We’re all stuck at home and need something to take our minds off everything going on.
There’s a lot of reasons not to leave your house right now. If it’s by choice, circumstance, or government mandate you might be at home looking for a great game to play. Maybe you’ve got some family with you, friends online, or you’re alone with a couple of hours to kill. Here’s a list of games we’ve assembled for any situation we could come up with.
Play with Your Kids
Let’s start with the most immediate need. You’re stuck at home and your kids want to get out of the house and do something… anything. You need a game fast, and they’re kind of young. You can certainly grab some old classics and muscle through an afternoon with your kids. However, we wanted to give you a list of games you could enjoy too.
There’s a lot of quick fun to be had with the stacking game Super Rhino Hero, programing games like Quirky Circuits, or Dungeon Roll. Maybe you want to get a bit more involved with My Little Scythe or Stuffed Fables and try to have a teaching or story moment with your kids.
However, we think a great game for the continued story, quick gameplay, and a reason to come back is Zombie Kidz Evolution. A quick game with easy to follow rules Zombie Kidz sees you take on the role of kids defending their school from a zombie apocalypse. You move around the board, work together, and high five your way to victory. The game comes with a series of goals and benchmarks that you open as you play, gives stickers to place, and takes a short fifteen minutes in case your kids get bored and want to opt-out. The game will be fun for you, simple for them, and easily playable even if you just want to be in the room. That’s why Zombie Kidz is the best bet for you to play with your kids.
Zombie Kidz Evolution Review
However, what if you want your kids to pick up something while you play? Maybe you want to give them a new lesson that helps supplement the education that you are now in charge of. Maybe you want to sneak in a little bit of knowledge disguised as fun, or maybe they’re really into a particular topic that you want to help impart any new information to them. Teaching games or games with a bit of real-world knowledge hidden in their mechanisms are where we go to next.
If you want something historically significant, then there’s Watergate and Twilight Struggle are really solid two-player experiences. However, if you have more kids, then you might want to look at Freedom: the Underground Railroad for how it handles a deeply dark time in history. For lighter fare, there’s Timeline, Wingspan, and Evolution. We could honestly list anything from Genius Games, but for this list, we chose just one and went with Cytosis: A Cell Biology Board Game.
Genius Games is a company that is dedicated to producing STEM board games and books that help educate and entertain their players. Cytosis is a worker placement game that focuses on how Cells work. You’ll place workers to generate resources, gather goal cards, and purchase health/points cards to see who wins. The game was developed with the help of doctors, scientists, and a number of people more knowledgeable than I. It focuses on teaching the basic functions of a cell while still being fun. Cytosis is a great teaching game.
All Day Games
While Telestrations can take a while it doesn’t take a long time. Which made us think about all day games. What happens if you want to get out a game, throw something in the crockpot, and pile snacks in the next room to pick at all day? What do you play when you have an entire day and nothing else to do?
We have some answers. We thought about Rising Sun for its back-and-forth negotiations and action selection. We thought about Firefly for all the theme and story that the game holds. We even considered the granddaddy of them all, Diplomacy but ultimately passed for all the arguments. In the end the only game that embodied all of these and the only one we could pick was Twilight Imperium.
Sure you’ll be out all day as you sit around a map, plan your turn, and then get foiled as someone else decides they really needed that asteroid belt, action tile, or vote more than you did. You’ll take up a day moving your fleets from planet to planet and trying to gather your resources, consolidate your political power, and advance your technology tree until you’ve learned all you can. Plus, you get can get a Warsun which is one hundred percent not a Deathstar.
Let’s take Campaign games one step farther. Maybe you want a more personal experience and aren’t afraid to rip some cards. Then I think you’re looking to Legacy Games.
If you want a double dose of great story continued, there are both seasons of Pandemic Legacy. The fantastic story and humor that Clank Legacy brings to the table. Charterstone, which we mentioned under family games but fits here as well. The new King’s Dilemma is an intense experience, especially if you get into the roles for your family. But the one chosen for this list is Betrayal Legacy.
