There are so many wonderful things about playing card and board games with your kids: the family togetherness, the life lessons, the talking and laughing, the feeling that you’re doing something that doesn’t involve cords, screens or keyboards.
The best part for me, though, is the chance to randomly burst into song, such as when we’re playing the card game War and I can shout, “War! Huh!! Good God, y’all!! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again …”
Or when I pull an Apples to Apples green card that says “Unforgettable,” and I croon, “That’s what yoooou are …”
My children love that so much. (Not really.)
They do love board games, though, so we’re always on the lookout for new ones. We lean toward those that are quick and easy to learn and fun for all ages. As my pal Gwen Ottenberg, owner of Imagine That Toys in Wichita, likes to say: “The little guys can play, the big guys can play, and it’s not painful for anyone!” Who doesn’t like that in a game? (By the way, several of these games are available locally at Imagine That Toys, 29th North and Rock Road.)
Some recent favorites:• Word on the Street (Out of the Box Publishing, $24.99) — This game requires two teams, so you can play with two people or 12. On each turn, one team flips over a category card. Team members frantically brainstorm words that fit the category (example: “A place to hide money”) while the opposition tries to sidetrack them. The team must agree on a word and pull each letter of that word one lane closer to their side of the “street” before time runs out.
• Anomia (Anomia Press, $15.99) — This family and party game hit stores last year and became an instant favorite. It plays off the fact that our minds overflow with random information — dog breeds, ice cream flavors, toothpaste brands, etc. — but recalling them under pressure gets tricky. Players face-off by quickly giving an example of the person, place or thing on their opponent’s card. If you blurt a correct answer first, you win the card, and drawing continues.
• Skippity (MindWare, $19.99) — Players use straight-line leaps to capture pieces in hopes of collecting groups of five. Capture the colors you need while blocking your opponents. The player with the most complete sets wins.
• Morphology (Morphology Games, $29.99) — Think of this as Pictionary with craft supplies. Using wooden sticks, glass beads, colored cubes and more, you try to create “butterfly,” “airplane” or other words for your partner to guess. Depending how you roll, you may have to do it with your eyes closed or using only one hand.
• Say Anything Family Edition (Northstar Games, $19.99) — This family-oriented version of the popular adult party game gives players a chance to settle questions that have been hotly debated for centuries. For example: “Which celebrity would make the worst babysitter?” or “What magical power would be the coolest to have?” Similar to Apples to Apples, players try to choose which answer the judge will like best.• Sour Apples to Apples (Mattel, Target exclusive, $24.99) — Speaking of Apples to Apples, a Tobias Family Favorite (we’re working on the official seal), this new version lets the judge select not only the best match but also the worst. A spinning green apple determines the punishment for the worst answer, such as being forced to play a card before the topic is revealed. Note: This game is best for players 12 and older because some of the topics — Orson Welles, red herring, Seth Rogen – may be unfamiliar to youngsters.
• Yahtzee Flash and Simon Flash (Hasbro, $29.99) — Last year, we discovered the boardless, electronic version of Scrabble, a fast-paced game that features Hasbro’s “Wonder-Link Technology.” This year, the company released Flash versions of classics Yahtzee and Simon. As with Scrabble Flash, you can play solo or against others on any flat surface. The five tiles stack easily into a small, sturdy box, making the games perfect to take on the road.