The Best Family Board Games to Play in 2024 – IGN


Family game fixtures have become more and more popular over recent years, in part as a way to reclaim some fun time with family members away from the tyranny of screens. And it’s a great option: everyone has to get involved, it’s a workout for your brain, and often a tense thrill-ride to the finish if you pick the right titles. But in the ever-expanding board game scene, that can be a problem, as not all games are as fun for your pre-teen kids as they are for their grandparents as well as the generation in between.

If you want the best board games for adults, or the best board games for kids, we’ve got you covered with separate lists. Our picks here are sure to please whatever the age and skill level of the participants, as they offer a mix of strategy and luck that keeps everyone on their toes and in with a chance.

TL;DR: Best Family Board Games

Don’t have time to scroll? These are our picks. Read on for details about each one.

My City

My City

My City

Legacy games, where your actions in one game carry over into the next, have been a hot item in tabletop over the last decade or so, but most of them are too complex and involved for family play. Not so My City from one of board gaming’s most prolific and acclaimed designers, Reiner Knizia. It’s a simple, zen-like tile-laying game where you’re trying to fit buildings of different shapes together onto a virgin wilderness, grouping things together to score points. But after each game, you’ll add new rules and stickers to your map, so that each individual player’s board becomes unique. This gives it a thrillingly addictive edge as you wait to unlock each tranche of new content, and means it’ll come back to the table time and time again as you work through the campaign.

Scout

Scout

Scout

Japan has a burgeoning board game scene of its own, translations from which are only slowly making their way into the west. This card game is perhaps its most engaging export yet, winning a nomination for the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award. At heart it’s a Rummy-type affair that’s easy to pick up, where you have to lay sequences of cards from your hand to get rid of them, but it has two novel catches. Firstly, if you can’t beat the sequence currently on the table, you have to pick up a card from it instead, Second, you can’t rearrange your initial hand, only insert picked-up cards where you want them. This gives each hand a fascinating long-term strategic aspect, an astonishing achievement for a fifteen-minute game that’s already highly addictive.

Heat: Pedal to the Metal

Heat: Pedal to the Metal

Heat: Pedal to the Metal

Heat was, ironically enough, one of 2022’s hottest titles, an easy to pick up racing game that still delivered a thrilling dash to the chequered flag. The core of the game is very straightforward: the higher gear you’re in, the more movement cards you can play, but all the corners on the track have a maximum gear value. Exceed it, and you’re at risk of spinning off and losing ground. This creates a tense game of push your luck and hand management, where you’re shepherding cards to maximise your movement without downshifting until the very last minute, then angling to pick up speed again down the straights. And don’t forget the value of slipstreaming behind the leader for a last-minute overtake. With a variety of tracks and fun plastic toy car pieces, it’s certain to keep you racing into the small hours.

Takenoko

Takenoko

Takenoko

Takenoko is a game about taking care of a very hungry panda. Players spend their turns watering plots of land to grow bamboo that the panda will then eat. There are lots of ways to score points, such as placing land tiles in a certain patterns and feeding the panda specific colors of bamboo.Because there is more than one way to score points, the game does not shoehorn players into one strategy. With colors that pop and towers of bamboo that reach far above the table, Takenoko is just as fun to look at as it is to play.

Cascadia

Cascadia

Cascadia

There are few games with quite the wide appeal of Cascadia. For starters, it’s got a wholesome theme of exploring the ecology of the Pacific Northwest. The mechanics are very simple, involving you picking one of four pairs of animal token and terrain hex to add to your growing map. The aim is to satisfy a random range of scoring cards by getting animals into particular patterns, and they range in difficulty from an easy family version to challenging gamer-level objectives. There’s even a fun solo campaign where you’re tasked with crossing off a range of variants and objectives. If there ever was a game for absolutely everyone, this is it.

For more like this, you can check out our guide to the best solo board games.

King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo

The best way to describe King of Tokyo is “Yahtzee meets Godzilla.” In this monster mash-up, players control one of a stable of greatest-hits monsters straight out of science fiction past. The goal is to take control of Tokyo while fending off the other monsters. Attacks and special abilities are carried out through dice rolls which lends a bit of suspense to the giant-sized boxing matches. Of course, controlling Tokyo makes you a target, and no monster can stay in the city for too long without taking lots of damage. It’s up to you to recognize when to retreat and when to press the attack, but beware: other monsters are out there and waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

Kingdomino

Kingdomino

Kingdomino

Released in 2017, Kingdomino is the most recent game on this list. It also won the coveted Spiel des Jahres, the German board game of the year, cementing its place as a go-to family game for years to come. Players take turns claiming tiles to add to their kingdom, but it’s not as simple as picking a tile and moving on. The tile you choose directly affects the turn order for the next turn, so you must be careful when making your decision lest you leave a valuable tile on the table for your opponents. Your tableau is limited to a five-by-five grid, which adds a spatial awareness element to the game as well. Because of its short play time and how easy it is to learn the rules, Kingdomino is an ideal choice for your next family game night.

Tiny Towns

Tiny Towns

Tiny Towns

In Tiny Towns, players are mayors of newly developing villages and are tasked with planning and building the town’s cottages, taverns, factories and more. On a turn, the active player chooses one of the available resources, then all players take one cube of the matching resource and place it in their town. Those cubes stay there, taking up precious space, until you can match the pattern on one of the building cards. Then, you place the building in your town and gain its effect, usually in the form of end-game points based on the building’s scoring conditions. Because everyone at the table takes a resource on every turn, there’s little to no down time in Tiny Towns. Keeping players engaged while forcing them to meticulously plan their buildings makes this family game a brain burner in the best possible way.

