Games families play: Looking for recommendations for a family of three adults
November 25, 2012 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Looking for good game recommendations for a family of three adults

We used to Yahtzee and play cards as standard family activities for holidays and get-togethers, but they're wearing thin after 20+ years. What's a family of three to four introverts to do? We love each other a lot, but left to our own devices, my mom and I will read while my dad watches TV. Nothing wrong with that, but we'd prefer to interact more when we are together; all three of us share very different political, social, and religious beliefs and have wildly different specialized interests, so once we've talked about how the local baseball team's doing, we're kind of out of things to safely discuss. There's nearly always just three of us, so any game requiring a fourth won't work. Word games aren't good--they frustrate my father (so no Scrabble or the like). Preferred if a game doesn't take 1+ hr to complete; shorter rounds (5-30 min ea.) are ideal. Also best if the rules aren't *too* complicated; my parents get flustered by things like that. I know this is pretty proscriptive, but I have faith in AskMe; hope a daughter out?
posted by smirkette to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (33 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe Apples to Apples. Quick, light, interactive non-word game.
posted by mark7570 at 5:18 PM on November 25, 2012

Apples to Apples is better with more people and potentially obnoxious for people with different political beliefs. (I just spent the week playing several games of Apples to Apples with my family, and there was a lot of LOL PLAY THIS CARD TO MAKE FUN OF THE ONE WHO VOTED FOR OBAMA chatter thanks to cards like "Cesar Chavez" and "The Far Left".) YMMV, but it wouldn't be my first choice.

Settlers of Catan is great for 3 people.

Sequence is also good for 2 or 3. Not my personal favorite, but my mom and brother both like it.

Set is also extremely fun, but is extremely frustrating for the people who aren't into it.

Watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy together.
posted by phunniemee at 5:27 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are a variety of dominoes games for multiple players - one example.
posted by gudrun at 5:29 PM on November 25, 2012

My parents love Carcassonne.
posted by lollusc at 5:30 PM on November 25, 2012 [5 favorites]

I should say, the rules for Carcassonne look complicated, but the complications are mostly for scoring, which happens at the end, and can be done by one player who "gets" it. The rules of play are very simple. (Although obviously understanding the scoring at least somewhat helps you be more strategic.)
posted by lollusc at 5:31 PM on November 25, 2012

posted by bibliogrrl at 5:32 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've tried a fair number of board games on my mom, and the one she absolutely can't get enough of is Ticket to Ride.
posted by Jeanne at 5:33 PM on November 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Blokus is both fun and simple.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 5:34 PM on November 25, 2012

The card game Milles Bornes can be played with 3 people.

I really enjoy playing co-operative games with my family. They're a style of board game where you work together against the game rather than against each other. This makes for less competition and frustration - less chance to get irritated with each other! Forbidden Island is an easy one that we own; Pandemic is slightly more complex but is still pretty easy to get the hang of after you play it through once.

Two games that I hear recommended all the time and I would like to get (they're not co-operative) are Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride.

You might find it worthwhile to page through the Good Gift Games guides from the Morning News (put together by MeFi's Own Shadowkeeper)!
posted by flex at 5:34 PM on November 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Carcassonne is fabulous, but no-one should ever be in the position of teaching oneself to play using the directions provided. If you live near a good game store, buy it there and get them to show you how to play– better yet, find a store that will let you play a game before you buy it.
posted by carterk at 5:37 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Loaded Questions usually has us cracking up. Balderdash is great fun - it is kind of a word game, but not really. They give you impossible, but real words, and everyone has to make up a definition and then someone reads the fake definitions along with the real one and everyone has to guess which they think is the real one. It is actually more fun than it sounds! Taboo is fun,too.
posted by cherrybounce at 5:38 PM on November 25, 2012

The very best 3-player game on earth is Smash The Landlord.
posted by elizardbits at 5:48 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Pandemic and Ticket to Ride. I am a picky board game player, but I also like Dominion and Password.
posted by monkeys with typewriters at 5:49 PM on November 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Came in to say Carcassonne, and I'd definitely start there. I'd also suggest Rummy variants such as Wyatt Earp or Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper because they're reasonably entertaining and the underlying rules are doubtless familiar to your parents.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:59 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I find the Hunter/Gathers version of Carcassonne both more fun and easier to teach.
posted by edgeways at 6:11 PM on November 25, 2012

We've been playing two card games. Moose In The House is kinda silly and seems like it's a kids game, but it totally works for adults as well. Gubs is a little more complicated but still lots of fun, and after one or two games, it all clicked and it's been fun since.
posted by neilbert at 6:24 PM on November 25, 2012

Munchkin and Fluxx (both come with expansion packs.)
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:25 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Skip Bo
posted by k8t at 6:29 PM on November 25, 2012

Wits and Wagers is fun and quick, and has a good mix of questions (but you don't have to know the answers to the questions in order to win). I'm not sure how it is with 3 players, but the box says it's for 3 to 7 players.

Chrononauts is fun, too. Oh, and Phase 10.

