Ferocious 5 – Christmas Games to Play with Friends & Family

Looking for something new to play with friends and family over Christmas? Well this list has got some fun options for you to try.

Ferocious 5 sheds light on a whole universe of pop and geek culture connections with bite-size lists. Explore topics, properties, fandoms you never knew existed in this article series on Bunkazilla. This week, Lizzie Barnes has some festive game suggestions for you to play with friends or family – why not both!? – this Christmas…

Christmas is a time for togetherness and seeing friends and family, but sometimes boredom can set in and you start scrambling for something to do to entertain a group of people who’ve eaten too much and are fed up with the selection of festive programming on the TV. 

Invariably someone suggests a game to pass the time. The standard staples are things like Monopoly, Trivial Pursuits, Pictionary, Scrabble or Cluedo. All classic games but ones we’ve all probably each played multiple times before and there’s very little to surprise or enthral us and boredom once again sets in.

The board and party game market are a vast, and sometimes daunting sea to navigate with so much choice that you may struggle to find something appropriate for everyone from the youngest to the oldest.

This list is aimed at helping to give you a good launching point to start your foray into the market, with fun and engaging games to stimulate you and your guest out of the festive food coma and have a fun time while doing so.

Ticket To Ride

Ticket to Ride is a railway-themed German-style board game designed by Alan R. Moon. It was first published in 2004 by Days of Wonder. 

Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure, in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America.

The gameplay is beautifully simple and can be learned in under 15 minutes. Players collect cards of various types of train cars they then use to claim railway routes. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who fulfil Destination Tickets – goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who builds the longest continuous route.

“The rules are simple enough to write on a train ticket – each turn you either draw more cards, claim a route, or get additional Destination Tickets,” says Ticket to Ride author, Alan Moon. “The tension comes from being forced to balance greed – adding more cards to your hand, and fear – losing a critical route to a competitor.”

Other English language versions have been released such as Ticket To Ride: Europe, Ticket to Ride: Märklin, Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary, Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails and Ticket to Ride: Germany. There are also nine full expansions as well as six small expansions. Specifically for the younger audience is Ticket to Ride: First Journey, which takes the gameplay of the Ticket to Ride series and scales it down.

Inside the box, you get a beautifully illustrated board map of North American train routes, 225 Coloured Train Cars, 144 Illustrated cards, 5 Wooden Scoring Markers and the Rules booklet. It can be played by 2-5 players from ages 8 and up and takes 30-60 minutes.

Ticket to Ride is a great gateway game for getting others into board games and is engaging with enough action and tension to keep players in the game for the whole thing. 

Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples is a party game originally published by Hasbro and now published by Mattel.

The game consists of two decks of cards: Things and Descriptions. Each round, the Judge draws a Description card (which features an adjective like “Hairy” or “Smarmy”) from the deck, then the other players each secretly choose the Thing card in hand that best matches that description and plays it face-down on the table. The Judge then reveals these cards and chooses the Thing card that, in their opinion, best matches the Description card, which they award to whoever played that Thing card. This player becomes the next Judge for the next round. Once a player has won a predetermined number of Description cards, that player wins.

The original boxed set contained 108 green cards (green apples) each of which has an adjective printed on one side. 324 red cards (red apples) each of which has a noun printed on one side. A tray for holding the cards. Four expansion sets are available adding 72 extra green apple cards and 216 extra red apple cards each. There is a Party box edition which includes all cards. It can be played by 4-10 players from ages 12 and up and can be played for 30–75 minutes. There is an Apples to Apples Kids edition that can be played from ages 7 and up if you’ve younger family members. There’s even a Disney version for the Disney fans out there.

Apples to Apples as a game is easy to learn, quick to play, extremely fun to play, amusing for all ages and has excellent replayability.


Concept is a deduction party board game first released in 2013. The game was designed by Alain Rivollet and Gaëtan Beaujannot and published by Repos Production.

