Board games for kids should be three things: fun, straightforward, and replayable enough that parents won't want to tear out their hair after a few tries. Unfortunately, the hard part can be knowing where to start (you're not exactly short on options, after all). That's where GamesRadar+ comes in.
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No matter whether you want a game for a lazy evening at home or something to take with you out and about, we've rounded up what we feel are the very best board games for kids and their grown-ups. And don't worry, they aren't all competitive. We've been sure to include a few co-op board games here as well in case you're looking for a more collaborative atmosphere around the table.
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Board games for kids - ages 5 to 7
It says a lot about a board game for kids when loads of different versions are available; you can be guaranteed that it's a hit. Spot It! (or 'Dobble', if you're based in the UK) is the perfect example. Besides the classic edition pictured above, you can get your hands on plenty of alternatives that feature everything from Harry Potter to Spongebob Squarepants. That means you can also find an edition suited to your child's interests.
Besides a family-friendly style, the simple mechanics of Spot It! make this one of the top board games for kids at home or on the go. The elevator pitch is that it's a faster, more involved Snap - your goal is to match pictures on a card before your opponents. However, it shakes up the formula with different goals to try out that either have you attempting to get rid of cards or task you with collecting more.
Don't assume it'll be easy, though. Those cards are littered with symbols and pictures or varying sizes, so you'll need to have your wits about you to find pairs. It's not unlike searching for the Golden Snitch.
The effort is worthwhile, though. Yelling out the matching symbol before other players can is beyond satisfying. Plus, those who master the basic game can shake things up with variant rules included within the box, not to mention alternate versions based on animals from around the world, numbers and shapes, camping, a waterproof edition to use beside the pool, MLB, NFL, and beyond. Basically? Spot It! is an essential purchase in any of its forms.
What happens if you mix Jenga with superheroes? You get Rhino Hero and its beefed-up sequel, Rhino Hero: Super Battle. A charming exercise in balance and steady hands, it's perfect for all ages. It isn't weighed down with lots of rules or reading, either. That makes it very appealing as a board game for kids who don't like to read.
The aim of the game is to use up all your cards and build a tower, with each card showing where you should place walls for the next layer. And because everyone's contributing to the same tower, things get precarious fast. That's especially true when Rhino Hero himself comes into play - certain cards task you with moving his token from one layer to another, and this becomes harder as the game goes on. Anyone who makes the tower fall down loses instantly. Whoops!
To make things more interesting, those cards have special abilities like reversing the order of play, forcing your neighbour to lose their turn, or making them pick up another card. Although the concept is simple, these powerups add enough texture to hold your attention over multiple sessions.
Super Battle throws a similar curveball with extra tokens and troublesome hanging monkeys that make your tower even more wobbly. This injects a welcome dose of tactics into the mix if your children master the original. Either way, they'll be happy; these are some of the most enjoyable board games for kids out there.
Thanks to a brilliant elevator pitch (the undead have invaded school and you've got to fight them off with toys like the best Nerf guns), Zombie Kidz Evolution feels like it's been pulled straight from a child's imagination or the screen of a Saturday morning cartoon. It's one of those board games for kids that they'll really latch onto.
Much like Pandemic Legacy (a persistent version of the Pandemic board game), Evolution changes over time. The more you play, the more those zombies change. Besides new powers, fresh challenges are unlocked after a set number of matches. That keeps Zombie Kidz engaging for weeks on end - especially because you mark your progress with a variety of cool stickers.
The real draw is this game's accessible yet strategic gameplay, though. Players need to use good teamwork if they want to overcome their undead foes, and making the most of each turn is essential to avoid being overwhelmed. This gives older children something to get their teeth into and master.
Worried it'll be too scary? Zombie Kidz is very family-friendly in terms of its art style, and there's no mention of being eaten whatsoever. Plus, games don't feel oppressive despite some light tension - they're fun and breezy instead. As such, this one comes highly recommended.
