Growing up, my family loved playing board games together. My mom played a lot of board games with her family, especially as an adult, and her dad was attending board game nights 3-4 times a week before COVID-19 hit. My sister-in-law also comes from a huge board game-playing family that attends some major board game conventions every year. So I learn about new games all the time from both sides of the family, which is great because I can play them with them and then decide which games I want to buy!
Board games have been a great way to bond with my family, and with new and old friends too. They're also a great way to test your critical thinking skills and sportsmanship.
So, without further ado, I want to share some of my favorite family-friendly (meaning easier to understand and play) board games with you!
When I Dream (ages 8+)
When I Dream is one of our favorite games to bring to gatherings/game nights. One person wears the "sleep mask" (blindfold) and everyone else is dealt a role card indicating whether they are a fairy, boogeyman, or a sandman. Starting with the person to the left of the "dreamer" (blindfolded person), each person takes turns saying a one word clue about the dream card. The dreamer is trying to guess the word on the card based on the clues that are given; however, some of the clues will be deceiving. The fairies want to give clues that will help the dreamer to guess the word correctly, the boogeymen will give clues that will make the dreamer guess wrong, and the sandman will try to even out the playing field. The dreamer can only guess once before a new dream card is revealed and they won't know if their answer was correct until their timer runs out, which means they won't know who is giving them the good or bad clues. Points are awarded to each role based on how well they succeeded in helping or deceiving the dreamer, and the dreamer gets points for guessing dream cards correctly. Everyone gets to be the dreamer twice (role cards switch with each dreamer too) and whoever has the most points by the end of the game wins. This game plays 4-10 people and takes a minimum of 30 minutes to play. Everyone we've played this with has loved it, and the art is really fun too!
Carcassonne (ages 7+)
I grew up playing this game, specifically the Hunters and Gatherers version. This is a tile placement game, which makes the "board" unique every time. On your turn, you draw and place a tile, making sure that the environment lines up (trees line up to trees, rivers with rivers, etc. - i.e. you can't have a river connected to an open field) and then you decide if you want to place any of your meeples (people). You can fish rivers, lay claim to a field of animals, claim a forest/mountain, or claim a river with a fishing hut, all of which help you to score points. Once the last tile is placed, the game is over and any untallied points are then tallied. The person with the most points wins. I love the replay-ability of this one! This game plays 2-5 people and there are many different versions of the game, as well as some expansions that add to the replay-ability. The standard version of the game has castles and roads (the blue box in the picture above).
Magic Maze (ages 8+)
Magic Maze is a cooperative tile-placing game with a twist! There are four characters - a barbarian, an elf, a wizard, and a dwarf (don't ask me why two of these are races and the other two are classes - I don't know!) - and everyone will play them together. Each person will be dealt a directional tile. They can move any character that specific direction, and that's it. Some tiles have additional abilities like moving characters up and down the escalators, placing new tiles, or "warping" characters around the board. The premise of the game is that each of these characters needs new equipment in order to continue their quest, so they are breaking into the magic mall to steal new equipment and get out without being caught. You'll work together to move these characters to their desired equipment and then out of the mall before the time runs out. Here's the twist: you cannot talk at all. The game starts small and each time you complete the game, you then add a new rule. It's super fun and tricky all at the same time! Do you think you can handle not talking during a game? Magic Maze plays 1-8 people, but I will say that 4 people is the sweet spot. I'm not sure how fun it is to play by yourself, but you have the option and that's what counts! Rounds go fairly quickly, but the length of the game itself depends on how many scenarios you want to play.
Bohnanza (ages 13+)
Another game that I grew up playing and absolutely love. Bohnanza is a card game where you plant, collect, and harvest different types of beans. You have to collect a certain amount (as stated on the cards) in order to get 1, 2, 3, or 4 coins (depending on the number of that type of bean you collect/plant). On your turn, you will plant 1-2 bean cards from the front of your hand (you have to keep your hand in the order it was drawn throughout the entire game), then draw 2 cards from the deck which you can trade to others or plant, and then you draw 3 cards to the back of your hand. You can harvest bean cards at any time and that gives you coins. After 3 rounds, the person with the most coins wins. You can play Bohnanza with 2-7 players and it takes around 45 minutes. I also just found out that they make a My First Bohnanza game for ages 4+, so I know what my daughter is getting for her birthday in 2 years...
Throw Throw Burrito (ages 8+)
This game is SO fun! The mechanics are pretty simple - you're trying to get 3 matching cards in your hand of 5 cards. You do that by drawing a card from the deck to your right and discarding one of your cards to the deck on your left. This game is basically spoons, but with foam burritos. There are cards in the deck that allow you or others to throw the burritos if you make a match of 3 cards with them. You can force the people to your left and right to brawl (see who gets hit first), you can call war (everyone but you until someone gets hit), and you can pick 2 people to duel it out until someone gets hit. If you get hit by a burrito, you get a bruise token, which is -2 points. Once the last bruise token is claimed the round is over. The person with the most points (gained by matches) wins the round. You play two rounds and if the rounds are won by different people they have to burrito duel it out to see who is the ultimate winner. It's fast-paced and you'll be on the edge of your seat the entire time. I've never had an asthma attack before, but I did during this game while dueling my husband and he still hit me with the burrito before asking if I was okay. Haha! (And I was just fine, by the way. The combination of laughing and running around like crazy did me in). They've recently come out with an extreme outdoor version that has inflatable burritos and waterproof cards, which is great because this game is kind of a hazard and you'll probably end up with something broken if you play it indoors (though, that hasn't happened to us yet). It plays 2-6 people and goes quick!
I could go on and on about games, but I'll end here for now. Have you played any of these before? Will you now?
Do you want more board game suggestions in the future? I've got so much mroe to share! Leave us a comment below or let us know on Instagram or Facebook.