If your family loves to gather together and play video games, there are some board games they will also love. These offer video game mechanics, but in the room rather than on the screen.
Bang is a card game set in the wild west where you take on different missions with a range of characters. You try and keep your target secret while building your weapon and defence cards. It's a game of bluffing where it's easier to shoot your neighbour than players sat further away.
To start you receive a Role card to determine their mission and a Character card with special abilities and a certain number of bullets (which are lives in the game). The Outlaws hunt the Sheriff. The Sheriff hunts the Outlaws. The Renegade can choose which side they help and just try to survive.
You take turns to draw and play cards to shoot other players, regain lives or accumulate better weapons or horses. If you get shot, you need special Beer, Bang and Missed cards to escape without losing a life. The game is won when one of the players completes their mission.
Carcassonne is a strategy game where you lay tiles to create a medieval landscape of farms, rivers and cities. Each new tile must match the roads, rivers, farms and cities of those around it. As you place it you can claim one of these elements that score points at the end of the game. The map building is simple fun but belies layered tactics to score the most points.
Play involves you picking a random tile and then finding somewhere on the growing map that it can fit. Because you can only claim scoring aspects of the landscape by placing a character piece on the tile you lay, careful consideration of the location is required.
As you progress a battle ensues to claim the most valuable elements (larger cities, farms and longer roads). At the end of the game, the player with the most characters on each of these claims the related points.
Ice Cool, and the follow-up Ice Cool 2, is an action game where you flick plastic Penguins around cardboard school rooms to collect points and avoid the Catcher. Like a cross between Subbuteo and Cluedo, you slide, jump and barrel your penguin through each door to collect fish. It's simple fun that gets more skill-based as you learn how to jump walls and curl round corners.
Each round starts by deciding who will be the Penguins and who will be the Catcher. You take it in turns to flick a penguin from the starting point. Each door you go through awards you a Fish card for points or special abilities, such as extra goes.
As play progresses, the Catcher has turns to try and hit the Penguins to eliminate them from the game and to collect fish cards to add to their score. The round ends if a Penguin gets through each door and collects all the fish or the Catcher eliminates all the Penguins. The rounds continue until each player has taken a turn to be the Catcher, whereupon you total up your points to find out who is the winner.
Santorini is a strategy game where you place buildings on a Greek island in an effort to get your character to the top. This creates a chess-like three-dimensional competitive puzzle that changes as each player adds pieces to the village. It's unusual not only because of this tactical play, but through the varied Greek Gods you play as, each with brilliant abilities that lead to very different strategies and win states.
Play involves choosing one of the Gods to determine your powers then placing two workers on the board. Players take it in turn to move and then build (add a building piece to the city). This creates growing cityscapes that you can move your characters up and down one level at a time. Getting one of yours to the top of a three-high building wins the game.