The People you Play with...
My brother and I rolled dice and commanded armies, testing our strategy against the wits and armies of Kaser the Kaiser, as he like to call himself. Wars waged went back and forth over the RISK board, to the sound of much hilarity, fun, and explanation of rules. My first RISK game, colored by nostalgia and entertained by the fun nature of Mr. Kaser, seems like one of the funnest ones I've had. The people you play with have a dramatic effect on your board gaming experience.
Since then I've played RISK several times, but over time I've realized that it is a game that is fundamentally drawn out. My relish for RISK has faded with experience. I've moved on to other games that have more intrinsic fun, like Dominion, Settlers of Catan and Race for the Galaxy. These games bring better pacing, balance, and variety to family game night. But you can't escape the importance of the chemisty with your fellow gamers.
Catan, for instance, has mixed results in a family setting. Catan's featured robbery and competition have to be taken impersonally for the game to stay fun. Some families work that way, others don't. Dominion is a bit worse in this regard, since it features multiple attacks that can be piled on the other players. Cooperative games like Pandemic and Forbidden Island help this a lot, but there are only a few of those that have been designed at this point.
These family concerns are part of why I enjoy attending the hardboarders gaming group. I can't speak for board gamers in general, but the Juggernaut group gives me a place to engage in board games for their own sake. I don't have to worry about hurting feelings by playing competitively. Everyone is here to relax and take on a small challenge or five. I get a chance to try new games and discuss games with like minded board gamers.
That said, there are some games best played with family or close friends. I find them to be the ones that give the most hilarity for effort invested. Telestrations is one of these. (If you haven't played it, or the pencil and paper version of it, you now have your next game night planned. I highly recommend it). It's basically telephone, but with paper and pencil. It'll bring out the strange side of people. And sometimes that the funnest side of all. :)
(Example thougts from a game turn of telestrations)
What is this drawing that I'm looking at? Is it Obi-Wan, or a woodchuck?
And how on earth am I supposed to communicate hypocrisy in a sketch?
Fair warning: Sense of humor required, shared bizarre sense of humor optimal. Hence the strength of the game for families
Published July 20th, 2013
There are a lot more co-op games out there than you think. Most of them incorporate a sort of enemy at the gates sort of mechanic (traitors in Shadows Over Camelot; Bio-terrorists in Pandemic; Cylons in Battlestar Galactica; et. al). What may suit family game-play better are games that are non-adversarial in nature. One you mentioned is Race for the Galaxy, another that comes to mind is Zooloretto. 7 Wonders does this as well.
Thanks. I'll have to keep Zooloretto and 7 Wonders in mind next time I look for a family game.
nice post; now I know what to play