Disclosure: this page contains affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, we will receive an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
One of the ways we have fun at Ocho Sin Coche is through playing board games. It’s our way of finding ways to interact and laugh together. Every year we add games to our collection and with the holiday season right around the corner, I thought I’d share some of the games we played this year.
Mom, if you’re reading this, these are games we already have, so please don’t buy them for us. 😉
Summary: casual, team-based; 2-8 players, ages 14+; 15 minutes
This is the Spanish-language version of Code Names, a game where you try to get teammates to guess words based on one-word clues. We already owned several other variants, including the original Code Names, Code Names: Pictures, and Code Names: Duet. Why the Spanish edition? To give us more experience thinking in Spanish, a continuation of our learning Spanish together as a family. Frankly, we haven’t played it as much as we’ve hoped this year. Maybe we’ll play more in 2021?
Summary: expansion to Seven Wonders; 3-7 players; ages 14+; 40 minutes
Our family loves Seven Wonders, especially since it can accommodate up to 8 players with the Seven Wonders: Cities expansion. We already have several other expansions, including Leaders, Cities and Babel. But Armada is probably one of my favorites. While the stated age is 14+ and up, we start ‘em young! While my seven-year-old struggles, our nine-year-old can play independently.
Summary: expansion to Dominion, deck-building card game; 2-4 players; ages 14+; 30 minutes
Ever since learning about Dominion years ago on the Simple Dollar, our family has enjoyed playing. We already own the Intrigue, Prosperity, Seaside, and Alchemy expansions, making the Empire expansion the newest in our collection. Empires adds concepts like debt and table-wide events and landmarks. While my younger kids can play the base set and some of the expansions, we’re still working up to introducing them to Empires.
Summary: expansion to Race for the Galaxy, card/tableau game; 2-5 players; ages 13+; 30-60 minutes
This the third expansion arc to Race for the Galaxy. It creates some interesting dynamics as everyone competes to defeat “together” an invading race of xenophobic aliens. Significantly more complex than the base game, including several new ways to gain victory points, a new type of military, and a new end-of-turn phase where all players have a military quota they need to meet to help keep the aliens at bay.
Summary: economic strategy game; 2-4 players; ages 14+; 60-120 minutes
Imagine Ticket-to-Ride meets Puerto Rico meets Powergrid meets Agricola and you’ll get the feel for this game. Players compete to build their industrial network, producing goods and materials that increases their income and empire. We’ve only played this a couple times so far, but it’s by far the most complex game we’ve picked up this year. I’d recommend taking the age suggestion seriously. I look forward to teaching our oldest when she comes home from college for the holidays.
Summary: tile- and turn-based strategy game; 2-5 players; ages 14+; 45-75 minutes
This game is pretty much what you would get if you turned Race for the Galaxy into a board game. For people new to the franchise, this is a good start. One of the most confusing aspects of the card-based version of Race for the Galaxy is how you can either “spend” the cards in your hand or choose to play them. This dual use of the cards throws neophytes off. The board game version solves this confusion by introducing “credits” that are used to buy things. I think the age suggestion is overly conservative as my 9 year-old could figure it out. True, he lives in a household with a board gaming culture, but it also was easier for him to understand than the card game version. The game also introduces the concept of exploring planets before colonizing them, as well as a shared pool of developments that removes some of the randomness inherent in the card game. Many of the tiles have similar names to cards in the original game, with slight variations.
Summary: trick-taking card game; 3-5 players; ages 12+; 30 minutes
If you like playing hearts, spades, or any other face card game, chances are that you’d enjoy Jeu de Tarot. Not to be confused with divination Tarot. Jeu De Tarot is played with a mostly typical face card deck but with four face cards in each suite, the addition of the “excuse” (like a Joker) and an additional trump suite of 21 cards. Players bid for points, with the highest bidder responsible for getting their bid or losing points to the other players for zero sum scoring. We were introduced to this game by some French expat neighbors, and found it difficult to find in America. We’re still getting the hang of it, but again, even my 9 year-old could figure it out.
Summary: strategy card game; 2-10 players; ages 10+; 60 minutes
Another game recently introduced to us by our French expat neighbors. Each round starts with ten cards in hand, and everyone tries to get rid of cards without taking penalty points. Very casual game and the age guideline is pretty flexible. The game is a two-in-one, including a very similar game called Take a Number! You can play up to 10 players, but its sweet spot is between 4 and 7.
Summary: card & paper, bingo-like strategy game; 1-100 players; ages 10+; 25 minutes
Similar to Qwixx, but with cards taking the place of the dice. Each player develops their own suburb and decides where and what order they develop the lots. But addresses must be kept in sequence, and building parks, pools, and fences are incentivized. Yet another game recommended by our French expat friends.
Summary: route-building game; 2-4 players; ages 8+; 10-15 minutes
Imagine Ticket-to-Ride, but with only a third of the pieces and a third of the routes. Oh, and it’s based in a single city, New York. It also takes a third of the time, so you can play more rounds! Now you have a good idea of what Ticket to Ride: New York is like. Besides the usual familiarity, players are also incentivized to connect popular tourist destinations. It’s pretty much a scaled down version of a full Ticket to Ride game.
Summary: Cooperative, trick-taking strategy card game; 2-5 players; ages 10+; 20 minutes
You’re searching for a previously unknown planet Nine, completing missions together as a team to get there. My 9 year-old enjoys playing, but the age suggestion is accurate. We’ve found that 3 players is moderately easy but 5 players can be quite challenging. The time-to-play is a lie, unless you are only playing a few rounds. We actually have several ongoing games with different player combinations (e.g. me and Child #3 and Child #5, me and Child #2, etc.) and we have yet to complete all 50 missions in any of those ongoing games. But it’s really easy to pick up where you left off, assuming you keep a record of what missions you’ve already completed.
We love playing games! As my oldest launched this year to college, that was one of the big things she has missed. We look forward to playing some games with her this Thanksgiving and Christmas season when she’s home between semesters.
What games do you like to play? Have you found any games this year that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!