There are an estimated bajillion board games out there these days. I love it. I’m a huge nerd. But not everyone is. Sometimes you have a long weekend with the in-laws. You ask, what are the best family board games?
The best family board games are games that aren’t bogged down in rule heavy minutia. Games that don’t take 6 hours to play. They are fun and easy to learn. That doesn’t mean they are bad games though. There are plenty of high quality board games for families.
The list below contains 6 great games for any type of gathering you might have coming up. There are some fast-paced games with simple rules and there are games with a little more heft to them (but nothing your mother-in-law can’t handle). Enjoy!
The 6 Best Family Board Games
Ticket to Ride – Amazon
Ticket to Ride has the classic board game feel with modern sensibilities. The object is simple: create the longest and most valuable railroad paths across the continent. Easy enough to learn, but with a multitude of strategies.
The reason Ticket to Ride is one of the best family board games is because it’s a strategic game wrapped up in a fun and casual blanket. There are no crazy mechanics that require you to reference arcane appendices. It’s a straight-forward game that anyone can understand. And frankly, it’s a whole lot of fun. Ticket to Ride is a modern classic and a welcome addition to any family game night.
Playing Time: 30-60 Minutes
Catan – Amazon
Let me put it this way: I wrote an article titled Catan: A Nearly Perfect Game. If you’ve been living under a rock, Catan is the game that ushered in a renaissance of board gaming. And for good reason. Catan is an exceptionally fun game with enough strategy for hardcore gamers but light enough for the whole family.
Catan feels like the best parts of Monopoly and Risk. The game is all about resource management as you expand across the continent. It’s a race against other players to reach 10 points through various benchmarks. But don’t worry if that sounds too intense. Catan is simple enough that anyone can learn and random enough that any player has a shot at victory. If you’ve got 3-4 players (or 5-6 with the expansion), it’s one of the best family board games out there.
Playing Time: 60 Minutes
Players: 2-4 (5-6 with expansion)
Codenames – Amazon
Codenames pits two teams against each other in a battle of the minds. Each team has a codemaster and gives team members clues to guess various words on the table. Definitely reminiscent of games like Taboo or Pictionary.
Codenames is great for families for a number of reasons. First is that games are relatively quick, usually lasting no more than 15 minutes. It’s also incredibly simple. Each codemaster gives only a one word clue, so teams rely a lot on how much they know one another. And with the added twist that you can accidentally guess the opposing teams words, each team will be glued to the board. Codenames is one of the best family board games out there.
Playing Time: 15 Minutes
Pandemic – Amazon
In Pandemic, you race against the clock to stop four different diseases spreading across the globe. You must work together with your team to keep the chaos under control.
I love Pandemic because it’s the quintessential cooperative game. You win as a team or lose as a team. And despite the complex look of the game, I think the rules are fairly straightforward. In many ways, it is a game of keeping plates spinning. You and your team have to mix removing disease cubes and keeping outbreaks under control while also coordinating to cure diseases. It’s fun, challenging, and something great for families if at least one person already knows how to play.
Playing Time: 60 Minutes
Ultimate One Night Werewolf – Amazon
I’ve Fallen in Love with One Night Ultimate Werewolf. That says it all. This is a game of social deduction where the group tries to figure out who the werewolves are. Each player is assigned a secret role. During the “Night” some roles have special abilities. During the “Day” the guessing begins.
Why Werewolf is easily one of the best family board games around is because it is both simple to learn and an incredibly quick game to play. Each day phase is 5 minutes long by default, meaning you can play over and over again. And because there are so many different combinations of roles, the game never gets stale. It also means it never gets too serious. Fun for the whole family.
Playing Time: 5-10 Minutes