Strong communities start with strong families and strong friendships. Whether you prefer party games, card games or board games, nothing brings a family together like turning off the electronics, sitting at the kitchen table, rolling dice, playing cards, snacking and catching up with friends and family.

I have always had a Family Game Night. I have fond memories of playing Pinochle way past my bedtime because Grandma and I were on a hot streak. In high school game night included my friends as well as my family, and quickly the two groups were inseparable. Through college my weekly game night kept me sane, grounded, and vice free. Now in my 30’s, I continue to have a weekly game night with my close knit friends and family. Everyone looks forward to getting together, catching up, and relaxing over the backdrop of the week’s chosen games.

The Evolution of ‘Roll & Play’

When most people hear “board games,” they think of classics such as Monopoly, Life, or Parcheesi. While those games can be enjoyable, they typically boil down to roll the dice (or spin the spinner), move a number of spaces and do what the game tells you. They can drag on, cause players to slowly lose interest and quickly wreck a game night. I’m sure everyone has a horror story of an unending game of Monopoly or Risk.

Like the phone, television and cars, board games have evolved and revolutionized themselves over the past twenty years. New genres and mechanics have emerged that offer players choices. Choices free from randomization and luck; choices that lead to strategy and variety. These games have more replay value, more interesting facets, and open a new door to fun and enjoyment.

5 Games I Would Recommend to Any Family

  • Love Letter – A reasoning and deductive game for 2-4 Players. With only 12 different cards and a handful of rules, Love Letter is easy to pick up and play. Players try to guess what cards are in each other’s hands to get them out of the round or end the round with the best card. The game takes 15-20 minutes to play and will leave everyone asking for more. Love Letter has a medieval court feel, but there are Batman, Lord of the Rings, and Legend of the Five Rings versions available.
  • Sushi Go! -A drafting game of adorable sushi. In a drafting game, each player starts with a hand of cards. They choose one of the cards and pass the rest to the next player while they get a new hand. The process continues this way with ever dwindling hand sizes until all the cards are chosen. Points are scored for different combinations of Sushi chosen. Game play takes about 20 minutes and relies on awareness of which cards have been played and which have been passed.
  • Carcassonne – A tile placement game where players build an area of the countryside creating roads, castles, monasteries and farm lands. After you place a tile, you can place a token onto the different features of that tile to score points later. Easy to learn and fast to play with many different editions and versions available, it will not be too difficult finding one that your family will enjoy.
  • Forbidden Island – This game belongs to a special genre known as cooperative games. All the players work together against the game. With a co-op game everyone is a winner, and the difficulty truly makes strategy and cooperation important. You will rarely complete your objectives, but when you do it will be such a memorable triumph. In Forbidden Island, players try to collect four artifacts and escape the island before it sinks. There is a sequel game with a similar style of play that takes place in a desert slowly being buried in sand.
  • King of Tokyo –Yahtzee meets Godzilla. Do you need more incentive? Players take control of monsters (anything from a pink cyber-bunny to a giant ape) and roll dice to generate victory points, heal, and generate money or attack in a giant game of “King of the Hill.” The game is extremely fun, fast to play and easy to learn.

For more information on these or any other board games, go to Martinsburg’s own local Game and Hobby store: Your Hobby Place located at 77 Monroe St, Martinsburg, WV 25404.

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