We rounded up some new games this holiday season and gave them a test run.
The family is all gathered together. Holiday dinner is done. Presents unwrapped. Now what? With luck, one of you will get a great new board game as a gift this year (there's still time to make that happen, you know). Round up everyone — yes, even Uncle Bruce — and get them to play a fun game the whole family can enjoy. We rounded up some new games this holiday season and gave them a test run.
H Don't bother buying it.
HH Not horrible to play, but we wouldn't do it again.
HHH Fun. We'd play it again.
HHHH It's a keeper, and one we'd recommend to our friends.
Love It, Hate It ($24.99)
Who: Recommended for 3 or more players; ages 12 to adult (as long as I edited the questions for ones they wouldn't understand, my 5- and 7-year-old sons were able to play this)
What: Each player gets a dry-erase board and pen. One player reads a statement, something like "If I won a cruise and could take someone with me. I'd love it if it were (blank). I would hate it if it were (blank). Other players guess which answer the reader would say (one for hate, one for love). You get a point for each correct answer.
What we thought: If you know your opponents well enough, this game can be a blast. My husband and two boys played this and giggled on nearly every answer.
Spot It ($13.99)
Who: 2-8 players, ages 7 and up (my 5-year-old was actually very good at it)
What: This cute travel-size tin has circular cards with several images on them. The rules offer five mini-games, but the ultimate object in each is to match images on cards.
What we thought: This game was fun for the whole family, and perhaps it even teaches matching skills to the young ones. But that hardly mattered, we were having too much fun shouting out "green splotches" and "weird ghost thing." The game moves quickly and doesn't take long.
The Game Of Things ($29.99)
Who: Adults, 4 or more players
What: One person reads a card with a statement on it (such as "Jobs I would never want to do"). Every other player writes his or her answer (it can be true, outrageous or even tricky) and then you go around trying to guess who wrote what.
What we thought: We played this game with another couple and though it was fun, it would have been more fun with a bigger group of people. These games, like Love It, Hate It and Balderdash are more about the laughs and fun you have than the actual game play itself.
Clue: World Of Harry Potter ($27.99)
Who: 3 to 6 players; ages 9 and up (though my 7-year-old actually beat me)
What: A welcome return to a more traditional Clue game (as opposed to last year's disastrous Secrets and Spies), this traditional game of whodunit swaps Col. Mustard for Harry Potter villains such as Lucius Malfoy and the candlestick for the stupify spell.
What we thought: We're big Harry Potter fans and big Clue fans, so this one was a big winner. I do wish that instead of cardboard circles, there were more substantial game pieces for the characters.
Urban Myth ($29.99)
Who: 2 or more players; ages 12 and up
What: You go around a board answering questions about a statement. You guess whether it is "true" or a "myth."
What we thought: Most of the questions were so obscure that my husband and I were just guessing on the answers, which really isn't all that much fun. However, I did learn that the first toilet ever shown on TV was on "Leave it to Beaver."
Cranium Brain Breaks ($14.99)
Who: 2 or more players, ages 8 and up
What: Like in Cranium, you draw a card, and it gives you a task: Sculpt something, solve a word scramble, play charades, etc. Only in this game there is no board, just a timer. Each game is itself just a minute long.
What we thought: Love that this game can be as long or short as you want. Also love the fun Cranium games. What I didn't love was that some of the "games" were open-ended, with no winner and no way to tell who won. For instance, "go around a circle naming two things you are good at." OK. Now what? Did I win?
Who: Ages 12 and up; 3-6 players
What: You go around a board, landing on colors that indicate what kind of card you will draw. The categories are quite different: Quizzles (trivia), Roolz (rules cards that remain in play for the whole game), Stunts and Showbiz (some singing, some charades) and Scatterbrainz (where you go in a circle naming things in a particular category until someone is stumped).
What we thought: My husband and I played this with another couple and had so much fun we laughed until we cried. When my friend Stacey had to act out a cowboy riding an ostrich spotting a beached whale, that sealed it for us. We also tested Quelf Junior with the kids. It was just as silly, and easy for them to understand.