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Maybe you grew up on the same standard set of games I did. Things like Monopoly, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit. Maybe you’ve ventured into things like The Settlers of Catan in recent years. But did you know there are dozens of creative, family friendly games out there to choose from?
If you’re like us, you are always looking for fun things that the whole family can participate in. Especially as kids hit the teenage years, it can be difficult to engage.
Welcome to the Next Wave of Family Board Games!
When our kids were little, we played Candyland and Hungry Hungry Hippos like most parents, because that’s what you do.
The next “tier” of games is traditionally Monopoly or Sorry! territory. We played these as well, but were soon looking for something more.
That’s when we discovered Ticket to Ride. Or, ‘The Gateway Game’ as we’ve called it. Ticket to Ride was the first family game that we all played in which everyone actually enjoyed the game itself. It’s simple enough for elementary aged kids, but strategic enough for adults.
At first, we played “Cards Up“, so we could help the boys with matching and strategy. But they soon caught on and we had a new favorite.
Ever since then, we’ve found lots of interesting, fun games that engage us all..and we still play Ticket to Ride sometimes!
Board Gaming Guys
My husband has been into strategy and role play board games his whole life, which I have affectionately dubbed his, “Dork Games”. These are games with orcs and elves and epic battles.
Now that our boys are teenagers, they game with my husband and have a group of guys that they get together with regularly.
So our dilemma has been to find games that both my gaming family and I can enjoy.
Just so you know… in order to make my list, a game had to meet these simple requirements:
- The instructions can’t take as long to give as the game does to play.
- While creatures may appear in the game, I do not have to be or act like one. And the less orcs the better.
- They are not games in which players target other players as a large component of the game. I call this the “Will I cry?” requirement. (When we first got married, my husband convinced me to play Risk with him. After building up my army successfully, he completely wiped me out. I cried. We haven’t played Risk since.)
Here are a few that the gamers and non-gamers among us enjoy:
Smash Up A ‘shufflebuilding’ card game in which each player mixes together two genres of characters. So you might choose Pirate/Zombies, Princess/Spies, or Ninja/Kitty Cats. The instructions on the cards are easy to follow and play moves quickly.
7 Wonders Each player is given one of the 7 great cities of the ancient world. You gather resources, build up your military, and construct your ‘wonder’. It’s pseudo-educational as well, since you’re dealing with things like The Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
Castles of Mad King Ludwig Our newest favorite! This is a tile-laying game in which each player is building their own castle, one room at at time. An interesting note: The game is based on King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who built Neuschwanstein (the castle that inspired the Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle).
The last game I want to share with you is actually a series called, “Mystery Rummy.” These are straight up card games that my husband and I tend to play together – just the two of us – although you can play with more. They are not deeply strategic. There are several in the series, but the two that we like best are Jack the Ripper and Al Capone. (We’ve tried others in the series and not enjoyed them as much). They follow basic rummy rules of making melds, but add in some extra features that make them a little more engaging.
More games we love:
Two New Games We’re Loving (hint: I’m making Butter Beer for one of them!)
The Tradition of a Family Game for Christmas (and our latest time travelling find)
Most days there is at least one out on some table in the house. And yes, there have been nights we’ve eaten dinner in front of the TV because there was a massive game spread out on our dining room table.
I’d love to know which games your family enjoys. We’re always looking to add to our game closet!