Board Games for Family Night

Playing board games is a major hobby of mine.  Every year I look forward to attending Gen Con, where I aggressively shop the dings and dents section of CoolStuffInc and play as many new games as I can.

We enjoy playing board games as a family.  I’ve been playing board games with my daughter since she was four; she’s eight now, and quite the gamer.  One of the things we’ve learned is that the recommended age range on a board game is merely a recommendation: the only real challenge for my daughter in playing advanced games was how well she was able to read.

I thought I’d share some of the games that we like to play together as a family.

Strategy Game

Winner: Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar
Runners-Up: The Castles of Burgundy, 7 Wonders, Kingsburg, Tikal
Want to try soon: Hansa Teutonica

In most strategy games, the theme is far less important than the mechanics, and Tzolk’in has my favorite game mechanic of all time:  Workers placed on six interconnected gears rotate to take the workers to different action spots.  Winning the game is all about placing and removing your workers at optimal times.

The game is beautiful, and there are many different ways to win the game.  My daughter, in her first time out and without any hints, soundly beat my wife and I with the Chichen Itza strategy.

Cooperative Game

Winner: Ghost Stories
Runners-Up: Pandemic, Shadows Over Camelot
Want to try soon: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island

This is my wife’s favorite category.  We recently played Ghost Stories for the first time as a family, and while we lost (of course), we had a great time and we can’t wait to play again … once my daughter gets over her frustration of losing.  Now that I think about it, it might take a while before we can bring this game back to the table.

One vs. Everyone Else Game

Winner: Fury of Dracula (third edition)
Runners-Up: Betrayal at House on the Hill, Mansions of Madness

In any one-vs-everyone game, I tend to be the “one”.  When we played Fury of Dracula, it was no different – I was the famous vampire, trying to hide across Europe.  It was fascinating watching my daughter trying to track me down and seeing through my feints.  I thought I had her for a while, but she caught on eventually.  Once she did, I became cornered without any chance for escape.

I find it curious that all three examples here are from the horror genre…

Kid’s Choice

Winner: Steam Park
Runners-Up: Mysterium, Concept, Tokaido, The Downfall of Pompeii

My least-favorite category!

Every time my daughter gets free choice as to which game we’ll play, she invariably chooses Steam Park.  She absolutely loves the theme and the idea of building rollercoasters for people to ride.  Also, she tends to win – by a lot!

I don’t personally enjoy Steam Park or Mysterium all that much, so when it’s kid’s choice night, I cross my fingers and hope my daughter ends up picking Concept, Tokaido, or The Downfall of Pompeii.  Especially the latter: I enjoy watching my daughter getting excited about throwing my meeples into the volcano.

Duds

Winner: All racing games (e.g. Formula D)
Runners-Up: Galaxy Trucker, Blokus

These games, for whatever reason, just didn’t work with us.  We tend to find racing games like Formula D boring; there’s just not enough going on there to keep our interest.  My daughter was completely turned off by the theme of Galaxy Trucker, and Blokus had absolutely no replayability whatsoever.