- Read more: Zombie Kidz Evolution review
Hunting down the best classic board games for kids? If you want something that'll make their eyes light up, Mousetrap is where you should start. We can't imagine children not being enchanted by the zany, colorful gizmos of this old favorite. Particularly when you take new and cunning traps (including a diver flipping into a bathtub and a boot to knock you flying) into consideration.
Although it's seen a few updates over the years, the core concept of Mousetrap remains similar to that original 1963 version; you play as hungry mice who are seeking chunks of cheese to eat. The first one to collect six in total wins. Assuming they make it past those traps, anyway...
Besides getting in the way, these quirky contraptions can be turned to your advantage; players that are able to figure out how they work can use them to capture their opponents. Even though all this is tricky for young kids to set up - they'll definitely need an adult's help - it's worth the effort.
It's not just light-hearted fun, either. Thanks to multi-part mechanisms, children can practice their construction skills while learning about cause and effect through traps designed to catch them out. Entertaining and educational? That's the perfect mix when it comes to board games for kids.
The original Ticket to Ride is arguably one of the most enjoyable board games for adults, but its style and focus on planning ahead may not appeal to younger children. Enter Ticket to Ride: First Journey. This is a simplified adaptation that makes the idea so much more approachable.
First Journey isn't any less zen, either. This is a chilled-out alternative to other, more competitive games on the list, making it a sound choice for those who don't want arguments to break out at the table.
As with the full-fat Ticket to Ride, you score points in First Journey by creating train routes across the USA or Europe (depending on which version you pick up). Whoever completes their sixth route first is the winner. And because those routes are much shorter than the original game, you can wrap things up in just 15 minutes. This is a bite-size alternative, and all the better for it.
First Journey is also a lot more exuberant in its art-style. Whereas its predecessor opts for an old-timey look, this one is brighter, more colorful, and faultlessly cheerful. It's the perfect introduction to Ticket to Ride and more complicated board games for kids in general.
Board games for kids - ages 8 and up
King of Tokyo is the perfect choice for big and little monsters alike; it puts you in control of tongue-in-cheek super beasts rampaging around a city. This is a dice-based game of pushing your luck, and the aim is to build up victory points without being defeated by your rivals. It's approachable, quick, and full of character. You can play as a 'Space Penguin', for crying out loud - we love it.
Once they've chosen their monster, players compete with each other to see who'll be smashing Tokyo every turn. Doing so is key to winning. That's because staying in the city and stomping on everything in sight earns you points. The longer you stand your ground, the higher your score.
But there's a catch. To be specific, those in Tokyo can't heal from their wounds. Seeing as your opponents will be doing their best to force you out, you can expect more than a few attacks while you're squashing skyscrapers. That means you're playing chicken with your monster's life, and it's a captivating balance that remains a front-runner for our best board games list.
The mechanics aren't demanding, either. You'll roll the game's dice three times and choose which results you want to keep (that might be extra health, power, attacks, or bonus points). In short? It's a superb choice if you don't want anything overly strategic in your board games for kids. And if you do end up fancying a change, there's always the King of New York spin-off to go with a New York power-up, a Toyko power-up, and various expansions that add everyone from King Kong to Cthulu. Marvellous.
Because it's quirky, lightning-fast, and simple, Hey, that’s my Fish! is one of the most perfect board games for kids without much patience. It's also a winning choice as a board game for 2 players; it's just as much fun if you're playing as a pair instead of a group.
In this game, everyone controls penguins who want to collect as many fish as possible. That earns them points, and certain fish are worth more than others. The result is a frantic scramble to gather up the biggest ones (as you'd expect, whoever has the highest score at the end wins).
Typically, building a stockpile isn't plain sailing. In this case, the penguins' iceberg is falling to bits. Every time your penguin leaves a spot, that part of the board disappears. This means you've got to be careful with where you go, not to mention when; you can end up cutting off whole chunks of iceberg if you're not careful, wasting any fish there in the process.
It's not all bad, though. Clever players can trap each other using this tactic, leaving all the best seafood - and points - for themselves. It's delightfully wicked. We couldn't recommend it more.
