Holidays often bring together large groups of family and friends who have an entire day (or more) to spend time together. While football may be the main focus on Thanksgiving, board games are my preferred form of entertainment. Not all board games are easy to learn and not everyone wants to commit to one that takes ten hours to finish, but these three games are easy to learn, quick to setup, and not too competitive:
Scotland Yard is the go-to game when my family gets together. The great part of this game is that it doesn't require all the players to have equal skills so kids or non-game savvy adults can still have fun. One player takes on the role of criminal mastermind Mr. X and the rest of the players are Scotland Yard detectives chasing him around London. As long as one or two people have read the rule book, everyone else can learn on the fly. Plus it only takes about an hour to play so it is the perfect interlude when you want a break from watching television.
Eurorails, as you may have guessed from the name, is a rail-building game that takes place in Europe. It is part of a series from Mayfair Games that lets you build rail systems on maps from all corners of the world. Using crayons to draw your rail lines directly onto the board, you have to create a system that will allow your trains to transport cargo between cities. Long distances tend to give a larger monetary payoff, but the cost of track and the added travel time can make those trips less profitable. It is up to you to find the sweet spot that will help you connect the major cities while building up a cash reserve. This is a great game to play when other people in the house are taking naps because the players will spend most of their time quietly deep in thought as they weigh important business decisions.
Pandemic is a cooperative game where the players try to eradicate diseases which are spreading across the map. Each player has a distinct role complete with special abilities and the only way to succeed is if everyone listens and works together. This is not a competitive game since it is the group versus the board, but that doesn't mean that there won't be disagreements. The challenging part of this game is trying to use each individual's skills effectively so that you can find the cures and eradicate all four diseases before time runs out.
Does your family play board games when they gather for the holidays? Share your favorites in the comments!