The Ultimate Guide to Family Friendly Board Games

Though they’ve faced stiff competition from video games in recent years, board games are still going strong as a fun way to pass time. This is just as true for families now as it was twenty years ago – assuming that the parents have the right games on hand.

There are so many board games that it can be difficult to pick out ones that are verifiably family-friendly. Before playing any board game, it’s important to ask the following questions:

– How is it rated? Most board games have an age rating on the front, side, or back of the box. Avoid games that are not rated ‘E for Everyone’, unless the family members are all at least in their teens.

– How difficult is the game? Find a brief rundown of the rules, or look for online reviews. Some board games are far too complex for children.

– Is the game thematically appropriate for children? Candyland is generally a safe choice, but Betrayal at House on the Hill may be too adult for a youngster.

– Is the game suitable for more than two players? Most board games will accommodate up to four players, but not always.

– Does the game require small pieces? Younger children are better left to games with larger, more obvious playing pieces.

– How long does it take to play the game? Some sessions, such as with Risk, can stretch on for hours. This may test the patience of children, unless they really get into the game play. Try to play games that will only last an average of fifteen to twenty minutes unless you know for certain that all players will remain interested.

Looking for more help? Then you may want to consider some of the following board games for game night. All are appropriate for family play.

Monopoly 

A long-time classic, and arguably the most popular board game of all time, Monopoly is a staple of most family closets. Learning how to play is relatively easy, and it encourages mathematics and bargaining skills in developing children. Monopoly also comes in hundreds of different flavours, so it’s almost guaranteed that you can buy a version of Monopoly suitable for your family. 

Sorry!

Another classic, and one that’s much simpler than Monopoly. Sorry! is very easy to learn, and despite the simple rules it has the perfect formula for a spirited competition between kids and adults.

Yahtzee

Another numbers game, and one that can easily go on the road with the family on vacations. Yahtzee encourages strategic thinking and is very easy to learn, but very difficult to master.

Pictionary

If there’s one area where many children and adults are equal, it’s drawing ability. Pictionary pits teams of two against each other in a race to the finish, drawing pictures along the way for their partners to solve. Not only is it a lot of fun, Pictionary usually ends with a bout of laughter and bad drawings – perfect for balancing out competitive frustration.

Clue

True, Clue is about a murder, but it’s as inoffensive a murder-mystery as any parent will ever put before their kids. Explore a vast mansion, collecting clues to piece together a case against an inheritance-seeking killer. Clue builds deductive reasoning skills, and the nature of the crime changes each time you play.

The Settlers of Catan

Ten points, a whole lot of resources, and the desire to build the best network of settlements. That more or less sums up Catan. The expansions can make Settlers of Catan fairly complex, but the base game is easy for new players to understand, and can introduce children to strategic thinking. Catan’s strong random-chance system of play also gives every player the chance to excel.

Apples to Apples: Family

Suitable for any age group, Apples to Apples challenges players to match words to a description from a judge. The most accurate word wins the round. This title is easy to learn, and usually very funny to play. The original Apples to Apples version may be too complex for children, but the family edition can provide a great deal of fun for any age group.

Kids Battle the Grown-Ups

What better game for a family to play than one that requires a kids and adults matchup? Creating an even playing field, Kids Battle the Grown-Ups forces both sides to answer questions that the other would know. Only one side can win in this tug-of-war.

These are only the most popular family games on the market, and there are many more that aren’t included. Check with a local board game store for advice on family-friendly games, or look online at gaming sites. Most will feature at least a token section on games for the whole family.