Games for the Fall 2022

Our family’s much-loved, much-played Scrabble set.

Cooler weather? More family time? Pull out the games! Anyone who reads this site knows how much we love games. They provide a unique social experience, a great way to bring people together, and of course, fun. Recently, I had the chance to rediscover a board game with my family that we hadn’t played for years. It was a Parker Brothers game called Probe, and it’s a word game. Probably a precursor to Wordle, where you have to guess letters to figure out your opponent’s words. It was fun by itself (We’re all word geeks.), but it went beyond that. We shared with the younger members of the family (now old enough to play) some great memories about playing with their grandparents when we were kids. That’s the kind of experience only games allow, or at least many of them. They can be springboards to connection and conversation over and above the gameplay.

A game kids, parents and grandparents loved playing together in our family.

During the worst of the pandemic, we saw a huge boom in games. Really, not since the big games resurgence in the early 1980s with Trivial Pursuit did we see so many people playing games. Here in Fall 2022 as things have eased a little bit, but we like to think that games have become part of family entertainment now.

There’s another classic benefit of playing games: socialization. For kids, especially, they learn to compete, be good sports when they lose, and interact with people of different ages. Many of these important skills were, if not lost, at least not as readily available to kids during the pandemic.

Beyond that, it all comes down to the selection.

Picking a Good Game

Games are as different as the people who play them, so it’s probably a good thing that there are so many of them around. There are however, a few characteristics of games that help ensure they’ll be fun:

  • Easy to play. You should be able to open the box and be playing in a few minutes. With the exception of some more sophisticated games, most people don’t want to spend a lot of time reading rules and, worse, trying to understand them. The Exception to the Rule: Games that have stories or role-play where players take on characters may take a while to set up, but the best of these also have you thinking and creating during that time, so even if the literal game hasn’t started, people are already in the experience.
  • Fast. Well, of course, the question is: What does fast mean? If it’s a basic turn-based game, you should be able to get through it in half an hour or less. Some card games like Exploding Kitttens or Uno can be very fast, say 10-15 minutes for a round. On the other hand playing Monopoly by classic rules, or Risk, can take hours. It depends on the game. The Exception to the Rule: Games like Dungeons and Dragons that have elaborate stories can take days, so don’t plan to play that as a quick family entertainment after dinner…usually.
  • Level the Playing Field. If it’s a family game, everyone should be able to feel successful. One of the challenges of
    Versions of this game have been around since the 1860s…and it’s still a favorite!

    Trivial Pursuit was that people got frustrated when they didn’t know a lot of the answers. On the other hand, Pictionary doesn’t require you to be a good artist to be successful. Knowing if you’re playing a game based on luck or skill is important, too. Often when there are people of widely divergent ages playing, games of luck, such as Chutes and Ladders, Sorry!, or Trouble are good because everyone has an equal shot. The Exception to the Rule: Games of skill may end up giving some people unfair advantages, such as Wordle, but if it’s a well-designed game, everyone can have a good time guessing.

  • Know Your Audience. Isn’t that the truth in everything? Games like Cards Against Humanity, which can be a bit edgy, or skill and action games like Twister, aren’t for everyone. Make sure you know who’s playing and a bit about what their tastes are. At the same time, you want to be sure that the game is appropriate for the youngest kid at the table; that’s one of the reason classic preschool games are so good. Yes, they’re simplistic for adults, but everyone playing can have a good time. The Exception to the Rule: There isn’t one. This is really important. The idea is that everyone should be having a great time.
  • Play it Again. The test of a great game is that when you’re done playing, you want to play it again, and invite others to play. The Exception to the Rule: Nope, not one here either. If a game is boring, why would you play it again?

Some Great Ideas

You don’t need us to tell you how great The Game of Life is or Scrabble, or even Old Maid, but new games are coming out all the time. Conservative estimates are that as many as 500 new games are introduced every year. Some of those (The ones that don’t meet the above criteria, quite frankly.) disappear, but there are others that you may not have heard of. That’s where we come in. Here’s just a selection of a few of the games we’ve been playing lately that we really enjoy.

Take the keys to the kingdom!

Disney Kingdomania from Funko Games
For ages 6 and up
$9.99 and $22.99
Where to Buy
This new, expandable game challenges players to help their favorite characters save their world. The idea is that the game’s world is an 8-bit video game, and all the players are in the game. They have to overcome glitches before they hit “Game Over.” The whole game includes 40 figures like Buzz, Mickey, Princess Tiana, and many more. The game is available as a super game pack or as a collectible ball. Depending on the pieces you have, you can set up the game to play in different ways. It’s also a mash-up of all the different Disney worlds in one kind of crazy, kind of adorable, loads of fun experience. Who Will Like It: We think this is going to have a really broad appeal. The gameplay is well-designed, and the figures are uniquely 8-bit, which will make them a hit with Disney collectors. For kids who want to immerse themselves in the game, there is plenty of challenge. Collectors who like blind bag collecting will get a kick out of these, too.

Can you measure up?

T.A.P.E.S. Game from Hog Wild
For ages 6 and up
$29.99
Where to Buy
Players take turns guessing the dimensions of objects in the room in which they’re playing—not just in inches or centimeters—but let’s say, somewhat bizarre—units of measurement. Spin the wheel, and then make your guess. You have to figure out dimensions measured in Gummy Bears, Baseballs Caps or even Wiener Dogs. How do you do that? Break out the measuring tapes with those measurements marked off. Who Will Like It: People who like guessing games, with a bit of skill thrown in. What we like about it is that it really gives the old noggin a workout. Players have to estimate dimensions but with a totally different set of comparisons, so it can be quite challenging—and competitive. However, it’s also very silly to think about how many hamsters you’d have to stack up to guess the height of your fridge.

