Spending time together as a family can be really hard when life is so busy. That time is too precious to waste on bad games. Luckily this guide of the best family games is here to help make family game night more hit than miss.
As an added bonus playing board games together isn’t just fun it can provide a range of other educational benefits and help develop vital social skills. If you want to find out more read our article on the benefits of playing board games with children.
How We Picked Our List of Best Family Board Games
We have a wide range of ages in our family to cater for, from school age children, to a teen and us adults. To qualify for our Best Family Games list we considered the following factors:
- Is the game simple enough for our younger children to learn but challenging enough to keep the adults entertained?
- Has it stood the test of time and is there good replay value?
- Fun factor! Is it a blast to play?
So here are the ones that made the cut. We love playing these games as a family and hope they create some great fun for your family too.
Updated July 2022
Best Family Games List
- Machi Koro 2
- Exploding Kittens
- Forbidden Island
- One Night Ultimate Werewolf
- Sushi Go!
- Monopoly Deal
- Star Wars: Don’t Upset the Wookiee!
Play Time: 30 Min / Players:2-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 10+ we think 7+ / Publisher: Space Cowboys / Designer: Marc Andre
- Gems look beautiful and will appeal to younger players
- Simple but very addictive gameplay
- Great family game suitable for wide age range, our whole family loves this game
- Feels relaxing and enjoyable to play
- Great gateway game for beginners but enough strategy for experience gamers.
- Hard core gamers may find Splendor a little too simple.
We bought Splendor for our youngest daughter, who loved the thought of a board game based on collecting gems! Boy were our expectations exceeded! Splendor is a hit with our whole family, we just love it.
In Splendor you are a rich merchant during the Renaissance, you must use your resources wisely to expand your production of gems. To win Splendor you must be the first merchant to gain 15 points. Points can be gained by acquiring development cards or securing visits from nobles who are suitably impressed by your exploits.
Splendor is one of those games where I end up getting so involved in what I am doing that I almost forget the aim is to gain points. It’s just so addictive. I often zone out and get so focused on building my beautiful collection of development cards that when a winner is announced I am a little surprised.
Splendor is so easy to learn, there are really only a small number of things you can do, but the gameplay is so interesting. This makes it a great game for a family like ours with a wide range of age groups to cater for (7 year old, 10 year old, teen and adults). We all really enjoy playing Splendor. This also makes it a great game to pull out when you have non-gamers visiting, it is a great introduction to modern board games. It really is a family gem!
Check out our full Splendor review.
Machi Koro 2
Play Time: 45 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 10+ we think 7+ / Publisher: Pandasaurus Games / Designer: Masao Suganuma
- Very easy to learn
- Little down time as dice rolls could affect all players
- Cute theme that kids will enjoy
- Players get resources every turn so there aren’t many wasted turns
- Randomised card lay out leads to more replay value
- The synergies between buildings offer some nice strategic choices.
- Random market introduces some luck for card availability.
In our next great family game Machi Koro 2, you take on the role of the mayor of Machi Koro. During the game you will expand your city with establishment that will generate the money you need to build prestigious landmarks. The first player to construct three landmarks in their city wins!
As you add bakeries, cafes, shopping centres and other buildings to expand your city you will be able to gain income from the relevant dice rolls. Each building will trigger on a certain dice roll and grant you a benefit, sometimes this means taking money from your opponent, sometimes from the bank. The strategy here is all about deciding which numbers you want to target and using building synergies effectively.
The game play is refined and improved from Machi Koro making it the version to get if you’re keen to get a copy. Machi Koro 2 is so simple, younger players will have no trouble grasping the rules in minutes. A fantastic family game with minimal down time due to each dice roll potentially affecting all players.
Check out our Machi Koro 2 review.
Play Time: 15 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 7+ / Publisher: Exploding Kittens / Designer: Elan Lee , Matt Inman & Shane Small
- Easy to learn
- Quick to play, so great as a filler game
- The card illustration is great and fits theme nicely
- The various card abilities add a lot to the game
- Cards add some good humour and fun factor.
- The humour may not be for everyone.
Exploding Kittens is a game we take with us whenever we go on holiday, it’s a fun little package that keeps us all entertained. Exploding Kittens is a card game with easy to learn rules that can be played in 15 minutes. Another fantastic game for families.
Game rounds consist of playing cards, following any instructions on the cards and then drawing to end your turn. If you draw an exploding kitten your out! Victory goes to the last player left. The humour is kind of silly but nicely tied in to the card designs and our kids just love it.
The depth of this game is in using the card abilities at the right time to be able to avoid drawing an exploding kitten. The abilities really do add some good strategy to the game. If played right then they can really lower your odds of drawing an exploding kitten.
Our whole family really enjoys this game, the theme is quirky and fun. Most of all though the simple rule set means no one misses out. Our youngest daughter old was able to pick this game up fairly quickly with a little help when she was 6.
Check out our review of Exploding Kittens.
