So, if you and your kids, or you and your husband/boyfriend/best friend/cat are wanting something new to do this Christmas winter time, start with these Gokie-guaranteed games. I doubt you'll be disappointed.
None of these are affiliate links - I just really love all these games so I want you buy them for your own sake. Click and play happily!
Settlers of Catan
Number of Players: technically 3-4, but we bend the rules a little and play with 2
Play Time: for a full game with 4 people, about 90 minutes
Quick Summary: As a new settler on the island of Catan, players try to be the dominant force by controlling land and resources on the island, through building roads, settlements, and cities and collecting victory points along the way.
Difficulty Level (out of 10): 6
Keywords: Strategy, civilization
Where to Buy: Target or Amazon
This is the current "all-the-rage" game that we love to love. Settlers has a lot of pieces, so isn't great with small children, and does take a bit of set-up to get the game put together. But it's an excellent strategy game that has so many variations it's never the same game twice. There are tons of expansion packs you can add to the game, which makes it more and more exciting (including expansions that allow you to play with up to 6 players). It's a very strategic game and has been known to cause major arguments in the Gokie household. But it's really very fun, and always a crowd pleaser around our house.
Number of Players: 2-6
Play Time: 30-60 minutes
Quick Summary: Phase 10 is a special-deck version of Rummy, in which players attempt to complete matching sets or runs of cards and then discard the rest of their cards before other players do the same.
Difficulty Level: 3
Keywords: Rummy, cards
Where to Buy: Target or Amazon
We've recently discovered rummy games, thanks to David's godparents, and love playing them just with us two. Using Phase10 makes it so we don't have to constantly combine and separate decks of cards, and is an easy and fun way to pass the night! Lots of times we'll play this while watching reruns of our favorite shows. It's an easy, fun way to pass the time - but just because it's easy doesn't mean it can't get competitive. Because it does. (Although, in our house, 99% of what we do is a competition.) Also, it's a super cheap addition to your game closet! Stocking stuffer, right?
Wits & Wagers
Number of Players: 3-7, best with more people
Play Time: 25 minutes
Quick Summary: Wits and Wagers is a trivia game that allows you to bet on players' guesses! Everyone writes an answer to a number-based trivia question, like "How many feet wide is a football field?" and then players place their bets on what they think is the right answer. The farther away you are from the middle, the bigger the payoff.
Difficulty Level: 4
Keywords: Trivia, numbers
Where to Buy: Target or Amazon
Wits and Wagers is a fun game if you like easy-trivia games. It's not a 2 person game, but is really great for a big group of people, no matter the age range. The best part of this trivia game is that you really don't have to "know" a lot to win big at this game - making it a pretty level playing field. The questions are varied, fun, and always interesting.
My husband would like to (silently) insert himself here: please do NOT buy the party edition, but buy the original of this game if you want the best experience! (He made a home-made game board to turn our Party Edition into a Regular Edition, if that tells you how passionate he is about this issue. Me, not so much - both fun in my mind.)
Race for the Galaxy
Number of Players: 2-4
Play Time: 30-60 minutes, on average
Quick Summary: In Race for the Galaxy, players build galactic empires by playing cards in front of them that represent worlds or technical/social developments, trying to build up victory points to beat all other players by the time the game ends.
Difficulty Level: 9
Keywords: Space, cards
Where to Buy: Amazon
Small disclaimer: this is by far the nerdiest game we own. Race for the Galaxy is intensely complicated, with about 100 different types of cards and a very specific, many-step game-play order. But David and I have really loved it so far. If you're not afraid to read the instructions through 5 times and watch a couple YouTube videos (like this one) to get the rules down, it's very fun. The best part of this game is that it's meant for 4 people but they have specific rules for 2 people, making it more challenging and a little faster-paced. If you're up for the challenge, I really do recommend it - just don't say I didn't warn you!
Now onto some games that will be the next ones we add to our collection...
I've already recommended this game here, but Dominion is another one of those games that is different every time you play it - something that is high on our list of game priorities. It's a somewhat complicated game to learn but after that the play is fast and easy - basically buying and selling cards to build your dominion, as it were. There are also about 20 expansion packs to this game, which makes it all the more appealing to us! (Buy it on Amazon here - $28.)
It's the card game version of Monopoly, and it's super competitive and super fun. Our also-game-loving friends from North Dakota introduced us to this over Thanksgiving break, and David and I are already itching to buy it and play together all the time. It's the same premise as Monopoly - buying sets of properties, but without all the board pieces and in a much quicker time frame. (Buy it here on Amazon - $11.50.)
Honorable mention includes BANG! (an Old West thriller Mafia-type game) and Bezzerwizzer (a team trivia game).
I have some other games I'm looking at buying but they are probably going to be as gifts for someone who avidly reads this blog (ahem, David, ahem) so I will refrain from mentioning them at the moment.
If you're someone who already has all these games, or just want a place to research new games before you try them, go (right now!!) to boardgamegeek.com. They have the best inventory and description of games you could ever possibly want, all reviewed and compiled by people who actually play them. They also have lists of rankings by type of game, number of players, or pretty much any category you might think of. It's a little overwhelming but a really good resource if you're trying to decide what to buy. I spent months on there before David's last birthday looking for good games for 2 people, and that's how I decided on Race for the Galaxy. Seriously, go check it out right now.
What games should I be buying? What's your favorite? Hit me up in the comments, please - we are always looking for another one to play!