Cook up some preschool fun!

Cake-N-Bake Challenge from Hey Buddy Hey Pal
For ages 4 and up
$29.99
Where to Buy (Pre-Order)
This is one of the most original, new preschool games we’ve seen this year. And kids can have cake any time they want! the game consists of a cake cut into six different wedges with several layers made of colorful, high-density foam. Players draw cards and race to stack their cake slices based on the order on a game card. The first to correctly stack their cake wins a candle, and whoever collects six candles wins and gets to wear the included chef’s hat for the next round. Who Will Like It: This is a fast-paced race game that challenges kids to think fast and act fast. It’s definitely for younger players, but older players will have to think quick, too. Plus, there are different cards, like “Burnt Cake” that change up the action. At this writing, it’s pre-order only, but it’s definitely worth snapping this one up. 

When you’re up for some monkeying around.

It’s Bananas Game from McMiller Entertainment
For ages 6 and up
$24.99
Where to Buy
This is easily the silliest game of the year. Strap on an inflatable monkey tail (Yes, you read that correctly.) and try to pick up the different pieces. The trick is in your thighs as you squat down and pivot your hips to maneuver the tail into perfect pick-up position. We’re not even sure what else to say about this, other than it’s classic, silly fun for kids…and adults. Who Will Like It: Pretty much anyone who likes to laugh and isn’t recovering from a hip replacement will enjoy this game. It’s a bit more challenging than it looks, and you’ll be doubled over trying to pick up the targets…and doubled over with laughter watching everyone else try, too.

Make some game memories you’ll treasure.

Blackbeard’s Treasure Hunt Game from Vango Toys
For ages 4 and up
$19.99
Where To Buy
Can you win the race to unlock the treasure chest and find all the dubloons? Players open up their treasure maps, then race to collect the dice in the proper order. When they do, they can unlock the treasure chest, and watch as the coins spill out. This is a fast-paced game that’s on-trend with all things pirates. Who Will Like It: Since it takes a little luck, a little strategy, and a little manual dexterity, this game will appeal to many ages. It’s a good family game with plenty of laughs…and plenty of opportunities for pirate jokes.

 

Yes, pirates are a thing this year.

Fire in the Hole! from McMiller Entertainment
For ages 6 and up
$34.99
Where to Buy
Yes, pirates are a thing this year. And in games, too. This game challenges players to get four cannonballs in a row on the pop-up pirate ship. On each player’s turn, they pick a card, and it could be All Fire or Solo. Then take your best shot. The idea is that you have to bounce the ball into one of the compartments on the ship’s deck. Get four in a row, and you win. However, because these are pirates, it’s not always that easy. There are all kinds of tricks and sabotages you can play because, well, there’s no honor among pirates. But you knew that. Oh, and you get to wear an eyepatch, which can make it eve more difficult to score. Who Will Like It: We’ve played this game with people of many ages from kids to adults, and they all have had a great time with this. Worth Noting: The game is 100% plastic-free, biodegradable, and carbon neutral, making it one of the most sustainable games available. You wouldn’t expect pirates to be so responsible, would you?

A great social game for older players.

Tell Me Without Telling Me From Spin Master
For ages 18 and up
$21.99
Where to Buy
We’ve been having a blast with this new game, based on the TikTok video sensation. To play the game, players split into 2 teams. Alternating teams roll the die then flip the timer to start your team’s turn. Give hints to your team to guess as many cards as possible before time runs out, without breaking the die’s rule! There are 3 categories on the die. Show Don’t Tell, One Syllable and Freestyle. It’s a new take on charades, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to keep you laughing. Who Will Like It: This is definitely a game for older players. Some of the questions may be a little sensitive for some people, so you might want to take a look through the cards first if grandma wants to play. Unless, of course, you have a very cool grandma.

The puzzle game/TikTok star!

Kanoodle from Educational Insights
For ages 7 and up
$13.99
Where to Buy
This engaging, multi-challenge puzzle game has been around for a few years, but it’s gotten new life this year though some incredible TikTok videos. Solve 2D and 3D puzzles by figuring out how all the pieces go together to complete the challenge. There are many possibilities, but only one correct answer.  The puzzles go from very simply to, frankly, pretty darn hard. The enclosed booklet has more than 200 new puzzles, but you can check out videos online for other brain-teasing challenges. It comes in a sturdy, plastic case that can slip in a pocket or backpack, and the molded puzzle bases hold the pieces in place. In other words, you can play in the car, too.  Who Will Like It: Anyone who likes a puzzle game will love this. It promotes dimensional thinking and problem solving. One of the rules is that once you place a piece, you have to leave it there. (Though you can always create your own house rules.)

Now you’re talking!

Kidquest from Ariane Manufacturing, LLC
For ages 5 and up
$19.99
Where to Buy
This isn’t a competitive game, but it does fit the bill for what makes a great game in that it provides a fantastic social experience. The idea is to get kids and parents talking together. Developed by a 7-year-old, the game includes a deck of 100  cards each with a different question. These are questions that kids and parents might not think to talk about on a daily basis, such as, “Did you ever hate school?” or “Who were your friends?” or “What was your biggest fear?” While it’s not designed that way, players could make it competitive by assigning points to questions. It also doesn’t need a formal sit-down to play. You could keep the deck around, for example, and ask one question at dinner every night. It’s pretty open-ended, and the questions are well thought-out. Who Will Like It: This is definitely for families. We think that both kids and parents will get a kick out of it. Parents will like being able to share, and kids will begin to connect with their parents a little bit better…and maybe appreciate that they were kids once, too.

We’ll continue updating this post as we complete school year reviews, so check back often!

 

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