That philosophy has certainly developed over the years in our house. We always enjoyed the odd game or two with the family, but it became especially true over the Covid lockdowns of 2020 and early 2021. Naturally, even with the older boys doing their Bed and Breakfast strategy over the last year, we don't play games as a family the way we used to.
Despite all of this, the boys still try to get one day a week for the family. Unless some school or work obligation bears down on them, they will set aside one day to be with the family as a whole. My third son, manager though he is, has pulled what strings he can to get as many Sundays off as possible to be together for church as well as that day of rest. And, in our case, fun.
Now fun often has to manifest itself in many different ways. Sometimes a movie we've traditionally watched every year. Or a holiday special. Or a big feast for the season. But when those are scarce, and the weather angry, the boys will pull out what games they can and we'll sit around the table and play..
So what games are the ones we've played the most over the years? Granted, different ones of us have at different times enjoyed this or that game. Sometimes if a few were around we might play a different game that has fewer players. And the boys have the games they play when they can.
I'm talking here about the games we've played over the years as a whole family. The ones that allow all six of us to play (five before our youngest, but six since). The standbys. The old faithfuls. Here are the main ones, in no particular order, that all six of us have enjoyed as a family through the years:
Eldritch Horror - I already wrote about this here. Suffice to say, it's giving even Catan a run for the money.
Poker - deal me in or deal me out. I often regale the boys about the days of my youth. My best friend had a mom who everyone liked. She was Lithuanian, quirky, and always hospitable. Naturally, his house became 'the house' at which to hang out. Among the pastimes would be games, usually cards.
Apples to Apples - we've possibly played this game as much as any other game ever. It takes no time to play, set up, or win. One person puts down a card with a word on it, and everyone else tries to put down cards that have people, places or other things that are closest to representing that word. We all take our turn as the one to judge the other cards. For such a simple premise, it has yielded as many laughs as any other game we play.
Fief - In terms of capturing 'the spirit' of a game's theme, I'd have to say Fief does the job about as well as any. The setting is medieval France, with each player trying to seize land, titles and wealth in order to buy himself the throne or even the papacy. Plenty of backstabbing in this one. Some of it might go over our youngest's head. But what he lacks in the nuances of grand strategies, he makes up for with a bulldog tenacity that won't let go when he believes he's been scorned. Basically we wait for someone to do something to him, then take comfort in knowing that person will have our youngest around his neck for the rest of the game.
Shadows over Camelot - another 'themed' game, the source being obvious. It's a strange mishmash of rules and play, but it gets the source inspiration right. Perhaps it's the art or the overall quality of the product, but it does evoke a bit of the Arthurian, and for a game based on the same, that's not bad. It isn't terribly difficult to figure out. On top of it all, it's more of a cooperative game. Yes, there's the token traitor who becomes the 'him against us' of the game. But we figure there is only a one in six chance of our youngest drawing that. Most of the time he's part of the team. Though he has a nasty tendency of acting like the traitor and therefore throwing everyone off. Something that has enraged more than one of my sons over the years.
Monopoly - this game gets a lot of grief in modern times. Some call it the worst game ever. I think that's a bit harsh. True, luck plays a major roll in the game. You can make some decisions here or there, but they are going to be filtered down through luck of the dice. Still, it's so well known and easily played, it's a great way to pass time and enjoy fellowship. We don't have to stop and ponder complex rules. We roll, we buy, we pay, and we visit. That last part is worth its weight in hotels.
Those are the biggies. There are others of course. And this list doesn't include the myriad four and five player games, or chess, or various two player games, or the more 'hobby' focused ones that might include more than five, but my wife often sits out. That would be games like wargames or Emprise in Arms and such. These are the family times, the ones we hold until everyone is here. It's far less common now than in years past.