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Meg's Game Recommendations

Take It Easy

Manufactured by: Gryphon Games
Format: Tile Laying/Strategy
Ages: 8 and up

Buy Take It Easy

I purchased this game for our family for a holiday gift, and it immediately became a favorite. The rules are simple and the playing time is short — about 10–15 minutes (not the 45 minutes some websites say), but it provides challenging strategic play that will keep all participants engrossed. Each player has a different color set of the same game board and 27 hexagon-shaped tiles. The object of the game is to place one’s tiles (randomly picked and called out, bingo-style by one player) on one’s own board so that they form unbroken rows of color from one side of the board to the other. As fewer spaces are available to place tiles, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine the best move (you aren’t allowed to move tiles once they are placed). The strategy is in figuring out which lines to sacrifice along the way. Take It Easy can be played as a solitaire game or with up to six players, age 8 and up. (Younger children with an affinity for math will also be able to play; they must know a minimum of the "five’s" multiplication table up to nine, e.g. 5x9, to be able to determine optimal moves.) Warning: This is a highly addictive game; our family never seems to be able to play just one time when we sit down with it — as soon as we finish a game, someone calls out "again!"

Secret Door

Manufactured by: Family Pastimes
Format: Cooperative, Memory
Ages: 4 and up

Children love this entertaining, cooperative variation on ccConcentration." From the pairs of cards depicting valuables (such as gems, crowns, paintings), three are randomly "stolen" and placed behind the secret door at the beginning of each game. Players attempt to find matches from the remaining face-down cards in order to determine which valuables are missing. They must work together do so before the 12 ‘clock’ cards have all been turned over indicating that time has run out. Fostering memory and cooperation, this game is perfect for young children to play with older children or grown-ups; no reading is required.

Ticket to Ride

Manufactured by: Days of Wonder
Format: Route-Building Strategy
Ages: 8 and up

In this railroad-themed family game, the object is to connect all your destination cities and create the longest train route by strategically laying down groups of train cars. The tactics involve figuring out how to best use the color cards that you pick (which correspond with different sections of track on the board) to efficiently lay out your train pieces, and determining which destination cities you’ll be most likely to connect (there is a penalty for not connecting your assigned cities). This is a wonderful game to play as a family and, while Ticket to Ride is suggested for ages 8 and up, it can be played by younger children as long as they are able to read the city names or are teamed up with an older player.

Gulo Gulo

Manufactured by: Rio Grande Games
Format: Dexterity
Ages: 4 and up

Gulo Gulo is actually the scientific name for a wolverine (who knew?), but, in this charming game the gulo gulo playing pieces are not fierce looking; instead, they are rather cute and contribute to the high-quality components, including colored wooden eggs and moveable tile board pieces. On his/her turn, each player tries to successfully steal an egg from the nest without dislodging the alarm stick; the color of the egg they steal will determine how quickly they move down the path. Children’s little fingers actually give them an advantage over adults when it comes to picking eggs out of the nest. No reading is required in this unique and charming game of dexterity.


Manufactured by: FRED Distribution
Format: Tile-Laying, Strategy
Ages: 7 and up

Uptown is a game that my children place under the category of "simple, yet complex." The rules are few and easy to grasp, but there are numerous possible strategies and long-term thinking is required. The object is to place your tiles (either on empty spaces or on spaces where you can "capture" another persons tile) so that they connect. The player with the fewest groups of tiles at the end of the game wins, with a tie being broken by having captured the fewest tiles. Although unrelated to the game play, the game components have a nice art deco design. Play moves quickly and is different every time; your family will want to play this game again and again.


Manufactured by: Educational Insights
Format: Spatial, Strategy
Ages: 5 and up

This is simply one of the best games on the market for both kids and adults. Each player starts with an identical set of 21 pieces, each in a different jewel-tone color. There are two elementary rules to follow as they take turns placing them on the grid, with the object being to play as many on the board before the game ends with no possible placements left. Players are absorbed in trying to stake out territory and block their opponents at that same time. If your child can grasp what it means for two shapes to touch along an edge and two shapes to touch at a corner, then your child will be able to play this game, but, remarkably, Blokus is also engaging for all ages, offering plenty of strategic challenge. While it can be played with 2-4 players, the four-player version is superior; if you think you will be playing mostly with fewer than four players, I recommend the smaller travel edition.


Manufactured by: Rio Grande Games
Format: Strategy/Resource Management
Ages: 7 and up (No reading is required, but the strategy is a bit complex and the playing time too long for young children.

A fun exercise in the resource management, Zooloretto is a game in which 2 – 5 players try to control their animal inventory to create a zoo with the optimal number of a species in each pen. One must decide which animals to keep, which animals to relocate and which animals to sell. Should you take the delivery truck with the two flamingos you need to fill a pen, even if it means taking a kangaroo that you don’t want? The rules are fairly simple, the game components are appealing, and the theme and game-play are engaging in this clever contest of zoo building.


Manufactured by: Family Pastimes
Format: Cooperative Game
Ages: 4 and up

Max has withstood the test of time for 15 years as our favorite ‘first board game.’ It is simple enough for four-year olds (and even some precocious three-year olds), yet it incorporates the element of strategy, which makes it much more interesting than traditional fare, even after repeated playing.

The object of the game is to move the three creatures (a mouse, chipmunk, and bird) forward along a path to the safety of their tree before Max the cat overtakes them. If Max gets too close to one of the creatures, players may send him back by luring him with one of the four allotted treats.

In this ‘cooperative’ game (which can be played with any number of participants), all the players are working together, strategizing about which creature to move on each turn and when to send Max back for a treat. (If the treats are rewarded too early, players may be left without any when they most need them.) Everybody "wins" if the creatures make it home to their tree before Max can catch them.

Children need only be able to count up to two to play this game, and there is no reading involved. I can’t praise Max enough; it is really the perfect game for young children!

I highly recommend Funagain Games as the best source for board games. They offer the fullest inventory of games I’ve seen anywhere, their customer service is excellent, and the product reviews are quite helpful. Using a "buy this game" link above will let Funagain Games know that I referred you.