As we round the corner into the holidays, it’s a great time to find shared activities that can bring the family together. The house the mouse built has an impressive variety of tabletop properties to enjoy. Check out one of these recent releases for your next family game night, and ensure that both kids and adults have a good time.
Editor’s Note: An abridged version of this article first appeared in Game Informer issue 331
Haunted Mansion: Call of the Spirits
Publisher: Funko Games
If the beloved Disney park attraction is a favorite for your household, you can’t go wrong with this eerily amusing adventure. Players wander the familiar rooms (and graves) of the Haunted Mansion, socializing with the ghosts they meet along the way to earn points – just don’t let the hitchhiking ghosts follow you home!
Publisher: The Op, Czech Games Edition
Ideal for big groups, two teams compete to guess the correct words or pictures linked together by a single shared clue. Codenames is one of the best and most approachable games of the last decade; the addition of familiar Disney characters and locales is a perfect fit.
Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game
Publisher: Z-Man Games
The simple structure of the original Love Letter challenged players to get a secret note to a well-protected princess. Clever reworking leads to a fast-playing one-vs-many card game, in which heroes like Spider-Man and Thor try to halt the machinations of Thanos. Perfect for a 15-minute playtime between other activities.
Hocus Pocus: The Game
Based on the cult classic Halloween film, this cooperative challenge is perfect for groups in which one or more players might get frustrated by more competitive experiences. Players work together to line up the correct sequence of cards in the cauldron to stun the witches, but at any one time, you have incomplete information about other players’ card hands, leading to lots of fun and tense guesswork.
Take a walk on the dark side with this delightful role flip, in which players take on the roles of evildoers like Jafar, Ursula, and Maleficent, competing to be the first to enact their dastardly plan. The asymmetric play lends tons of replay value, since each baddie plays differently from the others. Expansions add more sinister faces, and there’s now even a Marvel version with villains like Hela and Ultron.
Star Wars: Outer Rim
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
This more involved strategic adventure is a chance to embrace your inner scoundrel in that galaxy far, far away. Players assume the role of Han Solo, Jyn Erso, Boba Fett, and others as they take on jobs, upgrade iconic ships, and collect bounties – all in pursuit of galactic fame (or infamy). It’s a richly imagined twist on the Star Wars universe that captures the less savory side of the fiction.
Publisher: Space Cowboys
The original (and excellent) Splendor was a game all about collecting gems, so it’s only appropriate that the new Marvel twist on the formula focuses on collecting the Infinity Stones to put a halt to Thanos. Recruit cards representing recognizable Marvel heavyweights with your multi-color tokens, and get a taste for the card drafting and set collection mechanics that show up in tons of other games.
Publisher: Mondo Games
Only have two players looking to enjoy some Disney magic? Shadowed Kingdom is a cooperative card game that is both easy to learn and simple to play. A single game takes about 15 minutes. Players each adopt the persona of a familiar Disney mascot like Mickey, Daisy, or Goofy, and then work together to advance magic while holding back shadow. To do so, you discover and dispel cards from a small grid, using a bit of deduction and a lot of luck to try and save the kingdom. It’s a low-stress and approachable game for a broad variety of players, even if one or both of you never plays tabletop games.
Jungle Cruise Adventure Game
If your family thrills at this particular attraction during visits to the Disney parks, you’ll be delighted by all the nods and puns that fill the game. Players each adopt the role of a skipper navigating down the river through the rain forest, encountering dangers, lost passengers, and cargo to deliver. Players deploy some relatively straightforward tactics in managing each encounter, and ensuring their boat weathers the storm as well as it can. Some beautiful components and approachable rules make this a good pick for a family with younger kids in the mix.
Unlock!: Star Wars Escape Game
Publisher: Space Cowboys
The excellent Unlock series of games has for some years offered a fun twist on “escape room” dynamics, using a mix of cards with hidden secrets and puzzles, alongside a free app, to let player groups work together to advance through a fun adventure. The new Star Wars twist on the experience is just what you’d expect, offering three distinct adventures that each offer a fun series of enigmas to figure out. Whether you’re escaping from Hoth, taking on the role of smugglers, or you’re an Imperial spy trying to sneak into the Holy City of Jedha, each storyline and set of cards is unique. While you likely will only play each adventure through once, the novel storylines and clever puzzles within can still lead to particularly memorable game sessions.
Do you have any favorite Disney-branded board games you’d like to recommend? Leave your suggestions in the comments below. And if Mickey Mouse and friends isn’t your thing, worry not; there’s plenty of other recommendations available to peruse in our dedicated tabletop hub, clickable from the banner below. As always, if you’d like a personalized recommendation, or more information about any of the games above, just drop me an email, and I’ll help you find the game you’re looking for.
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