“I want to help, but I know nothing about games”

We get that. We have regular tea room customers who loved us for vegan cake, but didn’t play games. We have friends, acquaintances, and people who like the fact Hartlepool was home to something a little quirky, who want to support us as we soar, phoenix-like, from the ashes of our virus-ridden Pokemon cards – but they’re not sure how because everything looks complicated and confusing and not that much fun at all.

This post is for you.

Here are some ideas for games and the kind of people that might enjoy them. We had 3 rules when compiling this list.

  1. They’re fun enough for the Hart family to be willing to play regularly (spoiler alert – the last category breaks this rule on account of no one being 3 any more),
  2. They’re easy to learn – we expect no prior knowledge of any games,
  3. We have them in plentiful supply at a really good price – you can double check here: www.boardgameprices.co.uk – we’re trying to help you help us, not rip anyone off. (Don’t forget – free delivery within Hartlepool, and free postage if you spend over £40).


If Scrabble and Dominoes fell in love and produced beautiful babies, Qwirkle would be the result. Grab tiles from a bag, but instead of creating words, create colourful patterns.

Compared to Scrabble turns take seconds, and although we find some people are better at spotting patterns than others, there’s not the same disadvantage for people who haven’t memorised the dictionary. Compared to Dominoes there’s less luck involved, and more choice – creating a game that feels as simple as laying tiles, but with more strategy.

Plays in about 30-40 minutes, for 2-4 players, works as well with couples as it does with families, and keeps young and older kids as engaged.


Just 2 of you? Try this chess alternative. In chess each piece has it’s own way to move – bishops go diagonal. Rooks orthagonal. Pawns march onwards one at a time. Except when they march 2. Except when they’re taking and move diagonally. Pawns are kinda fickle.

With Onitama, a card tells you how your pieces can move this turn. And the card you pick stops your opponent from moving like that too – so it isn’t just about making the move you want, it’s about stopping your opponent from making the move they want.

Whether you win or lose, all this brain work makes you feel very clever.

We also have a bundle with the expansions here too.

One for the adults and older kids.


A modern classic, save the world from not one, but four, virulent diseases. Initiate your own hand washing procedures and lockdown – deal with deniers and super spreaders – while you travel the globe collecting cards that will allow you to find the cures.

We hesitated with putting this on the list because pretty much everyone must own it by now. But if you’re one of those people who doesn’t, well, consider this your call!

2-4 players, about 45 minutes to play, fun for everyone, but if you haven’t played many games with your kids before, the recommended 8+ is about right.


Place tiles to create a map.

That’s it.

Well, then you also put little people (aka Meeples) on the map, and depending on where you put them, they score you points.

That really is it.

There’s something quite calm and therapeutic about this game – gently picking up a tile from the stack, rotating it with your fingers until you find the perfect spot for it, satisfyingly completing aspects of the map… and if you enjoy it, there’s about 100 expansions with new and exciting tiles for you to try.

2-4 players, plays best with 3-4 though. About 30 minutes per game, and all ages can play this – but kids 8+ and adults probably get the most fun from it. For younger players, from 4+, there’s a ‘My First’ version that’s also amazing.

Story Cubes.

While school is out and kids have time at home, grab these dice, give them a roll, ask your child to tell you an awesome story. Keep that mind going – dredging up words from long-forgotten literacy lessons.

In fact – these have found their way into so many primary school classrooms your kids may already be well experienced with them.

Ages 4-11 do best with this, but if you can get your teenage kids to tell you a story, more power to you.

Marvel Splendor

Possibly the most challenging game on our list – but only because the other games are so simple to learn.

Collect your way to victory, swapping gems for more gems, and more ways to make gems, and then swap them for points. This is a super hero themed version of the normal ‘Splendor’ which may have an added appeal to some.

30-40 minute game, 8+ again, but not a kids game – adults will love it too.

Quacks of Quedlinberg

Perhaps one for people who have had a little more gaming experience.

But then, maybe not – the rule book is just a couple of pages longer than the other games in this list.

But we recommend this game to everyone – because it’s awesome.

If you already know you like games, and you haven’t got this, get it.

You put ingredients (little tokens) in your bag. Then you pull them out one at a time and place them in your cauldron. Each ingredient has a particular power that may (or may not) help you score more points. But eventually you’ll pull out the tokens that make you go BOOM – and prematurely end your turn.

Do you play safe and stop at a decent score, or keep going and risk an explosion?

Around 45-60 minutes per game, 10+ (or younger, if your family have experience with games), 3-4 players (5 players if you buy the expansion)

Haba games

Have you got very tiny children?

These break the ‘will the Hart family play them’ rule. Not that we’ve tried for a long time…. Maybe we’re doing our teenagers a disservice.

But for well made, chunky, tactile games for todders and pre-schoolers, these are amazing! It just adds another tool to your parenting bow when trying to think of what to do on another day of lockdown.