There are countless versions of Monopoly out there at this point, ranging from Friends to Super Mario. The special Fortnite Edition might be among our favorites, though. It's certainly one of the more inventive remakes; it cleverly translates the battle royale's mechanics for a tabletop audience. Essentially, it's a match made in heaven in terms of board games for kids who adore Fortnite.
Rather than making you battle it out for property and wealth, you'll need to squabble over health to help you outlast your foes. That's because a storm is coming, just like in the real Fortnite. It's a cool spin on the original concept and plays to the strengths of both games without losing the appeal of either.
In addition, the board itself is modelled after locations from the video game - there are no London streets here. The same is true of this remake's unique tokens. Each one represents a costume or skin from Fortnite itself, and that means there's less arguing over who plays as what.
Finally, it's not too expensive either. Rather than charging you over the odds because of the Fortnite brand, this version of Monopoly is pretty affordable. That makes it a great choice if you're seeking board games for families to delight any Fortnite-obsessed loved ones in your life.
A student has gone missing at Hogwarts. The staff are (presumably) freaking out at yet another health and safety disaster. All hope has been lost. Who do you call? Us, apparently.
In this wizarding twist on the classic Clue board game (also known as Cluedo in the UK), players must find the victim by using all the cunning they can muster. What spell caused the kid to vanish, and who cast it? You have to find out before it's too late.
What follows is a clever spin on the original. That's because it uses the Harry Potter license in smart, imaginative ways. Namely, the layout of the board can change to keep your opponents one step behind you, just like the school's shifting staircases. Equally, the game's theming is fantastic. The cards and tokens seem to have been pulled straight from the movie screen and onto your table.
Despite Clue's frustrating trial-and-error mechanics, all of the above makes this one of those must-have board games for kids who adore the wizarding world. Smart tweaks to the gameplay will keep older players entertained, too - always a plus in our books.
Labyrinth is a great bet for children who want a deeper board game experience. Players must brave a winding maze and collect treasure as they go, but the road ahead is always changing. As such, keeping your wits about you is essential.
That's because you'll need to move certain pieces of the board to reach your goal. This results in tiles being constantly being swapped, forever altering the board and making you come up with new strategies on the fly. Labyrinth is a game about planning ahead and visualising connections because of that, which is obviously perfect for developing young minds (and older ones, too).
However, don't think this ever-evolving board makes the game hard to understand. Labyrinth is very accessible, which gives it a shot at being one of the top board games for kids.
And if your children get bored with the original version? Don't worry - there's a new 3D edition to try that breaks free from two dimensions. Lovely stuff.
If you've set foot in any major store over the last few years, you'll have seen Funko figurines lining the shelves. Small of stature, big-headed, and perfect as giftware, they recreate characters from major franchises in a loveable cartoon style. And because they're everywhere these days, it's not surprising to see them make the leap into board games for kids.
The Funkoverse Strategy Game is far from a cash-in, though. It's surprisingly deep, well thought out, and boasts tactics that are accessible yet layered enough to hold your attention over its 30-minute runtime.
Multiple scenarios in every box offer replayability, too; each board is double-sided with different obstacles to change the flow of play. On top of that, there are a couple of missions for each pack. These go hand-in-hand with straightforward, user-friendly tutorials that ease you in gently.
Although many versions of the game are available (including Batman, Disney's The Nightmare Before Christmas, Harry Potter, Disney's Alice in Wonderland, and Jurassic Park), they're all interchangeable; despite featuring unique characters, boards, accessories, and objectives, each one uses the same rules. That means it's easy to take a figure from one set to another, and it's a neat twist on Funko's 'collect 'em all' mentality.
- Read more: Funkoverse Strategy Game review
There's something special about this bizarre little game; it's got the secret sauce of being easy to understand, fast-paced, and utterly moreish. And because Sushi Go! can be finished in under 15 minutes, you'll also find yourself playing round after round. This leaves us with one of the most must-have board games for kids.
