Game Nights At Home – The New York Times

The Four Percent


Monopoly takes forever. Candy Land is dull, Chutes and Ladders preachy, the Game of Life troubling in its implications. So even as parents scramble for offscreen entertainment over the holidays, the prospect of a family game night may drive them to despair.

Some good news: We are living through a 24-karat golden age of tabletop games, an amusement Renaissance that sees thousands of board games published every year, in a dizzying array of story, strategy and design. How to pick a game that will delight the youngest players without boring older ones silly?

“You need a game that’s going to appeal to everybody. And that’s not easy,” said Erik Arneson, the author of “How to Host a Game Night.” But it’s not impossible, either. Most children tend to pick up games pretty quickly. Starting with basic versions can prepare them for more complicated ones. At first, set the bar for entertainment low: Everyone plays, no one cries. Then work up to something more absorbing.

If your group includes sore losers and bad winners, try cooperative games, in which everyone plays against the game itself. Or opt for team-based play, in which stronger players can help weaker ones. Games with an element of randomness can help, the game designer Nick Fortugno suggested. “A game that has a lot of card draws from a deck or a lot of dice rolls tends to be a little more forgiving,” he said, because a win rests on luck rather than skill.

Here are a few suggestions, encompassing a variety of approaches and mechanics, to get the dice rolling:



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