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7 Board Games to Entertain the Children Over Christmas

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With the holidays upon us, a good way to bond with the children is via board games. You can either buy the game sets to keep or head to a board game cafe.

And when we say board games, we’re not referring to Monopoly, Mastermind, Cluedo or Risk. Those are so 1980s. These days, board games and card games are a lot more sophisticated and fun.

Here are top 7 board games that have gotten rousing receptions from kids, teens and even young adults. We also introduce some board game cafes in Singapore where you can go for gatherings and huddle over a game of Settlers of Catan.

 

Top 7 board games in Singapore

Board game Price
Exploding Kittens $15
Codenames $18.20
Munchkin $36.90
Sushi Go $42.90
7 Wonders $65
Settlers of Catan $69.90
221B Baker Street $150.31

As with all things, you can get board games online (Lazada, Qoo10, Lazada or Shopee) or in stores. The prices of board games online (in the table above) are 20 to 50 per cent cheaper, but you’d have to do your own research of individual sellers to check if they are authorised sellers before buying. 

Some popular board games stores in Singapore include Battle Bunker, BoardGames Rejuvenate, Box Street, Games @ PI, My Toy Shop, Team Board Games, Toy Station and TOYTAG.

 

1. Exploding Kittens

This is a card game that works a lot like Old Maid. It’s all about avoiding being “It”. In this case, “It” is the Exploding Kitten. Everyone draws from a deck of cards that is placed face down. If you draw the Exploding Kitten card, you go ka-boom! and are out of the game. 

The humorous drawings make gameplay simply hilarious, but there are some rude and sick jokes that might put off the politically correct. There are cards that can stop you from being blown up or help you get someone else blown up. It’s this opportunity to sabotage someone else and strategise your win that makes the game exciting and somewhat wicked.

The game begins with each player being given 5 action cards including the all-important Defuse card which can defuse the Exploding Kitten. At your turn, you can play as many action cards as you like to get the others blown to bits while protecting yourself, or you can do nothing. You end your turn by drawing from the pile of draw cards. If you don’t get the Exploding Kitten card, you live to play another round. The last player left intact wins.

 

2. Codenames

You are spies in this game which is played in 2 teams. Each team has a spymaster who is the only one who knows the true identities of the 25 secret agents. The rest of the players are operatives who only know the agents by their codenames.

The game begins with the 25 secret agent cards placed face down so that only the codenames at the back of the cards are showing. The spymasters then draw a Key Card which is a grid that shows which of the 25 agents cards belong to which team. The spymaster has is to give one-word clues to the operatives in the team so they can guess the identities of only the secret agents in their team.

The first team to do identify all their agents wins. But everyone has to watch out for the Assassin because the team that reveals the identity of the Assassin loses immediately.

It’s a twisting mind game that looks simple on the outset, but actually is pretty challenging to play. The guessing game will likely set of fits of laughter among players – those who know or seem to know, and those who don’t.

 

3. Munchkins

This is a role-playing card game. You’re the Munchkin and the goal is to progress from Level 1 to 10 by killing monsters and taking their loot. The fun is in hurling Monsters at the other players, Looting and creating Mischief so their goals are thwarted while you Loot, make Allies and Run Away to protect yourself.

All the players are given a hand of cards. These will be an assortment of helmets, swords, shoes, armour, monsters and other weird items with odd effects. The sum of all the cards plus the level you are in (at the start, everyone is in Level 1) is your fighting level. The better dressed and the better armed you are, the better you’re able to do battle.

The game begins when the first player flips open a Door Card to symbolise kicking down the door. If the Door Card is an object or special power, you keep it. If it’s a curse, it happens to you immediately. If it’s a monster, you fight it, run away or get help from others.

When you ask someone for help, it’s their chance to get something from you in return or backstab you. Throughout the game, players can interrupt a turn to make the quest harder. It’s all fair in this game of war and adventure.

The long-standing popularity of Munchkins tells of its evergreen nature. Having launched in 2001, it has stayed fun and entertaining for some 17 years now, which is quite a feat given the miniscule attention spans today.

 

4. Sushi Go

The creators of this game must really love sushi because they have managed to turn sushi-making into a card game. How brilliant is that?

