Best Board Games For the Family
I took a poll around the dinner table, and here is our list of the Best Board Games for the Family. We all know it can be tricky to choose a game by its box, so I hope this list will be a good guide for you. Included is a short description, and a little about why we like the game so much.
Now, every year we find a new game or two for the whole family under our Christmas tree… maybe this can start a tradition in your home. Or, instead of trying to find a small gift for each member of a family, why not give one fabulous board game for the whole family?
Now, when choosing the best board games for the family, we decided to go with an age range of around 8 and up. My kids did start playing a few of these at a younger age, and I will let you know the ages of the specific games as I list them. In our home we frequently have multiple generations playing, so it’s not unusual to have a tween, a teen, a 20 something, a parent and a grandparent all sitting around the same table enjoying the same game. The games of this list are suitable for everyone, from board game regulars, to board game night newcomers. Some of these games are super simple, others require some strategy. In my opinion, some of the best family board games are Cooperative…. but my daughter would disagree, since she loves to stick it to her brother at every opportunity!
- 1 Best Board Games for the Family
- 2 Best Board Games for the Family – Cooperatives
- 3 Every Man for Himself Board Games
- 4 Games the Youngest and Oldest Family Members Can Enjoy Together
- 5 Other Games to Consider
Best Board Games for the Family
I listed these in groups by game type, not in order of preference….getting a list that we could all agree on caused enough commotion, I can’t imagine trying to get everyone to agree on the order…
Carcassonne Big Box
Carcassonne is an easy game for the whole family to learn. Basically, you take turns drawing cards, and using them to create a map of the city of Carcassonne. Points are scored when you complete certain features, like roads, castles or monasteries. The game changes every time you play, because of the luck of the draw.
The Carcassonne Big Box is the best deal, because not only do you get the basic set, you also get 5 expansion sets- Inn & Cathedrals, Traders & Builders, The River, Hills & Sheep, and The Wheel of Fortune. (You can choose to use the expansions each game,or leave them in the box). You also get extra Meeples, so more people can play! Buying all of these expansions separately would cost a lot more.
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is a route plotting game where you are given trains, and a few routes, and you have to determine the best way to reach your destination using the cards you draw. This was one of our family’s first “strategy” type games, and we found it very straightforward to learn, and quite engaging to play.
The original Ticket to Ride game is about the same price as the 10th Anniversary edition.
This is a great game to dip your toes into strategy games. It requires planning, strategics, and prioritizing. And, it’s good for helping with geography. My youngest was 8 when she first played, but it’s probably better for 11 and up.
Read more about Ticket to Ride and the Ticket to Ride Expansion Sets here...
Best Board Games for the Family – Cooperatives
Cooperative Board Games Middle School Kids Will Play without grumbling are hard to find, kids naturally love the competition that lets them win the game over their sibs. These games are set up so that you all work together to beat the game board. And they are FUN!
The object of Castle Panic is for everyone to work together to save the castle tower from hoards of attacking Orcs and Goblins. Cards give you abilities and the roll of the die determines what sort of attacks are coming.
The key is YOU HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER! Trading cards with your fellow players, and working together to decide tactics is key. Either everyone wins, or everyone loses. If someone needs a blue swordsman, everyone scrambles to find one!
The castle and monsters are fun to play with, and since it’s cooperative, younger children can play with help from the bigger people.
Read a more complete review of Castle Panic Here.
Forbidden Island is another cooperative game…. the object, save four treasures from a sinking island before it disappears beneath your feet. You work together, assigning tasks and helping each other out to collect the objects, and then get back to the helicopter pad.
Because it is cooperative, younger players are able to play along with help. However, sadly, it is more likely that you will drown than succeed… but you will all sink or swim together.
The game is a little different every time you play, because the “board” is laid out in tiles that are shuffled before the game begins. As pieces are removed, and water rises, it becomes more and more difficult to collect treasure.
Read a more complete review of Forbidden Island Here
Pandemic Board Game
Pandemic Board Game is one of those cooperative games middle school kids will love. You have disease and epidemic, the possibility of outbreak, and it’s all quite exciting and deadly.
