What To Play at the Cottage: All The Clouds that Lour’d Upon Our House

By Marc 

I promise not to start every blog with a Shakespeare quotation. But since this post is specifically about games to play at the cottage, I figured it was appropriate to talk about some bad weather, because otherwise why would you be playing board games?! … okay, fine, I would play board games anyways. But that’s just me. Every year around this time we’re visited by customers heading off to their cottages with friends and family, and they’re looking for something to enjoy together. And what a cottage game has to accomplish is quite well established: 

It has to be able to work with a lot of players, but also be okay with only two or three. Your average cottage game needs to be flexible enough to work with both big groups and small gatherings. Sometimes Uncle Jude will want to play with his partner and all five of their kids, and other times everyone will be off canoeing and it will be just you and Cousin Alessandro looking to kill some time until the BBQ warms up. In general, most games that play big groups aren’t great with few players, but at least you have the option!  

It has to have few rules. You’re on vacation! You don’t want to have to read a rulebook thick enough to stop bullets, and you definitely don’t want to waste any of your precious time explaining a game for an hour. There are many games that are light on rules that are still fun and engaging!

Something you can start, stop, or pause almost any time. Either games that play really quickly so you can play a few rounds, or that have easily seen board-states that you can leave and return in a few hours, picking up where you left off. Sure, it’s raining right now, but if it clears up in a few minutes, you want to be able to put the game down immediately and enjoy those precious moments before the skies open up again and drive you back to the game table.  

Phew! Sounds like a lot of demanding rules, but in reality there are a good number of games that handle these rigorous demands! For example, the cottage staple, Sequence, plays between 2 to 12 players, and you can probably explain all the rules in one long breath. Not high on strategy, but simple fun that you can play for only a few rounds or play for an entire afternoon! It’s like Connect 4 with cards on a board, but you have to connect 5! 

Another popular choice is Wizard, a favourite recommendation of my colleague Ian. Basically a combative version of Euchre, a follow-the-leader trick-taking game, but with enough depth to keep the game interesting and some really clever mechanics to punish hubris and reward shrewd play! I’m not saying Ian likes the game specifically because he’s a passive-aggressive jerk when he plays cards… but I’m not not saying it either. (Ian: I want to disagree, but I do recommend Arboretum more than anyone, and that’s because of how sinister it lets you be!) And of course there is Rummikub, which by default only plays 2 to 4 but we have a very popular version that lets you play Rummikub 6 Player. An easy tile game that plays like the card game Rummy, but with Domino styled pieces. It’s a nice way to spend a few hours with family where the better player will often, but not always, win.  

Other than these, there are a few atypical recommendations that are big hits with most cottage goers: Codenames is one of the best games ever made for 6 or more players (the box says it plays with fewer than that, but in my experience it underperforms if played with 2-5 players). Essentially, it’s a party game appropriate for all ages, and one that will have everyone laughing as you try to link words together in a way that leads players towards the cards they need to pick. Sounds easy, but while the rules are simple the game itself is devilishly clever! Telestrations is a fantastic activity (less of a “game” because it doesn’t really care about winners and losers, just playing!) for up to eight players, unless you get the Telestrations 12 Player Party Pack, but another easy one appropriate for all ages and easy to play almost anywhere… you don’t even need a table! A combination of drawing and guessing, a great way to keep everyone entertained for hours at a time whether you’re sitting scattered throughout a dining room or scattered around the backyard in the shade. And if you’re looking for something a little newer, Hues and Cues is a clever game about giving clues about colours, and plays up to 10 people with light, breezy rules.  And there you have it! While we certainly don’t wish any rain on your next trip to cottage country, if it happens, you are now prepared! Now will the winter of your discontent be turned glorious summer by these games of ours! See you all for the next blog post!



Date 7/3/2024

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