Family Games Invade the Geek Tree

Santa’s come and gone, leaving behind a small armada of games for us under the Geek Tree: Zombie Dice (and Zombie Dice 2) and the Mars Attacks Dice Game, both by Steve Jackson Games, and Star Fluxx by Loony Labs.

My 11-year-old daughter’s less than thrilled with Zombie Dice (“I hate the undead” she says), but my 8-year-old son is excited to try it. I played it a few years ago at MEPACon, and enjoyed the push-your-luck mechanic of trying to eat as many human brains as possible without getting your brains shotgun’d out by your prey. Although the game is about zombies, it’s not graphic, and I suspect my daughter will come around if NeutronLad and I have enough fun playing it.

StarGirl is more interested in Mars Attacks, mostly because she and her friend have a running gag about Martians. The game’s based on the Mars Attacks trading cards by Topps. I know little about the game, but a) it’s got a lot of dice and b) it’s about Mars, so they pretty much had me at Mars Attacks.

The kids love Fluxx, the card game by Loony Labs with the ever-changing rules. Our favorite edition is Pirate Fluxx, but we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of regular Fluxx (augmented by the family add-on) and Martian Fluxx. Star Fluxx takes on the space opera genre, and I think my kids have finally seen enough Star Trek to get its references.

From prior experience Zombie Dice and Fluxx are quick games that can be played in under an hour, and thus make for good Christmas vacation diversions. Mars Attacks says it’s playable in 20 minutes, which would also make it a nice addition to that cohort (plus, some of its dice have nuke symbols on them, so … bonus!).

As I mentioned earlier I’m also looking to introduce my family to Pandemic, the cooperative boardgame by Z-man Games. It’s one of my gaming group’s favorite games, and I think my daughter, my wife, and my parents could really get into it. I don’t know that my 8-year-old has the patience for it, but then again it is a collaborative game, so he could easily play with us and we could help him out.

The last game I’m looking to break out this holiday is Power Grid, which I’ve heard described as a better version of Monopoly. My son loves Monopoly but the rest of us … not so much. Based on the reviews I’ve read, Power Grid might scratch the market domination itch for everyone, if it’s not too hard for the younger kids to pick up.

I’ll be reporting back on how these games go as we play them over the break. If you’ve go a family-friendly game you’re looking to play over the holidays, I’d love to hear about it: email me at

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