Help me find a new after dinner tabletop game
March 16, 2013 4:18 PM   Subscribe

I help care for an elderly person and someone with poor attention. We've found that playing a few quick games of ... something after dinner helps their social and mental skills. The best game we've found so far is Bananagrams, which we all enjoy but it would be good to extend the repertoire and I'd love to have your suggestions.

Specifically looking for games that are super easy to learn, can be played in less than half an hour (10-15 minutes is better), and have some thought to them. (No Candyland.) One of the great things about Bananagrams is that everyone plays at the same time, so no waiting for other players, which is also a problem with this crowd.

Games that require reflexes or dexterity are no go. I've tried most of the popular games you can play with a standard deck of cards, but that hasn't really caught on either.

We also all have iOS devices, though the first two attempts to game with them has been pretty disastrous, but I'm willing to give it another try for something special.
posted by Ookseer to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (41 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Tile Rummy (Rummi Kub) was pretty good for my father in law in his most elderly years. We still enjoy a couple of rounds after dinner with my mother in law.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:28 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

What about something like Mexican Train? This is my grandparents' favorite after dinner tabletop game.
posted by ootandaboot at 4:28 PM on March 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

Hanabi is a deduction card game where everyone can see your hand except you, and everyone cooperates to lay down cards in the right order.
posted by expialidocious at 4:54 PM on March 16, 2013

Also Perquackey might be good, only one person plays at once but two other people can write down the words and check the dictionary.
posted by expialidocious at 5:00 PM on March 16, 2013

Maybe Blokus? I play it with my kids for the same reason, and it is surprisingly quick to play, easy to learn, and challenging in a fun way.
posted by thylacinthine at 5:03 PM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Apples to Apples!
posted by Night_owl at 5:03 PM on March 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Pit is a game that seems to fit all your needs... fun too.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:11 PM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Tri-Ominos - even when it's not your turn you can be looking for spaces to play. Might be on the long side though.
posted by lakeroon at 5:12 PM on March 16, 2013

How about plain dominoes? We use double nines, but with double sixes the game will go very quickly, and it's easier to figure out the tiles. It's also a game that's easy to help a person out without taking over.

Look for a game that has colored dots on the tiles. That way a person can check for "purple" rather than trying to count the number of spots.
posted by kestralwing at 5:21 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:25 PM on March 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

No Thanks, Coloretto, Love Letter and Qwirkle come to mind.
posted by ridogi at 5:35 PM on March 16, 2013

Seconding Rummi Kub, it is my 89 year-old mother's favorite game. In fact, I am just now packing it in my suitcase, we are meeting overseas for, perhaps, her final trip, in this lifetime.
posted by nanook at 6:03 PM on March 16, 2013

Boggle, skip-bo, and apples to apples are big hits with my grandma.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:17 PM on March 16, 2013

Seconding Apples to Apples. Cards Against Humanity if your crowd is a little more...tolerant of the irreverent.
posted by bilabial at 6:17 PM on March 16, 2013

Mancala. It fulfills every requirement you listed except for the fact that it is turn based. If this was for a group of 20-30 year olds I'd also second Cards Against Humanity, but not for a senior citizen.
posted by graxe at 6:45 PM on March 16, 2013

Thirding Apples to Apples!
posted by Specklet at 6:50 PM on March 16, 2013

Spot It! The link will take you to an online demo version so you can test-run the game yourself first. Yikerz (aka "the magnet game") would also be great. I am an ex board game store worker, and these two were both much-beloved bestsellers.

Seconding Blokus, Qwirkle, and Boggle as good options.

There are only three of you playing together if I'm reading this question correctly, yes? If that is the case, I'd actually advise against Apples to Apples; it's more enjoyable and less predictable with a larger group. (I'd say 6-8 people is the sweet spot.)
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:23 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had a grand time playing Cards Against Humanity with a bunch of elders. Turns out they're very filthy these old people. If impropriety is welcome at your table, then it can be quite amusing to play.
posted by kalessin at 7:24 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I second Set, although it is turn-based and I have tried to play it with people who didn't find it anywhere near as fun as I did. However Dixit is great fun and very creative.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:28 PM on March 16, 2013

Another vote for Apples to Apples, if there are more than three players.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:41 PM on March 16, 2013

I came to suggest blokus and Mexican train.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:14 PM on March 16, 2013

My grandmother plays a lot of Yahtzee and it definitely helps her mental acuity. Uno works sometimes as well.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:15 PM on March 16, 2013

Also, for the record; Set is not turn-based, but some people find it hard to wrap their heads around. I'd suggest making your way through the flash tutorial and trying out the daily puzzle on the company's web site before you commit.

