Family Board Games: Holiday Gift Edition!

Christmas is fast approaching. One of my favorite times of year (right behind Halloween) with the air getting colder and decorations coming out to brighten the night as the sun sets earlier and earlier. 
But as the cold really starts to set in come January, you will want to have some new games to play with your family and friends. So why not gift some of these cool board games!
Kinda like my Halloween board game post I did in September, but this one is not themed around christmas, but rather a listing of some good games worth trying out. And what better time to try out something new than over the holidays!!! 
So, step away from your phones and tablets, put the tv remote down and gather around the dinner table to play some games with the family. 
I’ve listed them in age order, with the games that are good for the younger family members first to those that are for families with older kids (tweens/teens and up). The farther down you get, the more complex the rules might get or the more mature the themes become. 

Note: This article does include affiliate links that direct you to If you use these links and make a purchase on Amazon, I will get a small commission. Thanks!

Five Minute Marvel 

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More info at BoardGameGeek
This game is good for kids in about second or third grade on up. I’ve had fun playing it with my family as well as with all ages at my local library game nights. You pick a character you want to play, each character has their own card that lists a unique ability as well as a small stack of cards unique for them. Then you split the main deck up among all the players. Once this is done, you pick out the villain you want to go up against, build the villain deck and set a timer for five minutes. The game has a free app that acts as a timer with Iron Man’s computer assistant, JARVIS being the time keeper. Once you begin, it’s a ridiculously fast paced game! You are trying to match symbols on the cards you draw from the general deck or your personal deck with the symbols that show up on the cards in the villain deck. There are different kinds of villains from low level mooks to archvillains. Once the villain deck has been completely overcome, you have to beat the main villain card. This can be the lowly Green Goblin, Loki, or even the fearful Thanos! There are a total of six villains to choose from. So it is possible to play through the whole game in a little under an hour. Taking into account the time needed to reset the card decks between each fight. 


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More info at BoardGameGeek
There have been a lot of games that are superficially similar to this one. All starting with Apples to Apples. This is a card match up game, but it is not your typical card match up game. No, in this, you try to create a fighter that can take on anyone else at the table!! You start with a character card. This could be Abe Lincoln, Chuck Norris, A Nun, or Jason (just Jason). In the case of the latter, you can decide is it Jason Bourne or Jason Vorhese. The second type of card you get is a modifier card. This could be Ten Stories Tall, Wielding a Machine Gun, or Surrounded by the FBI. They can also be, can’t stop laughing, Is Boneless, or is Killed By Water. You can put one on your character (or two, we play with you put two on your character) and you can give one to an opposing player. Once all the modifiers are played, two players go head to head and explain why their character would win in a fight. The rest of the table then votes for the winner. 
The game plays very fast and is easy to learn. This is definitely a family favorite at my house!

Poo: The Card Game

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More info at BoardGameGeek
You’re primates at a local zoo. You’re bored, it’s hot and that means there’s only one thing to do, fling poo! Poo is a fast paced game of flinging poo and trying to stay clean. You draw a hand of cards that consists of poo cards of various values, special poo cards that can affect multiple people, defense cards that keep you from getting hit, clean cards that remove poo from you and special cards with various interesting effects. This is a juvenile game that if totally fun for the whole family can get into. We’ve been playing this since our youngest was eight and the whole family has enjoyed the daylights out of this one! 


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More info at BoardGameGeek
Made by the same folks that brought you Poo, in this one, you are squirrels collecting nuts for the winter. This one is just as irreverent and juvenile as Poo! This one is loaded with double entendre of nuts, but it is all well within a PG rating. Each round you collect a nut from the nut stack. Then you play different cards to try and take other player’s nuts or defend your nuts from being stolen. To really add some craziness to the game, there are special cards that can grant additional nuts, make players aimlessly search for nuts or cause your nuts to be taxed. This is also one that my youngest has been playing since he was eight and we have all enjoyed playing this simply crazy fun game!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Munchkin!

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More info at BoardGameGeek
If you follow my blog, then you probably know about Munchkin. The kick in the door, kill the monster, steal the treasure and stab your buddy in the back beer and pretzels kind of card game that pokes fun of just about every genre out there. Well, the new TMNT version of the game is a lot of the same tried and true formula with some new rules and mechanics that freshen the game up a bit. In this game, you can play any of the 4 turtles, April O’neil and a few other characters. The basic premise is the same, be the first to get to level 10. But there are some new cooperation rules and new abilities like Katas and Stances that help give it a more TMNT feel. All the art is straight from the original artists Eastman and Laird and that is a very good thing! Classic Munchkin can be a hard sell to someone who doesn’t play fantasy role playing games, but TMNT Munchkin can introduce a wide audience to this wonderful game using characters many of us are familiar with. 
While you are at it, look for some of the other Munchkin crossovers. Like Marvel (becoming a bit harder to find), X-Men, Munchkin Adventure Time or Munchkin Conan to name a few. I really recommend you follow the link above to the Board Game Geek site link to learn more about Munchkin in general. 

