Seven games to keep game night small, simple and lively

BLOCKBUSTER
Like a McFly kid in a photograph, the storefronts once synonymous with family movie night have all but faded from the planet. But with this late 2019 entry into the annals of party games, the name at least will live on. Blockbuster caters to Hollywood die-hards and casual moviegoers alike, pitting teams of at least two against each other in a film-centric battle royale. No trivia here. Just a relentless test of your movie memory through alternating rounds of word association and charades, all of it housed in a VHS-style case that's sure to trigger a few wistful memories. Ages 12 and up; $14.89

PIT
Jostling for commodities has become a mainstay of modern board games. But long before Settlers of Catan turned game night into a pitched battle for wheat, PIT had families and friends shouting over one another in a bid for market dominance. This century-old classic captures all the competitive chaos of a real trading floor, with players calling out numbers and blindly swapping cards until the bell rings, signifying that someone has cornered the market on coffee or barley or corn. Just beware. Same as on Wall Street, the Bull might save you, but the Bear will cost you big. Ages 8 and up; $12.99

VILLAINOUS
The likes of Maleficent, Ursula and Captain Hook have sent shivers up the spines of youngsters for decades. Now board game enthusiasts can stir up a little terror of their own. In lieu of the traditional hero's quest, Villainous puts players in the shoes of some of Disney's most iconic cartoon baddies. Pursue your own dastardly goals using tricks from your villain's film or foil your opponents by unleashing their respective heroes against them. Several expansion sets are also available for those looking to add more villains and more evil to their next game night. Ages 10 and up; $34.99

LEFT, RIGHT, CENTER
In Vegas, one roll of the dice can bring an evening to a screeching, moneyless halt. With Left, Right, Center, though, even the broke have a chance at a comeback. This popular, kid-friendly addition to game night keeps things simple and lively as players roll dice to see how many chips they get to hang onto — and how many they have to surrender to their opponents. A player may lose their final chip one round only to have three slide their way to the next. In the end, however, some rules are universal, and here as in Vegas, it's the player with all the chips who wins. Ages 5 and up; $6.99

ONE NIGHT ULTIMATE WEREWOLF
If Hollywood's long string of wolf-man-centric classics have taught us anything, it's that werewolves aren't the only menace lurking in the shadows. One Night Ultimate Werewolf takes that trope to a more immersive level, casting players — well, most of them at least — as the frightened villagers bent on sniffing out the changeling in their midst. Unaware of one another's true identities, players must work together to identify the threat even as that threat secretly attempts to throw them off the scent. When dawn breaks, a vote is taken, and the villagers find out if they've slain the beast or turned their fear on the innocent. Ages 14 and up; $24.99

POETRY FOR NEANDERTHALS
Fred Flinstone may have had a fairly extensive vocabulary, but the notion that our cave-dwelling, club-wielding forebears gave grammar little more than a passing glance still persists in pop culture. Poetry for Neanderthals puts a humorous spin on this widespread and anthropologically unfounded concept, challenging players to guess complex words from mono-syllabic clues. For example, a player may have to describe a sloppy joe with phrases like "beef on bun" and "big mess." Better keep it simple, because anyone who uses a word with more than one syllable gets smacked with the inflatable "NO!" stick. Ages 7 and up; $15.99

STET!
Those looking for a more linguistically robust addition to game night will get a competitive kick out of the new 2020 card game Stet!, which puts players' grasp of grammar and syntax to the ultimate test. Each card contains a sentence, and players must race to spot errant apostrophes or homonyms or to correct style issues with a small lingual flourish (sorry, editors, no rewrites allowed). Don't be too quick to find fault, though. Some cards are red herrings, in which case you better be first to shout "stet!" and prove you know a rock-solid sentence when you see one. Ages 13 and up; $19.99

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