Summer means travel, and that means there is a good chance vacationing relatives could be stopping by sometime in the near future. And that’s great! To a point, anyway. Once the initial excitement of seeing one another has worn off, then what? Break out the games, of course. But you know your judgmental in-laws will make a mental note if you pull out your overworked copy of Ticket to Ride. Or your sister’s kids are too young for Pandemic and will undoubtedly destroy the house if left alone too long. What’s a good host to do? Don’t worry, I’ve got ya. These games are fresh from the game farm and there’s something for players of all ages.
Junkdrawer – Kickstarter (Coming in 2023)
It’s summer time and the kids are at home. Which means your house, like mine, is probably a wreck because children, despite their many loveable qualities, are filthy little beasts. And before anyone clutches their pearls and gasps in horror, I’m allowed to say this because I have a very loveable yet filthy child with loveable yet filthy friends, making me imminently qualified on the subject.
So how do you get them to clean up? Well, there’s the tried and true “tell them over and over until you absolutely lose your sh*t” method, but trust me, that’s a lose-lose situation. Or you get them to play Junk Drawer by Winsmith Games.
The goal here is to create a Pavlovian response to cleaning, much like housebreaking a dog. Junk Drawer is a game that revolves around organizing that drawer of shame we all have, usually populated by twist ties, old batteries, tape, matches, and the odd screw or nail. Play it enough times and your kids will start to associate clean-up time with all the fun of this light family game for 1 – 4 players.
The game runs on a simple polyomino-placement mechanic. Each player starts with a drawer separated into 4 storage cubbies. Each player then receives a goal sheet outlining specific polyomino arrangements for each cubby. Once players have this, the game can begin. Randomized cards determine which polyomino disguised as a junk drawer item each player receives. They will then have to place it in their first cubby in such a way that it best matches their drawer’s goal sheet. Play continues this way with players having to rotate to the next cubby in their drawer each time. At the end of the game, players check their drawers against their starting goal sheets. The player whose drawer most closely matches their drawer’s goal sheet will score the most points and win the game. A few rounds of this and your kids will be salivating at the idea of a good deep clean of the house.
Trick Shot – Gamefound (Coming Soon)
I live in central Texas. Hockey is not on our radar. But even I can’t wait to try Wolffdesigna’s new version of the family-friendly hockey game, Trick Shot!
Sports games are always tricky because it’s tough to translate that same excitement to tabletop. Trick Shot does this beautifully in two ways:
First, it is steeped in theme but is still easily accessible to folks like me with only a passing knowledge of hockey. Players can do just about anything a real hockey player can. There are basic moves like moving, passing, and shooting. But even I know that’s not why people go to hockey games. In the advanced rules, players can body check, take whistling slap shots, and even start a fight! But even with so many actions, nothing feels fiddly or unclear about any of them. Each one has very clear rules that make perfect sense within the context of the game. Player pieces also have different speed and size stats depending on their team role which gives them certain advantages. For example, Wingers are light and fast while on the other end of the spectrum are the Defensemen who are slow and huge.
Secondly, Trick Shot brings the excitement of sports to the table by using a push-your-luck mechanic for all of the game’s actions. Any time a player moves, passes, etc., they roll a die. On a “Puck” symbol, the action is successful. They can then take another action only this time they add a die to their roll. Seems like that would only help, right? Unfortunately not. Because the dice also include 2 other symbols: a “Fail” and a “Reaction” symbol. If you roll one of these, disaster strikes. On a reaction, your opponent gets to move one of their players for free. Not great, but not the worst thing. Oh no, that would be the “X’s”. These can trigger all sorts of things, from fights to penalties, and they always end your turn. Every turn is a nailbiter as players decide just how lucky they’re feeling in their push for the goal.
While the rules are clear cut, there are a few more than in Junk Drawer. That being said, this game is probably best for kids who are just a little older.
Lineup – Kickstarter (Now Live)
Speaking of older kids, this game is definitely for your more mature family members. Like, 18 and up.
That’s because Lineup comes from the incredibly popular website creators at Cut.com . If you’ve never visited before, Cut specializes in creating and filming party games that always revolve around embarrassing questions or situations.
Lineup is just one such example. In the video series of the same name, a contestant is asked a question and then has to sort a group of strangers into categories based on just a cursory examination. The concept is simple, like any good party game, but it’s the question and choice of players that make it fun. For example, one video sees a mother trying to pick from a lineup which of the other contestants has…ahem, dated…her daughter. I can already hear you getting the nervous giggles.
If that setup is giving you heart palpitations, don’t worry. Lineup the tabletop doesn’t require you play with your parents. Nor are the questions quite as invasive. The base game is a little more tame with questions like, “How long has it been since you sang in front of people” or “When does breakfast become brunch?” After secretly writing down your answer, you then try to guess where your friends fall on the answer spectrum, earning points for the ones you get correct.
Now, if you do like the idea of a more risqué version of the game, don’t worry. There’s a tier for that. Pledge at the second “Over the Line” tier, and you can also get the NSFW expansion. Though whether or not you play with your family is up to you.
by Zane Messina