Part 2 in a series about must-have tabletop games explores those that might not yet be on your radar.
Sure, we can all enjoy the rush of nostalgia when we dump out the contents of a Jenga box or hear the crash of Connect Four. But there is a whole new world of games out there, and we're libraries — we won't be left behind!
Last month, I kicked off our tabletop games discussion with a list of "14 Budget-Friendly Tabletop Games Your Library Should Have," covering the classic games that many of us grew up with. In the second installment of this series, I will look at lesser-known and newer games.
You might not be familiar with all of them, but they are all worth a try. I hope this list helps you get started on your gaming adventures!
- Apples to Apples. An award-winning party game, Apple to Apples takes about 30 to 60 minutes to play and requires at least four people. You have to match the best (which is often the funniest!) noun to an adjective. This game enhances social skills and vocabulary and is surprisingly popular with middle-schoolers who often erupt into fits of giggles while playing it.
- Flashlights & Fireflies. An adorable hide-and-seek game, Flashlights & Fireflies is great for families with small children as it only takes about 15 minutes to play and can accomodate up to six players. The best part? No batteries required.
- Spot it! and Spot it Jr.! Animals. Two of our most popular games for kids and adults, Spot it! and Spot it Jr.! require fast reflexes and pattern recognition skills and are surprisingly addictive. There is a fascinating history and complicated math legacy around this game as well (for those who are interested, check out this article in the Smithsonian).
- The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game!. This game hits all the right marks in teaching fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Little players have to pick up acorns using special tongs and drop them in the corresponding colored holes in their tree slab. The game doesn't take very long to play (thankfully, because for parents/older siblings it is a tad tedious), and it's great for preschoolers who often get left out of games designed for older players.
- Slamwich. Another game geared for the younger set, Slamwich is actually pretty fun for adults, too. Use your hand-eye coordination to build the perfect sandwich before a thief tries to steal it from you! Like Spot it!, the cool tin makes storing the cards easy and portable.
- Ticket to Ride (and its multiple versions and expansions). A fun and strategic game of collecting cards to send your train on crosscountry routes, this game is especially appealing to the teen and young adult crowd. It takes awhile to get the gist of Ticket to Ride and to finish a game, but it is well worth it.
- Zombies!!! (and all its versions and expansions). In this popular game for teens and young adults, two to six players try to escape the zombie apocalypse by massacring tiny, plastic undead figures while keeping their health (and being sabotaged by friends). Don't be surprised if the zombie figures get stolen. (You can buy bags of them separately.)
- Tokaido. This is an interesting game in which you travel down a linear track in Japan meeting people, tasting different food and trying to outsmart the other players. There are lots of little pieces to keep track of, which makes it annoying for staff, but I think it's worth having a copy. (Fair warning: it is expensive.) We keep all the coins and cards in plastic zip bags. Not a good game for young children, as they will be bored and find it too complicated.
- Hoot Owl Hoot!. A cooperative game, Hoot Owl Hoot! is perfect for parents and kids that hate board games because they find them too competitive. This game allows players to work together using strategic thinking and cooperation to help some adorable owls fly home to their nest before the sun comes up. Using pictures and colors, there is no reading required, making it great for preschoolers.
- Bring Your Own Book. An innovative game perfect for libraries, Bring Your Own Book asks up to eight players to use lines from books to answer prompts. Best for ages 12 and up, the game takes about an hour to play and comes stored in a handy book-shaped box.
- Forbidden Island or Forbidden Desert. These games are great for anyone who enjoys working as a team. Race to escape rising water or sandstorms and try not to leave anyone behind. These games only take about 30 minutes per round and can be played by ages 10 and up. There are lots of cards and play pieces, so they must be carefully checked when putting away.
- Storycubes. A great writing/storytelling prompt game, Storycubes encourages one or more players to use their imagination to interpret symbols on nine die to come up with fantastic tales. A great literacy builder for all ages, it can be used in any language since the cubes feature pictures not words.
Not sure what to do with all these games once you get them? Check out some programming ideas from this blog under “Related Links” below. Be sure to check out the Program Model: Circulating Board Game Collection for more tips on how to get started.