Looking for something to do while you’re stuck in COVID-19 isolation? Board games are a fantastic way to stay busy and involve the whole family, so if you’re searching for a title beyond Clue or Monopoly, these seven picks from Indy-area game gurus will give you a great starting point.
And while you may not be able to pick up your favorite board game at all of these local businesses right now, we have listed other ways you can support each company. Additionally, some game manufacturers like Fireside Games, Arcane Wonders, Iello Games, Ad Astra Games and Van Ryder Games have offered to donate a portion of the proceeds of direct sales to local stores if buyers mention the name of the store in the comments section of their order—so if you do order a game online, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. With that being said, here are some recommendations to get your game time going.
AMANDA KERKHOF, CO-OWNER OF HITHERTO COFFEE AND GAMING PARLOUR
“It is hard for me to pick just one! We have a large personal collection and play a variety of styles. A go-to for me the last couple years, though, has been Azul. It works great for just my husband and me when we want a shorter game (30-45 minutes), but our four oldest kids—ages 6-12—all enjoy it, as well, and it has hit our table at least five times since school was cancelled and we have been staying at home. Before we were practicing social distancing, it was a game we often used to introduce others to hobby gaming. It’s an abstract tile laying game with simple mechanisms, but intriguing gameplay. Bonus: It is so pretty! The new Crystal Mosaic expansion adds new boards for some variability and plastic overlays to keep everything in place.”
To purchase Azul ($39.99) or Azul: Crystal Mosaic ($14.99) from Hitherto Coffee and Gaming Parlour, visit www.hithertocoffee.com and click “order online,” or call (317) 318-9782. The company currently continues to remain open for carryout and curbside options for coffee, tea, and gaming needs, and will bring games curbside if you purchase a title online.
TIFFANY TUTTLE, STORE MANAGER AT GOOD GAMES
“I have a few games that I love falling back on in times where I have little else to do but hang out in my home. One would be a card game called Fluxx. The great thing about it is that it is an ever-changing card game. Everyone starts with three cards, and you can draw one and play one each turn. But there are cards you can play that will change how many cards you can play, how many you can draw, even how many you can have in your hand at a time. The way to win is to play cards in front of you that are called ‘keepers’ that are part of a community goal card. That goal card can change any time someone wants to play a card to replace it, so it’s a game of constant flux (hence the name). The best part about it is that there are tons of different licensed versions, such as Star Trek, Jumanji and even Marvel. So you can play what’s familiar! A single copy of Fluxx is good for 2-6 players, and is great for ages 8 and up.”
MALIKA JACOBS, FOUNDER AND OWNER OF KINGMAKERS
“Kingmakers, a board game parlour on Mass Ave, recommends Patchwork Doodle, the ‘roll-and-write’ version of the beloved two-player game Patchwork. In Patchwork Doodle, you draw Tetris-like patchwork pieces onto your individual player sheet, trying to fit the pieces together and fill in your sheet. The player who is most efficient at arranging the patches on their sheet over 3 rounds wins the game. The best part? You get to fill in your pieces with colorful doodles while waiting for everyone to finish! We love Patchwork Doodle because:
—It scratches that visual-spatial puzzle itch and is great for younger kids to help them develop those skills.
—The drawing part of the game is optional but extremely relaxing and creative. At the end of the game you can keep your player sheets to display your artwork!
—It appeals to kids 6+ and adults alike.
—You can play it with almost any amount of people (technically it maxes at six players but it’s easy to adapt it to play with more).
—If you and your friends both have a copy of the player sheets, you can easily play over Zoom!
This and a couple other great games are available as part of our Stir-Crazy Kit for Two Players ($115).”
Don’t want the whole kit, but want Patchwork Doodle or guidance on others like it? Fill out a quick form here and the company will be in touch. You can also schedule a
Family Fun Consult to receive personalized game recommendations just for you.
