Sure, you could reach into the closet and pull out Monopoly, Candy Land, and Uno. Those are indisputable classics! But playing these board games every family game night is like watching nothing but Parks & Rec over and over and over again. Sure, it’s a great show — also a classic!. But there are so many more options out there and variety, as some inspired sous chef maybe, probably once said when artfully Salt-Bae-ing some Paprika into a dish and making too-long eye contact, is the spice of life. So, the next time family board game night comes around, why not look to one of these modern games? From a Jenga-esque stacking game that will evoke oohs and aahs from the kids to a legitimately fun traditional board game that teaches coding fundamentals on the sly, here are seven fantastic family board games that are a genuinely good time.
Melissa & Doug Suspend Family Board Game
Less of a traditional board game and more of a see-how-high-you-can-build it game in the vain of Jenga. The idea is simple: there’s a stand and two dozen notched wire pieces to hang from it. Up to four players take turns hanging pieces, building a thin, tree-like structure in the process. As the game progresses, it becomes more and more difficult to place additional pieces without the entire structure falling. It’s a lot of fun and, better yet, requires very little to get started. Ages: 8+
All you need to play Quirkle is a flat surface large enough to fit the game’s 108 wooden blocks, which are broken up into groups of six different shapes in six different colors. It’s a simple matching game, the object of which is to lay down as many blocks as possible. Players take turns trying to match their blocks with the blocks on the board (to begin, the first player plops down a matching pair on the table). If it sounds complicated, it isn’t. What it is, however, is a surprising amount of fun for kids who enjoy both color- and shape-matching as well as a good dose of competition. Ages: 6+
As its title suggests, this is a simple matching game that features monsters. Monsters! Game play is simple: players have a pair of dice, one of which has numbers on it, the other of which has body parts (monster body parts!). There are various cards featuring different types of monsters placed on the playing surface. If a player rolls, say, a three and an eye, players must search for the monster card that features a monster with three eyes. Each monster card snatched up is worth a set number of points — indicated by stacked donuts on the side — and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins. Even better than the game itself is the game’s carrying case, which looks like a cool monster head. Ages: 6+
Gas Out Game
A hot-potato-style game except the potato in this gas is an electronic fart cloud that lets it rip when the timer runs out. Play is simple: Players are dealt a variety of cards featuring numbers as well as action cards such as “skip” and “reverse”. Once everyone has a handful, they take turns playing cards in their hand and pressing the gaseous cloud — known as Guster — as many times as shown. If Guster farts when you’re holding it, you’re out. Sure, it’s gross. But what better way to teach kids counting than with a smiling fart? Ages: 5+
It’s rare that a word game is both educational for kids and wildly entertaining for adults. At least not without the requisite amount of beers, which makes Anaxi such a cool oddball. The box comes with 75 word cards, each with adjectives like lumpy, square, green, etc., as well as two base cards and a timer. One person picks three color-coded word cards and puts them together on the base. Start the timer and write down as many people, places, or things (or, you know, nouns) that share those overlapping qualities. If someone else said Alf (as they’re likely to do) the person who wrote down a unique answer gets a higher score. Play continues for 5 rounds and whoever possesses the strongest vocabulary wins. It’s probably going to be the person who uses whomever. Ages 8+
The most backed board game in Kickstarter history, Robot Turtles is a fun game that teaches everyone from preschoolers to pre-teens (and even parents) programming fundamentals on the sly. There are robot tokens on a snake-like game board that can move forward, left, and right. The object is to reach one of the onboard jewels. To move around, players must say the movements of their tokens aloud, a style of play that teaches coding and critical thinking. More complexity can be added as players become wise to the gaming world. Ages: 4+
The goal is simple: Navigate the maze inside the lock using the accompanying “lockpick” and free yourself from the handcuffs. Players get points for their Houdini-like speed and the player with the most after three rounds wins. Each set of handcuffs comes with 12 unique mazes (in three difficulty levels) ⏤ they pop in and out ⏤ so the game gets harder each round. And if you’ve got a kid who can’t for the life of them figure it out, there’s an emergency release on the back so they won’t spend the night handcuffed to their older brother. Ages: 4+
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