For this list, we’ll focus on several things worth knowing ahead of time to get a better understanding – age range, number of players, average listed playing time (or an average from this geeky parent), and a brief how-to-play section to get a feel for the game itself. In the GPG’s list, we’ve made sure to include games for all ages, and for parents to enjoy with friends, perhaps after the kiddos have gone to bed.
Now, let’s dive into some tabletop games, so you can stockpile and be prepared for whatever snowstorms might head your way.
Ages: 3 and up
Players: 2 to 3
Play time: 10 minutes or less
This is definitely a beginner’s game for kids which allows them to develop their understanding of counting. The object of this game is to spin an arrow which will point to adding or subtracting “cherries” from the tree or basket. The first person to empty their tree – of either cherries, blueberries, or apples – into the basket wins.
I found it useful to count aloud every time I would take away or add to the board, having my kids do the same. It was an easy way to introduce them to numbers, and, eventually, the counting grew well beyond the numbers associated with this game.
This game is listed on Amazon with an average rating of 4.2 stars out of 5 from 527 customer reviews. It should be noted that this particular version includes an additional tree with oranges for a fourth player.
Disney Frozen Matching Game
by Wonder Forge
Ages: 3 and up
Players: 1 or more
Play time: 10 minutes or more
Who doesn’t love Frozen? This is a fun interpretation of a classic memory game. This game include 72 picture pieces. They are all placed face down, and then each person will take turns flipping a first and a second, in the hopes of finding a match.
Depending on age, it might be easier to break the game up in half. I would take half of the pieces and place them down as the board of the first game. Then, I would use the remaining pieces for the next game. It seemed to help prevent frustrations with a much larger base to choose from, preventing potential matches sooner.
On Amazon, this game is listed to have a review rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 from 105 customers.
Ages: 6 and up
Play time: 5 minutes or less
Connect 4 is a fantastic game, as I’ve recently realized, to let young children begin to learn a different way of thinking when it comes to gameplay. My recently turned five-year-old began playing this game, and it was fun to introduce different game elements – thinking ahead to forecast my moves or her own. As we played our first two games, and I would talk strategy aloud, she quickly learned that getting four-in-a-row also meant preventing me from doing the same. It was encouraging to see her place one of the red or yellow discs in my path, preventing three from turning into “Connect 4” horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
This game is also listed on Amazon, where it has an average review of 4.7 stars out of 5 from 2,031 customers.
by Z-Man Games
Ages: 7 and Up
Players: 2 to 5
Play time: 30 to 45 minutes
Although my own kids aren’t old enough to play this particular game, they have enjoyed picking tiles for my wife and me while we play. Carcassonne is a self-assembling board, where players select one piece at a time, face down, and place it face up on the table. The idea is to connect sides of each tile with matching sides – roads, fields, and cities – and then gain points throughout the course of the game. The person with the most points after all the final calculation wins the game. This game does include a scoring feature after the final tile is laid down, so strategy plays an integral role in using all of your game pieces efficiently.
This game is a perfect opportunity for geeky parents to get together with friends or enjoy a nice one-on-one match with their spouse on a date night-in, possibly with a glass of wine.
This game is listed on Amazon with a review rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 from 617 customers.
Ages: 7 and Up
Players: 2 to 6
Play time: 30 minutes or more
“From the makers of UNO,” Phase 10 is a card game designed for extended play as each player must complete ten different phases to win – described as “A Rummy-Type Card Game with a Challenging and Exciting Twist!” To complete the first phase, and therefore being able to move to the second round, players must accumulate two sets of three. If any player is able to lay down two sets of three before a player discards the last card in her hand, those players will then be able to move on to the second phase. If you’re unable to do so, you’ll have to attempt the same phase in the next round, while everyone else has moved ahead.
This type of game mechanic doesn’t mean you’ll lose if you get behind, when in fact, it actually provides plenty of opportunities to catch up.
This game is listed on Amazon with a review rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 from 1,118 customers.
Ages: 8 and Up
Players: 3 to 6
Play time: 30 minutes or more
If you want to play a game that defines using your wildest imagination, then it might be time to try the “Winner of the 2010 Spiel des Jahres award for Game of the Year.” Each player will take turns as the “storyteller” and choose one card to play face down. In doing so, the storyteller will “speak a word, phrase, or sentence represented by the picture.” The remaining players must then choose a card from their own deck that best describes that word or phrase. All of the cards are collected face down, shuffled, and then revealed face up.
Every player, besides the storyteller, will then place one of their markers next to the card they believe to be the original storyteller’s card. If everyone is correct, everyone earns 2 points, except for the storyteller. If the storyteller is able to get one of the votes, he and the person who voted will earn 3 points, while other cards will be awarded 1, as well, if they receive any votes. This point system makes being the storyteller a creative endeavor, as one must be transparent enough to gain a vote, while also being crafty to avoid being obvious.
To best describe this game, it’s like a beautiful picture version of Apples to Apples.
This game is also listed on Amazon with a rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 from 195 customer reviews.
Tiny Epic Galaxies
by Gamelyn Games
Ages: 14 and up
Players: 1 to 5
Play time: 30 minutes
This little boxed set, winner of the 2015 Golden Geek Award for Solo Game, brings plenty of replay value to the table. Not only does this game offer a single-player option, it allows you and your friends to control, and possibly dominate, a galaxy of your own. Each player gets to choose their own galaxy card, with space ships used to orbit or land on planet cards that provide resources and ways to score points.
Strategy plays an integral part in this game, as each player must determine what planets to vie for and how best to use the available resources earned during each roll of the dice. For the number of possible options available during each turn, the length of time to learn the game isn’t too extensive. Essentially, you roll some dice, choose actions to take based off of what’s rolled, and ultimately build your resources to capture enough planets and earn enough points to win the game. Also, there are “Secret Mission” cards that allow each player to potentially add points after the last move of the game. For those that don’t consider themselves to be very good dice rollers, rerolls are an option, too.
This game is listed on Amazon with a rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 from 116 customer reviews.
With so many options out there, what did we miss? What games would you put on this list for must-haves during the winter season? If you’re a parent, are the games you enjoy playing with your kids the same ones you enjoy playing with your friends? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to like this page and give it a (5 stars out of 5) rating. After telling us about your favorite games, head over to fanbasepress.com for more geeky goodness all of the time.
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.