Playing board games is a great way to bond as a family. You’ll find that your kids learn how to be patient as they wait for their turn, how to help other family members and how to play by the rules. With the right kinds of games, your kids can learn other valuable skills such as spelling, reading, counting, addition and subtraction, and strategy. Make it a point to have a family game night once a week. Pop some popcorn or make a pan of brownies and settle in around the kitchen table for a few hours of laughter, fun and games.
Best Rated Board Games for Families
1. Hi Ho Cherry-O by Hasbro – For Families with Young Children
You may have played this game when when you were a child, and it still has the same appeal today for kids as young as three. You don’t need reading skills for this game, so the youngest member of the family is able to be competitive. Hi Ho Cherry-O comes with 40 tiny plastic cherries (ages three and up, because the cherries pose a choking hazard for younger children). You’ll fill up the spaces on your tree with cherries, and then spin the spinner to be able to “pick” a cherry or two. Sometimes a dog or bird will “eat” some cherries, and you’ll have to take them out of your basket and put them back on the tree. The first player to have 10 cherries in his basket wins! You’ll need at least two players to play; the maximum is four players.
2. Wordplay for Kids! by Game Development Group
Want to work on vocabulary, spelling and concentration skills? This Teacher’s Choice Award winner might be just the ticket. Kids as young as six can play, as long as they have some basic reading and spelling skills. Everyone grabs a pencil and game pad and someone spins the spinner to get two letters that must be used to make a word. Another player can roll the die to get a category. Then, flip over the timer and use your noggin to come up with a great word. Every player gets to move his token farther along the board as long as he makes a viable word, but those who make longer words get to move even more spaces. This is a fun game for up to six players. If you’ve got kids in a wide age range, form teams or maybe give younger players some extra points each turn to even the playing field.
This is a game where 2-5 players work to assist the king by growing and defending their territory. Essentially, this is a resource management game with dice.
The board consists of various advisers of the King and the King himself. The intriguing mechanism of the game is that after all players roll dice, each places a combination of dice on any of these advisers numbered 1-18. Each adviser helps players buy providing resources and soldiers to help defend the kingdom.
We love the variety of the game and the combination of the luck of the dice and the skill to manage your resources property.
4. Kids on Stage by University Games
Kids on Stage is for kids as young as three won a National Parenting Publications award and it’s easy to see why. Basically a version of charades, this game will turn your kids into little actors and actresses and have the whole family laughing. No reading is required; the cards have pictures on them that even the youngest game players can understand. Preschoolers can work on number and color skills as they spin the spinner and them move their game piece to a colored square. They’ll choose a card of the same color, get up “on stage” and act out the picture. Parents or siblings can help, or team up for collaborative fun. Play strictly by the rules and act out silently, or allow some noises for even more hilarity. This game makes a nice transition to play dates as well, since adult help really isn’t needed to play.
5. Rory’s Story Cubes by Gamewright
Rory’s Story Cubes is an inexpensive game that is a family favorite, and easy to take on trips to Grandma’s house or on family vacations. It increases writing skills and creativity and can be funny, tragic, thoughtful or even poetic, depending on the writer. Roll the nine cubes, then spend the next fifteen minutes writing a story that incorporates all the ideas represented on the cubes. This game can be played many ways. Each player may make up his or her own story, then read it aloud at the end. Or, the family can collaborate on a story together, with one designated writer. The game maker specifies players of eight years or older, but younger children could certainly be included in collaborative games. Mix things up by only use a few cubes, or give everyone a couple cubes and have them make up a unique story. This game can even be played by one player for individual skill-building.
6. Settlers of Catan
When people buy family board games on this planet they buy Settlers of Catan more than any other except possibly Monopoly. Easy to learn, fun to master and its modular design adds unique elements to every game. Settlers is the father and flagship of the incredibly popular Eurogame genre.
In this engaging social game 3-4 players ages 10+ compete with each other to settle and develop the Island of Catan. Players build roads, settlements and cities while managing, trading, competing for and acquiring various resources to support their own settlements. The game is competitive but trade and diplomacy are important elements of the game. Everyone who plays Settlers of Catan loves it. This is one of the best family board games on the market.
The popularity of Settlers has spawned several expansion board games including: Seafarers of Catan, Cities and Knights of Catan and Traders and Builders of Catan. In addition, there are many Catan themed games out there including: Settlers of America Trails to Rails, Elasund the First City and Catan: Histories of Germany.
This game launched in 2008 and has been incredibly popular in Europe and America. This game like most of the Platinum list entries will appeal to hardcore gamers and casual gamers alike. In addition to making our Platinum List Pandemic occupies #1 on our Co-op Board Game top ten. Pandemic helped define this new category of board games. Two other examples of Co-op family board games are Forbidden Island (see below) and Defenders of the Realm.
