Scenic view of trees at camp

Staff Favorites: Board Game Recommendations

by Chelsea ConnorPosted Nov 13, 2018


We love a good game night any day of the year, but the holiday season definitely brings out some of the best nights for board games. After feasting with your family and friends—and after the football games—nothing quite brings the group together (or shows everyone’s true colors) like a competitive game of Catch Phrase.

Maybe your family always pulls out the same game every year, maybe you’re looking for some new options to pull out, or maybe you need some gift ideas for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list this year. We have you covered! We asked our full-time staff for their top favorite board game recommendations, and here’s what they came up with.

Good for the whole family:

STOP THIEF!– A new twist on an old game. The Towers team has been loving playing this one recently. The board game works in sync with an app on your smartphone. You listen to clues to locate a criminal and stop them from raining down havoc on the poor city. It is really helpful in preparing us for camp store security this summer. (ha!) -Andrew “Get Smart” Boshell


-I love the board game Aggravation. It is an awesome mix between Sorry and Trouble but a lot better. I love it because you can be competitive and not have to think at the same time. – TJ “Philly” Connor

-This appropriately named game stirs up some high highs and low lows as you move marbles around the board. The elation of the fast track and devastation of getting smashed back to the start really helps you see the difference between friend and foe. Feels a little like real life at times… roll the dice and see what happens. – Joe “Quatro” Dalton

-I really liked that game TJ carries around called Aggravation. It’s a thinker, it’s fast-paced, and it’s a blast! – Barrett “Burger King” Sims

*TJ has a handmade wooden version of this game, but the board game on Amazon is the same idea!

Googly Eyes– Our whole family, young and old, loves to play this! It’s a race against the clock to decipher what your teammate is drawing (without talking) while wearing these ridiculous glasses that you can barely see through. There are several levels of difficulty, from Easy to Nearly Impossible, challenging everyone to use creativity to guess the answer. Everyone gets involved, and it breaks down barriers because everyone gets to be silly and watch each other struggle to communicate. It’s like charades, only more intense!  -Laura “Downton Arby” Nicolardi

Code Names– Everyone is engaged the whole time, it doesn’t take too much strategy, and there’s opportunity to have crazy comebacks! -Luke “Patches” Cummings


-As far as board games go, easy: the classic whodunit, Clue. I’ve played the game with friends, family, summer staff, and even by myself when my siblings said they were too busy. It’s got the classic element of mystery and suspense, plus they even made a movie out of it in the 80’s. -Carolyn “Brew” Halford

-I always liked Clue, mostly as a kid. I liked the mystery and challenge of getting to the rooms to make the “I suspect” statement then rushing to the other room to try again, all dependent on the roll of a dice. -Nick “Father Christmas” Wiggins

Apples to Apples – This is a family favorite at home, except our family likes to change it up just a bit! Instead of playing the normal way, each person has to sell their own card and basically “justify” it and why it should win. From here, the person whose turn it is to choose will then pick their favorite card (based on how it was sold). It is so fun! -Meredith “Mama Bear” Ward

Go Away Monster– This game for toddlers involves pulling cardboard pieces out of a bag to add them to your bedroom board. But is it furniture? Or a cute monster? If it’s a monster, you throw it to the side and yell, “go away, monster!” Great for teaching turn-taking and basic game skills but at a toddler level—and who doesn’t love throwing monsters around?   -Jesse “Joe Schmoe” Garner

Short card games:

Spot It

-It’s not really a “board” game, but my family loves playing Spot It. I really like it because each game only takes a few minutes and it’s fun for both my young and big kids. -Chad “RBY” Larsh

-Lately, I’m very into Spot It because complicated board games are not my style. If you haven’t played, it’s a simple matching game! But I love it because it’s quick, you get to yell loud, and it’s under $10! -Katy “Bedazzle” Weidner

Uno – We have about 10 different variations and they are all fun and easy to play. I’d also definitely recommend Uno Dare for a larger group. -Rob “Change Up” Harris

Snorta– Where else can you win by making animal noises faster than your friends?!? – Matt “Cha-hua-hua” Edwards

Monopoly Deal– We love this one! It’s a card game based on the old classic board game. The games only last about 10-15 minutes and it’s easy to learn. The whole family can play together, but it’s also challenging enough for the adults to stay engaged. My seven year-old son and I play on a regular basis, and we love talking trash to each other. -Jeremiah “Claw” Boatright

Dixit – It is great if you’re looking for a fun, challenging, but creative game. It’s like Apples to Apples but more artsy. -Rob “Change Up” Harris

The more strategic, the better:

Settlers of Catan

-It’s always fun making deals, strategizing, and seeing the personalities of everyone on full display. -Reed “S.I.” Livesay

-Where else can you practice your free market skills all while rising above your friends and family building the largest developments known to mankind? Does anyone have any wheat?! -Wally “JJ Redneck” Jenkins

Risk– Because world domination. -Austin “Homestar Runner” Langemeier

Ticket to Ride

-A simple game but one that is a blast — good for middle school kids and up, I’d say! You get to be a titan of industry and race to build your railroads from city to city before other players do. There are several different versions with different maps which are really fun too! -Conor “Flo” Barry

-It’s a game of strategy and fun. It’s a game of defense and offense. They also have several sets, so you can play the USA board, Europe, and even India! -Kristen “Sherpa” Kimmell

It has to be MONOPOLY! – This is a board game classic. I know it has the stigma of taking so long to play, but you can play with speed dice in new editions of the game where you can finish a game in an hour. Monopoly has a perfect combination of luck and strategy and it helps teach the whole family how to be good at budgeting and investing. And everyone loves making the perfect deal! -Austin “Bama” Burch


We love playing Splendor because it’s right in the sweet spot between “way too much strategy and this takes forever” and “I don’t have to think at all while playing.” It’s got enough strategy to keep you interested, but not so much you can’t chat while you play, and the games are around half an hour, perfect for after dinner without pushing back bedtimes. -Jesse “Joe Schmoe” Garner

We hope this helps you prepare for your next game night! If you’ve got a favorite game we didn’t mention, we’d love to hear about it!

Chelsea Connor

Inside the Cove Coordinator

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