Super Simple Games: Holiday Edition

Super Simple Games: Holiday Edition

December 1, 2020 0 By Ryan Sanders

The holiday season is upon us, which usually means lots of gatherings, but in this time of COVID, it means staying home and maybe seeing only a handful of people you are quarantining with. So make the most of your time together, gather around the table and play some games this holiday season.  Below is a list of 10 super simple games that you can introduce to any “non-gamers” in your life. To make the list, games had to first and foremost be simple in both teaching and understanding (simpler than Sushi Go in most cases). Second, the game had to at the very least, play with 2-5 players.  We hope you have happy holidays and find a game that will bring you and your family some cheer. 

5211 (2-5 players) – This is a card game players will have 5 cards in their hand. Everyone will be playing cards at the same time – in each round, there are three turns, first players will play  2 cards, then 1 card, and then finally 1 more card (hence 5-2-1-1). Once all cards are out in the open, players see what color is a majority (but if too many cards are played of a majority, it busts and you find a new majority). Whoever has those color cards in front of them puts them in their own personal scoring pile. The game is played until there are no more cards in the draw deck – then players will go through their score pile, adding up the numbers on the cards, the winner is the person with the highest total points. From Next Move Games. 

Botswana/Wildlife Safari  (2-5 players) – Originally called Botswana when Gryphon Games put this one out, they have changed the title in recent printings to Wildlife Safari. This game is really simple, on your turn, play a card to one of the animal pile of cards that it depicts (each animal has a suit of cards ranging from 0 to 5), and then take ANY animal figure/toy. The round ends when the 6th card of any animal is played. At that point – whatever number is currently the top card on each animal species pile is what each animal figure/toy is worth. Add up your points and record them down. Play as many rounds as there are players in the game, highest total wins.  Designed by Renier Knizia who has two other games on this list Criss Cross and L.L.A.M.A

Coloretto (2-5 players) – is a card game, which the board game Zooloretto is based off of. On a player’s turn, they will either draw and place a card (to one of the rows – number of rows equal number of plays and can only have 3 cards) OR they take a row of cards. Cards are different colors, and at the round players will score whatever 3 colors they have the most of (by using a chart) – however, if you have more than 3 colors you will score negative points for those colors. The highest total of points wins. From AbacusSpiele. 

Criss Cross (1-6 players) is a roll designed by Reiner Knizia. On your turn, you roll two dice, and then place the symbols next to each other (horizontal or vertically) on the grid. You try to get as many of the same symbols next to each other in the rows and columns as you can. Published by Grail Games.

L.L.A.M.A (2-6 Players) – Designed by Reiner Kniza, L.L.A.M.A. has been nominated for quite a lot of game awards. It’s a family card game that is even simpler than UNO. Players have a hand of cards with the numbers 1-6 or a llama on it (llama’s are 7s) on a turn you have to play a card that is either the same number or one higher (a 1 goes on top of a llama). If you cannot, you can choose to draw a card or quit the hand. Why quit? Because the more cards left in your hand when someone goes out the more points you will get, points are bad.  Fun, simple game. From Amigo Games.

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PUSH (2-6 players) – is a push your luck game. On a player’s turn, they are drawing cards and placing them in 3 rows, a row cannot have the same number or the same color – and if you can never place a card, you pushed your luck too far and busted. If you choose to stop you can choose 1 stack to collect and then other players can choose the other stacks. Cards go in front of you in your “bench”. However, those cards are not safe and you may lose them later. However, instead of drawing, you can choose to bank some of your cards (they are safe for the rest of the game). There are also some cards that make you roll a die and make you lose certain color cards. The game ends when the deck rounds out and whoever has the highest total of points determined by points on the cards in their bench and bank wins. Published by Ravensburger

Qwinto – (2-6 players) is a roll and write game similar to Qwixx and Rolling America – where players will be rolling colored dice and marking up a score sheet. In Qwinto, there are three dice (orange, yellow, and purple) – the active player can choose how many of the dice (at least one) they will roll. They can either re-roll all or announce the total number of pips showing on dice rolled. All players then can choose to write the number on their score sheet in one of the rows that match one of the colors rolled (so if I rolled a 4 purple and 5 orange – I can write 9 in orange or in purple). If the active player didn’t or couldn’t write the number they will mark a misthrow.  Rules for writing numbers are when placed they must increase in number from left to right and also cannot write the same number in a column. The game ends when someone has marked 4 misthrow boxes or someone fills in 2 of the 3 rows completely. Players will score points at the end of the game for filling in rows and certain columns and lose points for misthrows. The highest score wins.  Published by Pandasaurus Games. 

Similo Fables (2 or more players): Is a co-op party style game. One player is the clue giver and the rest are the guesses. 12 fairy tale characters will be played out into a 3×4 grid. One of them is the secret character that only the Clue Giver knows. On the clue giver’s turn, she will play 1 of their 5 cards in their hand. They will play a card from their hand letting the other players know if they are similar or different from the winning card (you do this by either placing a card vertically or horizontal). That is it. The other players have to discuss which cards they remove (they must remove a certain amount of cards each round) – if they remove the secret character everyone loses, if you can make it until only the secret character is left everyone wins. There are different themed decks and rules about mixing them. Published by Horrible games

Skyjo (2-8 players) is based on the card game of Golf. If you have played Lowdown or Rat-a-Tat Cat, both are similar but there are no special cards. Players have a grid of 12 cards facedown in front of them (4×3) and they are trying to have the lowest score in their tableau when the round ends. Cards range from -2 to 12. On a turn, you can take a card from the draw deck and play it into your tableau (switching out with another card) or take it from the top of the draw deck. If you don’t want to play that card, put it in the discard pile and reveal one of your facedown cards, if you do switch it out with one of your cards (faceup or facedown). When someone has all their cards faceup all other players get one turn. Then scoring happens. The game ends when someone reaches 100 points and then whoever has the lowest score wins.  Published by Magilano

Strike (2-5 players) – In strike you are throwing dice into a pit. Any dice showing an X are out of the game. Any dice that match after you do this like (2 twos or a 3 fours) are captured by you and your turn ends. If a die doesn’t match, you may throw in another die, and so on. However, if you ever run out of dice you are out. If the arena is ever out of dice, and it’s your turn, you must roll all your dice at once. The winner is the last person standing with dice. Published by Ravensburger.  This game can be purchased in-store at Target. 

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Ryan Sanders is the founder, owner, and editor-at-large of Adventures in Gameschooling. He’s also the guy behind its social media accounts. God has blessed Ryan and his wife Mary, with five children, which he homeschools. As a Christian, he believes that he should not only look out for your own interests but other peoples too (Philippians 2:4) and this is one of his guiding principles for Adventures in Gameschooling. Ryan’s expertise is informed by almost two decades of experience as a stay-at-home father and from the running The Inquisitive Meeple where he performed over 300 written and podcast interviews within the board game industry.