A list of the best board games for families compiled by a board game enthusiast. This list goes beyond the basics and suggests unique games to check out.

Our family is crazy about board games! I haven’t counted how many we have lately, but it is definitely somewhere in the hundreds. My husband, our two boys (ages 6 and 9), and I often play board games multiple nights each week. In playing and owning so many games, we’ve played a lot of games we love (and unfortunately some that we don’t). My husband and I like to play more complex “nerd games” (as we call them), so we tend to look for similar games that our whole family can play together. If you’re new to playing board games or are just looking for something different to play, here are my recommendations for 5 of the best board games for families (that you may have never heard of).

A list of the best board games for families compiled by a board game enthusiast. This list goes beyond the basics and suggests unique games to check out.

Best Board Games for Families #1: Monza

Best Board Games for Families: Monza
  • Publisher: Haba
  • Retail price: $19.99
  • Ages: 5 – 99
  • Number of players: 2 – 6
  • Time to play: 10 – 15 minutes

Publisher description:

A car racing board game encouraging tactical thinking and recognizing shapes and colors! Six racing cars are standing on the starting grid, prepared for the big race. But only the player who gets the right colors with the dice and makes clever combinations will be able to quickly move ahead. Who will make clever combinations and thus use as many colors as thrown with the dice in order to get his or her racing car over the finishing line first?

What I like about this game:

This game has gotten a lot of play in our family and it is one of my youngest son’s favorite family board games. This game is simple enough that young children can understand how to play, but complex enough that it interests players of all ages.

To play the game, you roll the dice and then move to spaces on the board that match the colors of you rolled on the dice. Depending on how the dice land, you may be able to move far, or you may be stuck where you started that turn. There are also obstacle spaces that make it harder to move ahead. I like how this game helps younger players learn how to think more strategically and plan ahead. There’s more to it than simply rolling a die and moving that number of spaces. I also like that this game can play up to 6 players. It is often challenging to find decent games that play more than 4 players. This is definitely one of the best family board games for families with younger kids.

Best Board Games for Families #2: Onitama

Best Board Games for Families: Onitama
  • Publisher: Arcane Wonders
  • Retail price: $29.99
  • Ages: 14+
  • Number of players: 2
  • Time to play: 15 minutes

Publisher description:

Onitama is an elegant and simple two player abstract strategy game where you take on the role of a Master, guiding your monk followers, in an attempt to defeat your opponent. Armed only with a handful of moves, your cunning, and your wits, have you the skill to be victorious?

In Onitama, players will vie to capture their opponent’s Master, or, traverse their Master across the board to their opponent’s Master’s starting position to win the game.  To do this, you will be armed with a handful of special and ancient maneuvers, presented on beautiful Tarot size cards, that manipulate the field of battle to your advantage. Will you use the Dragon to overpower your opponent, the Horse to outmaneuver them, or the Cobra to strike quickly?

What I like about this game:

Before I get into what I like about this game, I want to mention that I think the publisher-provided age recommendation for this board game is off. My children (ages 6 and 9) both know how to play and enjoy playing Onitama.

I would describe Onitama as “Chess Lite.” There are many similarities in that you are moving various pieces on a grid, the pieces have specific movements they can make, and you are trying to defeat your opponent’s Master. The board for this game is much smaller than Chess, as it is played on a 5×5 grid.

For each game, there will be 5 cards describing predefined movement patterns that can be used to move the pieces. However, you can only perform the movements of cards you have in your possession. The movement cards cycle between you and your opponent, so whatever move you just made, your opponent will soon be able to perform as well. This game is really great to help kids learn how to strategize. Onitama is also a great precursor to Chess. This is a great board game for families that gets a lot of play from my husband and the kids.

A list of the best board games for families compiled by a board game enthusiast. This list goes beyond the basics and suggests unique games to check out.

Best Board Games for Families #3: Survive

Best Board Games for Families: Survive
  • Publisher: Stronghold Games
  • Retail price: $39.95
  • Ages: 8+
  • Number of players: 2 – 4 (an 5/6 player expansion set is available)
  • Time to play: 45 – 60 minutes

Publisher description:

It’s early in the 20th century – a time of exploration and adventure. The mysterious island of Atlantis has been discovered in the middle of the ocean, and there are rumors of great riches to be found there!

After reaching Atlantis, the explorers are ready to return home with treasure and artifacts. But Atlantis begins to sink! In a panic, the adventurers try to avoid a terrible fate.  The luckiest will find a boat to return home while the less fortunate will have to try to swim for it. But nobody will be safe from the Sea Monsters, Whales, and Sharks that live in the ocean around Atlantis! Who will reach dry land with their riches? Who will Survive!?

