Here at BoardGames.com we’re constantly asked, “What are the best board games for kids?” It’s one of those questions where we immediately have an idea pop in our head, only to have a dozen more questions of our own before we respond. When thinking about the best board games that kids would want to play you have to take a few things into consideration.
Are the kids mostly going to play board games with their friends? Is the rest of the family going to want to play when the other kids aren’t around? Do you want to send your kids on an adventure full of quests, learning, and fun? Are you trying to get little Billy to simmer down for a bit so you can treasure his childhood before he zips off into adulthood? Are you a lazy Aunt or Uncle that wants to surprise your niece or nephew with the coolest Christmas gift for the least amount of effort possible? We fall into this category ourselves sometimes.
Regardless of whether or not any of these questions apply to your situation, it’s a good idea to think about the kids you’re gifting a game. Board games are pure wonder to kids of all ages, including those big kids we depressingly refer to as adults. So when it comes down to it, there really isn’t a single best board game for the kids in your life. There are many best board games for them.
I have some go to games that I play with my son, though he’s older now and some of the games we play could be considered slightly advanced for younger kids (those kid things are smart though and learn quickly). If my son was a bit younger though here’s my personal list of what I feel are the best board games for him, his friends, and his big kid dad.
Camel Up If I’m being honest, I hate this game. Well no, I don’t actually hate this game. I’m just terrible at it to the point that I mostly refuse to play it. I’ve never won. Ever. The game itself is amazing though with fun new mechanics that keeps the entire family engaged throughout the entire experience. Camel Up won the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year), an incredibly prestigious award in the board game industry. This is the pinnacle of pinnacles. Only a handful of games have won the award and thousands of game designers have put in countless hours for just the sliver of a chance to crest their board game with the coveted trophy. Let’s face it, the Chicago Cubs have a better chance of winning the world series than a new game designer does of winning the Spiel des Jahres. Camel Up in all of its glory boils down to a game about racing camels which sounds weird, I know, but in reality it’s so much more than that. The camels do race and you take chances betting on who will win and lose. Strategy is important, but so is your gut, which tells me I’m either really bad at strategy games or there’s something wrong with my gut. The game pieces are a hoot and the dice rolling mechanic is truly unique, guaranteed to make kids howl with laughter.
King of Tokyo & King of New York Hands down two of the best games to play with kids. The core game was designed by Richard Garfield (you know, that guy that created Magic the Gathering decades ago and is still going strong to this day). Everyone takes on the roll of a giant monster that is fighting for dominance of Tokyo in the first game and New York in the second game. With custom monster dice for each game and a fun assortment of monsters to choose from you can battle to your heart’s content and beyond. In fact, the game is so fun that you will likely go beyond your heart’s content to the point that you need to tell little Billy to simmer down some more because your heart can’t take it. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll destroy your children with radioactive flame and big furry feat. Not necessarily in that order. Talk to your doctor to make sure King of Tokyo is right for you. If your doctor suggests King of Tokyo and King of New York they may have stock in Iello Games or they just have great taste in board games. Side effects may include spontaneous kaijuization, lava belly, and funitus.
Tsuro of the Seas This was one of the first games that I bought specifically for playing with my son. This was when he was a wee bit younger, but still to this day it is one of our favorite games to play. Normally I’m not a huge fan of randomness in board games but the concept behind this gem leaves me wanting more every time I play it. You take on the roll of a Japanese sailing vessel in the employ of the emperor. Each turn allows players to place one of several tiles on the board where their ship lies waiting. As soon as you place the tile your ship follows the path you laid before it. The tiles will end up connecting all over the board sending your ship sailing in great circles and loops each turn. This sounds all fine and dandy until you realize that in these waters thar be dragons! That’s right, each turn you roll dice to see if new dragons awaken and which way the dragons on the board will move. Dragons will eat your boats without a seconds hesitation, but they will eat each other as well! The dragons are limitless though and eventually all but one boat will either be eaten or will sail off the board ending their tenure as a ship in the emperor’s employ. A truly beautiful and simple game…with dragons, lots and lots of dragons. What more can one ask for in life, really?
This is my current list for best board games for kids, but this list will constantly be updated as more great games come out or as I fall in love with old games. That’s right, no board game is ever too old for us and nor for you. Be sure to check out www.BoardGames.com for all of the latest and greatest board games to play with your younger kids or your older kids/teenagers, your friends, and your family.
Stay Board my friends!