The best stress-free family board games

Stewart Cork / 08 November 2016

This Christmas avoid family feuds with one of these fun stress-free board games.



It’s coming up to Christmas when board games often make an appearance. Unfortunately certain games (Monopoly, I’m looking at you) are almost guaranteed to start an argument and ruin the holiday spirit. Take a look at our guide to the best five games that are much more harmonious and will provide fun for all of the family.

Monikers

Monikers is what might be classed as the most traditional party game amongst this list. You will need at least 4 players but there is no upper player limit. Between all the players, a deck of cards is selected with people that the group playing the game should all be familiar with.

Each team takes turns at guessing the cards. There are three rounds – in the first you can describe the person on the card in as much detail as you like as long as you don’t use their name. The second only allows you one word, with the third being charades only. You can if you choose add on additional rounds such as noises or finger puppets.

It might sound difficult but as you’ve gone through the cards previously you have a good idea who your team is trying to convey, and the trickier the round is, the funnier the game becomes.

Monikers can be good fun for players of any ages as long as you attempt to split the teams evenly and take this into account when selecting the cards for the game.

Monikers is currently available at around £25.

Skull

Skull

Despite the dark-sounding name, Skull is a light-hearted bluffing game where every player has four beautifully designed playing pieces. Three of them will be flowers and one of them will be a skull, hence the name.

Everyone takes it in turn to secretly place one of their cards on the table until the point where someone declares how many flowers they think they can flip over. A round of bidding ensues before the winner has to then start flipping cards. If they get a skull before reaching the number they declared, they lose one of their cards at random, making it more difficult to bluff in the following rounds. If they flip over the number of cards they claimed, they get a point. First to two points wins.

This is suitable for children from a young age who will be delighted when they fool a grandparent into flipping over one of their cards to reveal a skull.

Available for around £15, this small game is a lot of fun, simple to teach and quick to play.

Dixit

Dixit

Dixit is played with cards that all have unique (and often bizarre) artwork on them. One player describes their card in some way, for example “happiness”. Everyone else then selects a card from their hand which matches the initial description given. They get mixed up and then all the players attempt to guess which card was the original.

This can be played from an early age, as long as the descriptions given by players keep in mind the audience.

Dixit can be bought for a snip over £20 and allows for 3 to 6 players. There are expansions to give you more cards which can add to the variety of the game. One of these expansions, Dixit Odyssey, changes the game slightly to allow up to 12 players.

Pandemic

Pandemic

Pandemic is a game where four diseases are threatening to take over the world. Players work as a team to attempt to find cures, with each player having a character with slightly different skills and being able to contribute to the group’s objective.

This is the most complicated game on the list and is more suited to playing with older grandchildren who are able to understand the issues.

The game is limited to four players, but as it is a collaborative game, there is no reason why others can’t play as advisors to those controlling the characters. It is designed well to bring everyone together to work as a team for a common cause.

The standard game retails for roughly £30. There are expansions and legacy version – where decisions in one game affect the way that future games play (for example, in the game I am playing the red disease is incurable). The legacy version is an extra £15 but if you really like the sound of the game, it might be worth splashing out.

Pictomania

Pictomania

Imagine if you were playing Pictionary only everyone is attempting to draw and guess at the same time and you will have a fair idea of how Pictomania works.

The clever scoring system ensures that everyone plays in the spirit of the game and Pictomania allows you to tailor the level of difficulty so that you can include younger children or make it really difficult if you become experts at it. On the hardest setting, you might have to draw either a security guard, body guard or secret agent and have no idea about how to make it clear which of them you are drawing. On the simplest everyone might be drawing from a much smaller and more easily distinguishable range of possibilities.

The game almost always provides a lot of laughter everyone reveals what they were attempting to draw. The game allows for up to 6 players, although each game is quite quick and enjoyable to watch, so if you have more players, you can switch it up for another game afterwards.

The game will set you back around £35 but the ability to vary the difficulty should keep you playing for years to come.

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