Are you looking for easy card games for kids and adults? Games that you can be up and playing in minutes without slogging through a novel-length instruction manual? Games with quick rounds so nobody is getting bored and everyone is engaged? SAME.
In theory, I enjoy playing board games and card games.
In practice, I really hate learning to play new games or teaching others to play them. And this is coming from someone who literally went to school to learn to teach others.
I’ve finally gotten back into playing games with my older kids, essentially because I am no longer so absolutely eviscerated from a day with the twins that I have the energy to do so.
Over the holiday break we even got Papa (a notoriously unpleasant person to play games with …) to join in the fun. For the four of us, we have been loving the cooperative game Castle Panic and the spatial-logic-strategy game Blokus. Both games took multiple evenings to master. For Castle Panic, even though we’ve now played quite a few times, we are still having to refer back to the rules. For Blokus, I have never won and probably never will: my spatial reasoning is that bad.
So here are 5 easy card games that are suitable for ages 6 all the way up to grandparents: these are games you can bust out at a party without having to call for complete silence while you present a Power Point of game rules. You can play a round or two when there’s only 15 minutes to kill before bedtime. Learning to play and to play well takes less than 5 minutes.
These games are equally fun with your kids (so much better than Snakes & Ladders) or as drinking games. Honestly, I’ve never played these drunk but I think they’d all be hysterical. While I do not suggest they do it drunk, these games are simple enough that your kids can also play with each other or their friends and you shouldn’t need to intervene (much).
5 Easy Card Games for Kids and Adults
2-6 players; $35
We really love Exploding Kittens, but it takes forever to learn to play, and we forget the rules every time we pick it up after an extended hiatus.
Mantis is by the creator of Exploding Kittens (and the Oatmeal comics) so I was a bit worried when we opened it at 8 PM on a school night that it would end in frustration. The instructional video was short and sweet, and we were playing within minutes! The game itself is played in less than 10 minutes: a real perk compared to interminable rounds of Monopoly (during which I subtly hide my play money so I can lose faster).
The game is straightforward enough for a 6-year-old but just as fun for grownups to play. You need to play the odds a bit to figure out if you should try to steal cards or score with your own, but each turn takes mere seconds. Games where each player’s turn involves multiple steps can get painful, especially if patience is not your strong suit. It was no problem for my daughter (age 7) to catch on and to win (and not because we “let” her win).
2-8 players; $15
This game is surprisingly challenging sober which is why I imagine it would be an absolute riot at a party, were I someone who could stay up late enough to attend a party.
There are many thematic variations you can buy, but it comes down to being able to quickly match images between two cards and say them aloud before your opponent.
A lot of games are easy to beat your kids at; this game is not an easy win for me. My kids’ mental acuity is increasing exponentially while I am on a steady decline.
This game is a great one for keeping the mind sharp: I wouldn’t be shocked if regularly playing this game helped stave off Alzheimer’s. (It’s one my mom and my daughter often play together, gotta keep Popo on her toes!)
And of course, this game is a fast study. In about 30 seconds you will understand how to play. And it will seem easy until you start playing under pressure (or under the influence).
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza
2-8 players; $15
A testament to this game being suitable for both children and adults is that it was recommended to me by my best friend since high school, whose enviable lifestyle as a DINK (dual income, no kids) Vancouverite affords her time to learn and play as many games as she desires.
This is another game that really challenges the brain because you need to coordinate what you see, what you say, and how you move. Players move in a circle placing a card in the discard pile, everyone chanting “Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza.” If a card matching the chant is played (for example, you play a Cat card when everyone has chanted “cat”), you need to tap the card pile before everyone else does.
You can imagine how rowdy this gets between children or inebriated adults!
2-8 players; $35
This game is again a sort of mental exercise in which you need to be thinking colours, objects and response time.
All of the objects (a ghost, a chair, a wine bottle, a book, a mouse) are placed in the centre of the playing area. As each card is turned face up, you need to be the first player to grab the correct object, which is either the one object on the card that is the correct colour or the object whose form or colour is not shown on the card. I promise, it makes sense very quickly but your response times may vary because it’s hard!
2 players; $15
So this game is probably the least likely to be played and enjoyed by only adults, but I wanted it on the list because it is so easy even my almost-5-year-old twins can manage a round without my intervention. (Two rounds would be a lot to ask of them …)
Role the dice. Match the dice images to the pizza toppings on your slice, repeat until you have a full pizza.
I would say that grown ups would probably need to be slightly buzzed to find delight in this game, but sometimes even the simplest of games can lead to a heated and hysterical competition among friends.