Board games for kids should be three things: fun, straightforward, and replayable enough that their grown-ups won't want to tear out their hair if they've got to join in. Unfortunately, the hard part can be knowing where to start. You're not exactly short on options, after all.
That's our experts' cue. No matter whether you want something for a lazy evening at home or a distraction to take out and about, the GamesRadar+ team has listed essential board games for kids below. And don't worry, they aren't all competitive. We've been sure to include a few co-op options as well in case you're looking for a more… er, collaborative atmosphere around the table. These are some of the best board games overall, so they should keep even the most impatient children distracted for more than a hot minute.
While you're browsing, be sure to watch for discounts. Our bargain-hunting software is always on the lookout for reductions, and it'll list the lowest possible prices below each entry. If there are any deals to be had, you'll find them here.
Board games for kids - top 10
King of Tokyo is the perfect choice for big and little monsters alike. Putting you in control of tongue-in-cheek super beasts (you can play as a 'Space Penguin', for crying out loud), it's a dice-based game of pushing your luck. Your aim? Collect points by squishing skyscrapers. The longer you stand your ground in the city, the higher your score.
But there's a catch. To be specific, those in Tokyo are open to attack and can't heal from any wounds their rivals inflict. In essence, you're playing chicken with your monster's life. The result is a captivating balance that's just as good one-on-one as it is in a large group. It's tactical in an inoffensive way, too - you won't struggle to get your head around its light-hearted strategies. From our experience, newcomers will pick it up quickly and become hooked soon after.
It helps that the mechanics aren't too demanding, of course. Playing is as simple as rolling the dice three times before choosing which results you want to keep (be it extra health, attacks, or bonus points), so it's incredibly accessible. When combined with a bright and characterful design, King of Tokyo becomes the front-runner in terms of essential board games for kids.
It says a lot about a board game for kids when there are loads of different versions to choose from; you can almost guarantee that it's a hit. Spot It! (or 'Dobble', if you're UK-based) is the perfect example. As well as a classic set that's been delighting children since 2009, you can get your hands on alternatives featuring everything from Harry Potter to Spongebob Squarepants. This means there will probably be an edition to suit your child's interests.
Besides a family-friendly style, the straightforward gameplay of Spot It! keeps the game accessible as well. This is basically a more involved version of Snap; your goal is to match pictures on a card before your opponents. However, it shakes up the formula with unique goals that either have you attempting to get rid of or collect more cards. That means it doesn't take up much space in action, allowing you to play it almost anywhere with a small flat surface. We always have a copy in our bag when travelling or on vacation, for example.
Don't assume it'll be easy, though. Those cards are littered with symbols and pictures of varying sizes, so you'll need to have your wits about you if you want to find pairs. It's not unlike searching for the Golden Snitch at a Hogwarts Quidditch game, and yelling out the matching symbol before other players can is incredibly satisfying.
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 best card 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. Because everyone must pass their hand of cards to the next player every single turn, you never really know what dishes you’ll be able to choose from next. The result is a simple yet strategic experience everyone can enjoy, and it's always a hit whenever we play it with the younger members of our family. Although some adding is required at the end of each round, it isn't complicated - most will pick it up quickly.
If you want great board games for kids with an artistic streak, it doesn't get much better than Disney Sketchy Tales. Think of it like Pictionary meets Telephone, only with an added dose of Mickey Mouse.
The aim here is to create the funniest story, and players start by drawing a random character doing something dictated by cards. The results are brilliantly silly; Sully from Monsters Inc. could be chased by penguins, while Tangled's Rapunzel ends up being scared by a ghost. Either way, the picture 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, and you'll give points to the one you think is the most amusing. It's not necessarily one of the best cooperative board games, but there's something nicely collaborative about the process.
Even if your little ones don't enjoy drawing, Sketchy Tales is still a great board game for children; artistic talent isn't required here. Actually, a lack of skill can make things even funnier when other players completely misinterpret what you drew.
Quirky and lightning-fast, Hey, That’s My Fish! is the ideal board game for kids without much patience. It ticks the boxes as a good board game for 2 players as well; it's just as much fun if you're playing as a pair instead of a group. In fact, we often use it as a warm-up game before something more thoughtful.
No matter who's taking part, everyone controls penguins who want to collect as many fish as possible. That earns them points, and certain fish are worth more than others. However, 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, and we couldn't recommend it more.