Forbidden Sky

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More info at BoardGameGeek
The same man who brought us Pandemic, Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert brings us the final game in the Forbidden trilogy, Forbidden Skies! This is a very cleverly designed game that uses actual electrical circuit logic (very basic, but still!) to give us a game that is more challenging and requiring more thought than the previous two Forbidden games. This is farther down on this list not because the rules are a lot harder, but because the game is just that much more of a challenge. It can get frustrating for younger players, but it is honestly a well thought out design and a lot of fun for the tween and older crowd. 


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More info at BoardGameGeek
Created as a tongue-in-cheek homage to the old spaghetti westerns of the 60’s and 70’s, this is a fast paced card game of shoot ‘em up! Each player takes on a role, Sheriff, Deputy, Bandit or Outlaw. If you are one of the good guys, you want the Sheriff to survive, if you are a bad guy, you want him dead. The problem? The only role that everyone knows about is the Sheriff, everyone else is hidden. And each role has a specific victory condition. The Sheriff just wants all the bad guys to die. The Deputy just wants the Sheriff to survive. The bandits just wanna kill the Sheriff and then there is the outlaw. He wants to keep the Sheriff alive, killing off all the other players so that he can kill the Sheriff last. That means he will act like a deputy until the very end. 
The game is played with various cards. Bang Cards let you shoot, Miss Cards let you dodge, special cards allow all manner of crazy things to go on, equipment cards give you some new abilities. New guns increase the range that you can shoot, barrels can help you miss being shot, and then there is dynomite. This acts as a hot potato, being passed around until someone draws the wrong card…
Bang! is fast and fun. It’s not hard to learn and plays in 30 minutes or less with 4-5 players. Expansion sets allow for more players, up to nine, which I can say from experience is an absolutely wild time! The game is best with five or more, but can be played with three (but really, you should have at least four players). 
Bang! is easy enough for someone as young as 8 or 9 to play but very enjoyable for families and a group of adult friends just wanting a fun time around the table. 
For those who want to dive into the deep end of this one, there is the Bullet edition that comes with the first four expansions and can do a 7-9 player game out of the gate!

Get the Bullet on Amazon

Tiny Epic Dinosaurs

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More info at BoardGameGeek
I am a big fan of the Tiny Epic line of games. I have several of them and plan on increasing my library with more titles as the opportunity arises. Their latest game is also one of their most interesting! Tiny Epic Dinosaurs is a resource management/worker placement game where you are the owner of a ranch raising dinosaurs! You need to set up your pens and carefully decide what dinos you want to raise. You get points for selling off dinos you’ve raised as well as some challenges you’ve completed and new dinos you’ve managed to research. The game takes about 30-45 minutes to play and the turns move fast enough to keep everyone at the table interested in the game. 
This makes for a great introduction to the resource management/worker placement kind of game that is increasingly popular in recent years. It’s not very expensive and is packed with cards, meeples, dinos and resource markers. You really get your money’s worth on this game! I’ve had it for only a short time but it has become one of my current top five favorite games!!

Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats

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More info at BoardGameGeek
My last submission for this edition is much more of a niche game. For those sci-fi fans and geeks out there who are fans of the much beloved, but short lived Firefly TV series, this game is a great miniatures board game that is a blast to play and can be played in an hour or less. The original rule book was difficult to follow, which initially gave the game poorer ratings on sites like Board Game Geek. But as players started to figure out the game and share videos and play throughs the ratings started to get better.Last year, the publisher released a completely overhauled and streamlined rulebook that makes learning the game quite a bit easier. 
This is a miniature combat game complete with buildings and all the little extras you expect in a miniatures game. However, the ingenious packaging allows for the buildings to become the storage containers when not in use. 
In the game you play as crew members of Serenity completing a job. Every job has a time limit, that is handled by a cool time track, different actions use different amounts of time. While combat can be inevitable, stealth is usually better. The game takes this into account with casual and heroic stances that the players can be in, each one alters the skills and abilities available to each member of the team. The base game comes with five of the crew (Mal, Wash, Zoe, Jayne & Kaylee). The two expansion sets add Simon and River or Book and Inarra.  (The image above includes the two expansion sets)
Another shortfall in the game when it was first released was the lack of jobs. The core game comes with five, each expansion adds three. But since it’s release, there have been over a dozen more released by fans and the publisher. 
If you like Firefly and enjoy miniatures games, this is definitely worth the investment!

Well, here are some Christmas/Holiday ideas for yourself or your family this season. 
Just remember to take time to turn the TV off, put down that cell phone or tablet, and enjoy some old school board games around the table with family and friends!

Are you interested in learning about more board games? Wil Wheaton created a YouTube series called TableTop through Geek & Sundry. During the series’ run, he showcased about a hundred different board games.
You can find a playlist of all the shows HERE.

“Until next time, play more games!”
-Wil Wheaton, TableTop


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