21.5 C
Munich
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Best Board Games for Kids (2023)

Must read

From a kid's perspective, board games for adults can seem straight-laced and boring, what with the focus on depth and strategy. So if you're a fan, you might be scratching your head over what kid-friendly games make good introductions. After all, most children love to game and aren't all that well served by the old standby games on the shelves of toy stores.

It's good, then, that there are lots of great games that can give hours of fun to children and discerning adults alike. A lot of them are dexterity games, which make up the bulk of this list, and there's no shame in that. Not only are they raucous entertainment, but they require a skill kids do better than thick-fingered adults.

The list below is divided up into age groups, so take a look at the best board games for kids in the age range of your choice. You can take a look at our list of the best board games overall for more options.

TLDR: Best Board Games for Kids

Board Games for Toddlers and Preschool-Age Kids

The Color Monster

The Color MonsterThe Color Monster

Very young children can’t really understand even simple strategies, but games can still be a great tool to learn about turn-taking and sharing. The Color Monster, based on a popular children’s book, achieves this but also helps with emotional development. On your turn, you roll a die and move to land on a color space, then talk about the emotion that’s associated with that color. Afterwards, there’s a simple memory element to place the emotion in the correct jar as a step toward a cooperative win. Adults have to take turns too, of course, making this a wonderful platform for sharing your feelings and experiences with your kids.

Dragomino

Dragonimo Dragonimo

Children’s versions of popular family board games often aren’t worth the time over their bigger siblings but Dragomino, a spin-off of Kingdomino, does something special. Your goal is to build a map in traditional domino-style, winning dragon eggs if your piece placement matches the ends of one or more adjacent dominos. So it’s possible for a good placement to get you several eggs, which may contain baby dragons for your victory tally. It’s a very simple framework yet it makes basic strategy play accessible to preschool children, an impressive and unusual achievement. It's a great board game for 5 year olds if that's what you're looking for.

Animal Upon Animal

Animal Upon AnimalAnimal Upon Animal

Once kids have developed a little dexterity, at around age three, the wonderful world of stacking games opens up. Animal Upon Animal is a great place to start and is fine fun for adults too. A die roll decides who gets to choose an animal shape and who will stack it. Cause the pile to fall, and you must take some of the toppled animals: first to clear their pieces wins. It's the shapes that really make this game, a brilliant set of designs that open up a myriad of stacking options that reward clever play.

Board Games for Elementary School-Age Kids

Valley of the Vikings

Valley of the VikingsValley of the Vikings

Dexterity meets tactical puzzling in this bizarre yet entertaining bowling game. The aim is to push a large ball into a group of colored barrels. For each barrel you knock over, the corresponding player piece is advanced down a pier track toward the water. What you’re trying to do is dunk other players in the sea while keeping yours dry. The tactics come from the fact that your reward when another player goes swimming depends on the icon above your own space. So, sometimes you want to advance your own piece after all, sometimes not, and sometimes a clumsy ball flick leaves you with no choice in the matter.

ICECOOL 2

ICECOOL 2ICECOOL 2

ICECOOL 2 also uses weighted pieces in a very different dexterity game. This time the weights are in penguins that you flick around, allowing you to make jumps, swerves and all kinds of trick shots. For most players, the aim is to leap and collect fish tokens pinned above doorways on the modular board, built out of the box itself. One though, the hall monitor, has to hunt down the naughty penguins for detention. Everyone takes a turn at being hall monitor in this fast, frenzied flicking game, and then most points wins.

Coconuts

Coconuts Coconuts

The titular nuts are irregular rubber spheres that players launch at a field of cups using a monkey-shaped catapult. The aim is to land nuts in cups, but those tricky blighters bounce and roll in unexpected ways, adding to the chaos. It's a simple dexterity delight for the whole family, but there's more anarchy to enjoy if you also use the included cards. These cause players to have to make trick shots of various kinds, adding to the wow factor if one lands on target.

Andor the Family Fantasy Game

Andor Andor

Adventure games tend toward the longer and more complex end of the spectrum, and that’s a shame because it’s a theme that kids really dig. Andor aims to redress that with a straightforward yet fun and varied quest framework. Players choose a class and try and complete random missions while a dragon slowly makes its way toward the capital city. If it gets there before you’ve delved into the dungeon and rescued the cute wolf cubs therein, it’s game over. You can push it back by battling its minions, but that diverts efforts from those all-important quests, giving players a basic priority balancing strategy to work with.

Board Games for Middle School-Age Kids

Horrified

Horrified: Universal MonstersHorrified: Universal Monsters

Don’t be fooled by the theme: this is based on classic Universal monster movies of the ’50s and is even less scary than they were. So it’s a great way for kids to face their fears as they work together to overcome some hokey horror foes. Players must move around the town and collect items necessary to defeat the selection of monsters they’ve chosen to face. There are six to pick from, each with different powers and requirements to defeat. But beware, as you’re not the only targets: you’ll also need to protect wandering villagers and guide them to safety. And when the kids are done, this is a pretty good horror board game for adults, too.

Zombie Kidz: Evolution

Zombie Kidz EvolutionZombie Kidz Evolution

At first, this seems too simple for this age bracket. Players move their characters over the school map, eliminating zombies. If they can meet and lock the gates against the zombie horde before being overrun, they win. But as each scenario is passed, the real magic of the game unfolds. This is a "legacy" style game for kids, where each game adds to a growing narrative. Your choices also make your copy unique with pens and stickers and unlockable envelopes of new rules and other content. It's a wild ride of imaginative customization that children will love.

Pyramid of Pengqueen

Pyramid of PengqueenPyramid of Pengqueen

This novel game has a magnetic board so that it keeps the playing pieces in place while standing upright. On one side gathers a band of penguin adventurers, on the other the ancient mummy. The magnets mean the penguins can see the mummy’s piece moving – which is oddly spooky – while the mummy player doesn’t know where the penguins are. The adventurers must try to avoid being caught while they plunder the pyramid for treasure, using a clever dice-locking mechanic. But watch out: once you find an item, the mummy will realize where you are.

For more ideas, check out our list of the best classic board games, or for the more military-minded, the best war board games. And if you're on the lookout for a more general pool of ideas, take a look at our list of the best board games to play in 2023.


Matt Thrower is a contributing freelance board game and video game writer for IGN. (Board, video, all sorts of games!)

- Advertisement -

More articles

- Advertisement -

Latest article