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Don’t Buy Another Copy Of Monopoly This Year, Get Around These Five Board Games This Holiday Season Instead

Re-roll the holiday activities

Whether you’re having pumpkin pie or pavlova, the holiday season often means getting together with your extended family and trying your best not to get into an argument about this, that and the other. Between eating, drinking and napping, it’s ideal if you and your loved ones can spend some quality time together, having a laugh and enjoying your time away from your respective jobs and schooling.

An easy way to kill two turkeys with one appetite is to whip out a good-quality board game. Not only will this keep Aunt Audrey entertained enough to stop mentioning how unemployable you are now with that tattoo, but you’ll have a riot of a time if you choose the right one for the family.

However, The mistake many people make is thinking that Monopoly or The Game of Life will fit the bill. But, instead of having fun, your family will either lose interest one by one or start bickering out of boredom. Don’t sweat though, I’ve got some family board game suggestions that you and yours can enjoy. Better still, they’re easy to find and won’t break the bank.

The Fuzzies

Where to find it: Target for $29

Player count: Minimum of two

If Jenga is everyone’s first step into dexterity games, The Fuzzies would be the first time you start to jog. This compact little package is similar to the block-stacking family favourite, as you pluck little fuzzy balls from the bottom of the precarious tower and place them near the top, but it adds a bit of spice to the mix to make it interesting. Taking a card will tell you what colour ball you need to use the tweezers or your hands to remove and replace but, if you drop any balls, you’ll need to flip over that many cards, revealing punishments/challenges that you’ll need to follow on your next turn.

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Soon after starting, the tower will look like an abstract sculpture and everyone will be closing one eye, using their less dominant hand and trying to place their ball at the highest point. This will all come to a head when someone knocks over the tower, causing a rainbow of balls to scatter everywhere silently. That’s right Jenga. It’s fun, easy to learn/teach and can be reset in a matter of seconds.

The Chameleon

Where to find it: Kmart for $25

Player count: Three – Eight

Blending into the crowd can be a vital skill at big family functions, so if you’re good at that, you’ll feel right at home with the core concept of The Chameleon. All about subtle clues and accusatory glances, The Chameleon is dead simple, but can often be hard to master. A shared card placed in the middle of the group shows a grid of 16 words that are grouped into loose categories, such as zoo animals or historical figures. Everyone is then dealt another card that dictates which word on the central card will be the focus for each round. Well, almost everyone. One player will have a card that tells them they are the Chameleon. Good luck.

When the game starts, players will take turns giving a one-word clue that points to the correct word, while the Chameleon player tries their best to deduce what the word is and offer up a clue that makes enough sense that they don’t get caught. Once everyone has given their clue, everyone votes on who they think the imposter is with by pointing their finger (all at the same time, of course). If an innocent player gets the majority of the votes, the Chameleon wins, but if the Chameleon is found out, they have one last lifeline to steal the victory; guessing what the word was. Rounds are extremely quick, are often hilarious, and it’s a blast to play regardless of your role.

Herd Mentality

Where to find it: Kmart for $25

Player Count: Minimum of four

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You’re often told that your differences make you special. Well, forget that, in Herd Mentality, you want to be as basic as can be. With a pen and pad of paper in hand, you and your friends and family will draw from a deck of question cards that ask earth-shattering questions like: You’re playing rock, paper, scissors. What do you hit them with first? (the answer is always scissors).

Then, each player will write down what they think the popular answer will be, regardless of their own opinion. Once revealed, all those in the majority will score a point, while those in the minority will walk away with nothing. If you’re unlucky enough to be the only player with a unique answer, you’ll be awarded the terrible, horrible, detestable pink cow. As long as the pink cow is in your possession, your points won’t be worth a thing, so you’ll want to be extra basic and hope someone has an unfortunate moment of individuality before the game ends.

Fighting the urge to answer the questions how you would normally is excruciating, but nothing compares to the horror or realising that your out-of-the-box response has landed you in the pen with the pink cow.

Hues and Cues

Where to find: Big W for $35

Player count: Three – Ten

Can you really describe the beauty of the setting sun or the majesty of the open ocean? Damn right, you can, they are F5 and I27 respectively (that will make sense, I promise). In Hues and Cues, you fold out one of the more impressive-looking boards I’ve seen, featuring 480 individual colour swatches. Each round, one player picks a card that offers up four colour choices that correspond to points on the board. Once chosen, the player must give a one-word clue to guide the others to that exact spot. The rest of the group then place their first marker on where they think the clue giver is referencing.

Then, with the first round of guesses locked in, the player will give a second clue, this time using two words. The others will then place a second marker, which will sometimes be close to their first, or miles away depending on how different the two clues are. The player who gave the clues then places a scoring square around the one true colour, with points being awarded to those closest and how many players were in the vicinity.

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Don’t think about using clues that involve colours, or objects in the room though, you’ll need to be more creative than that. It’s a conceptual game, and it’s one that most will pick up quickly, just be ready for flamingo, water and fire to be used up pretty early on.

Ramen Fury

Where to find it: EB Games for $20

Player count: Two – Five

One of these games had to be food-related. In Ramen Fury, you have three bowls in front of you, begging to be filled with delicious ingredients. With a handful of ingredient cards ready to go, players take turns completing two actions from the available six: prep, draw, spoon, restock, eat or empty. The goal is to create bowls of ramen that score you the most points before eating them and banking those points. Flavour packets will dictate how that bowl is scored, whether it demands multiple veggies, only meat or a combo.

Prepping will let you place a card in a bowl, drawing will let you take a card from the facedown pile, or the face-up Pantry (run of four cards), eating will bank the points from one of your bowls and restocking will discard the Pantry and draw a new one. The empty action has you throwing out your ramen to start again if you made a mistake, or if it’s filled with negative chillis, placed there by rival players. The final action, spoon, lets you remove an ingredient from your bowl and place it in another player’s, ruining their plan and their balance of flavours.

Rounds are lightning fast, can often become competitive, and the whole game is housed in a ramen packet and a box that looks like noodles. I don’t see anything not to like.

If there’s one takeaway from this little gifting guide, it’s that good board games don’t need to be complicated and expensive, so don’t settle for the same three tired old roll-and-move games stuffed away in the back of the cupboard. Branch out a bit and have some fun.

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What are you up to this holiday? Will your family function include any board games? Let us know in the comments or on our social media.

Written By Adam Ryan

Adam's undying love for all things PlayStation can only be rivalled by his obsession with vacuuming. Whether it's a Dyson or a DualShock in hand you can guarantee he has a passion for it. PSN: TheVacuumVandal XBL: VacuumVandal Steam: TheVacuumVandal

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