Five Great Games to Play with the Older Gamers on International Tabletop Day

We’re counting down the days International Tabletop Day 2018, happening this year on April 28th! As we get closer to the big day, we’ll be looking at the gamut of tabletop gaming, from the stories of the games we play to remarkable people who love them. Be sure to join in on the fun on April 28th on our official ITTD Twitch Stream, hosted by Ivan van Norman and donate to charity:water, the worthy cause we’re supporting this year.

The world of tabletop gaming has changed since our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. While they may not want to delve into the world of Gloomhaven or back the latest miniatures-filled game on Kickstarter, they’re usually willing to play something new.  Games that help us connect to generations that came before us are out there. Most elderly gamers are familiar with classic games such as chess, bridge, and Scrabble and have a great vernacular for gaming. Thanks to designers who’ve adopted these mechanisms into new games, it’s easier than ever for players of all ages to play together during International Tabletop Day.

Here are five great games that are great for elderly gamers. Go visit your grandparents or volunteer at your local senior center and introduce them to modern board games!



There are two ways to win in Onitama: either capture your opponent’s master pawn or get your master pawn to your opponent’s starting temple space. Each game begins with a random draw of five cards that determine each piece’s movement for that game. You play one card to move, then exchange it for another card for your next turn. Featuring top-notch components, lots of movement cards for replayability, and a 15-minute game play time, Onitama can be enjoyed by any gamer, but especially those with an affinity for chess or checkers.



Players who understand the Scrabble tile-laying mechanism will find similar game-play in Qwirkle. Instead of creating words using letter tiles, however, you’re trying to match shapes and colors. On your turn you place a single row of tiles while using at least one previously placed tile. After playing your tiles, replace them by drawing from the bag; the game ends after the last tile is placed. Best of all, there’s no need to memorize any boring lists of two-letter words or words that start with the letter Q.



Puzzle lovers will enjoy NMBR 9, a spatial game with unique scoring rules. Players draw random oddly-shaped numbers and try to place them adjacent to each other. The only way to score points, however, is to place numbers on top of each other. For each level they’re above the table, the bigger multiplier you receive, but only if they’re completely supported by the numbers underneath them. Most games only take 20 minutes and it’s an excellent way to scratch that jigsaw-puzzle itch.



Designer Mike Fitzgerald based Diamonds on the classic trick-taking mechanism found in bridge and spades and added a clever set of special abilities that are triggered whenever you can’t follow suit. So, if the current suit is hearts and you can only play hearts, then you take a diamond and put it in your showroom. If you break suit with spades, then you take a diamond from your showroom and put it into your vault. There are other ways to earn diamonds through the other suits and smart card play, and the player with the most diamonds wins.


This is another puzzle-like game with a simple goal: be the last dragon standing. Turns are simple: play one of three tiles onto the board and move your dragon token to the end of its path. As tiles connect with other, the paths will intersect and sometimes loop around in entertaining ways. Playing up to 8 players, Tsuro is a fast and easy way to introduce elderly gamers to the hobby.

Do you play games with your grandparents? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to join us on April 28th on Twitch for our International Tabletop Day stream hosted by Ivan van Norman, and help us support charity:water to raise money for a project to get water to a community of people who currently lack access to clean water. 


Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola

Ruel Gaviola is a writer based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He reviews games and reports news for iSlaytheDragon, podcasts with The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.

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