Quiddler, by the same makers, is more straightforward and might be to your liking if you're already enjoying Bananagrams.
posted by ActionPopulated at 8:21 PM on March 16, 2013

Family Fluxx?
posted by wintersweet at 9:09 PM on March 16, 2013

ActionPopulated, you're right. Clearly it has been too long since I persuaded someone to play Set with me. :)
posted by Athanassiel at 9:09 PM on March 16, 2013

Some of my friends like to play Taboo, which plays a bit like the old $10,000 Pyramid gameshow: you have to get everyone else to guess a word, but there's a set of words you're not allowed to say. So for Titanic, you might not be able to say "ship", "Atlantic", "iceberg", "Jack" or "sink". We usually play it without the board, just using a timer and the cards to see how many words we can get in a set time. I've often seen Taboo for sale at thrift stores for just a few dollars.

An even smaller subset of my friends have taken to playing Set and Taboo simultaneously. It strains your brain in a zany way.

Another great party game, though one that might take longer than you mentioned, is Eat Poop You Cat, also called Telephone Pictionary, Fax Machine, Cricket Cricket I'm On Fire, Moneyduck and a gazillion other names. There are variations, but here's how my group plays it: Everyone gets a sheet of paper; at the top of the paper, they write a phrase in English. They give their paper to the next player, who draws the phrase (as well, or as poorly, as they can, using no letters or numbers). They then fold the phrase over and give the paper to the next player, who only gets to see the drawing. That player turns the drawing back into a phrase. Players alternate drawing and writing, each time only seeing what the previous player created, until everyone gets their own paper back; it works best with an odd number of players, so everyone starts and finishes on a phrase. Everyone then reveals and (usually) dies from laughing so hard. It's great if you can draw well, and at least as good if you can't draw well. And it costs nothing if you already have paper and pens.
posted by jiawen at 10:25 PM on March 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

You'd probably need multiple sets, but Scrabble Flash is pretty simple and word-based (like banagrams), concentrating on three to five letter words. While there would be tiles to move around, and there is a "speed" contingent, it doesn't require dexterity to play.
posted by Lately Gone at 10:57 PM on March 16, 2013

I've never played them, but my cousins love Appletters and Pairsinpairs. They are both very similar to Banangrams from what I've seen, but with a twist.
posted by obviousresistance at 11:16 PM on March 16, 2013

Nthing Rummikub, Set, and Love Letter, plus recommending Loot, Aquarius and 10 Days in Africa.

I really like Hanabi, but I'm not sure it's a good game for either the elderly or the short of attention span. Because it's co-op, one person forgetting what they're doing affects everybody.
posted by Georgina at 3:22 AM on March 17, 2013

LCR or Bunco.
posted by BibiRose at 7:48 AM on March 17, 2013

posted by Rob Rockets at 7:56 AM on March 17, 2013

So long, sucker?
posted by ctmf at 8:46 AM on March 17, 2013

My Word! is a Set-like game but with words rather than symbols. It might be right up your alley.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:29 AM on March 17, 2013

P. . The nice thing about (Family) Fluxx is that the rules are always on the table and/or on each card, which is good for short attention spans (and people like me, who can never remember card game rules!).
posted by wintersweet at 10:03 AM on March 17, 2013

Apples to Apples becomes more playable with three players, if perhaps still best with a larger group, if you have each player put in two red apple cards instead of one. Definitely nthing it, along with SET and Pit. How about Fictionary/Balderdash style games? Also, Word Blur, which is like a cross between Taboo and magnetic poetry in which all teams play at the same time.
posted by beryllium at 11:07 AM on March 17, 2013

Two of my recent favorites are Bohnanaza (looks deceptively easy, but has a good amount of strategy and you really need to pay attention to each persons turn, so you never feel like you aren't doing something) this game is a little longer (30 minutes for 6 ppl) but it can have a pretty fast pace and Incan Gold is a pretty easy game that can be learned in just a few minutes each game lasts 5 rounds or about 20 minutes, as a bonus it has a great "Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom" kind of feel/theme to it.
posted by AnneShirley at 1:13 PM on March 17, 2013

The Resistance (Avalon edition, if possible). Huge, huge hit with just about every group I try it with. A bit of logic, a bit of strategy, a bit of lying to your friends!
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 5:38 PM on March 17, 2013

We played dominoes with my grandmother before her dementia made her completely incapable. The simple matching of the dots was enough to keep her mentally engaged without being too difficult.
posted by weathergal at 7:28 PM on March 17, 2013

Sequence is a card/board game that moves quickly (so less waiting for your turn.) Has some strategy but enough luck to keep one superior player from dominating the others. We've used it successfully with elderly folks in the past.
posted by cross_impact at 10:26 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing Apples to Apples, but suggesting that as part of house rules, you do away with the bit where you have to slap the cards down as fast as possible and the last person to do so doesn't get their card considered. We decided long ago that it's a lot more fun when it's more relaxed, so tossed that one out.
posted by telophase at 12:20 PM on March 18, 2013

posted by freezer cake at 4:13 PM on March 18, 2013

« Older What's this snake on our deck?   |   Difficult Decision regarding newish job and... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.