As we prepare to spend the next several socially-distanced months indoors, you might be interested in trying out a new board game to keep the little ones, your significant other, or even your roommate entertained. While we’ve written about lots of games before — including the best adult board games, the best two-player board games, and the best four-player board games — here, we’ve rounded up the best family board games, as praised by the most enthusiastic reviewers on Amazon.
Best-rated family board game
“It’s safe to say you’ve never played a game like this before,” writes one of the over 25,000 five-star reviewers of Exploding Kittens. One customer describes it “like Russian roulette,” while another reviewer writes, “The cards are hilarious and the pictures are completely inappropriately awesome.” And lots of reviewers appreciate that the cards are as “random” as Cards Against Humanity but less crude and more family-friendly. A mother who regularly brings this game on family camping and hiking trips says, “Kids can play on the same level as adults, and they love that.” She also says that it’s the perfect antidote to holiday small talk with extended family: “Instead of listening to Uncle Fred’s latest MAGA rant, or worse, I can bring on the Exploding Kittens.” And another parent who bought it for their teenage daughter calls it “a quirky, funny, and flexible game that provides actual interaction in a light and funny way.”
Best-rated (less expensive) family board game
The classic board game Clue remains a family favorite, according to reviewers. “Great family game. I don’t know how I never played this as a kid, but I play it now,” says one shopper. “Nice way to spend time together.” And lots of shoppers who did play as a kid described the fun of sharing the familiar game with their own children. “Bought this for our family game nights,” writes one. “I loved this game as a child and wanted to share it with my kids.” Another says, “This game takes me back to my youth, and I’m so glad I get to share it with my daughter. It is an awesome family game, and we really love it.”
Best fast-paced family board game
Almost nobody would describe regular, old Monopoly as fast, but reviewers say this ultimate version goes by way faster, and rounds can take as little as 30 minutes. “If you are tired of the never-ending original Monopoly, this is it for you,” one reviewer says. “Games can end quickly, sometimes way too soon and it makes you want to replay right away.” The differences don’t just stop at the speed of the game. Instead of cash, this version uses an electronic banking system, and some of the rules are modified from regular Monopoly. “For example, there are no hotels, and each purchased property gets 1 house,” one player explains. “The rent increases any time any player lands on the property. Instead of Chance and Community Chance Cards, there are Monopoly Cards (basically the same as the former) and Location spots that allow you to pay to move to any space on the board — you can go to a property you want to buy, a property you own to increase the rent, or move to a space near Go so you will collect on the next turn.” Even with the changes, lots reviewers say this game is just as fun as the classic. One even says, “It is one of the best purchases I have made for my family.”
Best portable family board game
The consensus among over 4,000 reviewers is that Spot It! is “great for all ages,” and many appreciate its portability and price as well. In fact, many adult reviewers describe this game as “fun” and “surprisingly challenging,” sharing that they keep the little tin of cards in their purse or carry-on bag to entertain impatient children on flights or in restaurants. “My son loves this game. The price was right and the tin comes in handy,” one mom writes. Another reviewer says, “It’s a very inexpensive game that’s really easy to learn. The cries of, ‘Again! Again!’ will keep you playing for hours.” And a parent of 4-year-old twins calls this matching-picture game “simple, cheap, versatile, and durable — definitely worth checking out.”
Best board game for fine motor skills
When you mention fine motor skills, small children come to mind. But over 400 satisfied reviewers confirm that this game is “seriously great fun for all ages.” Several reviewers also describe it as a “learning tool,” with one explaining, “It takes a steady hand and a careful eye for balance.” A parent of three boys says “my 14-year-old can enjoy with his friends, my 7-year-old is doing very well with it, and even my 5-year-old is happily focusing on his fine motor skills.” She continues, “The quality and durability of it make it last in a house full of boys.” And a teacher writes, “It encourages players to think about weight and balance, because they have to carefully place the pieces to make sure they don’t knock anything over.”
Best thriller board game
“This is a good spooky board game to play with a small group of friends on a stormy night,” says one five-star reviewer who describes the game as “incredibly immersive and detailed.” Over 200 five-star reviewers use the words “spooky,” “scary,” or “horror” to describe the game’s vibe, and lots of reviewers like that each time they play Betrayal at House on the Hill, it’s a little bit different. One reviewer, who leads a group game night, says that it’s the most fun he has ever had and that the artwork and design elements are “nice and spooky, while keeping a fun, playful atmosphere.” He says it would be “great for a Halloween game night, obviously.” And another gamer writes, “If you like horror movies or general spooky stuff, this is definitely the game to get.”
Best musical board game
Of the more than 4,000 reviewers, over 200 used either the phrase “love music” or “music lovers” in their reviews. One such reviewer, who rated the game a five out of five, says, “I was a bit skeptical when my wife (the family music lover) brought this game up. But we found it can be played by anyone. The rules are simple, and it provides lots of laughs and opportunity for interaction across generational lines.” Another couple, who call themselves “big music lovers,” as well as “folks who love to sing,” say they enjoyed both naming and “belting out songs” and “can’t wait to play again.” And a family whose youngest child is 12 years old writes, “It was a blast seeing what kind of music everyone likes to listen to and racing to the punch when everyone knew the same song!”
