We love to play a good family game, and we’ve acquired a number of great ones over the past few years. My husband likes to give a new game to each of our sons on their birthdays, and we often add a new one at Christmas. If you’re looking for a gift, here’s seven of our favorites (with links to Amazon).
1. Castle Panic – my favorite thing about this game is that all players are working together on a common goal – to defend the castle and slay the monsters. It’s more about cooperation than competition. In the end the whole family either wins or loses. Should you need a little competition, in the end, you can recognize a “Master Slayer” who has earned the most points by defeating the most monsters. Although the box says “ages 10 and up,” we have played this game with our boys since they were 5 and 6. The other day my 7 year old taught his 8 1/2 year old friend how to play. So it may require adults to learn and play at first, but this is definitely a game for kids of all ages. Also, the box looks a LOT scarier than the actual game is. The monsters (orcs, trolls, etc.) are on game pieces the size of a quarter.
2. Quirkle – This is such an easy game to play. Like Scrabble, you pull tiles out of a bag. You either match the color (with no repeating shapes) or match the shape (with no repeating colors), and earn points. It’s challenging, but not too difficult. We help our 7 year old when we play as a family, but the other day he took it upon himself to teach his 8 1/2 yr old friend how to play, and did so with great success.
3. Q-Bitz – This game can be played independently or as a group. You try to match the pattern on the card by turning the cubes on your own little wooden coaster. There are different levels of challenge that adults can engage in so that they are evenly matched against kids. I like that this can be a quick game – play the best out of 5 cards – if needed.
4. Ticket to Ride – My boys love trains, so this was a no-brainer. It’s expensive (at nearly $50 in most stores), but has many levels of fun. The object of the game is to earn points by building train routes from city to city as assigned in the “Destination” cards. Since we play with young children, we leave our cards face-up and try to collaborate and suggest solutions for and with one another. There is a lot of strategy to this game, but it also involves an element of chance. Bonus: it familiarizes players with geography!
5. Blokus – This is a great spacial reasoning game that appeals to the OCD in me. If you every played and loved Tetris… if you like to pack the dishwasher (or the trunk) just right, this game is for you. My husband and I got this one pre-kids, but have found that they love it. The object of the game is to play as many of your pieces as possible; the rules are that you pieces may only touch on the corners. Again, we coach and suggest with strategy, but allow them to make their own choices.
6. Sequence – This is another game we started playing pre-kids (with other adults), but found the kids enjoyed it. You play on teams of two or three. Each person get 5-7 cards marked like a deck of playing cards. The board has two occurrences of every card, except Jacks (which are wild). The object of the game is to make a sequence (or two) of five-in-a-row… or block the opposing team from doing so. It’s like a cross between matching and bingo, with a fair deal of strategy. There is a kids version, which we gave as a birthday party gift once, but have never owned.
7. Ravensburger Labyrinth – This is a fun “treasure hunting” game that involves an ever-changing maze. Players each get 5-7 cards with a variety of objects or characters (a dragon, a princess, a ghost, a genie, a bat, an owl, etc)… each person must travel through the maze in search of each object, and be the first to make it back to the starting square to win. There are ways to make the game more or less challenging, depending on the age and ability of the players.
Do you have a favorite family game? Share in the comments!