What I like about this game:

This is a really fun board game for families to play. Each player has a number of people they are trying to get off the sinking island and back to shore. You can only make three movements each turn, so you have to be resourceful with how you play. Play in this game can get quite aggressive, as players can choose to have the sea monsters, whales, and sharks attack other players. (I have had my share of tense moments in this game!)

Survive is not a cooperative board game (because you want to get the most people and points to shore to win the game), however, you have to work with other players if you want to succeed. If you’re selfish and don’t share the few boats that are available, other players will be more likely to attack you with the various sea creatures. However, if you work with other players and share the boats, they will be motivated to keep boats you share afloat so their people stay alive.

I really like how this board game plays out and the things kids can learn from playing it. For one thing, it helps teach kids how to handle it when things don’t go their way. In this game, you will always find yourself in a situation where something didn’t go as planned! My oldest son likes to be very aggressive when playing this game, and he’s learned that mom and dad won’t sit idly by while he attacks them. He’s going to get it right back! In those situations, he learns a lot about humility. Although the suggested age for this game is 8 and up, our 6-year-old has no trouble playing. We always have a lot of fun playing Survive and you never know who’s going to win!

Best Board Games for Families #4: Karuba

Karuba
  • Publisher: Haba
  • Retail price: $34.99
  • Ages: 8 – 99
  • Number of players: 4
  • Time to play: ~40 minutes

Publisher description:

Finally! After a long boat trip, the treasure hunters have reached the island of Karuba and can go on the hunt for hidden treasures. Who will lead their expedition team along the smartest route through the jungle trails, pay attention to the other players and keep an eye out for gold and crystals along the way?

The most important thing is to start running in time! Hurry up and be the first to reach the temples to collect the most valuable treasures. But be careful! Many paths have dead ends- so you need to be patient and attentive in order to discover the best way through the jungle. The expedition team with the most valuable treasures wins the game.

What I like about this game:

This is a great board game for families to play! This is a tile-based puzzle game where you are building paths to get your treasure hunters to their temples to collect treasure. Each person plays a tile on each turn and you are trying to be the first one to get each of the four treasure hunters to the treasure.

Karuba is also super easy to learn and fairly quick to play. Like the other games on this list, our 6-year-old plays this game with us, despite being younger than the suggested age range. I like how this game challenges and improves my kids spatial reasoning skills. When you are playing a tile, you have to figure out where it works best in your series of paths and make sure you’re not blocking one path by building onto a different one. To move your treasure hunters along their respective paths, you have to discard tiles. That adds another complexity to the game since you need to decide which tiles are worth keeping and placing along a path, and which tiles you can easily discard to move. We really enjoy this board game at our house and I think you will too!

Best Board Games for Families #5: Otrio

Otrio

Publisher description:

Otrio is an excellent 2-4 player head-to-head strategy game that will fire up your competitive side! The rules of Otrio are simple; get three circular pieces of your color in a row in either ascending or descending order, the same sized pieces in a row, or three concentric pieces in the same space!

You can’t find much simpler rules than this for strategy games which means gameplay becomes more deep and challenging depending on the wit of your opponent! Also, the wooden board sure is a beauty to behold and makes a winsome addition to your home decor.

What I like about this game:

Otrio is a twist on tic-tac-toe, which most kids know and love. This board game is more involved and takes more time than a normal 30 second game of tic-tac-toe. In this game, you have nine circles of a single color in three different sizes.

There are three ways to win the game. The first is to get three pieces in a row of the same size. The second is to get three different sized pieces in a row in ascending or descending order. The third is to have three different sized pieces played on a single space. When my kids ask me to play tic-tac-toe, I am usually less than enthused. But when they ask me to play Otrio, I am excited to play! I also like that up to four players can play this board game, so our whole family can play! It’s great to see my kids strategizing where to play their pieces to try to win or where to play them where they can block an opponent. We have a great time playing this board game.

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Recap of the Best Board Games for Families

If you are looking for some recommendations for new and different games to play with your family, I hope you will take me up on these suggestions. Monza, Onitama, Survive, Karuba, and Otrio are fixtures in our always-growing collection of board games and are some of the best board games for families (in my opinion). Lastly, Please let me know in the comments what board games you and your family love to play. I love to hear about new and interesting games. Also make sure you check out some more awesome posts on Indy Mompreneurs!

Hello fellow Indy Mompreneurs! My name is Becky and I live in Westfield with my husband and our two boys (ages 9 and 6). I love music, cooking/eating, board games, movies, and Broadway musicals. My business, Manchester Lane Publishing, creates beautifully-designed planners, journals, notebooks, recipe books, and various other types of books. Please check out our products on Amazon!

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