There’s something almost primal about matching games. We can imagine a caveman teaching his kids to hunt, hiding in the bushes and pointing at animals: “You want to throw your spear at the ones that look like this (perhaps a deer), but run away from ones that look like that (perhaps a tiger).” Matching games also appeal to all ages. Small babies flip over cards looking for matches while their parents play other games, hoping to get pairs, three of a kind, and flushes. Here are a handful of matching-type games that everyone in your family will enjoy.
Face Chase (R&R Games)
Imagine that you got mugged and you’re trying to describe the perpetrator to a police sketch artist. In a way, that’s what this game is. Face Chase consists of 64 double-sided cards, each with a different face. Put one card in the middle and distribute the rest evenly among the players. Then the madness begins and everyone tries to play cards from their hand on which at least one feature (eyes, hair, mouth, or nose) matches the card in the middle. When all four have been played, do another round. The game requires sharp eyes and fast hands, and takes only 8-10 minutes. 2-5 players, age 7+. www.RnRgames.com
Flipping Flags (R&R Games)
This is a slight twist on the traditional flip-the-cards-and-find-the-matches. Here, each card has images of three flags along with the name of its country. Spread all the cards face down on the table and players take turns flipping them. Find a match and collect the cards. The twist is that rather than turn the unmatched cards back over, they stay face up. That makes matches easier, but adds an element of speed as players have to be the first to shout out the name of the country or countries that matche. A family-friendly way to learn to identify international flags. Takes 8-10 minutes. 2-5 players, age 7+. www.RnRgames.com
Panda Head (R&R Games)
It all starts with a deck of 63 cards. Fifty-five are emblazoned with a grinning panda head and a number from 1 to 11. There are also a two types of wild cards. Players get seven cards and one player puts a card in the center of the table. The next player has to either play a card with an equal or higher value. Absent that, he or she plays the lowest value card. The first six times, the player with the high card takes the trick. But on the seventh, high card loses. That switcheroo ads an interesting element of strategy to the game as players jockey to save their lowest cards for the last trick. Takes 10-20 minutes. 2-5 players, age 7+. www.RnRgames.com
Thumbs Up (Blue Orange Games)
Tired of card games? You’ll love this one. Like some others, Thumbs Up requires sharp eyes and fast hands; but it also takes dexterity. The game consists of 48 colored rings (12 blue, 12 red, 12 yellow, 12 green) and a deck of challenge cards, each with an image of four rings stacked. Flip over a card and players race to be the first to stack the rings on his or her thumb in the order shown on the card. Win five rounds and you win the game. 2-6 players age 6+ www.BlueOrangeGames.com .
Ravensburger puzzles (Ravensburger)
Put these 100-piece puzzles together the regular way, to match the image on the box. Then fire up the matching app to unlock three smile-inducing games that take you into a hidden world within the puzzle and bring it to life. Ages 6+. www.ravensburger.com