Sometimes when you’re sick, all you want to do is sleep. But sometimes, you have enough energy to play a game or two. But which games to play? How can you play without getting others sick? Here are some ideas.
We just couldn’t escape it this year. The flu made its way through our house, and days were spent lying around, watching mindless shows on Netflix or just passed out from fever.
But there were other days — days near the beginning and the end of individual flu battles — when the sick weren’t quite useless. We didn’t have the energy to conquer the world — or even the breakfast dishes — but we could think and talk…and even play games.
So it made us consider — what games are good to play when someone has the flu…and someone else doesn’t? What games could help us to not pass the germs to the one or two people in our house who had avoided the flu so far?
In the end, we concluded that there are a few categories of games that fit this need quite well. Here are three that we came up with, along with examples of each.
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Board Game Apps
There’s really no denying it — if you have enough devices, board game apps are the perfect option for playing together when you don’t want to mix any germs. If everyone has access to their own phone or tablet, you can even play with each other from separate rooms in the house. Some of our favorite app games to play together are:
Ticket to Ride — over the years, we’ve collected many of the maps (via in-app purchases), and we can all hop on to play with each other using bluetooth (if we’re close enough to each other) or online. Collect cards, then trade them in to claim routes for your trains on the map. Use your trains to connect the cities on your personal goal cards and score lots of points along the way. With the app, there’s no touching trains or cards, and plenty of variety to keep us entertained for as long as we’d like.
Patchwork — a quick 2-player game that has to be played in close quarters if you’re playing the physical version, but that has a great app for when one of us is sick. In Patchwork, players collect Tetris-like fabric scrap pieces to fill in their square quilt. Claim pieces with buttons when you can, because those buttons will provide the “money” you need to purchase future scraps.
Lanterns — another quick-playing game with a fantastic app. In Lanterns, you place tiles and use that placement to collect lanterns of various colors. Then trade in sets of lanterns for points. The app is lovely and its online-play option makes it another great option for playing when a family member is under the weather.
Games where each player has their own set of components
This was the first type of game that came to mind when we started working on this list. In most board games, all players are touching various cards, resources, tiles, etc. But some games are set up so that every player has their own set of components and they can play the entire game without anyone else needing to touch their (possibly contaminated!) pieces. Here are a few of them:
Karuba — In Karuba, everyone is given their own player board / map and their own set of jungle tiles, numbered 1-36. One player randomly chooses one numbered tile at a time, and then all players find that tile in their own set and add it to their jungle map, trying to connect explorers with temples, collecting gold and crystals along the way. A little care should be taken when collecting gold/crystals since these come from a common pool, but with a little creativity (and maybe a spoon?) they can easily be separated out without germ-swapping.
NMBR9 — NMBR9 is a fun spatial, tactile puzzle where everyone starts with their own set of cardboard tiles, shaped like the numbers 0-9. One player will flip a card to tell all players which cardboard tile they need to place next. Players place tiles in front of them, building a multi-level structure, making sure each number is resting fully on either the table or on numbered tiles from the level below. Points are scored by multiplying the number on the tile by the level it is placed on.
Layers — another spatial puzzle, Layers begins with all players having their own set of 5 plastic cut-out templates and a square base. Reference cards with intricate patterns are revealed and each player races to stack their templates in order to recreate the pattern on the reference card. Sick players only need to touch their own templates and any point tokens they score.
Roll & Write Games
The new trend of roll-and-write games is perfect for the someone-is-sick situation. In many roll & write games, most players can get away with only touching the pen/pencil they are using and the paper or dry-erase board they need to write on. The randomization part of the game (rolling dice, flipping cards, etc.) can usually be handled by one player, so germs can all stay in their own spaces.
Railroad Ink — In Railroad Ink, players fill in their dry-erase board with a combination of train tracks and highways. Every turn, four dice are rolled and all players must draw all four revealed symbols on their boards. Over time, each player will create an intricate maze of railroad tracks and roads, covering a large portion of their grid/board. Points are scored for connecting exits, making really long train tracks and highways, and filling in squares in the center of the board. One player can do all the dice-rolling, allowing everyone else to just touch their boards and pens.
Welcome To — Though I’ve put Welcome To in the Roll & Write category, it’s technically a “flip and write” since there are cards instead of dice. But the idea is the same. In Welcome To, three cards at a time are revealed, creating three different sets of house numbers and corresponding special actions. Every player chooses one of those combinations and adds the house number to the “neighborhood” sheet they have in front of them, while also potentially taking the optional special action. Each neighborhood sheet has three rows of houses and the key is that house numbers on each row/street must appear in ascending order. Special actions include adding a pool to a house, adjusting the house numbers up or down, and improving streets with community parks.
Criss Cross — In Criss Cross, all players begin with a square grid and a pencil. On each turn, two dice are rolled and all players must write the two resulting symbols into their grids, in orthogonally adjacent spaces. Play continues until players cannot place any more symbols. Rows and columns are scored based on groups of identical adjacent symbols. Criss Cross is straightforward and simple to learn, but requires some spatial ability, careful planning, and a little luck!
Keep an eye on the blog for more in-depth reviews of these games, and more!
What about you? Can you think of other games to play when you’re sick?
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