Taking the old Betrayal at the House on the Hill and adding a legacy story and mechanics on top of it seems like it could go a lot of different ways. However, it works really well here. Designer Rob Daviau took the lessons from his past forays into the Legacy genre and with the help of a bucket of other talented people crafted an amazing experience. The story is well told; the mechanics are polished, and the decisions you make will come back to haunt you. Plus, once you’ve completed the campaign you’ll have a custom copy of Betrayal that is unique to you and your group. Every time I play this game I break out the stories of the families that lived in this house. From one person begging another not to kill anything with a crossbow to the horror-filled nope that followed the suggestion of a young boy’s name.
Spoiler Free Betrayal Legacy Review
Since we’re talking about using the internet to play games, let’s look at the digital space. What about the tabletop games that have been converted to a digital app that you can use to play with friends?
There are a ton of great choices here. Table Top Simulator has thousands of modules for loads of games that can be played with your friends. Then there are some wonderful programs for playing Elder Scroll, Clue, and Colt Express. Lots of card games have been translated, such as Magic: the Gathering, Smash Up, and Star Realms. However, for ease of play and board variety then I think you want Ticket to Ride.
Here you’ll be setting out trains in order to build routes across the country. Which Country? There are tons of maps to choose from and even just the base game offers loads of replay value. The app, works well and holds up to how it plays. The interface is easy to use, and it keeps the game fresh and fun. If you love Ticket to Ride, and it is fun, then the app is a good buy in these times. Heck, it even works well for a pass and play for when we can all get back together and head to the restaurants and bars again.
What if your kids are a little older or maybe you’ve got a grandmother who has decided to jump in. What if you need to play something a little more involved to keep the attention of a more discerning group? In that case, you’re going to want a nice family game.
There is tons of fun to be had in games like Bunny Kingdom, Hardback, and Catan. Then there are games where the players are more involved like King of Tokyo, Potion Explosion, or Wavelength. You might even want a game to bring you back to the table like Charterstone. For this slot though we went with Potion Explosion.
In Potion Explosion you’ll be playing as students learning to brew potions. This is done by taking marbles from a special sloped rack. When you remove a marble, the ones above it slide down. If two marbles of the same color hit you collect them both. If this causes two more marbles of the same color to hit, then you collect then you keep going until it stops happening. You’ll need certain colors to brew your potions each of which gives you points and a special ability you can use. And every game uses only some potions available. This gives you more replayability by switching up which potions you use. The game itself even resembles one of several popular apps that might help you pull some members of your family away from their phones.
Potion Explosion Review
Maybe you don’t want to teach or you don’t have any kids. Maybe you’re just bored, depressed, and frustrated and just want to laugh. Heck, sometimes you just need something to take you mind off of things. For this we took a look at all the games where we had laugh out loud moments.
If you just want to be silly, there’s Quelf which is tons of fun for groups looking to be ridiculous for a short time. If you want to go more into the thinking aspect of it you can look to Just One, Funemployed, or Times Up. However, if you want a game that just gives you lots of laughs, takes up an afternoon, and gives you something to focus on then we think you’ll like Telestrations.
In Telestrations you’ll be playing all at the same time. Every player gets a pad, and a word or phrase to draw. You’ll draw a picture of your word or phrase and then everyone passes their books to the left. You’ll look at the drawing in the new book and then write what you think it is. Pass to the left and read the new word or phrase and pass it to the left. This continues until you get your book back. At this point, everyone goes through their book and shows the path their word took and what it became. The game comes with a scoring system but I honestly don’t know what it is. We usually just play Telestrations to laugh.
Maybe one day isn’t enough. Maybe you need something a bit more involved. The kind of game you keep coming back for. Then you’re looking at campaign games. Of course the biggest drawback to a campaign game is needing to get the same group of people back together again. With the current conditions that is no longer a problem.
