Games to pass time during an isolation
THESE ARE CHALLENGING TIMES…
As the global spread of COVID-19 causes more people to social distance and self-quarantine, keeping ourselves entertained in our homes will likely become its own challenge. Kids are about to stay home from school for the foreseeable future, while parents are asked to stay out of the office. Even though this involuntary time away from work does sound like fun on the surface, it can also be a source of some stress and adjustment.
What can we do with all this free time to make sure our mental health remains intact while we face this adjustment within our family units?
Of course, there’s binge-watching TV, spending time on our devices, or video games. Eventually these forms of distraction can lead to even further isolation. After all, this should be a time when we also take the importance of our mental health into account. If you would like to do something that involves interacting with others in a meaningful way, while doing something positive to improve your mental well-being, playing a board game might be the perfect activity for the weeks ahead. Not only will it help keep up your spirits, it can also provide you with an opportunity to take your mind away from the stresses all around us.
Here are my top suggestions for games that will be guaranteed to keep you and your family entertained for the weeks ahead:
Games for the whole family:
Ages 6 and up
A great game to stimulate imagination. One player is the storyteller for the turn and looks at the images on the 6 cards in her hand. From one of these, she makes up a sentence and says it out loud (without showing the card to the other players).
Each other player selects the card in their hands which best matches the sentence and gives the selected card to the storyteller, without showing it to the others.
The storyteller shuffles their card with all the received cards. All pictures are shown face up and every player has to bet upon which picture was the storyteller’s.
Ages 8 and up
In this visually beautiful game, you want to move your pawn over a system of bridge-like planks to the other side of the board. An easy task! Or at least it would be if everyone were working together, but alas you’re not. Instead you’re all working on your own right next to one another, each convinced that your way is best. In game terms, players simultaneously select five action cards to be performed from the nine actions available and lay them down in order they are to be played. The turn is then resolved one card at a time. The actions allow players to place plank foundations, place planks, move their pawns, cancel other players’ actions, or remove planks or foundation stones. As can be expected for a design with simultaneous action selection, the game is rather chaotic.
Ages 8 and up
A real-time, cooperative game with a frantic fun element. Each player can control any hero in order to make that hero perform a very specific action while running through a shopping mall, to which the other players do not have access: Move north, explore a new area, ride an escalator… All this requires rigorous cooperation between the players in order to succeed at moving the heroes prudently. However, you are allowed to communicate only for short periods during the game; the rest of the time, you must play without giving any visual or audio cues to each other. If all of the heroes succeed in leaving the shopping mall in the limited time allotted for the game, each having stolen a very specific item, then everyone wins together.
Ages 8 and up
In this Uno-style card game, each player starts a round with six cards in hand; the deck consists of llama cards and cards numbered 1-6, with eight copies of each. On a turn, the active player can play a card, draw a card, or quit. To play a card, you must play the same number as the top card of the discard pile or one number higher. If a 6 is on the discard pile, you can play a 6 or a llama, and if a llama is on top, you can play another llama or a 1. If you quit, you place your remaining cards face down and take no further actions in the round and collect minus points. Once a player reaches 40 points, they lose the game.
Ages 8 and up
This easy to learn, light strategy game, is a tile-placement game in which the players draw and place a tile with a piece of southern French landscape on it. The tile might feature a city, a road, a cloister, grassland or some combination thereof, and it must be placed adjacent to tiles that have already been played, in such a way that cities are connected to cities, roads to roads, etcetera. Having placed a tile, the player can then decide to place one of his meeples on one of the areas on it: on the city as a knight, on the road as a robber, on a cloister as a monk, or on the grass as a farmer. When that area is complete, that meeple scores points for its owner.
Games for Kids:
Ages 6 and up
In this charming logic game, the game board has a set of tiles fixed solidly onto it; the remaining tiles that make up the labyrinth slide in and out of the rows created by the tiles that are locked in place. One tile always remains outside the labyrinth, and players take turns taking this extra tile and sliding it into a row of the labyrinth, moving all those tiles and pushing one out the other side of the board; this newly removed tile becomes the piece for the next player to add to the maze. Players move around the shifting paths of the labyrinth in a race to collect various treasures. Whoever collects all of his treasures first and returns to his home space wins!
Ages 5 and up
Its title refers to both, the name of the game and the sound that the magnetic discs in the game will make when you slap one against another – and slap them together you will as you’re trying to claim the right discs as quickly as possible. All 36 discs are laid out face up so that everyone can see the colored symbols on them. One player rolls the two dice – one showing colors, the other symbols – then everyone simultaneously tries to grab any discs showing the colored symbol determined by the die roll. When all the discs have been claimed, the game ends and the player with the most discs wins!
Ages 6 and up
A visually beautiful, fairy-tale-theme game. One treasure is hidden under each tree in the forest. As you move from tree to tree, you get to peek at the treasures you find. Can you remember where each one is hidden? When the king asks where one of the treasures is, players race to reach the castle with the right information. Whoever is able to remember the most symbols under the tress will be the winner.
Ages 4 and up
A wonderful game for kids that also offers the option to play against parents.
In turn, the children attempt to make the others guess an animal by playing pawns on the illustrated icons on the game board. Through this, the child indicates a feature of the animal to be guessed. Draw 12 cards and attempt to find as many animals as possible in order to get the most points together! Concept Kids Animals offers 110 animals to be guessed, divided into two difficulty levels. Beautifully illustrated, this communication game for children will allow them to discover the world of animals in a fun and innovative way.
