If you're hoping to get new board games for families so that you won't have to break out Monopoly again this Holiday season, we have good news - there's no shortage of choice. To help get the ball rolling, we've rounded up our favorite family board games that we think should be in every collection.
They're not just for that post-Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner lull, either. They'll go down well regardless of when you play them, and are arguably some of the best board games overall. In addition, we've been sure to add board games for families that will suit any occasion - be it a family get-together or a lazy Sunday. Plus, they should suit any skill-level; anyone can give them a go. We've had plenty of hands-on experience with all of the following family board games, so can highly recommend them.
Happily, you shouldn't have to pay over the odds. Our bargain-hunting software will display the retailer with the lowest price beside each entry, and there are lots of options to suit every board game budget. So, if you're looking to bring something new to the table next family night, venture down below!
Benjamin's been covering board games for more than four years, and playing them with his family as a child gave him a love of the hobby that's still going strong today. (A particular favorite was the pirate-themed Buccaneer.) 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.
Top board game for families overall
There's nothing quite like Ticket to Ride. Easy to learn but spellbinding nonetheless, it challenges you to build a train line across continents. Although you can sabotage rivals by crossing their route, you don't have to - the fun lies in racking up as many points as possible. That makes the experience pretty zen on the whole. In fact, playing it helped us get through lockdown.
Best party board game for families
You won't find a better ice-breaker than this. Even though you're trying to collect eight cows (e.g. points) for your 'herd,' it's not really competitive. It's also straightforward enough to be enjoyed by all ages. That's because you'll be answering questions like "what's the best sauce," and you score if you're in the majority. Seeing as it's about what you think others will say, Herd Mentality is perfect for starting conversations.
Best board game for families with kids
For families with children (and even ones that are all grown-up, actually), Sushi Go is an essential purchase. Quick, straightforward, and endlessly replayable, it's the sort of thing kids can grasp quickly… but has a decent amount of strategy under the surface. Seeing as it comes in a portable tin and doesn't need much space, it's great for traveling as well; you can sling it in a bag and take it on vacation without any trouble.
Best trivia board game for families
Most trivia board games go out of date before long, but not Articulate. Relying on more general knowledge instead, it's still relevant years after it was published. That means anyone can give it a go, too; you don't need to be a font of niche facts. Plus, it having such a massive player count (so long as you're divided into teams, you can have 20 or more people involved), it's ideal if relatives are descending en masse.
Best family board game for adults
In terms of enchanting family board games, Wingspan takes the cake. Challenging you to build the best wildlife reserve, it's oddly satisfying; you collect birds with special bonuses so that you can collect yet more birds, and so on. The lack of direct competition helps with this engrossing loop, and players will try to beat each others' scores instead. When combined with beautiful artwork, it's a real treat for older families.
Best strategy board game for families
Who knew that trees were so ruthless? You've got to nurture your own forest in this board game for families, but everyone else is trying to do the same thing - and in the same patch of soil. That means you'll be fighting over the best spots and blocking other trees so that they don't get any 'light' (points that you can use to grow or create more seeds), resulting in an unexpectedly tactical challenge.
Best board game for families overall
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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
- Ticket to Ride
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.