We are serious lovers of board games and card games. My challenge is always trying to find games which will be entertaining and engaging for a broad age range. I mean, there's only so much Candyland a grownup can take!! On the other hand, it's not very much fun to play a game with a non-reader or an early reader when the entire game hinges upon reading. So every year I scour the world wide web in search of new games.
I think my favorite of this year's haul has got to be Snorta. You can tell just by the name that it's going to be funny. Each player picks an animal , makes a correlating sound, then hides the animal in a little barn in front of them. Players then play cards on the table; when two cards in a row match the players race to be the first one to make their opponent's animal sound. The concept is so simple--but it is ridiculous and fascinating how such a small piece of information can have trouble processing and coming forth from your brain.
We also belatedly jumped on the Apples to Apples bandwagon this year, but I must admit to being rather disappointed. It seems like a player can just randomly pick a winner to each round. I bought a children's edition and a small edition of the grown up version to cover a multitude of age ranges, but still something about this game leaves me flat. Maybe this was really just a game meant to be played beer (or two or three) in hand.
Target and Five Crowns are both first cousins to regular card games. They are both pretty long games, which has been nice during this much colder than average winter. Neither is difficult to learn how to play-but both are for established readers.
Rat-a-tat-Cat and Slamwich are also closely related to regular card games (Golf and Slapjack respectively), but do not require reading or more complex math skills. That said, my older kids have also really enjoyed playing these games.
Enchanted Forest is a board game which can be played by our 5 year old on up. It requires no reading, but does require the ability to remember and understand some more complex rules and instructions. Players travel through a forest collecting fairy tale treasures, such as Cinderella's glass slipper or Puss In Boots' boots, to take to the king. Treasures are hidden, requiring players to remember their locations. This game is really just a nicely repackaged variation of Memory, but is still fun. It also takes awhile to play, although it would work to just set a timer. Whoever had the most treasure cards when time is up is the winner.
The most interesting find this year is Sleeping Queens. This game was developed by a six year old girl. It requires no reading and is playable from ages 4-4.5 and up I'd say, if older players will help the younger players or if all are willing to give up the equation aspect of the game. Once players can do basic addition then they can play without any variations or help necessary.