In this game, you’re the sushi master. You have to use the cards to make the sushi that scores the most points. The game begins with some cards being dealt out to the players. Say, there’re 4 of you. Each will get 8 cards. You pick 1 card from your hand that you want to keep. This card you put face down in front of you. When everyone has chosen their cards, all the chosen cards are turned face up to be revealed.

The rest of the cards are passed to the left. You then pick another card from the new hand. This goes on until there are no cards left to pass and you have a set of cards in front of you.

This is round 1 and the scoring begins. Different items give you different scores. There are tempuras, sashimi, dumplings and puddings. Collecting the most sushi rolls or making a full set of sashimi will help you score. Dipping your nigiri in wasabi will triple your score. A chopsticks card will let you pick 2 cards instead of just 1.

So, what you choose to keep and discard is key. Throw out the wrong card and you may end up benefiting your opponents. You play 3 rounds to determine the winner.

Essentially, Sushi Go is a super-fast sushi card game that will probably increase your heart rate as you play and also tempt you to go to Sushi Tei after.

 

5. 7 Wonders

7 Wonders is a little like the award-winning board game Catan (see number 6). You get resources, you build, you get points. In this case, you are the leader of an ancient civilisation and get to grow it through 3 ages till it becomes a world power.

In each age, you start with 7 cards. Like in Sushi Go, you pick 1 card and pass the rest to the next player. This goes on till there are only 2 cards left. One of which is played while the other card is discarded. The gameplay is fast and furious, yet it can be very strategic as well. It’s suitable for up to 7 players, which makes it pretty perfect for family gatherings. 

There are 155 cards. Some require you to have certain resources or buy them from other players. Some let you build for free. Others increase your military might or give you coins.

As the ruler of your civilisation, you can develop it as you see fit. It can become a military powerhouse or an economic giant. Your civilisation can master science and technology or build a world wonder. Each achievement earns you Victory Points. The player with the most Victory Points at the end of the 3 ages is the winner.

 

6. Settlers of Catan

This is an award-winning board game in which players are settlers who collect resources to build settlements and cities, roads and armies, and develop the settlements or cities. Every effort gets Victory Points. The first to gain 10 Victory Points wins.

There are 5 types of resources you can use: wood, brick, sheep, wheat and ore. You get resources by rolling the dice. You can also trade resources with other players. What adds to the novelty of the game is the fact that the board is not fixed. It’s pieced together at the start of each game. So, every game has a different board configuration, requiring new strategies.

 

7. 221B Baker Street

Think Cluedo with update and you’ve got 221B Baker Street. Here, you are Sherlock Holmes. To begin, pick a case from among the 20 provided. The case will outline the crime in story form and provide a list of suspects and locations involved.

You then solve the case by collecting clues from each location. There are 14 locations on the board. Not every place will give you a clue and not every clue is useful. In fact, some clues may throw you entirely off the trail. You move along the board by throwing a die. Just like in any detective story, you can question the neighbours and examine the crime scene.

The first person to figure out the answer to the mystery or crime and return to 221B Baker Street to announce his find wins.

 

Buy or rent? Top 7 board game cafes in Singapore

Board game cafe Price
Play Nation from $6.50/day
King and the Pawn $8/day
Experience Point $3/hr – $10/day
Settlers’ Café $4.50/hr
The Mind Café $5/hr
Coffeemin $6.50/hr – $30/day
Battle Bunkers $10/hr + $2-$2.50 (drinks)

There are any number of board games cafes in Singapore now. You pay per hour to rent board games and can sit around a table with food and drinks as you play. 

So if you don’t want to buy the games, you can rent them at board game cafes. It’ll cost you $12 to play for an hour at the most cost-effective café, assuming there’re 4 of you. After 2 hours’ worth of gameplay, you would have spent enough to buy the 3 cheapest games on the list, provided you buy online. 

If you are talking about game sets that cost more than $100, it’s probably more cost-effective to play it at board game cafes, unless you’re confident you will play it a lot.

But most people don’t just want to own the games, do they? When you’re at a cafe, you would be enjoying the ambience, air-conditioning and beverages served to you.

Tried any of the above board games? Let us know which is your favourite in the comments below. 

 

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Header image credit: jjesskalee via Flickr

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