, but I am pretty sure we would be able to play a different board or card game every week of the year if we set ourselves this goal. Smarty's collection of games is growing as well through our own purchases and presents from friends and family. Here are the games that are played more often in our house and I am ready to recommend as Christmas presents to elementary school children.
We got Qwuirkle for Smarty’s 4th birthday, and it was too early. The recommended age of 6 and up is spot on as the scoring is somewhat complicated and impacts strategy selection quite a bit. Now Smarty understands the rules pretty well and can score and sum up the total score (nice exercise in multi-number addition with carryover). I love the beautiful sturdy design of the game and the fact that it works well for 2-4 players, perfect for our family. It’s on a great sale on Amazon now, and I highly recommend it as a Christmas present.
Another game that is popular in our house is Blokus. We received it last year for Christmas and played a few times, but now, when Smarty is 6, she is more interested in understanding strategy of the game and doesn’t just place pieces randomly on the field. Our version is Blokus Duo, which works perfectly for our family, but bigger families might appreciate Blokus Classic better.
Like the other two games profiled so far, Shapes Up has a nice box design, pretty pieces and requires some strategy. We play simplified rules which require less strategy, in more complex rules, the pieces of the same color cannot touch except at the corners. Up to 4 players can play together (each has his own board). Both Smarty and I enjoy this game, because it’s faster than Qwirkle and doesn’t require as much thinking as Blokus. It’s also on a nice sale on Amazon in case anyone is interested in getting it for Christmas.
Rivers, Roads and Rails was also gifted to us, but I specifically asked for this game. Since my husband is from Germany, we have a lot of Ravensburger games and puzzles, and appreciate their high quality and attention on design details. This is a cooperative game where players work together to build a complex maze of roads, rails and rivers. The result is visually interesting, but the game is simple enough for children 4+. My only beef with this game that it takes a lot of space, and we have exactly one place in the house to play it on the floor.
I was hesitating to put in Sleeping Grump, which Smarty personally bought at the garage sale for $1. The quality of the game is not the same as for the other games we have, and I think that the game objectives are boring. However, Smarty likes the co-op aspects of the game, asks to play it often, and it’s mercifully quick. I don’t necessarily recommend it for the kids older than 5, but it could be a good opportunistic buy at Goodwill or garage sale for younger kids.
And while we have a lot of games already, Christmas is bringing more. Our local Barnes & Noble is closing, and we couldn’t pass 40%-50% discounts. Some of the games will fulfill Smarty's Christmas wish for more games, and some we are calling “family presents”.