10 Best Family Board Games Of All Time (2022 Guide)

Playing board games is a fantastic way to bond as a family. It’s a time when you are all off technology and spending time together and directs attention in a way that you don’t end up bored. You can also learn new things about your family and their interests, and it can be quite educational too! Playing board games with the whole family is a great way to spend quality time together.

When I talk about picking a game for families, I’m usually referring to a family of people of various ages. This could include parents playing with their children, teenagers or adults playing with their elderly parents, or bringing a game to a family gathering and playing with people who don’t normally play games. This means that these games are aimed at a group that will have someone who can read and explain the rules and that they are still enjoyable for children and non-gamers to play while also providing enough strategy for gamers to enjoy.

Playing with my partner and kids is the main way I play board games (way more often than with my regular gaming group), so I’ve tried to pick a variety of games that will give different mechanisms to explore, that all my kids tend to like as well as the adults, and most importantly make it to the table often for family game nights.

Best Family Board Games Of All Time

Name# PlayersTimeComplexityGood For
#1 Forbidden Desert2 – 545 minsEasyCo-operative adventure
#2 The Crew2 – 520 minsEasyTrick taking card game
#3 Sushi Go Party!2 – 820 minsEasyCute and competitive

1. Best Cooperative – Forbidden Desert

Forbidden Desert is a cooperative game for 1-4 players where you are adventurers trying to escape from a desert.

In this game, you each start by picking a character that has a special ability (eg. you may be able to move other characters or hold more water), and you have to work together to get off the desert you’ve been stranded on and get back to your ship and escape in order to win the game.

It’s quite a hectic game with a mechanism that means the game board is constantly moving, and the desert is filling up with sand you can’t move through so you need to clear and you are running out of water.

This game is from the same makers as Pandemic, and if you’ve played that before it feels pretty similar, but is quite a different theme and is a lot more approachable.

Pros

  • Cooperative gameplay so no individual winners and losers
  • Very engrossing theme
  • Encourages collaboration and teamwork
  • Easy and approachable rules

Cons

  • Hectic and stressful
  • Can be difficult to win

2. Best Quick Game – The Crew: Quest for Planet Nine

Most people have played trick-taking classic card games like spades, in which you each have to lay out cards according to certain rules (e.g., always put down a card of the same suit) in a round, and then there is a round winner who takes the cards according to a certain rule (eg. the person who put the highest card down).

The Crew turns this into a corporative game, where the players have to go on missions together and complete certain tasks in order to win.  There is usually a captain of the mission who is given the clue, as an example, they may have to play a yellow 9 down (and the missions get more complicated as you play more games), and as a group you are going to have to figure out how you make that happen.

The catch is that the players aren’t allowed to talk about their strategies, the only clues they can give each other is by showing some of their cards in their hand each turn.

This game has risen in its board game rating on bgg quickly and for good reason.  It’s a lot of fun, strategic, yet simple enough that anyone can play.  Being a quick card game I find it works really well with the older generation who are familiar with these types of games, yet the theme and simplicity makes it great to play with kids as well.

Pros

  • Cooperative fun
  • Limited communication makes for a good bonding challenge
  • Appeals to all ages

Cons

  • Best to play through all missions with the same group (though not required)
  • Better with more players
  • The theme is very loosely connected to the game

3. Makes you Think – Sushi Go Party!

Sushi Go Party! is an easy card game that is focused on set collection.  It has simple gameplay and gorgeous artwork of sushi, making it a very approachable family game.

In Sushi Go you get a hand of cards, and you pick the sushi you want to add to the area in front of you (where you are collecting your sets of sushi) and then hand your cards to the next player to pick from, while you get the set from the player on your other side to pick from.

When you play sushi in the area in front of you, you are trying to make sets of the same type of sushi.  When you make sets each sushi type will be scored in a different way.  For example, some types of sushi may be worth 3 victory points each regardless of how many you have, some might give you a bonus only if you have the most of this type of sushi, while others are worth a different amount of victory points depending on how many you have.

This game really makes you think about what the best combination is to keep when you are trying to make a bunch of different sushi combinations and maximise your score.

The party version gives more types of sushi, and as you pick different sushi that scores in different ways in each game, it gives the game a lot of variety.

Pros

  • Quick game
  • Makes you think
  • Cute artwork
  • Improves simple maths

Cons

  • Requires maths skills
  • Can be somewhat luck-based
  • If the person before you tries to keep cards from you it can be quite hard

4. Best For All Ages – The Quacks of Quedlinburg

Quacks of Quedlinburg is a very fun game, and a little bit chaotic.  This is a competitive game for 2-4 players (though I find it works best with 4) that has around a 45 minute playing time.

