We remember growing up the options for a family board game afternoon consisted of Monopoly or Risk. Board games have exploded in popularity in the past twenty years. The plus side of that is that there are so many incredible board games to play! The downside? There are SO many it’s hard to know which are truly good and that your family will enjoy.
For the sake of this post and due to the sheer number of games out there, we’re sticking to our tried and true favorite board games.
This post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.
Ever want to escape a sinking island, while still finding treasure and working together with your friends? Forbidden Island is just that. It’s your team against the sinking island, each using your unique character’s talents to survive and escape. The best part? It doesn’t take a full afternoon. The game can be finished in half an hour, giving you time for another round if you want!
The game so many of us dusted off a couple years ago as we experienced a pandemic of our own. A cooperative team game where you have to work together to prevent four viruses from spreading around the world and consuming mankind. Like Forbidden Island, each player gets a unique character to play, which brings their skills into the game to help you solve the ever changing puzzle. Bonus points for helping kids learn cities.
This junior version of Catan is perfect for kids who are getting into board games! A very straightforward game, but one that introduces many of the basics involved in a lot of modern trading and resource games.
Who doesn’t like playing a nice peaceful game of fantasy races such as the…seafaring wizards? Fighting the bivouacking trolls? Okay, so not so peaceful, but the game is very fun to play, and each time you play has its unique combinations of races and special powers that makes you want to see what you get the next game. Alchemist halflings? Spirit ghouls? Wait, does that last one even make sense? It doesn’t matter, but it is fun!
Note: It looks like the original Small World board game is no longer in print! You can find a used copy on Ebay, or try out one of the new versions like Small World Underground, Small World Sky Islands, or Small World of Warcraft. If you have a copy of the original game, you can also grab expansion pack compendiums Volume 1 and Volume 2.
At this point you may wonder if you can trust the titles of the games. Of course not! But that doesn’t mean it’s not a great game! Happy Little Dinosaurs is about avoiding disasters and escaping to safety at the expense of your friends. This competitive game goes quick though, you can finish it in about a half hour, again leaving time for one more round where you hope you can avoid disasters such as the “Baddest Hair Day” (you really shouldn’t try to cut your own hair with those dino hands), or “Love Hurts” (boa constrictors make for some tough love), and of course don’t get hit by the Meteor!
Ever wanted to be a giant Meka Dragon or a Space Penguin? Who doesn’t? In King of Tokyo you play a Kaiju bent on ruling Tokyo city. Your goal is to survive and accumulate 20 victory points to be crowned King of Tokyo. But be warned – other players are out to get you and be the king themselves! Power yourself up by collecting and using energy to gain powers and abilities, such as a shrink ray that weakens opponents or an extra head that gives you an extra die to roll. Will the dice be in your favor or will you need to yield the city for a turn? (Don’t worry, this game allows plenty of rerolls so that strategy is more of a factor than luck.) Another quick game that gives you the chance for revenge or to come out on top twice in a row.
Command your agents go into the city to seek out and recruit adventurers, discover quests, and consolidate power in your city of Waterdeep. The only problem? The other players are seeking to do the same, and there are many places in the city that can only be accessed by a single agent each turn. Do you send an agent to the inn first to look for a new quest, or one to Blackstaff Tower to recruit a wizard? Maybe to the Builder’s Hall, to construct a new building that can help you. But be careful, whatever you choose, your competition will get a chance to choose where to send their agents before you get another chance, so make a wise choice.
Lords of Waterdeep is a great strategy game, where you compete for resources against the other players. The games go quick for its size. Many games can be finished in about an hour. The best part? While there is a lot of flavor text, the game is rich in visuals that show how the game is played so not much reading is actually required. It gives kids learning to read a chance to practice without feeling the pressure to read quickly or be left behind.
A great game for your budding strategists. Start with one of seven nations, each ready to build their unique wonder, and progress through three ages to see which civilization will come out on top! Another resource competition game, but this time you choose which cards to play from your hand (assuming you can afford the structure the card lets you build). The twist? You pass your hand to the player next to you for the next round. Some cards may get back to you in smaller games, but sometimes it will be the only time you pick a card from that hand, so choose wisely! As you advance through the ages, your choices from several rounds ago affect what you can do, so that’s another reason to make your choices count!
Games go quickly once you know the cards, but both the shuffle of the cards and the nation you start with (and those of your neighbors) make each playthrough feel different.
Ready to dive into your next board game adventure? Let us know your favorite board game in the comments below!