Want to set up a fun family game night and not have the interference of cell phones or laptops? Have a few fun and challenging board games ready to go for your weekly family gatherings.

Video games might be all the rage for kids, teens, and adults, but sometimes it can be good to put down the headset and controller, turn off the TV, and have a family board game night. If not a family, then at least a one-on-one match. Playing board games gives the entire family a chance to interact and connect.

Board games also cut down on the amount of time people spend in front of screens. While video games have their place and the medium has produced masterpieces, overdoing it can be a bad thing. Therefore, we’ve come up with a list of seven of the best board games for kids and the entire family to play.

We’ve looked online for some of the best choices, including timeless classics and a few more obscure modern offerings.

How We Choose Our Ratings

First, we look at the ease of playing the game. An easy-to-learn game is usually best, but sometimes, it can be rewarding to play a harder or more complex game, provided everyone present understands the rules.

Then, we consider safety. Children tend to try eating things they shouldn’t, and board game pieces are no exception. Especially small pieces can pose a choking hazard, or if they have sharp edges, they can cut. Although it’s not possible to make everything completely safe, we try to promote toys and games that are as safe as possible.

One of our other criteria is how long it takes to set up and play a game. If you’re looking for a quick diversion, you’ll want a different game than if you want something that takes several hours. That isn’t to mention the time it takes to set up the game. Something like chess compared to something like Monopoly is different in terms of setup.

People’s attention spans will be challenged from playing some board games that don’t have the same instant sense of reward that video games may have. We’ve looked for games with a mix of slow and fast gameplay to suit all age levels.

For board games, these are the main criteria we selected when choosing our picks. Even if you decide to pick something else for your game night, hundreds of options exist. Here’s our list of the seven best board games for kids and the whole family.

Settlers of Catan

Catan Board Game (Base Game) | Family Board Game | Board Game for...

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Settlers of Catan is a strategy-based game that puts you in charge of an imaginary plot of land on an island called Catan. The idea of the game is to collect resources to build your colony by trading, building, and exploring the map. The game board consists of 19 randomly-arranged hexagonal tiles, making it so that the game has extra replay value.

Each game tile produces a certain type of resource, determined by rolling two six-sided dice on each player’s turn. Then those resources are used to build cities and settlements, which give points. The first player to reach ten points wins. If you get tired of the original, there are countless expansions and variations online.

We like this game because it’s a deep enough game that you’ll be able to get enjoyment and replay value out of it while providing a cartoon-like look that kids will enjoy. The rules are moderately complex, but not so much that it causes headaches to play. The game works best for 2 to 4 players.  With expansions, you can add more and make it a party event.

Monopoly: Fortnite Edition

Monopoly: Fortnite Edition Board Game Inspired by Fortnite Video Game...

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Your children might be obsessed with playing the battle royale hit Fortnite, but you want to have them play Monopoly with the rest of the family on game night. Now you can combine the two with Monopoly Fortnite Edition. In this version, you’re trying to survive the ever-present storm while collecting weapons and materials to protect yourself from other players.

While playing standard Monopoly, you collect $200 every time you pass go. In this edition, you trigger the storm and have to move further to avoid it. A set of action dice allow you to do things like attack other players, build walls, and more. All the while, you’re traveling around the game board representing different spots on the island.

Monopoly: Fortnite Edition has slightly different rules than other versions, but it’s the same basic game that’s existed since the 1930s.

Clue

Retro Series Clue 1986 Edition Game

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Clue is undoubtedly a classic board game. If you’ve never played Clue, the basic premise is of a murder mystery. The game board represents the layout of a mansion with different rooms. Each player takes on the role of a murder suspect, each one having potentially taken the life of Mr. Boddy, Each player tries to prove their innocence by accusing the others.

Facts, represented by cards, are distributed between the players, and they move throughout the game board collecting evidence and narrowing down the suspects. The answer, in the form of three different cards depicting the murder weapon, location, and suspect, is in an envelope placed on the stairs. The player does not have access to this area until the end of the game.

Was it Colonel Mustard in the library with the knife? Or Professor Plum in the kitchen with the candlestick? The game can get more complex as time goes on, but the basics are simple enough to get started quickly. You can play Clue with anywhere from 3 to 6 players.

Scrabble

Scrabble Game

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It always pays to increase your vocabulary. Scrabble is a classic board game that features wooden tiles with letters on them, as well as a board marked with points. Each player starts with a letter board with seven letters that can be the same or different. By strategically using each letter, the object of the game is to get as many points as possible.

Each player creates words by adding tiles adjacent to already-created words. To get the most points, you want to use high-value letters, or uncommon ones, on the double- or triple-point letter and word squares.

Scrabble is an excellent game to test and increase your vocabulary. Just be sure to have a dictionary or smartphone dictionary app on hand to resolve the inevitable questions that arise. Remember the basic rules of Scrabble: no proper nouns and no foreign-language words.

The only problem you might have with Scrabble is losing some of the game pieces.  However, if you’re handy with woodworking tools you can easily create replacements for the missing tiles.

Pandemic

Pandemic Board Game (Base Game) | Family Board Game | Board Game for...

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Based on a popular Web-based game but with the opposite goal, Pandemic focuses on having players work together to eliminate a globally-threatening disease. By combining resources, players can use different methods to combat, contain, and ultimately eliminate the disease. The game emphasizes working together rather than competing with one another.