Best board games for toddlers
“It is so gripping that after playing it FIVE times, my toddler cried when we finally said we would have to pack it up,” says a five-star mom reviewer. Other parents and grandparents report loving this six-foot-long puzzle game because “it doesn’t tax a toddler’s attention span or patience levels,” and “the quality and design is excellent.” Reviewers like that it’s engaging for kids and not annoying for adults. And this mom says, “So far, it has been the most enjoyable board game to play with my toddler.” Another appreciative reviewer, who works as a speech pathologist, writes, “The game presents many opportunities for conversation, counting practice, and event sequencing.”
Chutes and Ladders is recommended for preschool-age children because it’s easy to grasp and allows kids to practice counting but doesn’t require reading skills. One customer says this board game is “so essential for little ones to play” because “the skills it teaches are most important.” She hates all the electronic toys, noting that kids definitely don’t learn enough with them, and thinks Chutes and Ladders requires just enough logic and counting to help kids with their development. Another calls it a “tried-and-true game for kids” and recommends everyone “take advantage of the game” while it’s still around, because if you don’t, “you’ll blink and it’ll be gone,” as she thinks happened to so many of her favorite childhood games. But many customers warn that kids under the age of 3 might not have the attention span for a full game. One mom with a 3-year-old says that midway through the game, she’ll want to stop and “play make-believe with the pieces,” but she’s optimistic that in a few months “she’ll be able to sit through a game better,” and at least she’s technically having fun with the game now.
Best board game for extended families
More than 900 positive reviewers say they love breaking out this game, which can be played with up to eight people, at family gatherings (even though we likely won’t be able to attend many of those in the next few months). One reviewer calls it “the best game to have in your arsenal,” saying, “it’s fun for all ages and all group sizes. It is small and portable. I’ve been buying copies for everyone’s birthday this year!” A reviewer with a family of nine that ranges in age from 8 to 60 writes, “We really like it! It’s a great game that can be played with a large variety of people.” Others note how its simplicity makes it appropriate for all ages. “It can be taught in under five minutes and provides a ton of fun,” one reviewer assures. “It has definitely been a hit in my gaming group and with my family over the holidays.”
Best board game for large families
One reviewer says Double Ditto is similar to Scattergories. “The basic principle is that everyone writes down two responses to a game card,” another reviewer explains. “The objective is to choose answers that others may choose so that one (ditto) or both (double ditto) of your responses are also responses that other players wrote down.” This game can be played with just two people, but reviewers say the more the merrier. “I had a dinner party for six, and we played this after dinner,” one reviewer writes. “We laughed and laughed at so many of the questions. My company kept asking if we could play it just one more time and hours flew by.” Another says, “It is great for large groups — and you don’t have to sit around a table to play.” There are also 400 cards to play so it’s nearly impossible to get through all of them in a night. One reviewer says this game is so fun that you will entice more people to join over time: “We went from four the first time, five the second time and now we have played with no less than seven people each time we set it up to play.”
Best collaborative board game
This is another classic board game that customers say is still as good as they remember from childhood. One mom has nothing but good things to say about this game, especially the collaborative element. “We worked together to build it. It’s not that a 7-year-old CAN’T do it; it’s just that it takes two people to figure it out together, so it was a great exercise in teamwork,” she adds. Another says it’s also just fun to play as a family. “Anything that makes preteens and teenagers put down their phones for over a half an hour is wonderful,” she says, adding, “This game gets everyone involved and laughing together, which is my favorite.” Everyone in her family played together — from 2-year-olds to 50-year-olds — and it’s the game everyone asks to play when they’re all together.
Best drawing board game
Though drawing is a large part of this game’s appeal, lots of positive reviewers noted that you don’t have to be particularly good at drawing to enjoy playing it. One reviewer says, “The best part of the game is making fun of your friends and family for their poor guessing and drawing skills.” Another five-star reviewer writes, “What makes this game extra special to me is you get to actively participate the whole time. Also awful drawers aren’t really a drawback because their attempts add a whole new level of hilarity.” And this father who wasn’t sure he would enjoy a drawing game says, “I could describe this as ‘Telephone’ with a drawing twist. But that is a serious undersell. By the time I was done with my first game, I was crying from laughing so hard.”
Best strategy board game
While this is only a two-person game, reviewers say that it’s actually fun for the whole family — and it teaches younger kids to learn how to take turns, as well as create a strategy. “It not only helps to train kids to be patient … but also how to place their ships so that they are less likely to be hit,” writes one reviewer. Another found that, because the game is a combination of basic strategy and luck, it’s more fair than other games for kids who are playing against adults: “What’s fun about this game is that no one has an advantage, so it’s fun for adults to play with kids because the adult doesn’t have to ‘let’ the kid win,” one parent writes. “You’ve honestly both got the same odds of finding the other player’s five ships.” Lots of reviewers also noted that the game, which was first released in the late 1960s, made them nostalgic for their own childhoods: “My husband and I have had fun sinking each other’s battleships,” one writes. “It’s taken us back to our childhoods and sharing stories. So much fun!”