KING OF TOKYO
Ages 8 and up
Players take the roles of mutant monsters, gigantic robots, and strange aliens – all of whom are destroying Tokyo and whacking each other in order to become the one and only King of Tokyo.
At the start of each turn, you roll six dice. Over three successive throws, choose whether to keep or discard each die in order to win victory points, gain energy, restore health, or attack other players. The fiercest player will occupy Tokyo, and earn extra victory points, but that player can’t heal and must face all the other monsters alone! In order to win the game, one must either destroy Tokyo by accumulating 20 victory points or be the only surviving monster once the fighting has ended.
Games for solo play:
Ages 13 and up
Help Robinson Crusoe survive the island and prepare him to defeat the pirates.
Friday is a solitaire deck-building game in which you optimize your deck of fight cards in order to defeat the hazards of the island and two pirate ships. During a turn the player will attempt to defeat hazard cards by playing fight cards from their deck. If defeated, a hazard will become a fight card and is added to the players deck. If failed the player will lose life tokens but also get the opportunity to remove played cards from their fight deck. Finally, the player will use their optimized fight deck to defeat two evil pirate ships allowing Robinson Crusoe to escape the island!
Ages 14 and up
You are the mayor of a tiny town in the forest in which the smaller creatures of the woods have created a civilization hidden away from predators. Cleverly plan and construct a thriving town, and don’t let it fill up with wasted resources! Whoever builds the most prosperous tiny town wins! Your town is represented by a 4×4 grid on which you will place resource cubes in specific layouts to construct buildings. Each building scores victory points (VPs) in a unique way. When no player can place any more resources or construct any buildings, the game ends, and any squares without a building are worth -1 VP. The player with the most VP wins! Even though you can play this with a group of up to 6 players, it offers a great solo play variant.
Ages 12 and up
There are many escape-room games on the market. They offer a great way to encourage teamwork and conversation. In the EXIT series players are trying to solve the riddles of a story in order to escape the room in time. A game that can be shared with other players, but it also offers a great solo play mode.
Ages 13 and up
This game is aimed a seasoned board gamer who would like to spend a few hours on a game of slightly higher complexity. Jules Verne’s classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea tells the story of Captain Nemo and his astounding ship, the Nautilus. Set in year 1870, you set sail in this amazing electric-powered submarine, assuming the role and motive of Captain Nemo as you travel across the sea on missions of science, exploration, anti-Imperialism, and War! With this supercharged solitaire strategy game adaptation, you can prepare yourself for the adventure of a lifetime!
Ages 14 and up
A cooperative game of crime investigation, mixing an app and a board game that can easily be played in solo mode. With the same physical components (board, locations, characters and items), players will be able to play plenty of different scenarios and solve as many different crime stories. Players start the app, choose the scenario they want to play, and follow the story. The goal being to catch the killer of the current case in the shortest short time possible. Each component (locations, characters, items, etc.) has a unique QR code, which, depending on the scenario selected, will activate and trigger different clues and stories. The game comes with 1 tutorial and 5 scenarios, but more can be downloaded directly inside the app!
Games for 2 players:
Ages 10 and up
This card-based game is generally considered a good “couples” game and is often recommended for people with non-gamer partners. The object the game is to gain points by mounting profitable archaeological expeditions to the different sites represented by the 5 colors. On a player’s turn they must always first play one card, either to an expedition or by discarding it to the appropriate discard pile, and then draw one card. Cards played to expeditions must be in ascending order, but they need not be consecutive. The player with the most points wins the game, but it is typical to play 3 matches and add your score from each to see who wins.
Ages 10 and up
This charming strategy game is played on a board depicting twelve islands. Players use cards to place bridges between these islands or remove opponent’s bridges. If you get the majority of bridges around an island, you place one of your marker stones on it and also remove any of your opponent’s bridges to that island – which might cause them to lose a bridge majority on an adjacent island and lose a marker stone there.
The game is played in three rounds. A round ends when all cards from the face down deck and the three face up cards have been taken. Then points are scored for the islands with a marker stone on them.
Ages 12 and up
A fast-paced card game, a blend of tactics, risk and luck. Each player is one of the two most powerful traders in the city of Jaipur. You are going to have to do better than your direct competitor by buying, exchanging, and selling at better prices, all while keeping an eye on both your camel herds. On your turn, you can either take or sell cards. If you take cards, you have to choose between taking all the camels, taking one card from the market, or swapping 2-5 cards between the market and your cards. Whoever does the best trades gets the most points.
Ages 9 and up
A highly addictive strategic game for two players that is not restricted by a board and can be played anywhere on any flat surface. Hive is made up of twenty-two pieces, eleven black and eleven white, resembling a variety of creatures each with a unique way of moving. Pieces are placed this forms a pattern that becomes the playing. The object of the game is to totally surround your opponent’s queen, while at the same time trying to block your opponent from doing likewise to your queen. The player to totally surround his opponent’s queen wins the game.
Ages 12 and up
Star Realms is a fast-paced deck-building card game of outer space combat. It combines the fun of a deck-building game with the interactivity of Trading Card Game style combat. As you play, you make use of Trade to acquire new Ships and Bases from the cards being turned face up in the Trade Row from the Trade Deck. You use the Ships and Bases you acquire to either generate more Trade or to generate Combat to attack your opponent and their bases. When you reduce your opponent’s score to zero, you win!
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