SANDRA GOLAY PRIDDY, CO-OWNER OF FAMILY TIME GAMES
“One of my favorite new games is called The Isle of Cats, because who doesn’t love cats? In this game the cats are stuck on an island, and you have to save them by bringing them on to your boat. The game pieces are shaped similarly to Tetris, so you draw these Tetris-shaped pieces and you strategically place them on your boat to make the best combination to rescue the cats and score as many points as you can. You can play from 1-4 players—but there is an expansion coming soon allowing you to add two more—and the game is recommended for ages 8 and up.”
To purchase The Isle of Cats ($49.99) or another title from Family Time Games, call (317) 450-2574 for availability; the company can ship games and do curbside sales as well as local delivery in the Indianapolis area.
REBECCA CASH, CO-OWNER OF SALTIRE GAMES
“One game that I really like, which is only about a year old, is Trekking the National Parks. What I like about it is that it can play up to five people, and even if a child can’t read, they can still play—this game works on their ability to focus and stay engaged, have different strategies, and be thinking ahead at a young age.
When you play, you’re a camper that is going to different national parks in the United States and collecting little gems along the way to earn points. Play is really quick, and there is a little geography learning involved, because it’s actually on a map of the United States. There are different strategies to winning, so everyone can play it their own way. The game also has fun trivia about real parks, and there are many thoughtful aspects that went into the design. It’s one of those easier-entry games, and you can play in probably 30-40 minutes depending on how many people you have.”
MIKAYLA ORTELL, SALESPERSON AT THE GAME PRESERVE, BLOOMINGTON
“By far my favorite game right now, especially being at home, is one called The Quacks of Quedlinburg, and I’m not the only one who recommends it: It’s won five different game of the year awards between the US, UK, Germany, and the Netherlands. In Quacks, you and your family play as witches or doctors at a potion brewing competition. Your goal is to create the best potion in town without your potion exploding. What makes the game exciting, though, is that when you’re brewing your potion, you are pulling ingredient tiles completely at random from your personal ingredient bag. It really is a push-your-luck game where you have to make the tough decision of whether to try to grab one more ingredient and risk your potion exploding, or stop while you’re ahead.
Over the course of the game, you can buy new ingredients for your bag to create cool and unique combinations that set your potion apart from everyone else’s. It’s a simple and exciting game that I personally play with my family at home often, and it never gets boring because every game is unique. It’s a four-player game that works very well for ages 10 and up, and is just as fun for the 10-year-old as it is for the 100-year-old. It also has an expansion called The Herb Witches that adds new ingredients and some new mechanics, and makes it possible to play with a fifth player. I have both the base game and the expansion, and for my family the expansion was absolutely a worthwhile investment.
While The Game Preserve does not currently sell games online, you can purchase a gift card here for use at a later date.
LEXIE SCHOPPENHORST, SHIFT LEAD AT BOOKS & BREWS—SOUTH INDY
“I recommend families play Bananagrams. It’s a fun game that brings everyone together and can encourage learning, and it’s suitable for anyone who knows how to spell—I would say from age 7-100.
Bananagrams is a spelling game composed of letter tiles, similar to Scrabble, and the object of the game is to run out of tiles. When starting the game, each player gets a set amount of tiles, and the player’s goal is to create their own intersecting word grid using those tiles. When a player runs out of their initial tiles, they yell ‘Peel’ and every player has to grab another tile, and a player can also call ‘Dump’ while playing, which means they can return a tile to the pile (called a ‘bunch’ in this game)—but they must take three more tiles in return. The game ends when the amount of tiles in the remaining bunch is less than the amount of players.
I learned to play Bananagrams before I learned to play Scrabble, and I like that I can even play it by myself—to me, there is something fun about seeing how many words you can place in a word grid on your own.”
Books & Brews – South Indy does not sell games at this time, but they do list a daily drink and/or food carryout special each day on their Instagram @bnbsouthindy.
Stephanie Groves is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis who has yet to win a game of Yahtzee against her family since she started sheltering in place.