Must-have family board games for 2024

Board games for families - quick menu

board games for families with Herd Mentality, Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Photosynthesis

(Image credit: Big Potato Games, Catan Studios, Days of Wonder, Blue Orange)

1. Quick list
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Best overall
3.
Best party
4.
Best for kids
5.
Best trivia
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Best for adults
7.
Best strategy
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FAQ

Family board games aren't limited to old-timers like Monopoly and Risk anymore; there's no shortage of choice nowadays. That's why we've narrowed things down with this list of top-tier board games for family. If you ask us, they belong in every collection.

Don't assume these recommendations are just for that post-Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner lull, though. And don't worry, you won't need to sit through hours of Monopoly. The following family board games will impress no matter when they're played, and we'd argue that they're amongst the best board games overall – they leave old-timers like Risk in the dust. 

Besides suggestions for parties, lazy afternoons at home, and everything in-between, there's something to suit beginners and tabletop veterans alike as well. These board games for families are easy to get into on the whole, so even reluctant players should be happy to try them out. 

Oh, and one more thing. To make sure we're recommending the best of the best when it comes to family board games, we've only included options that our experts have had plenty of hands-on experience with. If it doesn't wow the GamesRadar+ team, it doesn't get on the list… and because we review board games for families every week, the bar is pretty high.

Written by
Benjamin Abbott, Tabletop & Merch Editor at GamesRadar
Written by
Benjamin Abbott

Benjamin's been covering board games for more than five years, and he's personally tested every single entry listed below.

Board games for families - quick list

Like cutting to the chase? Dive in with a whistlestop tour of our favorite board games for families. For more info, click on the links under each suggestion.

Best board game for families overall

All aboard

Specifications

Players: 2 - 5
Ages: 8+
Difficulty: Easy
Lasts: 60 mins

Reasons to buy

+
Very broad appeal
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Loads of different editions
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Extremely replayable

Reasons to avoid

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Theme isn't the most exciting

No matter whether you want to entertain the kids on a lazy Sunday or you're full of food and feeling sleepy after Christmas dinner, the last thing you want is a complicated game that'll tax your brain. This is why Ticket to Ride is so brilliant. While there are tactics involved, it's a much more laid-back experience than other family board games on this list.

Basically, players score points by creating train routes. Easy enough, right? Sort of - winning isn't so straightforward. Because certain routes are worth more than others, the race is on to claim them before anyone else can. This adds an undercurrent of strategy to proceedings. Do you risk building a longer line for maximum value? Or should you finish a bunch of shorter routes to score quickly? It's a fun conundrum, especially because failure to complete certain routes before the end will see those points taken off your total.

Yes, Ticket to Ride is competitive as a result. But not to the point its players fall out. Aside from an occasional gold rush over routes everyone wants, it's a sedate puzzle you work on by yourself. We can't recommend it enough.

Board games for families - best party

2. Herd Mentality

It's party time

Specifications

Players: 4 - 20
Ages: 10+
Difficulty: Easy
Lasts: 30 mins

Reasons to buy

+
Everyone can play
+
Doesn't get outdated
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Quirky (there's a squishy cow!)

Reasons to avoid

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Cards lose appeal if overused

Herd Mentality is the perfect board game for families that don't even like board games; it's dead easy to understand, is low-pressure, and doesn't require any kind of specialist knowledge. It won't ever become outdated, either - this one hinges on what you think instead of your ability to remember obscure trivia.

That's because each card poses a simple question with no 'right' answer. Here's an example for you: what's the best sauce? Players then have to scribble down what they believe most people in the room will say. Those in the majority get a point, and the first one to collect eight wins. It's wonderfully straightforward and can be explained within seconds.

What's more, it's hugely replayable. No two groups are the same and will all answer differently, so Herd Mentality is a family board game with plenty of longevity behind it. Thanks to quirky tokens including a squishy pink cow, it's a light-hearted icebreaker as well that'll get everyone laughing.

Board games for families - best for kids

3. Sushi Go!

Quick, easy, and charming

Specifications

Players: 2 - 5
Ages: 8+
Difficulty: Easy
Lasts: 15 mins

Reasons to buy

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Fast-paced fun
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Easy to grasp
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Matches are short

Reasons to avoid

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Takes a game or two to grasp

This bizarre but adorable game has the holy trinity of selling points; it's accessible, quick, and totally moreish. Seeing as a match of Sushi Go! can be finished in 15 minutes or less, it's also the sort of thing you'll want to play "just one more round" of.  In other words? It's the perfect card game for families.

Straightforward rules have a lot to do with that. Sushi Go! challenges you to create the most appetising 'meal' from a deck of cards, and certain combinations earn points. Some give less but are easier to gather, while others only pay out if you collect the most of an item. That's where tactics come in. You see, everyone has to pass their hand of cards to the next player. While this means someone else might beat you to the punch, it goes both ways - watch carefully and you can start to figure out what your rivals are planning based on their choices. That allows you to steal cards they need to finish their high-scoring dish. It's brilliantly devilish.

The result is a simple but strategic family board game everyone can enjoy. If you've not tried it yet, you're in for a treat.

Board games for families - best trivia

4. Articulate!

Guessing game

Specifications

Players: 4 - 20+
Ages: 12+
Difficulty: Moderate
Time to play: 30 - 60 mins

Reasons to buy

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Fast-paced and competitive
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Can have 20+ players
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Hundreds of cards included

Reasons to avoid

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Some won't like the pressure

If you want a good trivia board game for families, Articulate is a fantastic place to start. It's been delighting players around the world since 1992, and that popularity is rooted in the fact anyone can get involved.

