It’s that time of year, trying to convert the family time!

It’s that time of year again. The time when we decide one more dessert won’t hurt, the time when we overspend our budget to make other people happy, the time, when singing in someone’s front yard isn’t nearly as creepy as any other time of year. That’s right, it is the holiday season and with that comes family time. Some people are blessed to have a whole family of gamers. Others, not as much. Don’t get me wrong,  I’m excited my mom and step-dad are visiting me from the states, and if we don’t play any board games at all, I would still be overjoyed, but at the same time…I would like to play some board games…and by some, I mean a lot.

Here is the dilemma, my mom’s idea of games end at Yahtzee, Boggle, Pit and Rook. Those are all fine games, but I want to expand her horizons a bit. I want her to understand why it is that I love board games as much as I do. My step-dad, on the other hand…well, I am not sure what he likes as he has only been my step-dad for just under 8 years. I know he wanted to play some National Geographic game with me at some point, but geography + me = not fun.

My parents are only going to be in Germany for 12 days and, of course, we are going to do a lot of touristy things. We are going to go to Christmas Markets, visit a castle or two, tour a chocolate and also a cheese factory. That is a given, but at night, when we are back at the apartment, we need something to do and instead of my mom asking me if I have found a girl in my town to date, I figured I would distract her with games.

Anytime I am choosing some games to bring out for friends or family I take a few things into account and I suggest you do as well.

  1. What is their board gaming history?
  2. What other interests do they have?
  3. What themes might be good/bad?
  4. Do they think strategically in their everyday life?

Let me walk through these with you keeping my parents in mind.

  1. What is their board gaming history?

I think this is probably the most important thing to keep in mind when planning a game for newer gamers. If you can find a game that incorporates some of the aspects of other games they have played and have enjoyed, then they are probably more likely to want to play a new game. It becomes less intimidating to someone when you can say, “Just like in Yahtzee, you…”

Keeping this in mind, I knew my mom liked card games, specifically Euchre, Racko, and Pit. I also know her go-to game has always been Yahtzee. While she played other games these were the ones she most enjoyed when we sat down for game nights.

Again, my step-dad is a bit more tricky, I’m not sure what his gaming history is, but knowing he likes a game about geography tells me he enjoys trivia type games

  1. What other interests do they have?

This one may or may not play much into your decision, but depending on the interests it might. For example, if your brother/sister is big into sports, having them sit down for a three hour game that is purely strategic may not be their thing, but a dexterity game might be right up their alley.

My mom is an actress, director, singer. She also enjoys spending quality time with others. The difficult thing about her acting and singing abilities is that she is kind of bashful when it comes to them, so a party game may not be right for her. However games that encourage teamwork and talking (or at least allow for more social interaction to occur during the game) would allow her to have fun.

My step-dad is an engineer and likes to do things with his hands. Maybe a game where building is part of it? Honestly, I have no idea when it comes to him, so I am taking a shot in the dark.

  1. What themes might be good/bad?

Themes can be a major turn off for people, but at the same time they can also intrigue someone into wanting to play something they might not normally play. Knowing what makes people wince, walk away, or get hooked, or piques their interest, can be a great tool to help you select the right game.

Both of my parents are also strong Christians. That doesn’t mean that they would  only be interested in Christian themes, but it does mean that violent, sexual or otherwise immoral themes, may not be for them. That honestly doesn’t eliminate many games in my collection, but moral neutral games would be best.

  1. Do they think strategically in everyday life?

This matters a lot when it comes to deciding between a more luck focused or strategy focused game. If someone rarely every analyzes a situation for the best solution, then why would you think that they want to do that in a game? Conversely it can also work. If they do think strategically then a good strategy game could be exactly what they didn’t even know they were looking for.

My mom is not the deepest strategy user in the world. He does analyze situations, but she doesn’t enjoy it as much as my step-dad does. Like I said, he is an engineer…do I need to say more?

 The List

After all of this thought, there were two other things to consider. Firstly, there were going to be 5 of us possibly playing (and yes, I did take the others into account as well). Secondly, I had to own it…duh!

  • Diamonds
    • This was the first game that I thought of for my mom. It’s a trick-taking game that kicks it up a notch. Easy choice.
  • Colt Express
    • The historical backdrop and the analysis needed for the planned movements put it in my step-dads camp, but light enough strategically for my mom too. Plus…it’s got a 3d train!
  • Camel Up
    • I have not heard of anyone not liking this game and it is silly fun, so while my step-dad may not love it, he might at least like it.
  • CV
    • Thematically it is pretty light, but the Yahtzee mechanic should be great for my mom. It is the only 4 player game I brought, but I figure when one person doesn’t want to play a game, this will work just fine!
  • Hanabi
    • Honestly, I don’t know if this will fit with the group, but it is short enough, that we can give it a try.
  • Würfel Bohnanza
    • A dice game with a neutral theme. I think it will be similar enough to Yahtzee and games like that to win my mom over with my step-dad tolerating it.
  • 6 Nimmt
    • Another card game that is easy enough to understand with just enough strategy to get my step-dad to like it, but not too much to suck the fun out for my mom.
  • Port Royal
    • An introductory game into more meaty Euros. Light enough for everyone to enjoy, but also providing some decent choices.

This is a new thing for me, trying to introduce my family into gaming. I have introduced friends into board games (including 2 of the others joining us), but my family is a different thing altogether. It’s important to me that my family understands my hobby. They don’t have to enjoy it like I do, but I hope they can find some games they like. That is my goal.

How do you like my list? Did I miss something obvious? Did I include something you wouldn’t have? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Join me in two weeks when I look back at how this all went. What was a hit, what wasn’t and if I made board gamers of them all!

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