Board games\night for elderly parents?

I'm just tossing this out there for the collective wisdom of the community. My parents are in their early 80's and they're starting to spend a lot of their time at home, not going out and doing as much. I visit at least once a week to do chores, help out and just check in on them. I'd like to see if there's a simple, short board game that I could break out as a sort of "game night" to help keep them mentally active and having fun.

So how 'bout it, any suggestions?


Well, Wii is the big thing with the elders these days. But outside of that, I'd suggest some of the lighter German strategy games, or similar. Or card games - Uno is a great one. Dominos, too, or Mah Jhong.

You can play a 3 person game of Settlers of Catan in about an hour. It's a great game, easy to learn, but has a myriad of ways to achieve victory so the strategy can get reasonably complex. You could try Risk or something too.

There's a card game called Wizard that I play with my parents if you're into card games. It's kind of a hybrid between euchre and spades without partners.

Bohnanza would do the ticket. It's simple, fun, and the games don't take too long (30 minutes). The first game might be a little rough on them but about half way through the game they should get it.

Apples to Apples works well with mixed-age crowds.

Tsuro is incredibly light but looks gorgeous and is certainly fun. Not the most mentally engaging game around but it is really simple, one of my wife's favorites. Basically you put down a tile and follow the path it makes, trying to not run off the edge of the board or run into others. Fun stuff.

I'd also take a look at Slide 5 / Category 5 / Tag 6/ 6 Nimmt (it has many names). So long as they can see the "pips" on the cards (numbers are nice and big so that shouldn't be a problem) it is another simple, extremely quick card game. Bohnanza is a good choice as well.

A fun, really simple abstract strategy game with really cool pieces is Hey, That's My Fish! You move penguins around collecting tiles with fish on them and whoever has the most fish at the end wins. Great little game that's all about positioning. Blokus would probably be another great abstract style game.

For something a little more involved and very different, Pandemic is a purely cooperative game. Essentially it is a puzzle you are working together to solve which is something that older folks might enjoy. There's also FITS, another puzzle-style game although this is strictly versus. It is basically Tetris the board game.

Flux is a great card game for a quick pick-em-up game. I'm not sure if it is at its best with two players but it definitely keeps you on your toes and there are a wide range of sets to chose from. Basically you start with a five or so cards in hand, a communal deck of cards, and two rules: on your turn you draw one card and play one card. The cards played can then modify the rules (a card that says "Play 2 Cards" or another that says "Draw 3 Cards" for example), become an object on your side that does little to nothing (Just a card titled "Baseball Bat" for example) or a goal to win the game (such as "if any player has both a Baseball Bat and a Pitcher's Glove they win the game"). There can only be one goal on the board at a time unless a rules card says otherwise and if you run out of cards in the deck you just shuffle the discard pile and that becomes the new deck.

There are variants on it. There's Flux, Zombie Flux, Family Flux, and at least a half dozen others I can't remember but even the base set is fun. It encourages critical thinking (Play a "Play 4 Cards" first, then toss down a "Draw 5 Cards" for an extra four cards, drop down a permanent and then play a card that resets the rules so your opponents don't get the advantages you got from the first two rules cards) but can be slow-paced because you do everything on your own turn and don't (generally, the variants may change it) have any counters to whatever they choose to do.

That'd be my suggestion but of course it depends on what they enjoy. If they had fun playing checkers or backgammon back in the day it might be best to start with that rather than going right to the new and strange. Likewise if you're interested in just keeping them mentally active a book of sudoku or crossword puzzles can keep people busy for hours, especially if they don't know how to google the answers.

Fantastic, thanks for all the suggestions - i've got a few bucks in my pocket and I'm heading out to my local games shop today so we'll see what they have.