In this game, you are quack doctors, who are building a potion on your board.  Each player has a bag of potion ingredients that they pull out from in order to make their potion worth more points.  There’s an element of pool building in this game, except instead of a deck you are trying to get good ingredients in your bag to pull from.  There’s also a push your luck element as if you pull out too many cherry bombs your potion will explode, and then you either won’t get points or new ingredients that round, and you want points to win and ingredients to make your bag better.

It’s an easy game, every game is different because of the different ingredients, and it’s just a lot of fun.  This game makes it to the table heaps in my family, it’s one of my kid’s favourites as well as being enjoyable for the adults too.

Pros

  • Lots of fun!
  • A great theme of making potions
  • Using bags of tiles and arranging them on a board is a very tactile experience
  • Perfect game for non-gamers yet fun for gamers

Cons

  • There is quite a bit of luck to this game
  • Not the most strategic

5. Best Pattern Matching – Calico

In this game, you are building a quilt in order to sew on buttons and attract cats to your board, which each earns you points.

Each player has a game board, and in each round you are picking a patch from the centre and adding a new patch to your board. Each patch is hexagonal shaped and has a color and a pattern on it. If you get three of the same colour patch next to each other then you get a button, which is worth 3 points.  The different cats each like different patch patterns, and once you have built what the fussy cat wants, it will come to sit on your quilt and you’ll get points for that cat.

There is an easy version and a harder version of this game included in the instructions.  In the harder version, there are fussier cats are that want the patches in certain shapes next to each other in order to come to lie on your quilt, as well as having additional patches on your board that give you bonus points for having colors or patterns in a certain sequence surrounding them.

This game has easy to understand rules (even my 4 year old can play the easiest version), however, there is so much pattern matching required to get a good score, it requires a lot of thinking!

Pros

  • Develops spatial recognition and pattern matching
  • Easy to understand rules
  • Lots of strategies
  • Great for a wide age range
  • Gorgeous, cute looking game

Cons

  •  Some people are just annoyingly good at pattern recognition
  • Involves some luck depending on what tiles come out
  • Can be stressful if you like things to be perfect

6. Best Word Game – Codenames Pictures

This is a team game where your family will be split up into two teams (though they don’t have to be an even amount of people), and you’ll be giving each other clues to guess words.

In Codenames, each team has a spymaster and detectives.  There is a grid of cards on the table, where some of the cards are agents and some are assassins.  The spymaster has to give clues and a number of cards that relate to that clue, and the detectives have to use those clues to pick the most agents to beat the other team, without picking the assassins.

Codenames uses words for the cards, while codenames pictures uses pictures, which makes it more accessible if you have younger people in your family who can’t yet read well.  Because a picture tells a thousand words, I find the pictures version also encourages more creative thinking than the original does.

This is a fun party game that a larger group can play, is a lot of fun, and is a theme that is very friendly to non-gamers, making it a great pick for a large family of various ages and gaming experience.

Pros

  • Easy rules suitable for all ages
  • An approachable game even for non-gamers
  • Accommodates many players
  • Encourages creative thinking

Cons

  •  Needs at least 4 people
  • Not the most strategic game

7. Most Thematic – Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle is a game for 2-4 players that takes around 60 minutes each time to play. In this game, you play as 4 of the main characters from Harry Potter (Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville) and you fight against the villains in Harry Potter, ranging from Draco all the way up to Voldemort.

It’s a deck-building game, so each player is a character and builds up their deck with cards that give them things like spells, magic items, and additional health. The villains have powers in the dark arts and attack the characters, while much like the story, the players are trying to keep Hogwarts safe.

It’s a cooperative game, so all the players are working together to defeat the villains.  This game plays through like a campaign, coming with 7 bundles of cards that play through each of the books, adding more powerful spells, more villains and more rules as the game progresses.

While this may not be the best deck builder ever made mechanically, the theme more than makes up for it and it’s a big hit with Harry Potter fans.

Pros

  • Harry Potter theme comes through very well
  • Cooperative gameplay means your family can play together
  • Easy enough rules for children 8+ (requires some strategy and reading)
  • Challenging and rewarding fights

Cons

  • There are better deck builders out there
  • Difficulty ramps up and the last few books are hard

8. Cutest – Takenoko

Takenoko is a 2-4 player game that takes approximately 45 minutes.  In this game, you help the imperial gardener maintain a garden for a panda that was gifted to the Chinese emperor. 