In Pandemic, your player is assigned a role at random, that gives you a specific strength or ability. You and your fellow players then work together to slow the spread of disease while trying to collect enough cards to cure them. It’s not easy, in fact, it’s much easier to die than succeed. One slip, and epidemic will lead to outbreak, and before you know it, you are overrun.
What works with Pandemic is that you really do have to play as a team to make it work. My daughter has been playing since she was 11…with some help… Most turns are played with lots of discussion, so the best path is taken.
Read a more comprehensive review of Pandemic Here
Every Man for Himself Board Games
These games are a little more cut-throat… not only are you trying to win, but you are trying to make sure your opponent LOSES…. and you might even have a hand in their demise…
Survive: Escape from Atlantis
Survive: Escape from Atlantis is another “escape from a sinking island” game. But this time, instead of working with your fellow players, like in Forbidden Island, it’s every man for himself! The object is to get as many of your players off the Island, and safely onto the mainland as possible, while at the same time trying to stop your opponents.
Your Meeples escape from the Island on little boats… but the boats can sink, whales can attack, sharks can eat you, whirlpools can suck you in, or a Sea Serpent can take you out. The fun part is, you control the monsters!
Players take turns moving men, moving monsters, then removing a bit of the Island to see what horrors come up next. The game is well made, and the pieces are fun to play with.
Read more of my Survive: Espcape from Atlantis Review Here
King of Tokyo
King of Tokyo is based on those wonderful old Monster Movies where Giant Beasts come up out of the ocean and stomp on Tokyo! My kids LOVE this game. You get to choose your monster, gather energy, punch your opponents and develop special skills… all based on the luck of the dice.
There is some strategy involved… do you want to use your dice rolls to punch, and lower your opponent’s life expectancy? Or would you rather save points for energy that you can trade in on powers? Lots of twists and turns, plus the luck of the dice, keep things interesting.
King of Tokyo was created by Richard Garfield, the inventor of Magic the Gathering. Because this is every man for himself, it’s best to go with ages 10 and up.
Read my complete King of Tokyo Review here
Games the Youngest and Oldest Family Members Can Enjoy Together
Sometimes it tricky explaining the rules of new board games to my parents, or to the youngest members of the family who want to play too. We keep these classic games on hand because they play well, you don’t need to be a super strategist, and they are plain old fun.
Remember Memory Games
Remember Memory is one of the first games my mother taught me to play. It’s simple, you have a stack of cards, each one has a match. Cards are mixed up and laid upside down on the table. Players go around the table, and on their turn, flip over two cards looking for a match. If you get one, you get to go again.
Yes, you can play this game with a simple deck of cards, but the Remember Company makes the most beautiful sets that make the game enjoyable for all ages (do not get a Barney version… it’s irritating).
This is a timeless game that my mom still loves playing with the kids. Plus it’s good for your brain.
Read my complete review of Remember Memory Games here
Qwirkle Board Game
Qwirkle is a bit like Dominos, and a bit like a set making game. The object is to connect a series of cubes in runs of matching color or matching shapes. Points are given according to how many connections you make on a given turn.
What I love about this game is that very young kids can play, and enjoy it, but older people can play too. It’s fun and straightforward, with no reading!
We take this game along on all of our vacations, since it can be played by a lot of people at once.
Farkle Dice Game
The Farkle Dice Game is ALWAYS in my purse (I purchased a few of the mini editions, in addition to the standard edition that we keep at home). It’s a game for Board Game Players and non-game players. Simple to learn, easy to play, and with an element of gambling (that attracts my father), this is a game your family will love.
Play is simple, you roll 6 dice… 1’s and 5’s count, the rest, you can re-roll. Now…as soon as you stop rolling 1s and 5s, you Farkle! and your turn ends … but if you stop before that, you get to keep your points.
Points are also scored with combinations of other numbers… like runs of 1-6 or 3 of a kind.
Every time we go to a restaurant, we play Farkle while waiting for our meals to arrive. And EVERY SINGLE TIME people ask us about the game, and where we got it. This is a game for everyone.
Read a more comprehensive review of Farkle Dice here.
With so many great board games to choose from, I’m sure that you will have found the Best Board Games for the Family
Other Games to Consider