Grab your medical bag saddle up. In Pandemic you are working for the CDC. Choose what department you want to work for. Do you want to be a scientist? Perhaps your skills are better suited to operations and infrastructure? All players choose specialization skills and work as a team. Choosing complimentary skill sets is important. Once your team is in place its time to get out there and fight diseases and plagues and epidemics. Doesn’t sound hilarious, challenging, engaging and fun. But it is!! Save your frequent flyer miles you will be traveling all over the world. Its a Pandemic! 1-4 players. This is one of our favorite family board games.
8. Ticket to Ride
In this exciting game 2-5 players ages 10+ attempt to complete a number of train lines to and from various cities in the US. Ticket to Ride enjoys massive worldwide sales and is consistently reviewed well by our customers. Each turn, players either draw train tickets, draw new destination tickets or lay down train routes.
This game is easy to play, easy to learn and always a challenge to win. No two games are the same. All this makes for a fantastic gaming experience. Ticket to ride like many other incredibly popular family board games of our day has released theme based board games based on the original. For example there is a Ticket to Ride Europe.
9. No stress Chess
Chess originates in 6th century India. It rapidly spread around the world and has been incredibly popular ever since. We like this game, its fun, it can be played by beginners but some people spend decades mastering it. Great Chess board games are decorative when displayed and can be played in less than an hour or you can leave the game set up and proceed slowly. If you buy a chess set get one that looks good and is well made. That can be accomplished for less than 30 dollars. We believe that is a very reasonable cost but we found a Chess set on the market for less than 15 dollars that we believe is worth mentioning. It is called No Stress Chess. This game is no frills and the pieces are not distinguished but it offers strategy cards for in game play and if you flip the board one side has what we call chess training wheels. The board is marked with individual piece movements. It is very inexpensive and also exceptionally well reviewed by customers world wide. We recommend No Stress Chess for thrifty first timers but well crafted family board games like the one pictured above are a pleasure.
10. Forbidden Island
From Matt Lecock, the designer of Pandemic, comes a cooperative game ideal for families.
1-4 players work together to recover four treasures from a sinking island. If players manage to collect all four treasures and escape before the island sinks, they win. This game is similar to Pandemic but plays quicker and has a theme better suited for some families.
Every game offers a different island set up and different roles players take on, ensuring that every game will be a fun and unique experience.
A board game where 2-6 compete to build the most buildings in order to score points.
Each player starts with a fountain title and works to build their own personalized Alhambra. Each turn, players can either get money, spend money or buy a building tile or alternately, do a redesign to their Alhambra. Each time players buy a building tile with exact change they get an extra turn! This is one of the more engaging family board games on the market.
This is another one of those family board games that is easy to learn, yet offers a great deal of variety since the money and buildings that are available each round will vary. Released in 2003, the popularity of this game has been followed by numerous expansions and continues to be one of the worlds favorite family board games.
Dominion is the first and finest of a new breed of card games called deck building games. But we still include it with other family board games in the broader family board games category. Why? Because it is a great family game. Great enough for us to bend the rules to include it.
In Dominion, 2-4 players ages 12+ work to buy and use action cards called Kingdom cards from a stack of 10 types of cards. Players can also buy victory point and treasure cards. The player who has the most victory point cards at the end of the game wins.
This game comes with 500 cards, including 25 Kingdom Cards. Since you only use 10 each game, there is an incredible amount of variety to the game. The massive popularity of this game has been followed by four Dominion sequels and has inspired many other deck building games.
This is a board game version of a popular card game “Coloretto”. Players compete to deliver trucks of zoo animals to their zoo pen or barn. The player whose Zoo offers the most attractive animals and concessions wins.
Fun theme, simple yet involving game play. This game is terrific for people of all ages. There are many expansions available including “Aquaretto” and “Zooloretto Exotic”.
14. Apples to Apples Party Box – The Game of Hilarious Comparisons by Mattel
Apples to Apples just keeps winning award after award, and you’ll quickly see why. It’s a great game for families with older children and teenagers; the manufacturer specifies ages twelve and up, which is pretty accurate. If you find it hard to get your teen talking, this might be the perfect game. Game play is very simple and straightforward. You’ll appoint a judge, then each player gets a set of red colored cards with a noun printed on the reverse side. The judge draws a green card with an adjective on it and places it face-up on the table. Players then choose a card from their hand that is best described by the adjective. Comparisons get funny fast as players attempt to convince the judge why their words are good comparisons. The judge chooses a winner for each round, then another judge oversees the next round. You’ll get stories out of your kids that you would never have imagined. There are more than one thousand cards in this game, so you’ll never run out of creative, funny combinations. Designed for play with four to ten people, but you can certainly play with more.
In this game 2-5 players each take turns drawing a tile and placing it down on the table building a puzzle representing the land of Carcassonne. Through clever placement of player pieces, called Meeples, players score points for roads, castles, churches and roads.
The base game comes with 72 tiles but there are numerous expansions which add tiles and new ways to play the game. This game is recommended for families that like puzzles as well as a fun, social gaming experience.