Each turn you can take 2 actions which include placing one of the coloured hexagonal tiles that make up the boards, irrigating the tiles with water so bamboo can grow on them, moving the gardener who helps grow the bamboo, or moving the panda who eats the bamboo.

The point of the game is to complete your target cards that each have different goals on them.  The goals may be to have tiles arranged in a certain shape or color pattern, to grow different bamboo on the board, or to have the panda eat certain colors of bamboo.

The game reminds me a little bit of Ticket to Ride with the goal cards but instead of route building you are garden building. I find Takenoko more interesting than Ticket to Ride, as it has more going on.  Because of the amount going on, I would say this is suited to families with slightly older children (8+) or adults.

Pros 

  • Cute panda and gorgeous, tactile game pieces
  • Approachable rules
  • Strategic gameplay

Cons

  • A lot going on
  • Despite the cute theme, it’s not suitable for young children

9. Best Building Game – Kingdomino

Kingdomino is a super-light game for 2-4 players that takes about 20 minutes. It’s kind of like a cross between a building game and dominos.

In this game, each player will pick a tile from the centre, and place it on their board with the aim to build their kingdom.  Like dominos, you can only place the tile on your board with a color of terrain that touches another tile of the same color that’s already on your board.  It also has a mechanism where each tile is given a rating and the player who picked the worst tile that round gets to go first next round, which adds some strategy to which tile you pick above just picking the best one available.

At the end of the game, you get a score based on the number of connecting terrain tiles of the same color multiplied by the number of crowns on that type of tile

It’s great to play with kids or non-gamers as the rules can be explained very quickly, it only takes 20 minutes, and it doesn’t require a high amount of thought and concentration.

Pros

  • Very approachable for children and non-gamers
  • Quick and light game
  • Colorful and tactile game pieces

Cons

  • Always plays the same, can get boring
  • More of a filler game, not a whole lot of strategy required

10. Spookiest – Mysterium

Mysterium is a light game for 2-7 players (though it works better with over 4) that takes around 45-60 minutes.

This game is like a mix of the classic game Cluedo (a deduction murder mystery game) and Dixit (a game where you give each other clues about pictures), and the combination makes for a fantastic, very interactive social game.

In Mysterium, one player is the ghost trying to give the other players clues about how they were murdered using pictures, and the other players are mediums who need to interpret the clues the ghost is giving in order to figure out how and where they were murdered.

The way clues are given is that each player has cards that they need to identify, and the ghost player has to give artwork cards to the players as “visions”, which the players can then discuss amongst themselves what the visions mean.  It can be hard because the vision cards may focus on a specific aspect the clue giver thinks is relevant, for example, color, emotion, an object, and it’s up to the players to try to figure out what the clue giver meant.

My family loves the spooky theme of the game and enjoys this game every time it comes out to the table.  There is always lots of laughs and different threads of reasoning, and it’s interesting to see how other people think about clues.

Pros

  • Very social, interactive game
  • The theme of a spooky murder is fantastic
  • Lots of laughs

Cons

  • Quite a bit of set-up time
  • Longer gameplay
  • The murder theme may not be suitable for younger players

Honourable Mentions

  • Azul – another tile-laying pattern-matching game that is excellent, the only reason this didn’t make the list is that my kids all love the cat theme in Calico.
  • Machi Koro – a cool little engine building game where you are building a city.  Similar to Splendor but the theme is more family-friendly.
  • Camel Up – A racing game where you are betting on the camel that will win the race and is a really fun, quirky game.
  • Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure – You are building a deck to help you dungeon through a dungeon, it’s a very thematic game and lots of fun but does have player elimination.
  • Ticket to Ride – a game where you layout trains on a map to build routes, it’s one of the most popular board games and for good reason.
  • Marvel United – You are superheroes using powers in your deck of cards to cooperate and beat villains – perfect for the marvel loving family.
  • King of Tokyo – a bit like battle Yahtzee, you are superheroes and you are rolling dice to use your superpowers to fight each other.

Conclusion

As you can see from the large number of honourable mentions, there are a ton of great family games.  All the games mentioned above, as well as all the honourable mentions, are all staples of gaming in my house that make it to the table very often.

My personal favorite board games are the ones with adventure themes, I enjoy both Forbidden Desert and Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle the most, as I love stories and the feeling of having an experience together.

My son is very strategic and his favourite on this list are Calico, Sushi Go Party, and Takenoko, as they make you think and have a bunch of different paths to victory.

I also just like something that is easy to sit down and play together, the quick light games always make their way to the table when we only have a 20-minute gap before or after dinner.  For these, The Crew, Sushi Go Party, Codenames Pictures and Kingdomino definitely get the most table time.

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