Concept is a guessing game where players have to guess a concept, such as a word, a name, or a phrase. The players who know the target concept provide hints by marking its attributes and attributes of related concepts on the game board with different-coloured markers, while other players guess. Giving verbal hints is not allowed. The game rules state that using teams is not mandatory, the game can also be played with each player playing against each other.

In Concept, the goal is for players to guess a word through a series of associated icons. One player chooses a word and they must get the other players to guess it. That player can’t use any verbal clues or gestures; instead, they must rely on a game board full of icons. By placing clue tokens around the board, they will try and lead the players to the correct answer. Guess an answer correctly and you both win victory points. After about 12 rounds, the game ends and the player with the most VP wins.

The box contains 1 tray of universal icons, 5 sets of pawns ( green, blue, red, yellow, black), 110 Concept cards, double and single point tokens, 4 game aids and 1 storage bowl.

It can be played by 4-12 players from ages 10 and up and has a playtime of about 40 minutes. In 2018 the kid’s edition of the game Concept Kids: Animals was released tailored for children aged 4 and up.

Concept is a highly interactive game with little to no downtime, it can be played with large groups, and is very easy to learn.


Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens first launched onto the Kickstarter scene in 2015, designed by Elan Lee, Matthew Inman from the comic site The Oatmeal, and Shane Small, it quickly becoming one of the most funded Kickstarter games ever with almost nine million dollars received from backers and its popularity has only increased since then with three expansions released with Imploding Kittens, Streaking Kittens and Barking Kittens adding 15-20 new cards to the game.

Exploding Kittens describes itself as “a kitty powered version of Russian roulette,” and the gameplay is just that. All cards are put into a deck, save for the Defuse and Exploding Kitten cards. The deck is shuffled and each player draws 7 cards and takes a Defuse card. The Exploding Kitten cards are then shuffled back into the deck so that the number of Exploding Kitten cards in the deck is one less than the number of players. The remaining Defuse cards are then also put back in the deck. A turn order is decided upon. Each player may then play as many cards from their hand as they like on their turn (including none) before drawing a card. Players are not to tell any other player what cards are in their hand. Played cards are put into a discard pile.

The box contains 56 cards and instructions. Some editions of the game have a box that meows when opened. 

The game can be played by 2-5 players, up to 9 players if you combine two decks, of ages 7 and up and a game has a playtime of 15 minutes. There is also an NSFW edition available which is recommended for ages 18 and over.

Exploding Kittens is an easy to learn fun and fast-paced game for people with a certain sense of fun and light-hearted but warped sense of humour.


Carcassonne is a tile-based German-style board game for two to five players, designed by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede and first published in 2000 by Hans im Glück in German and by Rio Grande Games (until 2012) and currently by Z-Man Games in English.

Inspired by the medieval fortress in southern France of the same name, Carcassonne is a tile-laying game in which players fill in the countryside around the fortified city. Players choose from tiles that depict cities, roads, monasteries, and fields; each new tile placed creates an ever-expanding board on which players can then add their followers known as meeples. Players score points by having meeples on features as they’re completed. The player who makes the most strategic placements of tiles and meeples will score the most points and win the game.

There are 10 full expansions and 13 mini-expansions to the original game. There are also numerous spin-offs, even a Star Wars edition if you want a more sci-fi flavour rather than medieval.

The current base box contains the rulebook, 72 land tiles, 40 meeples, 12 river tiles, 5 Abbots and 1 scoreboard. The Abbot and the river tiles are included from two prior expansions that were previously bought separately.

The game can be played by 2-5 players from ages 7 and with an average 35-minute playtime.

Carcassonne is another great gateway game to get people into board games with an easy-to-play, fast-paced, family-friendly game that holds everything good about board gaming with great replayability.

That’s the list for now. There are plenty more games to enjoy with friends and family this Christmas. Let us know your favourite if we missed it this time around.

Until next time… stomp on monsters of culture, stomp on!

Lizzie Barnes

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