After all, should such a scenario to happen in reality, entities would need to pool resources. The game is played using a map of the world as the board and cards as resources. You can also add challenge by putting multiple diseases into play at once. Pandemic is a bit on the complex side, as you might expect, but it’s a good game if you’re looking for a more cerebral experience.

You have to use your resources conservatively and intelligently; you only have a finite number of cards, and once they’re depleted the game is over. Collaboration is nearly essential to win unless you get lucky.

The game can be played with at least three players.

Chess

Family Classics Chess by Pressman -- with Folding Board and Full Size...

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If you want a basic two-player experience that can teach children to think ahead in problem-solving skills, a simple game of chess might be the way to go. Chess has been around for over a thousand years and undergone many changes during that time. The game board is a simple 8×8 checkerboard. Each side has 16 pieces.

The pieces are the following:

  • Pawn
  • Rook/castle
  • Knight/horse
  • Bishop
  • Queen
  • King

Each piece moves differently, and the object of the game is to put the king in checkmate, from which he cannot legally move without getting captured on the next turn. Themed chess variants exist as well, but it’s probably best to stick with the basics to start.

Although chess is a two-player game (barring some exotic versions that feature two players to a side), it can be a great one-on-one interaction time. You can teach your child the moves and rules of the game. In addition to sharpening strategic thinking skills, it can be rewarding to win a game. Chess might seem like an odd choice, but children are naturally curious. 

The bare-bones nature of the board can lend itself to the imagination: a pawn getting to the opposite side can conjure heroic images in the mind. The development of imagination is a vital tool in a child’s growth.

The game’s rules are simple once you learn how the pieces move, and some of the more obscure rules such as en passant are often disregarded.

The Game of Life

The Game of Life Game

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The Game of Life is an all-time classic. It focuses on taking players through simulated life experiences as they maneuver around the board, collecting cards, and chance tokens. You can pick careers, buy cars, and do even more activities. Updated versions of the game, like the one we’ve linked, feature careers that were chosen by kids to give them a sense of participating.

The Game of Life takes a while – just like the real thing if you’re lucky, but it is one of the best board games for kids to demonstrate what life has in store: chance, happiness, and sadness.  Although the game is complex, you can probably strip some rules or make up your own to produce a more streamlined game.

The game board is large enough to accommodate 6 players. The game runs best with 4 players, but if you want to add more, the game will take longer. If you have plenty of time to play, it’s a good choice.

How to Get the Most Out of Board Games

chess is one of the best board games for kids

The best way to ensure that board games for kids ensure a fun night is to schedule it to happen regularly. If you have the weekend available, that’s probably the best time because your child can briefly postpone studying and homework.

This needs to be a weekly or biweekly family event to ensure it becomes a habit. Otherwise, games can simply sit in the closet and collect dust. You want to keep this from happening.

Preparing for Play

First, get the game out and make sure all the pieces are present. You’ll want to have a clean table for play as well, so clear off any plates or other items from the kitchen table, set up the board, and look through the pieces. If it’s a new game, pass around the rulebook or pamphlet so everyone can read.

If you have small children, read or explain the rules to them so they know how to play the game. Also, be mindful that children may need more time to get used to moving pieces around. Although many games have a touch-move rule, you can waive this if it makes the experience easier.

Speaking of touching game pieces, try to avoid having dinner while you play. It’s too easy otherwise to get food or drinks spilled on game pieces, and sugar can end up attracting bugs. You don’t want your treasured game to be a source of the infestation. Check it regularly to be sure no pieces have gone missing.

Making a Unique Experience

The best thing about playing board games is that the rules are mutable. If you don’t like a rule of the game, change it to suit how you want to play. If you’re playing with young children, it might be a good idea to get rid of more complex game rules. The best board games for kids make a not of what rules are essential for gameplay.

You can also figure out how to resolve disputes during play. For example, you could defer automatically to the rules; you could request a rematch later or include a randomized factor, like dice.

Remove Technology

During game time, remove all cell phones, laptops, and other devices. If you can set the table up in a room without a TV, that’s a good idea as well. The point of board game night is to have interaction without the presence of screens. You can do this and at the same time respect other people’s needs by scheduling a game night at a time that works for everyone equally.

Bring it to a family-wide vote if necessary. After all, two or three hours out of the evening won’t put a massive impact on your social life. On fact, you could even bolster it by inviting friends and neighbors over to play. If you have multiple copies of the same game, you could host a tournament of sorts.

Change the Games

Playing the same game week after week can make a beloved tradition stale. Instead, you should keep multiple games on hand and switch between them from one week to the next. If you want to get younger children engaged in the activity, allow them to pick out a game to play that week. Let them look at the board and the pieces and become familiar with it.

You can donate old, unplayed games to charity and go shopping for the best board games for kids. By letting youngsters pick out new games, you’re more likely to see them played often.

Final Thoughts

best board games

Getting your family and children away from their screens can be a challenging proposition but if you have a selection of fun board games for kids, it’s a lot easier. When you’re picking board games, try to avoid too many games that only allow two players. The more people can play, the more engaged they will be.

Don’t think that board game night has to be limited to the games we’ve listed here. Doing a simple search online will reveal many modern and classic titles for your enjoyment. From titles like The Game of Life, Risk, and Clue to the newer titles like Catan, you can be sure to find something you and your entire family will enjoy.

Make a habit out of board game night, and you’re more likely to enjoy closeness with your family and friends. You can also check your local events listing; board gaming can be an excellent way to meet new people.

Last update on 2021-06-12 at 13:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API