Namely, you don't need to be a font of obscure knowledge to win; you simply have to describe as many words from a category as possible within 30 seconds. Not that this isn't challenging, of course - you can't discuss what that subject sounds like or rhymes with. Instead, you've got to think on your feet and come up with a good comparison before the timer runs out. This ramps up the tension and keeps everyone on the edge of their seats.

Unlike so many family board games, Articluate can be played in a group as large as 20 or more as well. So long as you're divided into teams with at least two people per side, you're good to go. That makes it an ideal choice if loved ones are descending upon you en-masse.

Board games for families - best for adults

5. Wingspan

Bird-watching

Specifications

Players: 2 - 4
Ages: 10+
Difficulty: Moderate
Lasts: 60 mins

Reasons to buy

+
Simple mechanics
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Thoroughly chilled out
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Beautiful art

Reasons to avoid

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Takes a while to learn

Both beautiful and engaging, Wingspan has more than earned its place as one of the most beloved modern board games for families. You don't become the winner of an esteemed Spiel des Jahres award for nothing, after all.

As you'll have probably guessed, it puts birds in the spotlight - you're trying to attract as many feathered friends to your reserve as possible. The mechanics for doing so are truly compelling. Players collect food that allows them to put down bird cards, and this lets them collect yet more food in turn. They can then play even more bird cards, and so on. It's a strangely engrossing loop.

You don't need to worry about it being overly complicated, though. Wingspan may take a few turns to get used to, but it's easy once you're over that hump. This allows you to bask in the game's gorgeous artwork, not to mention the clever birdbox playing piece. You don't even need to worry about someone undoing your hard work; Wingspan is light on direct competition, meaning you'll enjoy the experience regardless of whether you win or lose.

Board games for families - best strategy

6. Photosynthesis

The best strategy board game for families

Specifications

Players: 2 - 4
Ages: 8+
Difficulty: Medium
Lasts: 45 mins

Reasons to buy

+
Serene yet strategic
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Long-term planning pays off
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Lovely cardboard tokens

Reasons to avoid

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Hard to turn a loss around

Life is hard sometimes, so family board games that let you (metaphorically) put your feet up are more than welcome. Photosynthesis is one of them. Yet despite all this, it also manages to keep thoughtful strategy bubbling away beneath the surface.

Considering this game's theme, that may come as a surprise. Rather than challenging you to conquer territory or crush your enemies, you earn points simply by growing trees - it's all very wholesome. The trouble is, nature's not fair. Certain soils are richer than others so will win you a higher score, and the sun moves to a different side of the board each turn. This might leave your trees blocked behind someone else's, and that means they're unable to draw in light you can use to plant more trees. As such, thinking ahead (and hemming in opponents) is rewarded.

The design of Photosynthesis is equally impressive. Thanks to sizeable cardboard trees that come in a variety of colorblind-friendly shapes, it's impressive in action and looks gorgeous when laid out on the table.

Board games for families - FAQ

An overview of the Race to the Raft board

(Image credit: Matt Thrower)

What are the most popular board games for families?

In terms of the most popular family board games, classics like Monopoly and Risk rank highly according to the best-sellers list on Amazon (which is a pretty good metric, considering the fact that it's one of the biggest retailers in the world). However, they're by no means the only ones.

In our most recent search, we were surprised to find that younger entries like Codenames topped the list. Not that we're complaining, of course; that game in particular is brilliant. Similarly, Wingspan and Ticket to Ride (two games that actually feature on this list of the best family board games) make the cut too.

What are 5 classic family board games?

While there have been plenty of new board games for families since these old-timers came out, they still hold their own in today's market. If you were trying to find the best classic family boards games, we'd point you toward:

- Catan
- Carcassonne
- Ticket to Ride
- Articulate
- Scrabble

Wondering why Monopoly doesn't make the cut? Simply put, we don't like it as much as these. Catan is a superb trading game that excels at bringing new players into the 'hobby' sphere of more complex tabletop experiences, while Carcassonne is perfect as a more chilled out way to pass an afternoon.

As for Ticket to Ride and Articulate, these show no signs of age despite getting on in years. Articulate in particular is still one of our favorite party games, and it never seems to go out of date.

Finally, Scrabble is always a fun mental exercise that's still as good now as it was decades ago.

What is the most fun family board game?

We'd recommend starting with something like Herd Mentality if you're looking for the most fun family board game. Besides being easy to get the hang of, it's light-hearted and silly in a charming sort of way (you're allowed to 'moo' at anyone that takes too long to answer, for example). While it doesn't have as much longevity as Ticket to Ride, it's an easy-going board games for families that'll keep everyone in high spirits.

The same can't be said of Monopoly, unfortunately. Despite being a beloved classic, the property trading game is pretty infamous for causing arguments amongst its players. It's incredibly difficult to turn things around when you're losing as well, so it isn't always much fun if you aren't winning.

What is the best game to play as a family?

There are plenty of board games for families to choose from, but we'd always recommend starting with Ticket to Ride. Besides being a very gentle sort of game that doesn't require lots of brain power, it strikes a great balance between accessibility and longevity. It's not so competitive that you'll have everyone falling out, either - always a plus so far as we're concerned.

Herd Mentality is also a favorite in terms of board games for families. It's really easy to get into and doesn't put any pressure on its players. At the same time, it's still a lot of easy-going fun that won't leave you feeling bored.

Benjamin Abbott
Tabletop & Merch Editor

As the site's Tabletop & Merch Editor, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to the latest Lego news. I've been writing about games in one form or another since 2012, and can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.