It then comes down to what sort of campaign do you want? If you want sprawling maps and exploration, then you’ll want to look at Lord of the Rings: Journey’s in Middle Earth and 7th Continent. Want a hardcore dungeon crawler? Then you’re looking for Descent, its sister from space Imperial Assault, or Middara. Looking for something a bit more story-driven? Then you’ll want to look at Holding On or Near and Far. There’s always the granddaddy of them all, Dungeons & Dragons or any one of hundreds of other role play games.
Although I couldn’t have come up with a better campaign game than Gloomhaven.
The 25-pound box of story, mystery, and adventure that is Gloomhaven is a perfect fit here. You’re a small band of mercenaries in the frontier town of Gloomhaven. You’ll use a map to choose where you want to go, a huge book of missions to see what happens when you get there, and an evolving story that moves forward with every decision. The game uses a unique card-driven combat system and randomization method that keeps you feeling like you’ll always have a chance. Your characters gain experience and retire. The game is fantastic and filled with tons of fun surprises including a series of character classes that only unlock as you play. Gloomhaven is a fantastic campaign game.
Of course, these are all games that require having people already in your home. What if you don’t have that option? What if you, like me, you’re caught with folks who don’t play games and need to find alternate methods to connect with your game group? That’s where some really good remote gaming come in handy.
Interesting party game like Snake Oil, Crappy Birthday, and the previously mentioned Funemployed are great for a google hangout. You can pull up something a bit more system generated like the Jackbox Collection, heck they even have a video that walks you through using it through Hangout. You can even run to the more recent Forgotten Waters which just released a remote play feature for the app assistant that goes with the game. For me however, I think the best choice for remote gaming is to head over to roll20 and play an RPG. There are many to choose but I’m going to recommend Quest.
It’s fair to say that not everyone will be fans of Roleplay games and I understand that. I also understand if you already play an RPG and want to stick with that one. However, if you are new to RPG’s, interested in trying one out, and worried about how to start or how to manage the complicated systems that an RPG sometimes brings to the table then Quest is the answer. Quest is a fantastic little game designed to bring new players into the hobby and teach them everything they need to play. The book is charming all the way from the art to the word choices. You can pick up a PDF relatively cheap and get started right away with a single D20 for each player or a dice rolling app if none are available. It leans towards a straight fantasy setting, but gives you everything you need to craft your own. It’s worth a look, and honestly, it’s the only time a book has ended by thanking me for reading and I actually think it meant it.
Finally, it’s the category that I fall in more often than not. Sure, it’s great that I can play games with friends once a week, but it would be nice if I had more to do and I know there are people who aren’t as lucky as me to have even that. In those cases, you’ll want to look at solo games.
There’s some fun to be in the digital space with any of the app games mentioned above, though I’d also add in Hearthstone to that list. Then there are more tangible games like Arkham Horror: The Card Game or Elder Sign. Maybe you want to take a crack at some cooperative games, like 7th Continent or Sentinels of the Multiverse. Even the tense solo game Hostage Negotiator is a great play here. However, for a real solid evolving game, I’m going to list Marvel Champions.
Marvel Champions is a cooperative card game where you take on the role of one of Marvel Comic’s greatest heroes. You fight villains and their minions while attempting to foil their schemes. Your deck is filled with abilities, equipment, and allies that help you fight your way forward against the tides of evil. You can even buy booster packs that can add different heroes, villains, and mechanics to the mix. Every hero feels unique, having their own special brand of thematic abilities and mechanics. The villains follow the same pattern. The game is tons of fun and is extremely challenging right out of the box at a base level making the victory feel earned.
Well, folks, that’s our list. I hope you enjoyed it and had tons of fun stopping by and seeing what we think about this topic. I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for any of our options or choices. Did we miss anything? What would you add? Leave a comment below or come on over to our Discord and chat there.
Until next time; stay safe and be well.