Blissfully straightforward rules are to thank for that. Sushi Go! tasks players with creating the best 'meal' from a deck of cards in front of them, and certain combinations are worth more points than others. In a spicy twist, some will only pay out if you have the most of a particular item.
That's harder to achieve than you'd think. Why? Everyone must pass their hand of cards to the next player every single turn. This means that you never really know what dishes you’ll be able to choose from next, and this is especially true of the expanded Sushi Go Party! spin-off.
The result is a simple yet strategic affair the whole family can get involved in, and it's amongst the best card games on sale right now. Even though it never feels unfair, the real fun comes from stealing the last card your opponent needs to complete a high-scoring meal, too (cue some evil laughter).
If your little ones love Halloween, Disney's Haunted Mansion board game is an essential purchase. Although it's adapting one of the most well-known theme park rides in the world, it has a delightful identity of its own and threatens to become a modern classic in terms of board games for kids.
As the Disney ride's song says, your aim here is to 'socialize' with as many of the Mansion's ghosts as possible. You do this by collecting cards, but you'll have to choose wisely - some offer points right away, while others provide a bigger reward if you complete the set. Should you go for a quick fix or gamble everything on a larger payday?
Other players aren't your only problem, though. The ride's Hitchhiking Ghosts have made good on their promise to follow you home, and if they pass through someone's token, that person has to pick up a 'Haunt' card. Whoever's got the most Haunt cards at the end will be penalised, so you've got to watch out.
This provides a great balance between spooky vibes and wholesome fun. In other words, Haunted Mansion: Call of the Spirits is the perfect kids board game for upping the creepy factor without giving them nightmares.
If you want drawing board games for kids, it doesn't get much better than Disney Sketchy Tales. Think of it like Pictionary crossed with the playground game of Telephone, only with an added dose of Mickey Mouse.
The aim here is to create the funniest story, and it starts with each player taking separate action and character cards. They then have to draw the character doing whatever action they've wound up with. The results are brilliantly silly; among other things, Sully from Monsters Inc. could be chased by penguins while Tangled's Rapunzel is scared by a ghost.
Once you're finished, your drawing is passed on to the next player without them knowing what your inspiration was. They've then got to write what they think is happening for the next player to draw, and so on. Eventually, the doodles your masterpiece have spawned will come back to you. You then lay them all out and decide which one you think is the most amusing. As it says, the “most grins wins”. It's not necessarily one of the best cooperative board games, but there's something nicely collaborative about it nonetheless.
To cut a long story short, Sketchy Tales is the ideal board game for kids who enjoy drawing. And even if they don't, it's just as fun; artistic talent absolutely isn't required here. In fact, a lack of skill can actually make things more of a giggle.
Looking for a good alternative to Pictionary? Rapidough would like a word. Thanks to its artistic nature, it's one of those fab board games for kids who prefer something more hands-on.
As the name would suggest, Rapidough is all about messing around with playdough. After splitting into two teams, a representative from each side has to make whatever is written on a card. While they're at it, everyone else is trying to guess what it is. The first side to get it right wins a point. It's straightforward, good-natured fun.
That's not to say it doesn't have a competitive edge, though. The loser of each round has a chunk of playdough taken away, making things slightly harder during the next head to head. You keep going until one side has no playdough left (boo).
All the same, players don't need to worry about being a world-class artist to claim victory. Part of the fun is trying to figure out what monstrosity your teammates have come up with, so talent isn't required for a good time. In fact, it's probably more amusing if you're a little bit rubbish.
More board game recommendations
Want more suggestions? Looking for something specific? Don't forget to check out our range of other board game guides. No matter whether you're hunting down a beloved classic or something for a party, we've got you covered.
- Must-have board games: Everyone should have these in their collection.
- Awesome card games: Essential games for travelling or parties.
- Classic board games: Revisit old favorites like Monopoly or Clue.
- Family board games: Pick up something everyone can enjoy.
- Board games for two players: Perfect for couples or quiet nights in.
- Board games for grown-ups: Choose from a wealth of strategy adventures.
- Best co-op board games: Why not play together?