10 Fun Tabletop Games to Unleash Your Competitive Side While Staying Home
Make it a family bonding experience.
Tabletop games, such as board games and card games, are perfect indoor activities you can enjoy with your family now that people are advised to stay at home. Erika Ohara, a self-confessed tabletop game geek, hosted get-togethers where her family and friends can play around 80 games she personally bought in 2 years. We asked her to recommend 10 games that are easy to follow and are enjoyable for all ages.
Déjà vu is a board game named after the sense of experiencing the present situation in the past. It has illustrated cards with each drawing appearing on 2 cards. When you think you’re seeing a drawing for the second time, race to grab the matching card. The point of the game is to play it for 3 rounds with the same rule, so you have to reset your memory every round.
Déjà vu game cards
Why it’s worth playing: Guitars and violins, t-shirts and vests, and other drawings of things that look similar which makes it easy to differentiate during the first round. However, as the game progresses, you start to think, “Have I seen this drawing during this round? Or was that from an earlier round?” and that confusion is the fun part of Déjà vu.
Codename is a game in which a spymaster will give a one-word clue to the codename of the agents within their agency. The clue points to several codenames on the table. With only this information at hand, the subordinates must pick the ally agents while avoiding enemy agents.
Codename game cards
Why it’s worth playing: As a spymaster, you would want your agents to pick as many allies as possible so you provide the broadest clue but sometimes it’s too vague that it leads them to enemy agents and ends up getting “killed” in the game. It is important to trust your team in this game. Your relationship with your family or close friends become more distinct when playing.
Patchwork is a board game in which 2 players race to create a nice patchwork quilt by managing the time, the buttons, and the appropriate fabrics well on a 9x9 board.
Patchwork game cards
Why it’s worth playing: It is a game that leaves you with a colorful board after playing. Take a picture every time you finish playing! There are many things you can do in this game, from choosing a fabric to moving it across the board, and increasing your buttons. Once you get used to it, you will find it fun and challenging.
GomoJin is a word-based party game in which players must earn points by describing the topic using a combination of 2 kanji and 3 katakana characters. A representative, who will answer, picks a card and shows the list of topic words to the other players. The other players will roll the dice and re-words the topic that corresponds to their number on the card in 2 kanji and 3 katakana characters. The faster the representative gets it right, the more points they acquire. The player who describes the word gets 10 points as well with every correct answer.
GomoJin game cards
Why it’s worth playing: How will you describe contact lenses in 2 kanji and 3 katakana characters? You receive more points the faster it is guessed correctly, so you should definitely write faster. Sometimes, you come up with a better word after writing and it becomes confusing for the player to guess it right. It gets really competitive and is also fun to see what words the others have come up with.
Caru Uta is a card game in which players must race and grab the correct card among 100 cards with commonly used words in J-pop songs written on them to earn points. The rules are simple, play your favorite songs and take the card with lyrics that come up in the song. The cards have different point values with the most common lyrics having the lower points and the uncommon ones with the higher points.
Caru Uta game cards
Why it’s worth playing: It is a game that uses songs you always hear but you have to grab the card once you hear the words (common ones are “you,” “for sure,” or “destiny”). Sometimes, even if you know the lyrics to the song, you will have difficulty and fail in finding the card with the correct word. There are also times when you successfully take the rare lyric card with high points and that is where the thrill is. The whole family can enjoy it while listening to their favorite songs in the background.
Shiritori is a Japanese word chain game in which players take turns saying a word that starts with the last character of the word given by the previous player (example in English: cat → table → egg…). WOCHA is a picture shiritori game, in which the player must think of words related to each illustrated card (item or circumstance in the photo) and connect them with the first letter of one word being the last of another. Using your imagination, look for keywords within the pictures from tiny details and connect them. Convince the other players and you win.
WOCHA game set-up
Why it’s worth playing: Each picture has many elements for you to focus on. Use your ingenuity, imagination, and persuasion to connect every card. The satisfaction you will feel after you make a surprising connection is worth it!
Money Faker is an innovative game in which players draw and play with fictitious bank notes. The master will look at the money made by both the builder and the faker, and if they were able to pick the real money, they earn a point.
Money Faker game set-up
Why it’s worth playing: While looking at the real money created by the builder, making fake ones by trying to guess which elements make them real is the interesting part. Although it is about drawing, you don’t have to be good at it to have fun!
In Love Letter, players will pretend to be young people who wish to send a love letter to the princess they have fallen for. Collaborators serving in the castle in various positions will help send the letter. Their abilities are not limited to taking the letter but can also affect players in both positive and negative ways. The players may only receive one card. So choose your card wisely and hopefully, your letter reaches the princess or somebody closest to her to win the game.
Love Letter game cards
Why it’s worth playing: It is a simple game in which you have to take your opponents out of the game but it is also very strategic. Even if your plan seems to be going well, things may change in an instant so it is unpredictable as well. It becomes more fun after playing a lot of times. This board game is perfect for newbies to game night.
Cat & Chocolate
Cat & Chocolate
Cat & Chocolate is a game where you must fix everyday troubles such as getting a hole on your sock, or your homework not being done yet by using only one of the items written on your cards. These items are random like “newspaper” or “fire extinguisher,” so you must improvise and convince other players how these items can help you. You can come up with a realistic solution or something that will make everyone say, “That’s smart!”
Cat & Chocolate game cards
Why it’s worth playing: You have to come up with a solution to the problem with whatever item you have, so you need a great sense of imagination. However, even if you are not that creative, you can still win as long as you can convince the other players. So, speak up and sell your point well!
In VENN’S CODE, divide the players into 2 teams and guess the topics (red, blue, yellow parts) in the Venn diagram. Each team must have 1 representative to give out clue words from which the other members will guess the main topics from. The key to winning is to grasp the ideas of your representatives well.
VENN’S CODE game set-up
Why it’s worth playing: Venn diagrams may sound academic, but the rules are so easy even kids and adults who are not into science can enjoy this game. However, playing this game with the topic suggestions from Tokyo University’s QuizKnock will make it a bit difficult. Whether you are giving out clues, or guessing the topics, it is fun and competitive!
Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Tokyo Walker™ (17 April 2020)