Now, this topic is going to be a bit trickier for me than a lot of other games. I have a kid, but at 2 weeks old, they aren’t playing any board games yet. But that will be something that will be gotten over time.
Let’s talk a little bit about what I would look for in a kids game. I think that a lot of people are used to pretty boring kids games. Games like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders has no real strategy to them, and they are boring for the adults to play. I personally think board games for kids should challenge them some. They don’t need to be too hard or too confusing, but a game that challenges a kid to develop reasoning and planning skills are going to be a good thing. I also think that it is fine for parents to beat kids at games. It doesn’t mean that you have to go all out or always beat them, but learning to lose gracefully is something that a lot of adults could stand to learn, so it’s good to teach kids that as well.
But what are some good kids games?
Stuffed Fables came up on the story game, and it has an amazing story of stuffed animals protecting a little girl while she sleeps. The downside to this game and the thing that you should be aware of is that there are some small pieces and little fiddly bits in the game. However, the game is cooperative, so the information of what is going on is known to everyone and you can work together as a team. The story should keep kids engaged.
Mice and Mystics
From the same designer and the predecessor to Stuffed Fables, Mice and Mystics is for a slightly older group of kids, but has a very Redwall feel towards it. Another cooperative game, it’s going to be one that you can probably play with a younger age, though they’ll mainly be rolling dice and making fewer decisions.
I’m not sure in the ability to get this game still as I got it as a kickstarter, but Lift Off! is a fun game where you are playing cards and moving around tons of adorable meeples to try and get your guys off of the planet first before the planet blows up. However, each way off the planet can only hold so many guys and only launches at certain points in time. It’s a fun game that offers enough decisions to keep everyone engaged, but not so many that it would be confusing to kids.
Now, this is just a category, and I haven’t even played their games, but Haba is a game company that really focuses on making kids games. Their two most famous, Rhino Hero and Rhino Hero Super Battle. They are both tower building dexterity games where you are trying to get a hero to the top, but in Rhino Hero Super Battle, each person has their own hero and they fight along their way to the top. Any dexterity game is going to be nice, because kids are often more dexterous than the adults.
Another dexterity game, and the last dexterity game for this list, Ice Cool is about a Penguin High School, but would play really well with young kids and is a ton of fun for adults as well. And now with Ice Cool 2, you can play up to 8 players, instead of just 4. In this game, you are flicking penguins around trying to collect fist or race around the board. It’s a ton of fun, and it’s fun for the adults to try a crazy shot and hope it works, but sometimes you just flick the penguin as hard as possible and you bounce through a couple of doors, and other times, you bounce off a wall and end up back where you started.
Final game on the list, Titan Race does have a few small pieces, but you don’t need to use them, you can just do a grand prix style. In the game you are playing cards, once in a while that you might have to help kids with, but the big thing you are doing is drafting dice and moving as the dice show. You could easily simplify this game so that you don’t use the cards and it’s all about drafting dice and not pushing other characters forward. The minis are fun in this game, and kids will definitely like them and the artwork of this game.
Now, that’s a solid selection of kids games. There are more, some on the Intro Games list, that could work for kids as well. There are also games like Catan Junior or My Little Scythe that are simplified or tweaked versions of bigger games that would work well with kids as well. And judge with your own kid what games will work for them and which ones won’t. If you checkout the YouTube channel Watch It Played, you can watch the host play fairly complicated games with his son, and the games might seem like they are going to be too challenging for him, but it completely depends on the kid. The Dice Tower also has some really fun reviews by Dan and Cora in the Board Game Breakfast where they look at games for 4-6 year olds (they’ve been doing it while Cora was 4 and now she’s 6). So that’s another great resource.
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