Top 10...Card / Board Games

Our board game chest

    With Christmas coming up right around the corner, I thought to do a Top 10 Games post.  Mama Bird and I are big board game and card game people, we have monthly games nights with friends and family and are ALWAYS on the lookout for new games! There are lots of great games out there and it was hard to narrow it down to just 10 but below are our top 10 picks for our favourite card/board games.  NOTE: Games make AWESOME gifts for guys, girls, friends, secret santa, family, you name it!  So if you're stuck on a gift for someone, any of these are guaranteed to be good ones!

10. Scrabble

    I think everyone knows about this game so no need to explain it. This is a game that Mama Bird and I play quite often if it's just the two of us because its easy to play while there is other stuff going on and you can still talk and relax during it. Although this game may not be "exciting" it is still a great game that tests the mind in both vocabulary and strategy. Trust me in that Mama Bird has a much better vocabulary than I do but I am winning 21-5 because of my tile placement :) Don't forget those triple letter and triple word scores because they can do some major damage. A well placed 'Q' or 'Z' in words like 'qi' and 'za' (yes those are both scrabble approved words) can bring some major points.

9. Monopoly

    This one is a classic and again I'm sure everyone knows how to play this game. This is one of those games that cause some hurt feelings because in the words of Louis C.K. "a monopoly loss is dark". I have had games end in big arguments between family and friends and having some people shouting "I'm never playing this game with you ever again!". This game also has some sentimental value for Mama Bird and I as every Christmas we have one of my best friends over and we all play and to this day I haven't beat him. 

8. Pandemic

    This game is fairly new as far as I know and is the first board game I've ever played that you work with the people you're playing with to achieve a common goal instead of battling against each other. "Pandemic is based on the premise that four diseases have broken out in the world, each threatening to wipe out a region. Through the combined effort of all the players, the goal is to discover all four cures before any of several game-losing conditions are reached." You can play as possible specialists that each have their own unique skill to help with eradicating the diseases. This game can be quite challenging and definitely brings a new experience for the board game guru! Totally worth a try!

7. Canasta

    This is a game that Mama Bird and I got shown a couple years back by some friends and can be a little complicated at the beginning but once you get the hang of it, it's actually really easy. Canasta is a game from the rummy family and is usually played by 4 players on 2 teams but you can play with 2 and 3 as well. It's a game of strategy and working together with your partner to create melds to collect points and "go out" before the other team does. One thing that makes this game so great is it's perfect for playing with friends because you can talk, catch up, and be social without missing much in the game. I definitely recommend it. Now because to explain the rules would take quite a while for me to write here are 2 sites that go into detail on the rules and gameplay. (Note: you can play using any 4 random decks of cards. You do not need to buy the canasta pack. The benefit to buying the canasta pack is that the cards have the point value written on them)

How To Play Canasta or Canasta: Rules and Variations

6. Telestrations

    To simplify Telestrations it would be a combination of the games telephone and pictionary. Everybody playing has a booklet, you each get given a card with a different category on it. You then draw that particular person, place, thing, etc., close the book and pass it to the person on your left. Then they will look at the picture, try and guess what it is, and write it down on the next page. They then pass the book to the left again and that person has to draw the image of what person #2 wrote down. This continues until the entire group has their own book back. You then show and read the pictures and guesses to the whole group for entertainment. It can turn out being so far from what the initial category was. The more people you play with the better it is.  Definitely a game to bring a good laugh!

5. Jungle Speed

    I will start out by saying that Jungle Speed gets intense. It's fast paced, you need quick reflexes, you need good eyes, and it can be quite frustrating if you keep grabbing because of the wrong card. has a good explanation of it:

     "In Jungle Speed, you must rely on your keen sense of observation and quick reflexes. It requires a steady hand -- which can be hard to maintain during the many fits of maniacal laughter! The wooden Totem sits in the middle of the table, waiting for the player with the fastest reflexes to snatch it up and win the game.
     Each player is dealt a hand of cards. In order to win you must be the first player to get rid of all of your cards. Each turn, all of the players reveal one of their cards. If two cards are identical, those players must make a grab for the Totem. The faster player then gives their cards to their unfortunate adversary.
     To add to the difficulty, certain cards are almost identical, which can trick a hapless player into grabbing the Totem by mistake -- a grave error. Other cards force all players to make a grab at once, change the method of play, or otherwise add to the difficulty."

   When the totem is up for grabs in the middle of the table for anyone to go for you can get some really intense battles. When two people have the totem, whoever rips it out of the other persons hand wins. I have seen this result in the most intense stare downs and battles of strength between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and parents and children. It can make for some pretty funny times.

4. Spot It

    Another game that deals with speed and good eyes. This game is the easiest to set up, easiest to travel with, and the simplest of all the games on this list but that does not mean it's low on fun. Everybody gets dealt an equal amount of cards that have a variety of pictures in different sizes on each card. The goal is to get rid of your cards by matching something on your card to the card in the middle of the table. You keep doing this until you are out of cards but it can get quite complicated as everybody else is also matching at the same time as you. This means it can feel like everyone is passing you by as they get match after match but then you go on a streak and blow by everyone else.  Great fun for all ages!

3. Catan

    A game of strategy, all about collecting resources to build up settlements, cities, and roads. First to 10 points win. I love the strategy involved in this game to figure what resources I will need to defeat my friends and be the Catan master. Some resources will be scarce and you will need to adjust your approach and others you will have way too much of. Being able to barter and trade to get the edge up on your opponent adds a good element but be careful because they may be trying to get one up on you without you noticing. (Note: if you have played this game before and want to add a different element try flipping over the number pieces so you can't see where the numbers are. Then pick your settlement locations. Flip the numbers back over to see what numbers you have. It adds a nice chance element to the game.)

2. Codenames

    Another game involving strategy and creativity is codenames which is a great word deduction game. Excellent for large groups of people. BoardGameGeek does a great job explaining this one as well:

Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their CODENAMES. In Codenames, two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.

Definitely give this one a try, you will not be disappointed. It's really fun.

1. Dutch Blitz

    This game is intense, fast paced, heart-beating, palm sweating, anxiety inducing, greatness. I have never played a game that required you to have speed, strategy, multi-tasking, and a little luck, more so than Dutch Blitz. The goal is to get rid of "Blitz" pile through making ordered stacks of cards in the middle of the table. These stacks can be played on by anyone so act fast or you might miss your spot to play your card. Not to sound too braggy but I have only been handed 1 loss by the hands of my younger cousin in all my years of playing dutch blitz. Because I am on such a hot streak with this game it gets me that much more excited and gets my heart beating that much more. So much so that if I'm not feeling into it, I will suggest a different game until I'm fully ready to defend my record. I know, your probably thinking this guy is ridiculous but card and board games are just so much fun. You definitely need to try this game and if you get the chance buy the expansion pack to play with up to 8 players and see the chaos really come.

    Are you a board game person? What's your favourite card game or board game? Do you think I left something off the list? Let me know in the comments below.

- Papa Bird

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