If there’s one sure-fire way to ease any tensions or household disputes during a second lockdown, it’s with a good old family board game.
No one is quite ready to return to the Zoom fatigue and constant virtual pub quiz nights we faced the first time we were told to stay at home. So switch off that computer and get to your dining tables to play these six excellent games.
Halfway between Pictionary and Chinese Whispers, Telestrations players are each tasked with drawing a certain object or concept on their individual pad. Everyone then passes their pads round clockwise in a circle and has to guess what they’ve been given. They then pass their written guess clockwise and the next person has to draw it. This continues until, supposedly, you receive your original object/concept back.
A kettle can turn into a treehouse, then the Moon Landing, and back to a kettle in just a few bad sketches. The best part is the worse you are at playing, the more fun you have. No budding Rembrandts allowed.
The set comes with eight erasable sketchbooks and markers, a 90-second timer and 2,400 words to pick from. There’s also an “After Dark” version for an adults-only games night where the items to draw become rather more raunchy.
Throw Throw Burrito, £24.99
Put away all your valuables before you get this one out the cupboard. Created by the team behind the Exploding Kittens game, Throw Throw Burrito describes itself as “the world’s first dodgeball card game”.
Players must try to collect matching sets of cards faster than their opponents while at the same time pelting other players with squidgy foam-filled burritos – and dodging them themselves. Sets of cards earn you points but being hit by a flying stuffed tortilla will lose you points. Special cards will also trigger one-on-one duels or all-out battles. Easy to play and heaps of fun, this is one for all the family.
£24.99, John Lewis
Disney’s Villainous, £32
Take on the role of Disney’s most evil villains in this family game for two to six people. Players must select which unsavoury character they want to be. Each individual villain has a devious plot they are trying to fulfil: whether it’s amassing a fortune, vanquishing Disney heroes or cursing the realm with spells.
They also get their own playing board, four cards in their hand and two decks of cards face down. The first deck is action cards, which allow them to perform actions which help them get closer to their goal. The second is a deck of fate cards which cause events to happen that are detrimental to the villain’s goal.
On their go each person can play one of the four action cards in their hand, some of which also allow them to play from the face down decks of cards. The game ends when one villain has completed their goal.
It can be a bit complicated for younger players to get their heads round the rules so is best for those aged 10 and over.
221B Baker Street , £13,99
With 75 cases to solve and more than 1,000 clues, this is a game that will see you through the whole Christmas season (and probably the next few years too). It’s for two to six players and usually takes about an hour to complete.
At the start of each game the case is read out: usually involving a mysterious disappearance, robbery and murder. Players then take on the role of detectives and, starting out from Sherlock Holmes’ famous London address, roll the dice in turns and race to visit different destinations.
The board, which looks a bit like Cluedo, is made up of a number of locations, each of which contains a different clue for every case.
But be warned: some are red herrings. The first player to solve the case must rush back to Baker Street and check their answer. If they’re wrong: they’re out. The game is afoot!
Pictionary Air, £19.99
It’s as if the classic board game crash landed into a sci-fi film. Players are given words to depict at random, as with the old version, but the twist is they have to draw them using a special light pen. It allows you to draw in the air and what you create is then shown on each person’s phone screen via the Pictionary app. It then becomes a bit like charades, as the drawers can interact with their virtual pictures: pretending to put on the glove they’ve sketched or to flip the fried egg they’ve outlined. The hardest part is that the artist can’t see what they’ve created.
You can record people’s drawing attempts to embarrass them with it afterwards. It’s also possible to cast the drawings onto a smart television for a full-screen version.
Another game that is great for both older and younger players: Dixit relies on creativity more than rules and can be completed in about 30 minutes, so little ones won’t get bored.
Each player receives six cards with dream-like pictures on. In each round there is one storyteller who picks one of their cards and has to describe it in just one word. The storyteller has to strike a fine balance between making the word abstract enough to bamboozle the others but also making it guessable, because they score zero points if either all the players guess their card or if no one does.They must choose a word that is enigmatic enough to put some players off the scent but reveals enough about their image to convince some people to guess it.
The other players choose a card of their own that best matches the word and then everyone has to guess which picture belongs to the player’s clue. Players score points each time another person chooses their card, and not the storyteller’s. They also get points for guessing the storyteller’s card.