In the shadow of the mighty video game industry, there’s a plucky kingdom of interactive family entertainment that doesn’t draw a single watt of electricity.
In fact, board games – a staple after-dinner activity – are booming far beyond the Monopoly and Yahtzee of yesteryear. Today’s hot sellers have kids and parents hooked on building and trading, laying tracks across America and interpreting abstract art. Tabletop gaming is a prime way to spark some fun, thoughtful downtime with your kids during the final stretch of winter.
To find a few cool kid-friendly picks that’ll challenge moms and dads, too, we tapped two local pros: 3&Up in Plymouth, a mom-and-dad-owned gaming lounge that opened last year, and Clawson’s Guild of Blades, a big game and comic shop.
A super-silly game where players protect their chickens from being knocked down by a plane (and try to direct the plane to hit an opponent’s barn). Check out a Star Wars version featuring Chewbacca. “Kids ages 4 and up would really love it,” says Chris Erwin, owner at 3&Up. “It will keep them engaged the entire time.” Ages 4+. 2-4 players. Hasbro Gaming. $19.99.
In this cooperative building game, the knights must work together to build castle towers before the king gets home. “The players are holding onto these strings that are connected to a rubber band in the middle,” Erwin says. “Everybody’s pulling and it forces the group to talk to each other.” Ages 5+. 2-4 players. HABA. $19.99.
“It’s a card game that you use to tell stories,” says Ryan Johnson, an owner at Guild of Blades. Players take turns generating a clue or phrase based on the artwork on one of their cards. Other players choose one of their own cards to match the phrase, then everyone votes which card the active player put down. “It really challenges your brain to look at the picture and come up with a characteristic,” Erwin adds. “You want other people to vote for your answer, too.” Ages 8+. 3-6 players. Libellud. $24.99
This family-friendly favorite is a “great introduction to strategy games,” Erwin says. Players collect train cards and lay tracks along routes for points. “It’s an awesome game,” Erwin adds. “That’s why it has sold 3 million copies.” Ages 8+. 2-5 players. Days of Wonder. $39.99.
An instant classic, this multiplayer board game (whether the original or “Junior” version) has something for everyone. Players roll dice, compete for map positions and barter goods with their opponents. “It’s basically a resource gathering and trading game,” Johnson says. “It is probably the most notable board game in America besides Monopoly.” Ages 10+/classic, 6-9/junior. 3-4 players. Mayfair Games. $30-$49.
Looking to test out some games or purchase some new ones? Check out these local spots.
3&Up. A gaming lounge for ages 3-plus where families can drop in and choose from 1,100 options. 3-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, noon-2 a.m. Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sunday. $5/person for 90 minutes, $3/hour after. 630 S. Main St., Plymouth. 734-667-3650.
Guild of Blades. This game/comic store packs 7,900 square feet with 60,000-plus fun things to explore. 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday. 775 E. 14 Mile Road, Clawson. 248-430-4980.
The Loaded Die. A friendly store with indie and designer board games. They’ll help you find a great match. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. The Rust Belt Market, 22801 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.