Games That Bring People Together

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Do you hate reading all of the reviews and details in extensive gift guides? Sometimes, me too. Here is a link to all of my recommendations right on Amazon so you can skip the essays. But, if you’re interested in my opinions on all the things or my stories about life, family, and gaming, please carry on. My mom definitely thinks I’m amusing. Maybe also my husband. Usually. My kid thinks I’m hilarious, but he doesn’t really talk, so there’s that.

We are living in a time of mass consumption. Maybe even over consumption. We all know I’m not immune to it. I’ve spent years creating gift guides full of things I love, have, and/or want. So much of our gifting often revolves around tech and solo activities, and so I wanted to shine focus on some gifts that help gather people and share experience rather than divide us. I did receive some of these games as gifts from the publisher for review purposes, and others I just love so very much. All of the links in this post will earn me a commission through various affiliate programs, so if you’re interested in buying anything, making the purchase from these links will help me pay for things like this website and other services I use to keep the site running. Also to buy more games.

The Magic of Legacy Tabletop Games

Let’s start with my current favorite type of game. The legacy game! They are choose your own adventure games! These games often have players working together to achieve a common goal. Some have secret individual goals or traitors or are fully competitive. The thing that makes these games especially fun, though, is that the legacy portion of the game means that every choice you make may change the game irrevocably. You may see envelopes that say “Do not open. Ever.” And if you open it, you could make or break the game. (Because, of course, you opened it, right?) Here are some of my recommendations with their age range, player count, and MSRP.

Capt’n Pepe Treasure Ahoy*

This is a really fantastic intro to legacy gaming for kids. It’s fully cooperative, there are stickers (woo hoo!), and it doesn’t require much reading. It has 25 chapters, but once you complete the campaign, you can play it again and again. We played it with some of my honorary nieces. The littlest one (6) especially enjoyed it, but the older two (9 and 13) even got into it as well. I loved the big cardboard ship for the figures. I also really love HABA, who makes this game and some of our favorite wooden toys. They use sustainably sourced wood and create games that are developmentally appropriate for younger learners.

  • Age: 6+
  • Player Count: 2-5
  • MSRP: $49.99

Capt’n Pepe on HABA website ($39)

Capt’n Pepe Treasure Ahoy on Amazon ($49 plus 10% off)

Wonder Book

We bought this at Gen Con a couple of years ago, and it was one of the coolest things we had seen, visually, but the best part is that the game is really fun too! Each level unfolds a new part of the pop-up adventure book, and we are still obsessed. We thought it was mostly for kids and envisioned playing it with our nieces and nephews, but we played it with a group of adults (and more than the suggested number of players because we play in couples).

  • Age: 12+
  • Player Count: 1-4 (but we made do with 6)
  • MSRP: $89.99

Wonder Book on Amazon ($66)

Betrayal Legacy

We played this a few years ago. The premise is a haunted house game where one person becomes a traitor (or doesn’t). This legacy game was really awesome until it wasn’t, and some of that was just randomization. We hit a pivotal moment in the story, and the random selection from the cards gave us a disappointing turn. The guys were so pissed that they ended up abandoning ship, so only half of us finished out the game. That being said, I loved the game, I loved the mechanics, and I loved the story. I had fun all the way through, but if details like randomization will irritate you, skip it. It does have replayability, so once you finish the campaign, it becomes a base game. It’s also a hefty price tag — I tried to find a cheaper place to buy it, but you may have to check your local game store for a deal on this one. I did include details for the original game which is not a legacy game, but is still super fun if haunted house vibes and traitors (1 versus all) are your thing.

  • Age: 14+
  • Player Count: 3-5 (but we made do with 6)
  • MSRP: $199.99

Betrayal Legacy on Amazon ($189)

Betrayal Legacy on eBay ($97)

Non-legacy editions

Betrayal at the House on the Hill on Amazon ($28)

Betrayal at the House on the Hill 3rd Edition on Amazon ($50)

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

We played this during the actual pandemic. Like, as soon as we went on our personal lockdown (before it was even official in Illinois), we ordered this game. And watched all of the disease apocalypse movies, and read The Stand together in our book club for two. Because that’s who we are. World is burning? Let’s engulf ourselves in world-burning fiction to “escape?” But it’s SUCH a good game. It played really well, even though it was very hard. I would 10/10 buy it again to replay. It does not have replayability like some of the other options though, so be warned: Once you complete the campaign, that is the end of the game. Definitely start with Season 1 if you’re going to play, though, as that’s the order of events and it will maintain the plot twists in the story.

  • Age: 13+
  • Player Count: 2-4
  • MSRP: $89.99

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 (Red) on Amazon ($69)

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 (Blue) on Amazon ($72)

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 (Yellow) on Amazon ($63)

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 (Black) on Amazon ($54)

Pandemic Legacy Season 0 on Amazon ($69)

Non-legacy edition

Pandemic on Amazon ($28)

Other Cooperative Games that Play Well

Forbidden Island

We’ve had this game for years. It’s super easy to learn and play. The game is all about tile placement, and it’s a very enjoyable game. When we got it, we played it a lot. It’s also got a small footprint, which is great when you have way too many boardgames or not enough storage space.

  • Age: 10+
  • Player Count: 2-4
  • MSRP: $27

Forbidden Island on Amazon ($21)

The Night Cage

Man, this game is so fun. You need to escape, and you need keys to escape, but the keys are hidden in the dark, and your candle only shows so much of the board, and you have to find the keys and escape before the candle runs out. It’s simple and complex, and I love playing it.

