Dear PropellerHeads, I’m trying to convince my family of ‘gamers’ to unplug for a while. Any tips on how to pass the time without screens in front of our faces?

A:  Personally, I suggest you look into getting board…GAMES!!!  Mediocre puns aside, if your family is already into gaming, it’s a logical transition.  It’s also a way to bring the family together rather than having one on a game console, another on a computer, another on their phone, etc.

So where do you start?  You can always go with the old standards like Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, or one of my favorites, Risk (I have a thing for global domination).  They are well established, fun, and in the case of Monopoly, potentially violent.  With much of the gaming world focused solely on electronics, most of us are missing out on a ton of new options out there as well as some not so new, but fun titles.

Not currently a big gaming family?  Start with something a little on the lighter side.  It’s been around forever, but Pass the Pigs (amzn.to/2zvNnVW) is a great alternative to traditional dice games.  It has simple rules, and allows both adults and kids to enjoy themselves.  Whether you’re playing 1-on-1 or have 4+ people to entertain, everyone will enjoy watching them piggies roll.

If you want to go with something a little more difficult, consider moving into card-based games.  Exploding Kittens (explodingkittens.com) and What do you Meme? (whatdoyoumeme.com) provide a family friendly alternative to the more risqué Cards Against Humanity (cardsagainsthumanity.com).  The game flow is pretty simple, you can combine multiple decks for more people and/or added fun, and if you’re looking for a way to entertain adult friends they have NSFW versions available for purchase.

If you want something more a little more difficult, consider something along the lines of Carcassonne (bit.ly/2SgLCDc), Pandemic (bit.ly/2DP2pt5), or Settlers of Catan (catan.com). These games are easy enough to play with children starting around age 8, but deep enough to entertain adults.  They also add some variety to what people think of when it comes to #winning (we’re taking that back from Charlie Sheen). 

Catan and Carcassonne focus on resource gathering and building yourself up into a ‘Mature’ kingdom/settlement.  You are playing against one another, but also have to engage in wheeling and dealing with your fellow players.  They both have some suggested rules to try and avoid the fisticuffs that sometimes accompany that aspect of Monopoly (I’ll let you google videos for that as all the links I found were NSFW). 

Pandemic is actually a Co-op game, meaning that you and your other players have to work together in order to achieve the in-game goals.  No one can win on their own, which makes for an interesting twist to the “every man for himself” mentality of some games.

I will warn you, once you get into that level of gaming, it’s a slippery slope that leads to becoming a full-fledged board game geek like myself.  You and the fam (or friends) will start branching out into elaborate games of increasing difficulty, cost, and weight!  One of my current favorites is Scythe (bit.ly/2TKLs8u), which is kind of a combination of Catan and Risk. 

Admittedly unboxing that bad boy was a bit intimidating, but the creators made a point of making the game easy to learn on the fly and there are several very good YouTube tutorials to get you through that first round.  Next up for me?  All 22 pounds and $120+ of Gloomhaven (bit.ly/2KB8RoT).  The time and cost investment in these are only recommended for hardcore game enthusiasts (think Dungeons & Dragons back in the day), but provide hours of fun.

Hopefully that gives you enough options to get started, so perhaps you’ll take a chance and roll the dice (or pigs) on one of them.  Happy Gaming!