Are you looking for some games that play well with children, but with enough meat on the bones to play with a group of adults? Maybe you’re looking for some games that don’t take all night to play. Here are some great games that we love to play. They are not ranked in any order, just randomly listed.
2-6 players, 8+, 30 minutes.
This is a dice rolling game that uses the Yahtzee mechanic. Each player has a scoring card which tallies both their health and victory points. The aim of the game is to collect either 20 VP or reduce everyone else’s health to zero. This means that the game has player elimination, but since it plays in 20 minutes, it is not much of a wait. When it is your turn, you roll the dice and keep health, lightning bolts (which count as money to purchase cards to power up your turns), claws (which attack the other players), sets of numbers which count as VP or any combination you wish. To attack other players with your dice rolls, you hit the players who are in opposition to you. If you are in Tokyo, you hit all other players not in Tokyo and if you are out of Tokyo, you hit the player(s) in Tokyo.
This is a fun tactile game with excellent components as the dice are large and heavy, adding to the fun of rolling dice. It only takes a round or 2 to fully understand the game and you can adjust the game to the group you are with. For example, with children, you may not want to claw each other too often, while with a group of adults, it can get ugly very quickly.
Potion Explosion is a 2 to 4-player game that plays in 30 minutes. It uses a specially designed tray (dispenser) to hold 5 rows of marbles of different colours. The aim is to make the most potions by collecting the ingredient’s required to make each one. To do this, you take a marble from the tray, which may trigger an ‘explosion’ or multiple ‘explosions’. An explosion is caused by 2 or more marbles of the same colour hitting each other. Once you have caused an explosion, and removed those marbles from the tray, you can add them to the 2 potions you are producing. When you complete a potion, it gets turned over and you can use that potion to help complete more potions by activating their special 1 time use ability, which ranges from stealing an opponent’s supply to taking one of each colour from the bottom of the dispenser. A completed potion gives you several points, depending on the level of difficulty. Collect sets of the same potions to earn skill points, triggering the end of the game. Final scoring is then completed by adding up the total of your completed potions.
The game has good quality and aesthetically pleasing components. The 2nd edition has the improved marble dispenser. This is a great game to play as a family as there are not many opportunities to “get” each other. It really is fun to pull out the marbles and place them on your potion card. Easy enough for kids to understand as it is all visually laid out before you. It also plays well with a group of adults seeking a fun quick strategic game.
Do you like the idea of playing half a game with your eyes closed while listening to an app and keeping secrets from your fellow players? Someone in your group is a werewolf. Find out who it is before it’s too late! You reside in a village, each night a werewolf comes in and attacks. As a group you need to find out who the werewolf is before the morning, or it’s over. Each player receives one player card in secret. There will be 1 or 2 players vs the rest. Each player has an action they will get to do in secret that will help or hinder everyone find the Werewolf. The app directs you all the way through, from closing your eyes, to opening your eyes and completing your personal job for the village, to opening your eyes and then the countdown clock. Once everyone has completed their action, you have a certain amount of time to talk to each other to figure out who did what and discover the Werewolf.
This game is addictive as you try to figure out the best time to reveal what you did, without telling everyone too much. Kids easily understand the game after a couple of plays. It is fun seeing how they develop their strategies to play. Adults may be sneakier, but this may be their undoing. All this aside, it plays in 10 minutes at most, but be prepared for it to take longer as one game will never be enough. Easy for anyone to play, this game is also fun to sit back and watch. A great game for a large group as is it for 3- 10 players.
While this game has been around for a long time, it still plays well. A great train theme that works for kids and adults. It can be played by 2-5 people and takes between 30- 60 minutes to play and is suitable from 8+.
Each player takes control of a coloured set of small train carriages. The aim is to get the most victory points by completing tickets. The tickets give you 2 destinations on the large board, which you aim to connect. You do this by drawing coloured train cards from 1 of the 5 draw piles on your turn which every player can see. These colours corresponded with small track sections on the board, ranging from requiring 1 coloured train card to 6 of the same colours. When you have the desired cards in your hand, for your turn, you can reveal the cards and then place your train carriages on the selected tracks. This also gives you victory points.
The strategy comes into this game at whatever level you like. If you are playing with children, take it easy and don’t block the tracks they require. If you are after a more difficult game, try collecting as many destination cards as you want and completing them. All players new to hobby games find this a great game to learn about victory points, collecting and drawing cards and strategy.
This is one of the Euro games that started it all back in 1995. While being a simple game to play, it also requires lots of strategy. Catan is played with a board of hexagonal tiles, cards and dice as well as each player having a wooden token set consisting of their roads, settlements and cities. The board is set up randomly with all the hexes laid out face down, each one representing a different resource. Each hex is then assigned a number between 2 and 12 (not 7 as that deploys a robber). The hexes are then turned over and each player in turn order, places out a settlement and a connected road, then in reverse order players place out a city and a road and collect some starting resources.
Each player is a settler that tries to grow their towns by harvesting resources (brick, grain, sheep, timber and ore) from their areas and by trading them with opponents. The resources are then used to build roads, settlements or cities. Each settlement and city is worth victory points, 1 and 2 respectively. The victor will require 10 victory points to win. If you have the longest road you even get an extra 2 victory points. A fun element of this game is the trading of resources. While you might need the trade, do you want to give your opponent just what they need? The game plays in 1-2 hours and is for 3-4 players, however there are expansions to increase this to 6 if needed. While there is an element of luck in the game, depending on which dice are rolled, it can be mitigated by ensuring you have settlements on as many numbers as possible and making good trades.
