Carcassonne is everywhere – at your local game store, at Target, likely in your house. If it’s not, stop now and go get it. It is so easy that you can – with minor modifications such as removing the farmer rules – teach it as young as six but, like poker, being truly good at it requires hard earned time spent being stabbed in the back. It’s a tile-laying game where you place meeples to claim castles, roads, cloisters, and farms/fields that you get points for when you complete them. You can teach it in just a couple minutes and play time will be around 30 minutes (longer as you add more expansions). But beware – as you play with more experienced players, it will be as much about denying your opponent that castle he or she has been working on as about completing your own projects. And, as a bonus sentence, go buy the app for whatever your platform of choice is. It’s one of the best implementations out there.
While sushi itself may give you worms, Sushi Go Party is nothing but a fit of giggles suitable for ages 5 up in a short 15-20 minutes. Based on the original Sushi Go card drafting game, the Party edition expands on it to give you more options of cards and actions. It maintains the same easy rules that can be taught, the same cute artwork, and the same set-making joy that forces people to decisions – do I take the card I want or do I deny my six year old daughter this other card, making her cry? 1 One of the greatest improvements over 7 Wonders is that there is direct interaction cards, giving a bit more directness to being cutthroat without moving into the “take that” territory. Go buy it!
Note: I can’t talk about this game without starting to sing the Beatles song. You know what’s cool about trains? Almost nothing. You know what’s cool about Ticket to Ride, a classic game based on making train routes across America? Almost everything. It’s like riding Amtrak without the breakdowns. Ticket to Ride is about collecting sets of train cards of the same color and turning them in to collect rail segments, with the goal of connecting cities across America with your rail network. The longer the distance, the more points. You can play it peacefully or cutthroat, you can pick it up easily but spend a lifetime mastering. Play time is around 30-45 minutes.
Racing is fun. It’s a lot more fun when you’re driving the car by flicking it with your fingers and you may be under the influence of a beer or two2 PitchCar takes me back to building Hotwheels tracks down the stairs and crashing the cars into Mom’s furniture (only without the punishment afterwards). You get to build a track and drive little wooden disks around it by flicking them2 This game is tightly designed and has a plethora of expansions from jumps to crossing tracks. This isn’t a deep game, to be sure, but is great fun for the 15-20 minutes it takes to play a few races.
NOTE: I am advocating for the PitchCar Mini, not the full-sized PitchCar. Unless you live in a mansion with a table for 20.