Azul

Azul Board Game

Azul Board Game

A game that is as beautiful as it is enjoyable, Azul is a contest of planning and opportunity. You’re a mason in 15th or 16th century Portugal, and King Manuel I has asked you to decorate his palace with strikingly colored tiles reminiscent of Spain’s Alhambra. On a turn, you choose all tiles of a single color from one of the available groups of four, and the rest get sent to a common area that can be pilfered later. You must insert your chosen tiles into rows on your player board, and when you complete a row you’ll add one tile to your palace wall. Points are scored for meeting various pattern requirements, like covering all tiles of one color on your wall, or completing an entire row or column. Filling up your display is satisfying in a way that few tile-laying games can boast, and the play time is generally short enough that multiple plays in a night are not uncommon. It’s not hard to see why Azul won Germany’s game of the year award in 2018.

Read our review of Azul.

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea

Trick-taking games like Whist are well-known, but The Crew takes the concept to a new level by using it in a cooperative card game. You’ll work together over a long series of missions that require you to win tricks that meet certain objectives. One player might have to win a trick with a blue 5 in it, while another must not win any of the first 5 tricks. The catch is that you can only ever tell your fellow players about one card in your hand: the rest must be kept secret. This straightforward concept hides a surprising amount of tactical depth as you try to trump and throw-away cards to ensure the right players win the right tricks.

Downforce

Downforce

Downforce

In 2017, Restoration Games reproduced Wolfgang Kramer’s 1996 classic Top Race as Downforce. It’s a racing game where the winner isn’t necessarily the one whose car comes in first place. Players’ hands are filled with cards that depict various combinations of colors and numbers, and playing a card moves the corresponding cars forward that number of spaces. Throughout the race, you can bet on which cars you think will do the best, netting you a sweet bonus to your score. The game is over in about half an hour, and provides a surprisingly satisfying mix of luck and strategy, a tough balancing act for many family games. It also has custom rules for younger players.

The Isle of Cats

The Isle of Cats

The Isle of Cats

Who doesn’t love an adorable cat? The evil Lord Vesh, that’s who, and it’s up to you to fit as many sinuous felines on your boat as you can before sailing them away from him to safety. This is really an excuse for this great game of polyomino arrangement, with the gorgeous artwork for the sinuous felines filling the shapes. You must pack your boat as best you can, trying to cover rats, fill holds and satisfy a random assortment of scoring conditions. As a bonus, the box includes two games modes: a family one and a rather more complex and challenging full game that sees you have to buy and deploy traps and tricks to lure the cats before stashing them safely on your ship.

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

You’d never imagine that concocting phoney potions in medieval Germany would be this much fun. Each game has a different set of effects on a range of ingredients that you can add to your snake oil, and it’s down to you to sniff out the likely combos and get brewing. But there’s a catch: you do so by adding your ingredients to a bag and drawing them blindly, gradually pushing up the tally of dangerous cherry bombs. Pull one too many and your whole batch will be ruined for the round. This combination of weighted push your luck and light strategy is an absolute winner for families, bringing you both tension and tactics as you compete to drum up the best draughts.

Upcoming Family Games

Wiggles 3D, publisher of the excellent (and now sadly out of print) cooperative symbol-matching game 5-Minute Dungeon, has created a successor in the brilliant-sounding One Hit Heroes. Like its predecessor, it’s a simple conceit: each of you is a hero down to their last hit point while battling a boss monster. It’s up to you to try and keep them alive against the odds and triumph! To succeed, you’ll need a balance of attack and defence, rushing down your opponent’s health while deploying the right combos to deflect its attacks and keep your heroes alive. With some novel campaign elements across the supplied scenarios, this sounds like another cooperative family-grade winner.

At the opposite end of the feel-good spectrum, but no less fun, is Vicious Gardens which plays up the contrast between its peaceful pastime theme and its brutal gameplay, alongside some delightful nonsense characters and produce for your growing garden. Your goal is to collect sets of cards across different categories, then cultivate and harvest them, using your specialist helpers, for points. Or you could use those specialists to, y’know, go and trample all over your opponent’s plots instead. Nice or nasty, the choice is yours in the race to become the top gardener.

When Is The Best Time to Buy Board Games in 2024?

If you love board games, it can unfortunately be a rather expensive hobby. With Black Friday 2023 starting soon, you should still wait for Friday, November 17 to make any big purchases. The Amazon Black Friday sale is starting a week early and has historically been one of the best times to buy board games at a discount. After Black Friday ends, you’ll likely still be able to find board game deals on Cyber Monday and beyond.

On top of the recommendations we’ve listed above, families with shared interests may get a kick out of the best Marvel board games or Harry Potter board games. And if that’s not enough, you can check out our list of best two-player board games, as well as the best trivia board games.

Matt Thrower is a contributing freelancer for IGN, specializing in tabletop games. He’s also been published in The Guardian, Dicebreaker and Senet Magazine as well as being the author and co-author of several books on board games. You can reach him on BlueSky at @mattthr.bsky.social.



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