With the holidays already here, many of us have to slip into the role of person who completely enjoys time with their family. I love my family and I do like spending time with them, but sometimes it’s good to set up a barrier between you and the next racist outbreak from Uncle Frank. Games offer a great way to pass the time between dinner, dessert, and only figuratively (and not literally) killing each other.

I’ve picked out five games playable with the whole family. None of them contain any questionable content or racy art. My daughter, young nerdling that she is, has play tested all of them as a 12-year-old and gives them all the Tweenager Eye Roll and a Hair Flip of Approval.








All of these games fall into what I’m officially dubbing “The Amanda Brown Parameters.” They take less than 10 minutes to explain the rules, and about 30 minutes to play; perfect for fending off that rant and distracting Uncle Frank.

loveletter-760x1024Love Letter

Published by AEG for 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up. Plays in 15 ~ 20 minutes.

Try to win the princess’ hand in this card game of deduction and risk. A player’s turn consists of drawing one card, then playing one card. Rules are all printed on handy quick references. Love Letter gets people interacting as they try to maneuver their cards closer to the princess while working to kick other players from the round.

The game doesn’t take much space and is a great way of passing time while waiting in line, if you’re looking to brave the post-holiday crowds.

bangBang! The Dice Game

Published by dV Giochi for 3 to 8 players, ages 8 and up. Plays in 15 ~ 20 minutes.

Take on the role of Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw, or Renegade in this team based, deductive, push your luck dice game. This revision of the original card game moves more smoothly and quickly. Players roll dice to shoot at their opponents, master the Gatling Gun, dodge the natives, and not get blown up by dynamite. Don’t worry too much if you do. Rolling a frosty mug of beer will heal some damage.

Bang! The Dice Game feels a bit stacked against the sheriff and their deputies, but that’s how things worked in the Old West. There’s even a Walking Dead version for those more inclined towards zombie infestations.


Published by Calliope Games for 2 to 8 players, ages 8 and up. Plays in 15 minutes.

A tile laying game, I can only describe Tsuro as decidedly uncooperative. Build a path to drive the other players off the board while keeping your token safe. The game is dead simple, easy to understand and play.

I prefer the original Tsuro to its follow up, Tsuro of the Seas. Tsuro of the Seas adds a dice mechanic to play that slows down the pace of the game. Tsuro of the Seas does add giant monsters, so it does have that going for it.

kotKing of Tokyo

Published by iello for two to six players, ages 8 and up. Plays in 15 to 30 minutes.

If you really like giant monsters, it’s time to give King of Tokyo a try. Rampage through Japan’s capital fighting other monsters, aliens, or robots, while trying to take over the city. This push your luck dice game allows you to control the damage done to other creatures, your healing, or how your monster mutates. King of Tokyo is a cutthroat game with the last player standing (or the first one to get to 20 victory points) claiming the crown.

Surviving Holiday Family Time with Games

Surviving Holiday Family Time with Games

Shinobi WAT-AAH!

Published by iello for two to four players, ages 10 and up. Plays in 15 to 30 or 30 to 45 minutes depending on game mode.

Build power by collecting sets of warriors and creatures in this beautifully rendered card game. Use the different abilities of the Shinobi clans to confuse and punish your enemies. The game includes two different types of play. The short Grasshopper Mode offers a quick round with players set against each other. The Grandmaster Mode trains the clans over three rounds, eventually facing the big boss!