  • Age: 11+
  • Player Count: 4
  • MSRP: $50

The Night Cage on Barnes and Noble ($40)

The Night Cage on Amazon (N/A)

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle

Look, I know that JK isn’t exactly our favorite human these days, but this game was really fun. It plays like a legacy game without the player choices/modifications. It has 7 game boxes inside it, and the game grows in difficulty level with each added game box. It’s a cooperative deck-building game, so each box adds new cards and components. If you can find it secondhand (check eBay for a great selection of new and used games), all the better.

  • Age: 11+
  • Player Count: 4
  • MSRP: $50

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle on Amazon ($35)

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle on eBay ($34)

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle on eBay ($40)


Atlantis Rising

Brian found this game at Gen Con and it was an absolute doozy. We love the art — it’s bright and colorful and cooperative. It plays really well — it’s difficult, but not too difficult. You feel like you’re on the edge of your seat whether or not you’re going to make it and it really does require team work, planning and group decisionmaking. We especially liked it because it plays up to 7 players, which we often need with our gaming group.

  • Age: 10+
  • Player Count: up to 7
  • MSRP: $65

Atlantis Rising on Amazon ($55)

Party Games That Bring the Energy

When you’ve got a large group, people who don’t want to learn a lot of rules, or you want to bring up the vibe in the room, party games are the way to go. A lot of times, competition is mildly fierce, but also lighthearted. Unless you’re my family and Scattergories is on the table.

Cool Cool Cool*

I was gifted this game at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, and it is SUCH a good vibes game.  It’s a chaotic slap game with rules that fluctuate with every game you play, so it’s always changing and always vibrant fun. I love the art and the positive affirmation phrases that you are shouting with your friends. 

  • Age: 9+
  • Player Count: 2-6
  • MSRP: $14

Cool Cool Cool on Amazon ($14)

Cool Cool Cool on Twogether Studio ($14)


The OG game is celebrating its 25th anniversary and a new publisher. Funko Games is now taking ownership of this classic party game that has a little something for everyone from drawing, sculpting and performing to words, facts and figures. I’ve loved this game for 25 years, and I’m gonna keep loving it for 25+ more. This game is played in two teams of however many people you want.

  • Age: 12+
  • Player Count: 4+
  • MSRP: $20

Cranium 25th Anniversary on Amazon ($10)

Sinister Spoons*

This super fun Disney game is a twist on Spoons and will keep you laughing and screaming all night. The chaos of simultaneous play and fast-paced race to grab spoons is kind of amazing. The design of the game is super fun too, as the spoons are really neat.

  • Age: 7+
  • Player Count: 4-8
  • MSRP: $20

Sinister Spoons on Amazon ($19)


I played this game at Gen Con this year, and it was one of the hot items that sold out pretty quickly each day. I was able to snag a copy of it on my last day at the con. It’s a fantastic high-energy party game full of chaos. You need one cell phone with the app (ios and android available) so that Ghostface can call you and send you into a panic, swapping cards quickly to avoid his wrath. Stay alive until the end to win. So fun.

  • Age: 7+
  • Player Count: 4-8
  • MSRP: $20

Scream The Game on Amazon ($20)

Everything Ever*

This game was all over Gen Con too, and I was lucky to receive a copy from the publisher. It’s a really fun party game with a little bit chaos and a little bit memory and a lotta bit fun. Two simultaneous categories are in play at all times and you have to name something from each category that hasn’t already been said yet. If you can’t cover one of the words with one from your hand, or you have to pick up the whole deck as your penalty. The person with the fewest cards when the deck is done wins. Anything with naming things from categories is my favorite type of party game. This one nails it really really well. 

  • Age: 12+
  • Player Count: 2-10
  • MSRP: $20

Everything Ever on Amazon ($20)

Competitive Board Games

Sometimes, you want to just win against someone else or several someone elses. Here are some fun games that are fully competitive. Some of them are team games and others are head to head or every man for himself.


This is my current favorite game. It’s got an endless selection (if you keep buying expansions, which I do) of cute animal meeples and a super fun worker placement game. I kick Brian’s butt almost every time and I just really enjoy the game play. I also really love the art and the design (there’s a giant cardboard tree in the center!)

  • Age: 14+
  • Player Count: 1-4
  • MSRP: $60

Everdell on Amazon ($48)

Above and Below

This was my favorite game until Everdell came around. I always wanted to throw this storytelling game on the table. It has a fun choose-your-own-adventure component with storytelling pages based on the choices you make when you adventure into the caves below. It’s a really fun lightweight game.

  • Age: 13+
  • Player Count: 2 or 4
  • MSRP: $40

Above and Below on Amazon ($38)

Disney Sorcerer’s Arena Epic Alliances*

I received this from the publisher to try, and it was a pretty simple game to learn and has really cool miniatures/player pieces. The Disney aspect and figures definitely made me love it, but it’s probably not for everyone. If your gift recipient is a huge Disney fan and has other Disney fans to play with, or they’re an RPG/ arena battle gameplay lover, definitely give it a try.

  • Age: 13+
  • Player Count: 2 or 4
  • MSRP: $40

Disney Sorcerer’s Arena Epic Alliances on Amazon ($40)

Woof. That was a lot of typing! I’d keep going, but I’m sure you’ve taken in a lot of info too! I hope you enjoy these games. Which is the one that seems most exciting to try?

*I received the starred games as gifts in exchange for my opinion.

Edible Foodie GIft Guide

The edible foodie gift guide

A few years ago, my brother-in-law had “interesting edibles” on his Christmas list. His words, not mine. And while yes, THOSE edibles are legal in Illinois, and we did get him some as a joke, the thing he was looking for was tasty food items that he may not have tried yet. And so here I am with a gift guide for just such a wish list. These are some of my favorite sauces, spices, seasonings, snacks, and other yummies perfect for the food lovers in your life.

Read More »

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