What happens if you mix Jenga with superpowers? You get Rhino Hero. 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, making this very appealing as a board game for kids who don't like to read.
Your goal here is simple: use up all your cards by building a tower with them. Because everyone's contributing to the same structure, 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 doing so obviously becomes harder as the game goes on. Seeing as anyone who makes the tower fall loses instantly, it'll have you on the edge of your seat.
To make things more interesting, those cards also have special abilities like reversing the order of play, forcing your neighbour to lose their turn, or making them pick up another card. While the concept is simple, these powerups add texture that should keep your child engaged over multiple sessions. In our experience, even the most unruly kids will be enraptured by the idea. Who doesn't like to watch things fall down in chaotic fashion?
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 gifts for gamers, 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. These go hand-in-hand with straightforward, user-friendly tutorials that ease you in gently. We got the hang of things quickly after blasting through one, allowing us to mix and match the various sets we used for playtesting.
Speaking of which, all versions of the game (including the Avengers, Batman, Harry Potter, and Jurassic Park) are interchangeable. Despite featuring unique characters and boards, each one uses the same core rules. Accordingly, 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
Thanks to a brilliant elevator pitch (you must fight off the undead to avoid eternal detention), Zombie Kidz Evolution feels like it's been pulled straight from a child's imagination. Especially because they'll end up battling the horde with toys such as off-brand lightsabers or the best Nerf guns.
Seeing as this is a 'legacy' game, Evolution changes over time - the more you play, the more abilities, bonuses, and changes you unlock. That keeps Zombie Kidz engaging for weeks on end, particularly thanks to the stickers you'll use to mark your progress. We found there to be a tangible sense of progress as you blitz through those upgrades, and the sticker book is a satisfying way of tracking it that kids will love.
The real draw is this game's accessible yet strategic gameplay, though. Players need to use good teamwork if they're going to avoid being overwhelmed, and making the most of each turn is essential. It's a board game for kids they can really get their teeth into... proverbially, anyway. Evolution has no mention of being eaten whatsoever. Rather than being an oppressive horror story, this apocalypse is fun and breezy instead. Want Halloween board games that won't give your children nightmares? Here you go.
- Read more: Zombie Kidz Evolution review
Labyrinth is a great bet for children who want a deeper board game experience without getting too complicated. 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).
Still, 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. Thanks to numerous spin-offs that include Super Mario, it should appeal to most children as well.
There are countless versions of Monopoly out there, but the special Fortnite Edition might be our favorite. It's certainly one of the more inventive remakes; it cleverly translates the battle royale's mechanics for a tabletop audience.
Rather than making you battle it out for property and wealth, you'll need to squabble over health that will 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.
Board games for kids - FAQ
What is the best board game for 7 year-olds?
Spot It! gets our vote as the top board game for 7 year-olds. Besides being cheap as chips and easy to get into, it's fast-paced enough that your kids won't get fidgety during play. More importantly, it doesn't last too long either - you can finish a game in five minutes.
Want to try it for yourself? You can find Spot It! for $12.99 at Amazon (opens in new tab) in the USA.
Which board game is best for 5 year-olds?
If you're hunting down good board games for young kids, the likes of Spot It! and Rhino Hero are excellent choices. The latter (available from Amazon (opens in new tab)) can be enjoyed no matter your child's reading comprehension because it focuses on stacking cards rather than complex tactics, while the former ($12.99 on Amazon (opens in new tab)) is all about matching symbols.
We're big fans of Disney Mad Tea Party ($19.99 at Amazon (opens in new tab)) as well. This quirky tower-building game challenges you to stack plastic teacups on a wobbly table, so it's endless fun for children who enjoy more hands-on tasks.
What board games are for 10 year-olds?
There aren't many board games for kids that specifically aim at 10 year-olds, but King of Tokyo ($44.99 via Amazon (opens in new tab)) should delight anyone of that age and up. A thoroughly silly but engaging battle between monsters who want to squash the city, it's easy-going but has enough tactical complexity to hook those that want something more complex.
Zombie Kidz Evolution (available from Amazon for $24.99 (opens in new tab)) is much the same; it develops with each game by adding new mechanics and special abilities.
Looking for present inspiration? Be sure to check out these Disney gifts, Star Wars gifts, or our guide to Harry Potter merchandise. It's worth dropping in on these roundups of Fortnite merchandise and the best Lego sets, too.