CHARLOTTE, NC, November 21, 2019 — When families gather for the holidays, one of the favorite pastimes in recent years has been the revitalization of board games. And that inspired Myth Trivia to investigate to see if we could discover the very best family board game for the holidays.
Initially, three potential best family board games come to mind: Scrabble, Clue and Monopoly. But are they top “best” candidates because they’ve been around for a long time? Has their very longevity really made them the top candidates for being named the very best family board game? Or are other factors involved?
How can you really determine the best family board game for your family’s holidays?
As is always the case when attempting to select the best of anything, opinions run the gamut based upon multiple variables. When it comes to choosing the best family board game, such elements might include nostalgia, number of players, length of games, age, degree of difficulty and educational value, just to mention a few.
Depending upon the size of the family and the interest level, the number of players can, and does, often make a difference in which game to choose.
Chess, for example would score high on the nostalgia and intelligence scale but given its limitations in player involvement reduces its appeal for family holiday gatherings.
Monopoly, which several polls rated number 1, falls short because it takes so long to play. Even a game where properties are dealt to players rather than purchased can take several hours.
Given the various aspects of what comprises the most suitable and therefore best family board game for your clan, here are some of the pros and cons for traditionally top classic family favorites.
Were it not for the length of time it takes to play a game of Monopoly, nothing else could challenge it. It can be played by more than four players. The playing tokens themselves are classics. And nearly all ages can compete.
Chances are good that younger players might wind up in tears now and then. That’s because they fail to grasp the good-natured vindictiveness of the competition. But such disruptions usually prove brief and easily resolved with a candy cane or a scoop of ice cream. At Christmas time, of course.
The crossword game can get rowdy at times. Avid players often begin to make up words in desperation or to challenge the more exotic words of their competitors for the same reason. One problem in a family environment: A maximum of four people who should possess relatively equal verbal skills can play. That means that youngsters generally should not challenge adults. And at least in some larger families or family groups, this may not make Scrabble the best family board game for such a clan.
Also, someone who is really knowledgeable about Scrabble strategy has a distinct advantage over the others from the outset. This can quickly ruin a game.
Clue is probably the best known and most popular of the “Whodunnit?” board games. Of course, there are numerous versions of Murder Mystery role playing games. But those pretty much limit play to adults and don’t really fit the genre of family board games.
Since 1950, players have been gathering information to successfully deduce “who,” “where” and “how” the perp committed the crime in each game of Clue. The players conduct their forensic sleuthing about in a large mansion that provides the setting laid out on the game board. The players move around rooms, hallways and secret spaces as they try to deduce who to suspect, which weapons were used, and where evil deed was done.
A big plus: More than four people can play this game. And, like Monopoly, Clue’s appeal can span several generations of players.
Over its lifespan, the game has been affiliated several times with the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle estate. That provides a rationale to use his most famous character, Sherlock Holmes, as a part of the Clue brand. The makers of Clue claim that deductive reasoning, fact-based research skills and story and plot development all encourage strategic thinking skills to its players. But the biggest flaw in the game? Deductive reasoning usually becomes overly simplified in the end.
Any time you choose to conquer the world you’re bound to make someone angry. And that’s what Risk, our next top candidate for best family board game is all about. Risk really requires roughly equal levels of competitive skill. The knock from less-skilled players? Risk relies too much on luck in the early going.
Veteran players can adapt more readily to game situations, given their greater knowledge of the game’s classic strategies. And that usually makes a huge difference. The other shortcoming in this game: the often substantial amount of time it takes to complete it.
Numerous war games out there often prove better designed. But the ever popular Risk still remains the best of them overall for family participation.
It’s difficult for older generations to think of Battleship as a board game. The reason? So many of us grew up playing it with a pencil and paper.
Battleship works because it involves two types of strategic thinking; the placement of ships and deductive reason applied as a tactic to locate your opponent’s navy.
The game’s creators designed it for two players. But more can join in if those involved want to play in teams. Games vary in length, but but usually come in short when compared to other board games.
Battleship provides an excellent exercise for working strategies out on a grid based chart. Similar grid charts have many applications in geometry and mathematics, which can help some younger players to appreciate their use when relating this to school work. Battleship also requires attention to detail when it comes to keeping accurate records. Something a few of our politicians know all too well. But deductive thinking proves the most advanced educational skill players can gain through this game. Improvements here can help a good player make better guesses based on previous information filed away in his or her brain cells.
Chess could be at the top of the class as the best family board game for the holidays when it comes to honing the intellect. But its limitations come from allowing only two players to compete at a relatively high level of reasoning and for a relatively long period of time. This can relegate the rest of your family plan to the role of spectator. And that doesn’t help if the holiday clan’s collective age skews closer to 10 than to 30 or 40.
That said, chess has already been around for centuries, so it’s truly a classic. But for holiday family fun, it has limited appeal.
So what’s Myth Trivia’s choice for the best holiday family board game?
Drum roll, please! The answer is (ta-da)…
This one is our Myth Trivia winner as the very best family board game for the holidays.
For family fun, Balderdash has it all. First, many players of all ages can participate. In fact, the more the merrier. Smaller children can assist adult partners so they don’t feel left out. The game can last as long as the group wants to play. But you can limit the playing time by designatin an end-of-game “goal.” That could include a goal like concluding the game after one player becomes the the first person to win 50 points and is designated the winner. Or some other number, or other agreed-upon end point..
Balderdash comes in several versions. But in our Myth Trivia opinion, the most fun edition is the original. Families that don’t want to purchase the game, which comes with a board, player tokens and hundreds of obscure words, can simply use a good dictionary and plenty of paper and pencils.
Playing the game of Balderdash
Players rotate clockwise being the “Dasher.” The Dasher selects an unusual word, reads it out, spells it and then reads it again. Meanwhile, the players write down the word, make up a definition and sign their answer. At the same time, the Dasher writes down the real definition and then collects the other answers.
At this point, the Dasher reads all the answers before the players choose the solution they believe is correct.
Anyone guessing the correct definition gets a point. When someone who wrote a phony answer successfully has their definition chosen by another player, the person who bluffed gets a point for every incorrect guess. If no one gets the proper definition, the Dasher receives two points.
Following each round, the person to the left of the Dasher takes over as the new Dasher. Then, a new round begins.
Not only is Balderdash rousing, fun and loud. It just may be the funniest game you will ever play. Therefore, Balderdash gets the Myth Trivia seal of approval as the best overall friendly and fun family holiday board gam. your family gathering can play during your annual holiday get-together. And that’s no lie.
— Headline image: Monopoly: Cheater’s Addition. Image via Hasbro’s official website.
Fair use in article describing board games such as Monopoly.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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