Great board games for 2013
A classic reinvented
Hasbro has taken tried-and-true favorite Jenga to the next level with the new Tetris Edition ($14.99, ages 6+) coming out at the end of this summer. The rules are the same, but you never know what you'll get when you pull a piece out of this precarious stack. The individual logs look like Tetris pieces, meaning an added level of difficulty to this great classic game — you may not be able to see the entire piece you are removing, and one misstep could make the whole tower topple down!
ThinkFun is a company known for its logic games (like the classic Traffic) — and this set is no different. Laser Maze ($29.99, ages 8+) teaches kids all about lights and mirrors through increasingly difficult puzzles. The set comes with 60 card challenges, each identifying a target you have to hit with the laser beam (by bouncing it off mirrors, passing it through beam splitters, and more). Start with a simple puzzle and work your way up to the expert mind (and beam-) benders!
Learning Resources' Mental Blox ($19.99, ages 5+, amazon.com) takes building with blocks to a whole new level. For basic game play, little ones pick a card and attempt to recreate the formation on it with the included plastic blocks. For an extra challenge, kids can pass the card off to another player — it's double the difficulty when one player has to describe the shapes and the other has to build it!
Looking for a fun activity for adult game night? Tactic Games' I Know (price to be announced, ages 15+, 2-6 players) will challenge your trivia skills, and adds some twists to level the playing field. On each turn, the question asker will announce the category and then players select the difficulty level — if you can answer with one clue, you get the most points, but you can ask for up to three clues. You also get the chance to bet on how you think other players will do, and gain extra points if you're right.
Besides being a tongue-twister to say, Educational Insights' Shelby's Snack Shack Game ($21.99, ages 4+, 2-4 players, amazon.com) is a counting challenge, too! This adorable pug needs help collecting bones — and the winner is whoever can collect the most.
Video: How to play road-trip games
There’s a double spinner (definitely a kid favorite): one to see what action you’ll perform (get a bone, return a bone, steal a bone, etc.), the other the amount you will gain or lose. Little ones then need to use fine-motor skills to pick up the bones with the pup-shaped tweezers. Don't worry about losing scattered bones — the box doubles as the game board, so everything will stay contained.
Lego's new Story Mixer game ($29.99, ages 6+) combines building with storytelling to encourage kids to collaborate and stretch their imaginations. The central game piece is a spinner — little ones build and embellish whichever mini Lego creation the arrow lands on, creating a story as they go (and building fine motor skills in the process).
If you're a football family, you can get little ones in on the action too with the NFL Rush Zone board game from Techno Source ($19.99, ages 7+, 2-6 players). This league-sponsored set features game pieces for each of the 32 National Football League teams and teaches kids the basic rules of the sport. Even better, game play takes 20 to 30 minutes, perfect for half time!
A great pick
Teens (and teens at heart) will get a kick out of the fast-paced action of Pick 'n' Choose from MHR Games ($29.99, 2-8 players, amazon.com). Players draw a card and then have to quickly decide how they're going to communicate the clue on it — they can draw it, mold it, mime it, hum it, build it out of wire, ask a trivia question related to it, and more. Each action is assigned a point value based its difficulty in relation to the word and the goal is to get your team to guess the most clues before your time runs out!
Break It down
Kick your game night fun up a notch with Make 'n' Break Party from Ravensburger ($30.99, ages 10+, 3-9 players). The game is based on building — one player describes whatever structure is pictured on the card while another tries to build it — but things can get complicated. Depending on the space you land on, players must build blindfolded or act out clues before the other player can build them, making sure play stays interesting as the game goes on!
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