I'll throw another vote in for both Pandemic and Ticket to Ride. I really like cooperative games, and Pandemic is challenging. With Ticket to Ride, you can decide how aggressively you want to play.
posted by amarynth at 6:32 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Anomia, Rummikub, and Set are all a lot of fun. Anomia requires naming examples of categories, Rummkib is a little like Rummy but with tiles and the ability to re-arrange, and Set is all about finding sets. They have different strengths, but all are great to play!

Seconding Moose in the House. My best friend gave it to me for a bit of a laugh and I'm still impressed at how much fun it is.
posted by wiskunde at 6:37 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

....Would my surrealist take on poker do? My college friends and I would have these poker games for a while, where you could bet anything. LITERALLY anything - a typical opening bid was "three cacti" and a couple of my bets were "yahtzee" or "1953" or "a team of the people who wrap dry-cleaner hangers in paper".

The game itself is your basic five-card stud, but the fun of it all is hearing everyone make their bets and then the arguments you get into trying to figure out whether "a herd of stampeding Mogwai" matches or raises the last person's bet of "Ernest Borgnine's high school yearbook" or whatever. You get dealt a hand, the dealer opens the bidding, and you all make a round of bidding and keep going until you've worked out that everyone's anted up an equal amount, then players can trade in card and you all go off on another round of bidding before you all show your cards. The dealer also keeps a list of everything everyone bets, and when someone finally wins each hand they have to read the whole list. And these lists can get long and very, very silly.

It's not so much about the poker, it's about how ridiculous you all can be.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:26 PM on November 25, 2012

I like a card game called Man Bites Dog where you're dealt cards and have to rearrange them into a newspaper headline.
posted by christinetheslp at 7:34 PM on November 25, 2012

Works well with 2, 3 or 4 players
matching up colors or shapes (no words)
Rules are easy to start play and you can learn strategy as you go
Super fun
posted by HMSSM at 8:28 PM on November 25, 2012

I've got right about the same list of requirements for games with my parents. Though they're willing to give the complex games a try, it's clearly indulging me when they do. We played Milles Bornes fairly regularly for a while, and that was great. We also love card games, so we play gin rummy and clubs ('dirty clubs' is the closest thing I can find online, but there are a lot of three-player card games and you might find that general category worth a shot).

Fluxx is fun but a bit too 'random'/'childish' for my parents' tastes, YMMV of course. Set is too easily dominated by one person. And we like Sequence but it's more interesting if you can get more than three people so that you can have teams. Carcasonne, I've never played with them but I bet they'd like it.
posted by Lady Li at 9:38 PM on November 25, 2012

If you guys like Yahtzee and are okay with playing giant monsters who are stomping each other trying to take over Tokyo, King of Tokyo is one of my new favourite games. It has a great blend of light strategy and chance, and is so quick to learn.
posted by ilana at 10:06 PM on November 25, 2012

My family did not like Fluxx over Thanksgiving (they are a bunch of poopy heads who don't know how to have fun, just fyi, also it was too complicated for them).

I think they will enjoy Wits & Wagers more, so I'm picking that up for Christmas. It's a trivia game for people who aren't good at trivia (that's us).

We also played Chinese Checkers which went over well. The rules are very simple--about as complicated as normal checkers, only for 2, 3, 4, or 6 people.

A lot of the games mentioned so far have been played on Tabletop if you want to see them in action.
posted by anaelith at 11:47 PM on November 25, 2012

I'd (nth) get Settlers of Catan. It's a good intro to euro-style games. The rules aren't too complicated, but you should really familiarize yourself with them before you play with the family, so they don't get frustrated.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:30 AM on November 26, 2012

Blokus or Blokus Trigon.
posted by plokent at 4:41 AM on November 26, 2012

Ticket to Ride is a great suggestion. The original game is the simplest, but there's also a version with a map aimed specifically at 2/3 players - Nordic Countries. If you want to try it out before splashing out on a big box game, it's on sale on Steam right now.

I also agree with Carcassonne, Qwirkle, and Dominion, all great choices. Munchkin is an awful suggestion here. Pandemic might be good but it's a bit puzzley. Might be worth trying first.

I reckon a worker placement game might be a good shout. In order of complexity, easiest to hardest, these are three ideas - Stone Age, Lords of Waterdeep, Agricola. The Stone Age link will give you an idea of how they play. Lords of Waterdeep has a Dungeons & Dragons theme but don't be too put off by that, it plays like a Euro (ie, like Catan) and will only put off those who are utterly repulsed by anything fantasy-like
posted by liquidindian at 7:50 AM on November 26, 2012

What you really need is this excellent Book of Surrealist Games.
Seriously, it's really fun.
posted by Dr. Wu at 9:45 AM on November 26, 2012

Thanks for the all the great suggestions, everyone! I look forward to checking these out.
posted by smirkette at 6:22 PM on November 26, 2012

I think I'm going to try Settlers of Catan just because I keep hearing such awesome things about it. I'm afraid all of these will look a little too fiddly for my parents who aren't into anything remotely historical or fantasy-like, but it's worth a shot!

Rummikub is probably going to go down the best; will definitely try that.
posted by smirkette at 6:38 PM on November 26, 2012

Phase 10 can be a lot of fun
posted by kmpwj at 7:49 AM on November 30, 2012

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