If you are after a fast paced, fun, easy game that will satisfy your hunger for a card drafting game, Sushi Go is it. A small game with a small tin, lots of cards and some soy bottles to count your score on a victory point track.
Each player is dealt several cards depending on the player count. You then select and place face down on the table one of the desired sushi dishes that you would like to collect on your tableau, while placing the remaining cards from your pile face down on the table. After a short amount of time, all players simultaneously turn over then cards and if you have selected Miso call out Miso. If 2 or more players have turned over miso they get discarded. All the sets you collect gain you victory points in different ways depending on the dish, some may even give you zero. You then pass your hand of cards to the next player and all pick a card from your new hand. This continues until all the cards are used. Points are tallied for all cards except the desserts (you don’t enjoy them until the end of the game). There are 3 rounds in total, the cards are passed in the opposite direction for the second round.
A great little game for 2-8 players that plays in 20 minutes and is fun for all ages and gamers.
In this beautiful set collection game, you are tiling the walls of a building in Portugal. The aim of the game is to fill as many squares on your player board with tiles of certain colours to give you the most victory points.
Each player has their own player board which displays the desired layout of tiles required. In turn, each player collects a design of tile from the suppliers and places them on their player board. This is randomly drawn from a cloth bag before each round. Each supplier has different quantities of patterns. This is where the strategy comes in. Do you take maybe 1 of the tiles you desire, while leaving the others in the pool for your opponents to collect? The tiles you don’t take on your turn are pushed into the middle for selecting. Every time you select a tile, you take all that tile whether you need them or not, so don’t get greedy or you may pay a price. When all the tiles have been removed from the market, each player looks at their player board to see if they can use the tiles on their wall. The rounds continue until one player fills a row with one of each colour.
A great abstract strategy game easily played by children 8+. The game plays in 30 to 45 minutes and with 2-4 players. The 2-player game can be a lot quicker.
If your family enjoys Harry Potter, this is the game to try. In this co-op game, all the players are on the same team trying to complete their goal. It starts out with an easier game to teach the rules and how to play, then slowly get harder as you venture through the campaign. There a 7 books (boxes) inside that you get to open as you progress through the adventure, each giving you new villains and abilities.
The game comes with a main player board and 4 individual player boards to help you manage the game. The idea is that you need to defeat villains by using your player’s ability, (Harry, Hermione, Neville or Ron) and by using the cards you collect when spending your money. Your deck will grow as the game plays out. So how do you find the card you need to win?
While the recommended age is 11+, this game is easy to play as a family with younger kids while teaching the deck building genre, with a theme they are sure to love. It is for 2-4 players, but it can be played solo once the rules are understood. It is played in around 30-60 minutes depending on the player count. One you finish the campaign it can be played again, or you can buy an expansion to change the game more.
This game has been around since 2000 and is considered another of the big games that helped shape the board game hobby to what it is today. Ever heard of a “meeple” (my people)? This is where it came from. Whilst it is a very simple game it can involve a lot of strategy, depending on your game level.
The idea of the game is to collect the most victory points by adding tiles to a city or road and deciding where to place your meeples to guard them. The stacks of tiles have different pictures of towns and roads on them and are placed face down. Each player on their turn reveals a tile and decides where to place it on the table. Do you need to extend a road, finish one or take on others for control of a large city? Each player has a limited number of meeples, so use them wisely. The game continues until all the tiles have been played. It is fun to watch as the table presence grows, from the starting tile to a massive city and countryside expanding before your eyes.
Carcassonne is for 2-5 players, plays in 30- 45 minutes and is from 8 years and up. The game comes with 2 mini expansions, The River and The Abbott. If you enjoy this game, there are plenty of expansions that are available that may add a theme you love even more.
Time for a race game? Well get on your bikes and get pedalling. Flamme Rouge is the name given to the red flag that hangs at the start of the last kilometre of a stage. This fun game uses cards and a track which simulates the final section of a bike race. Each player gets a small deck of cards for each of their 2 specialised riders. The cards numbers ranging from 2 to 9 depending on if it is your sprinter or Rouleur.
A track is selected and built on the table following the cards that are provided for different track layouts. Once completed, each player selects a colour and collects the 2 bike miniatures. In turn order each player places their riders on the track behind the start line. When everyone is ready, all players simultaneously draw 4 cards from 1 pile and selects 1, places it faces down, then draws 4 cards from their other pile and selects 1 card. When all players have chosen, the leading bike’s card is revealed and moved accordingly. This happens for all bikes in race position order. The rounds continue until 1 rider has crossed the finished line. Beware though, when you are leading a peloton, you take a fatigue card (2) because its tiring in the lead. Finish the round exactly 1 space behind the bike in front, great, you can slipstream onto the back of the pack. There are also hills to slow you down and speed you up, so play your cards wisely.
This can be played by 2-4 players, takes 30-45 minutes as is great for ages 8+. Again, don’t let that fool you, it is a strategic game where playing the right cards may just get you to the end first. There are also expansions that can add 2 more players and change the track layout. This is a fun and realistic bike racing game.
Written by Robert and Patrick from the Board Game Basics Podcast. To hear more of our thoughts on these games or others please listen to our family podcast. https://boardgamebasics.podbean.com/