This idea came up with talking to some people from church. They were at Fantasy Flight Games when Kristen and I went there for their Black Friday sale. It’s a family that has a couple of younger boys and they were trying to figure out what games would make sense for their family. They were looking for something that wasn’t going to be too hard for the boys but also something that wasn’t going to be boring for the parents to play.
I think that is a really interesting line to walk, and I wanted to get it up on the website now, just for Christmas ideas, so I’m doing a double post today. The reason that it’s interesting is that there is kind of a gap and an idea that kids can’t really pick up on harder concepts, but allowing a kid to try more complicated games than Chutes and Ladders or Candyland will probably be helpful for them in learning as well as they have to tackle ideas and concepts in more fun ways than learning it through a text book. So, without much further ado, here are five board games that I think work great for families with younger (Elementary) kids and won’t bore the parent to death:
1. Ticket to Ride
This game has long been my go to game for family time. Ticket to Ride is a card collecting, color matching game where you try and connect routes across the country. It is a fast one to pick up, and the game can play differently every time that you play it. It’s good for kids because you are mainly trying to match the colors of cards in your hand so that you can play train routes. It’s also good, as it is a competitive game, but isn’t a cut throat game.
Catan is another good game to play with kids. The concepts are simple as you collect resources to build stuff. And while you can get competitive with it, the game generally works with everyone playing the board more so than competing against each other. Catan changes every time it is played as well, so while kids can pick it up pretty quickly. The one downside to Catan is that it is hard to predict exactly how long the game is going to take. If it starts taking too long, you can just play to a lower number of victory points. It varies a lot from game to game though.
3. Castle Panic
A tower defense game, this game has fun pieces, simple rules and strategy and is cooperative. It gives the family as a whole something that they can play together, and for a cooperative game, it isn’t nearly as tough as some. This means that while there is strategy, if you don’t play the ideal strategy because you are letting a kid take the lead, that is okay, you aren’t going to lose every time you let them take the lead. I like this game a lot as an option for kids because it really does help teach strategy, but in a fun way with fun pieces.
4. Forbidden Desert or Forbidden Island
These games are cooperative again. You are either looking for pieces of your crashed plane or trying to find missing treasure. The trick is, the pieces of the crashed plane as in the desert and keep on getting buried, and the treasure is on an island that is actively sinking. I’ve only played Forbidden Island, but Forbidden Desert seems more enjoyable. It adds in one piece of complexity that will make the game more interesting generally. They both come with other ways to up the difficulty as well which will make it feel like there is more pressure. These games are probably the fastest on the list as well, so that is to their advantage.
A cooperative game as well, this time you can play the iconic characters from the original Ghostbusters movies as they battle various ghosts completing different story arcs. The mechanics are simple, there are limited number of actions that you can do, and it comes with a ton of minis. Kids will enjoying playing a game where there are a bunch of little figures that they can move around on the board, and the main mechanic is just rolling dice. I’ve only played this one once, and I am sure that Kristen and I messed up some rules, but it plays fairly quickly, and there isn’t a ton of downtime between turns.
What are games that you think work well with kids? I have a few more that I could have added to the list, like Tsuro or Zombie Dice, but these are some bigger board games that use more strategy that would work well with younger kids.
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