80 – The Family Gamers Podcast – Fun and Games

Episode 80 - Fun and Games

What makes a game fun? Andrew and Anitra explore this topic. Although many games are enjoyable, we are trying to call out games that are fun in the moment.

What we’ve been playing:

Sticky Chameleons (We had a ton of fun with this. See our Facebook live video.)

Match Madness – a neat but hard puzzle game. It contains five different levels of difficulty, and we’ve tried several ways to compete while using different difficulties.

Shutterbug (We have a Facebook live video of the setup.)

Contact – a verbal game requiring at least three players. A summary of the rules we used. This would be a great car game! Stretch your brain to give clues that other guessers can use, but that the word-holder won’t figure out in time.

A variation of Intrigue (see Board Game Geek), a game of negotiation, bribes, and area control.

Concept – a word-guessing game where the clue-givers use iconography to indicate a primary concept and sub-concepts (as needed). We love the scoring mechanism here: two players are giving the clues, and everyone else is guessing. Successful guessers get 2 points and successful clue-givers get 1 point. The clue-giving “team” rotates each round.

Ancestree – We are loving this game. Expect a review soon.

Loot (see our review). We highly recommend the newer version, where the art is much improved.

Go Away Monster

Top Trumps – we tried two variations: Mischievous Cats & Shopkins. This is a modified War card game that does use a bit of strategy. There are lots of variations, including several educational decks.

Video games too: Horizon Zero Dawn for Andrew, Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for Claire, Mario + Rabbids and Seedship (free online text-based game) for Anitra. We digress for a few minutes on the topic of tutorials or other “help” to get through a video game.


Thanks to Wild East Games for sponsoring this week’s podcast. Find them @WildEastGames on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Our listeners suggest a few games that their families think are the most fun:

Any Fluxx

Loony Quest (CORRECTION: not made by Looney Labs, oops!)

Superfight (we discuss the differences between this and Clusterfight, which we prefer)

Survive: Escape from Atlantis

We’d love your opinion. What makes these games fun for your family?

We Like Fun

What makes a game fun? While there are no hard and fast rules, (otherwise there would be very few “fun” games), there do seem to be some guidelines. We are aiming for the games where we can’t ever remember somebody saying “can we be done yet?”

  • Fast-moving, or everyone involved on every turn
  • Player interaction (either in-game, or allowing for fun side conversations)
  • Not too hard (“too hard” varies depending on the group) – mechanics are easy to understand and explain.
  • group dynamics (party games for larger groups or rowdier groups, but maybe role-playing or heavier strategy for a small close-knit group)
  • Preferences come into play. Pay close attention to what kinds of games your friends (or your kids) love. That can help you pick games that will be fun for everyone.

Pre-viewing a game and really understanding the rules/mechanics will be a huge help for the rest of the players to have fun!

Examples from our own library: Dicey Peaks (suggested by Claire), Fluxx (also from Claire), Potion Explosion, Ancestree, and most party games, including Anomia and Sushi Go Party. Lastly, Kingdomino; it’s fast-moving, easy to learn and play, and have satisfaction with what you built whether you win or lose.

Something we missed? Let us know on the show notes.

Other topics:

We reviewed Flip City last week, and Robots Love Ice Cream: The Card Game this week.

Don’t forget: Fill out our survey (www.thefamilygamers.com/survey/ ) to let us know what you think about our podcast and website. You might even win a game from our personal collection!


We made a bet on the Patriots/Jaguars championship game with One Board Family‘s Ryan Gutowski. Sorry, Ryan!


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This week’s music is “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” by Tomoyasyu Hoteiu, covered by You Bred Raptors? from Astoria, NY.


  • Trevor

    I just wanted to take a moment to say that I listened to the podcast while working overnight at my job and in the morning came home and tried that Seedship text based adventure game. I totally love it and thank you heartily for sharing the news about it. Keep up the great work, you are both doing a great job!

  • Darth Grader

    Yes! Someone else knows Contact! This is one of the component-free games that keep me and the other teachers sane on the longish bus trip every February to our regional teacher’s convention! This and Who Would Win for hours upon hours…

    • Anitra Smith

      I get motion sick in a car or bus if I try to read or focus on small pieces. Knowing how to play Contact is going to help a lot on road trips in the future, especially once the kids are old enough to play.

      Thanks for listening!