We all want blue skies and balmy temperatures for our summer holidays, but as rainy days can be brutal, especially if you have young children, we asked the self-described “board game nerds” – Vancouver’s Jay Cormier and London, Ont.’s Sen-Foong Lim – to recommend their top picks. In the last 16 years, the duo have created more than 20 games together including 2020′s Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion and last year’s Mind Mgmt: The Psychic Espionage “Game” (which recently raised almost $800,000 for another print run). Here are 10 family-friendly titles that should keep both kids and grown-ups from hitting their screens all day when the weather refuses to co-operate.
Party games: The more players, the merrier
Jay Cormier’s Pick: Time’s Up: Title Recall
Get your partner to guess the title of films, songs and more in 30 secords by saying anything you want that is not part of the title. In the second round, players can only give one-word clues. In the final round, players must act out the titles. Charades-inspired, this delivers guaranteed hilarity.
Sen-Foong Lim’s Pick: Just One
A co-operative guessing game best played with lots of people where everyone secretly writes one-word clues to help the active player guess the mystery word. The twist comes when everyone simultaneously reveals the clues they want to give before the active player looks at them – any duplicate clues are eliminated, making you second-guess yourself and your teammates.
Instant games: Easy rules mean you can get into the game faster
Cormier’s Pick: Sushi Go!
A fast-paced card game where everyone plays at once. The goal is to assemble the best collection of sushi-themed combinations that are worth points. For example, three sashimi in a round will give you 10 points, or two tempura cards will get you 5 points. However, if you can’t find the full set of either, then they’re worth nothing. After three rounds players get a bonus if they have the most desserts. The player with the most points wins.
Lim’s Pick: Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade
Players attempt to get the high score by picking numbers to cross off their dry-erase pinball machine. Roll the dice, cross off the number on your dry-erase pinball machine, and score points or gain point-boosting superpowers instead like the highly chaotic Multi-Ball. If a player cannot match a die to one of the remaining choices on their table, they are steps closer to defeat.
Family games: For every age (even generation Z)
Cormier’s Pick: Space Base
A dice game where each player assumes the role of a commodore of a small fleet of space ships. When a player rolls the dice, everyone gains something based on the ships they have acquired. It’s a fun game that keeps everyone engaged because players can be rewarded regardless of who is rolling the dice. Some of the ships you purchase provide points instead of money and the player who reaches 40 points first is the winner.
Lim’s Pick: Cascadia
The goal is to create vast habitats for different species of wildlife to inhabit. Every turn, players choose a habitat tile and an animal token to add to their ecosystem. It’s a constant puzzler as players try to satisfy the goals of making a habitat larger or placing the animals in their preferred configurations in the best way possible. It’s like Scrabble for animal lovers if you built the board and tried to make words simultaneously.
Card games: Stack these decks for every rainy day
Cormier’s Pick: Tichu
Tichu is a partner game with four players. It is also a climbing game, which means one player plays a card or a set of cards from their hand, and the next player has to “climb” or play a card or set higher. Add in four cards that have unique abilities (like a card that is ½ point higher than the most recently played card), and the fact that at the start of each round you pass cards to every player (as you try to help your partner and hinder your opponents) and you have a card game that everyone wants to play over – and over – again.
Lim’s Pick: Cockroach Poker
In this hilarious game of bluffing, players attempt to make their opponents collect more cards by placing one face-down and stating the animal on it – they could be lying or telling the truth! The next player must either agree, disagree or pass. When the card is finally revealed, the player who was incorrect collects the card.
Kid-friendly games: At-home thrills for littles and their parents
Cormier’s Pick: Zombie Kidz Evolution
Goofy fun for children five years old and up. Players are at a school when zombies attack, barring the way to classrooms. Players move through rooms and entryways to eliminate zombies. To win the game, players need to lock each of the four entryways to save the school. Players track their game proficiency through a trophy-sticker system and open envelopes that contain new twists, upping the challenge.
Lim’s Pick: Scooby Doo Escapes from the Haunted Mansion
In this puzzle-filled game designed by Cormier and Lim, players work together to decode clues and find their way out of the mysterious manor, all the while solving the mystery of Lady Fairmont’s ghost. Players take on the roles of the teen sleuths and their canine companion in this escape-room version of the cartoon classic.
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