Best abstract-strategy board game
Abstract strategy games like Blokus are entirely based on the placement of their game pieces. That means there’s no luck or chance involved (unlike Battleship, above), so it’s nice for those who like to stay in control. “The beauty of Blokus is that the rules are incredibly simple so a young child can learn them quickly, in under two minutes, and yet the strategy and thinking levels needed to get increasingly better at this game are quite complex,” writes one parent. Another parent found it to be an “excellent game” for kids as young as 6, noting that there are “layers and layers of strategy,” and that it teaches “so many skills related to visual/spatial acuity, math, and strategy, all within a really enjoyable game.” Other reviewers liked that the games themselves are fairly short, often completed within 20 to 30 minutes, and can be played with two to four players. They’re so quick, “In that two-hour time span, we can average four to seven games,” writes one reviewer with a 15-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter.
Best luck-based family board game
Reviewers say that this math card game is a great balance of luck and strategy. “I would say 60 percent of luck and 40 percent strategy,” one writes. The goal is to have the lowest score at the end, which is where the strategy comes in, but you don’t have control over the cards you’re dealt. “The deck of cards contains values as low as -2 and as high as 12, so a player wants to swap out their high cards for lower ones, in order to end up with the lowest total score at the end of the round,” one explains. “However, at the beginning of the round, players have no idea which cards are in their collection.” Despite the bit of strategy, reviewers say it “is simple to teach, and easy to pick up and play … even for younger kids … but it’s also quite satisfying for order kids, teens and adults.” And there it some component of luck, it can keep the attention of non-gamers, according to one reviewer who says, “The fun part is the randomness of the cards. you don’t know what you have until you turn it over, so strategy only works to a degree.”
Best tile-laying board game
Shoppers looking for a family-friendly tile-laying game praised Tsuro highly. “I’ve played this game with my 5-year-old and my 10-year-old, and they both love it. It’s not a hard game to pick up, so if you’re looking for a game that the whole family can play, I highly suggest this one,” one reviewer writers. Players loved that you used tiles to build paths, and that you could try new paths in each game. One shopper, who says this is a great game to “break the ice in a gaming-night event,” explains, “The game is a tile-placement game. Simple as that. Each tile has a set of paths on it. When you place a tile in front of your dragon marker, you follow the path you create.” And plenty of reviewers enjoyed the game so much they’ve played again and again. “This has become a family favorite. It is also a game we know we can break out at any time, with any crowd anywhere, and have fun with,” says one satisfied shopper.
[Editor’s note: This item is scheduled to restock on December 10, 2020.]
Best block-based family board game
The whole concept of Jenga is pretty straightforward: Build up a tower, and then each player takes a turn of removing a block until the whole thing topples. Its simplicity is exactly why lots of reviewers find it’s the perfect game for the whole family. “This game has suspense with no real danger, appeals to all ages, is simple to play, and lasts forever,” one says. For adults it’s just fun, but one reviewer points out there is an educational aspect in it for kids: “If you want to work on their fine motor skills, the action of trying to push out a brick is very helpful and builds their concentration skills too.” Ultimately though, “It’s a fun game to play with large groups and definitely goes fast or slow depending on who you’re playing with.” And it’s one that’s nice for non-games, too, as “you can still converse and cavort while playing.”
Best beginner board game
Shoppers with young children said HiHo! Cherry-O made a great entry point into the world of board games. One parent of a child who particularly loves the game writes, “If I have to play this game one more time, I’m going to commit myself to a mental ward. That’s how I know it’s a good game. My kids want to play it over and over and over. It’s a great first board game for kiddos, and my 2-year-old can play.” Lots of reviewers noted that the game helped teach their kids how to count. “My 2-year-old loves it and plays it everyday,” writes one reviewer. “It’s great to teach counting and sorting colors. She also loves putting the small puzzle together which is small enough for a 2-year-old to do on their own.” And one shopper notes that the game appeals even to slightly older kids: “It’s taught my 2-year-old to count, yet my 8-year-old enjoys playing it … not too babyish. Makes for fun on a rainy day or for family game night.”
Best replayable board game
This game goes quickly, so reviewers say it can easily be replayed — and each turn is a little bit different. “I recommend this game mainly for families, as it is quick but challenging and fun. It is certain to build family rivalries, especially if one person seems to understand the strategy of the game more quickly than others,” says one reviewer. “It’s probably the most fun kids’ game that we’ve found so far,” says one who bought it to play with her 4-year-old. “It has tons of replay value and is pretty unique as a game. One of the great things about it is that the board/maze is always unique and changing, so everyone is always engaged in finding new routes to their destinations as the play goes on.” She concludes that this game is “a fun way to work those little brain cells” for her kids.
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