What are the best family board games?
Nothing brings friends and families together like a fun and competitive board game, promoting strategy and socialization at the same time. While most are familiar with the classics such as chess, Scrabble, Monopoly and more, new board games are developed and released every year for adults, children and families in general.
While there are many games geared toward the more mature crowd or simplified for the little ones, there are plenty of board games that are fun for the whole family. If video games, smartphones and other screens have you missing personal interaction, bring the gang together with a great family-friendly board game.
What to consider when choosing a family board game
Board games are rated for different ages based on their difficulty level, so make sure to pick one that will fit everyone who’s playing.
Number of players
Many popular games, like chess, checkers, Guess Who? and Battleship, are designed for two players, so they’re more fitting for couples or roommates. Make sure whatever family game you choose accommodates your whole squad.
Some evenings call for a single, time-consuming strategy game; family game night is not usually one of them. If you’re playing with more than four total players, consider a shorter game so you can play more than one game if desired. Fast-paced games also help prevent boredom and burnout.
Just as adults might not like being stuck playing a children’s game, many newer popular games are designed for an adult crowd, so leave games like Cards Against Humanity for your next grown-up party. Similarly, a game like Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle may be fun for fanatics of the books and films but could be too niche for your whole family.
Rules and gameplay
No matter what age range your family fits into, it’s a good idea to avoid complicated games with complex rules or confusing gameplay.
Chance vs. strategy
If you’re playing with younger and older family members, make sure to find a game with the best balance of skill and luck. More mature kids might love tougher games, while some older adults might prefer a bit more left to chance; either way, find a game that suits everybody’s skill set.
The average family board game goes for about $30, with many card games on the cheaper side and more complex games going for about double. Don’t overpay for a game that might not fit your group, but if you buy a less expensive game, double-check that it involves enough players to keep everyone involved.
Best family board games for 2021
Best overall family board games
Designed for ages 8 and up, Ticket to Ride is one of the most popular board games released in the last two decades. It’s built for 2-5 players, making it suitable for smaller groups, and the transportation theme adds a light educational element.
It’s an incredibly replayable game that features numerous geographic editions like Ticket to Ride: Europe and Japan, as well as Rails and Sails, which brings the action from the railroad to the open seas. For the youngest family members, there is also a children’s version designed for ages 6 and up.
Rated for ages 7 and up, Exploding Kittens is another wildly popular family board game that brings a payload of laughter to kids and adults. It’s known as a family-friendly version of Russian Roulette — don’t worry, nobody gets hurt — that mixes strategy, chance and humor, with lots of absurd twists.
It’s a simple game to play and easy to learn, and there’s a party pack to expand the game to 10 players. Featuring lethal kittens that go boom and magical enchiladas, it’s a silly game that can bring out your silly side.
Produced by American puzzle maker Ravensburger, Villainous captures the popularity of fictional anti-heroes and cartoon baddies in a fun and familiar package.
Designed for 2-5 players aged 10 and up, Villainous features six iconic Disney villains, including Captain Hook, Maleficent and Jafar. It involves strategy, chance and some built-in character advantages, and additional games let you build a better roster of villains.
The classic Hasbro trivia game is even better when the whole family is involved, thanks to separate decks for kids and adults, leveling the field for young and old. Categories include geography, history, sports and leisure and science and nature, giving everyone a chance to flex their mental muscles and learn new facts at the same time.
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Bird enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy this award-winning Stonemaier favorite. Simultaneously strategic, educational and entertaining, it features 170 unique bird cards as well as a birdhouse feeder dice tower. Although younger kids will enjoy the visuals, this game is more suited for teens and parents to bond over ideas like wildlife conservation.
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From the same team behind Exploding Kittens, Throw Throw Burrito is a wildly fun card game that can turn into a dodgeball match at a moment’s notice. Made for 2-6 players aged 7 and up, this game is best played in an area free from breakables and fragile heirlooms. But don’t worry, there’s an extreme outdoor edition that uses giant inflatable burritos to incite action and activity.
Formerly known as Settlers of Catan, this German-style strategy board game is one of the most popular in the world, selling over 22 million copies in 30 languages. Even though adults may enjoy playing this game on grown-up game night, it’s suitable for kids over 10 years old, making it a great learning experience for the whole family.
Settle new colonies on the isle of Catan, create civilizations and out-strategize your opponents in this game that’s never the same twice. Make sure to pick up the expansions to open the world up to more players.
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Matt Fleming writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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