Play Time: 30 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 10+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Gamewright Games / Designer: Matt Leacock
- Simple rules that are easy to pick up and suitable for kids
- Different roles with special abilities and variable tile set up add to replay value
- Great introduction for cooperative gaming for kids
- Artwork is great and consistent with theme
- Variable difficulty is great to keep it interesting.
- Can only accommodate four players. This might disappoint larger families, however you could work in teams.
Forbidden Island has players working together cooperatively to retrieve four treasures from a mysterious island before it floods. Although the recommended age is 10+ we have found that our youngest (6) was able to enjoy this too due to its cooperative nature and simple turn structure.
The game plays really well and runs smoothly. Turns are quick and so this game plays well at all player counts. You don’t feel like turns drag on as there is often discussion amongst team members and interaction with other characters through explorer abilities or cards.
We have found the game to have really good replay value. Firstly because there are four different difficulty levels available so the game difficulty can increase as you get more comfortable with the game. Secondly there are six different explorers to choose from that have unique abilities. I have found that each is fun to play and the abilities are different enough to keep things interesting without feeling like any are overpowered.
It’s great to have a cooperative board game in our cupboard that is simple enough for our younger children to enjoy and be able to participate in meaningfully. The theme appeals to all of us and it’s fun choosing a different explorer each game to keep things interesting.
There are actually three cooperative games in the Forbidden series, but this is the easiest to learn. Forbidden Desert is a small step up in complexity and Forbidden Sky is the most complex and challenging of the series. We have a great comparison of Forbidden Island vs Forbidden Desert vs Forbidden Sky if you are interested in checking out the differences.
Check out our review of Forbidden Island.
Play Time: 30-45 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ / Publisher: Next Move Games / Designer: Michael Kiesling
- Rules set is extremely simple and easy to learn
- The depth in gameplay and strategy becomes more apparent the more you play
- As the game progresses tile spaces become more scarce adding some tension to your choices in later rounds
- Having two options on the boards for tile placement provides some nice variation in play
- The components are beautifully produced.
- The strategy can be hard to get your head around at first and may be frustrating for some
- Some players may find the game a little cut throat.
Azul is a tile drafting game where you are charged with decorating a palace wall with beautiful tiles. The more tiles you connect the more points are on offer. The winner is the person with the most points after the end game is triggered. The game ends once a player has managed to complete a full horizontal line in their wall space (5 tiles).
Azul is a little deceptive. It’s such a simple game at its core and the beautiful components make it seem approachable and easy. It is certainly easy to learn but the strategy is anything but simple. The more you play Azul the more you appreciate the depth of thinking required for such a simple game and the way the game evolves over each round.
Azul offers exceptional game play and strategic depth wrapped in a simple rule set that will make it accessible for a wide age range, which makes it a fantastic family board game. There are subsequent instalments in the series which are fantastic like Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra and Azul: Summer Pavilion. We all have different perspectives on which one is our favourite, but the original Azul is the simplest and, in our view, the best starting point.
Check out our review of Azul.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Play Time:10 Min / Players:3-10 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ / Publisher: Bezier Games / Designer: Ted Alspach & Akihisa Okui
- A lot of fun packed into a short 10-minute game
- No player elimination
- Lots of replay value through different roles
- High player interaction making it a good party game
- Easy to learn making it great for new players or kids
- Each group you play this with will add something new to the experience.
- Younger players may struggle at first with what information to give away and when
- There is a risk of dominant personalities controlling the discussion.
When we first got One Night Ultimate Werewolf, I wasn’t sure if it would work for the whole family. Social deduction games like this one can be very group dependant and I thought our 7 year old may struggle with the nuances. After our first game it was apparent our entire family was hooked, we simply could not stop playing.
In One Night Ultimate Werewolf your objective depends on whether you receive a villager or Werewolf role card.
- The villagers all win if at least one Werewolf dies, even if a villager is also killed. They also win if no one is a Werewolf, and no one dies
- The Werewolves win if at least one player is a Werewolf and no Werewolves are killed
- The Tanner role creates a special win condition. The Tanner actually wants to die and if they are successful in getting killed they win and everyone else loses!
One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a real surprise package for us. One thing that has really appealed to all of us is the high amount of interaction in the game. It generates some great discussion and keeps all of us on our toes. Crafting an iron clad story as the Werewolf and successfully throwing another player under the bus, is so satisfying. There is nothing quite like revealing your Werewolf card and seeing shocked faces around the table. Equally enjoyable is laying a trap to uncover inconsistencies in the Werewolf’s argument. The look on their faces when they realise they have been found out is priceless.
Check out our full One Night Ultimate Werewolf review.
Play Time: 15 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Gamewright Games / Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
- Card art is very good and fits the theme nicely
- The game is a very easy to learn deck builder
- Great way to teach kids basic maths
- Puddings add some good trade offs for long term benefit
- Three round game is a good length
- Enjoyable for kids and adults.
- Not a lot of player interaction.
In Sushi Go! You are dealt a hand of sushi themed cards and select one to play. Then you pass your remaining hand to your left while simultaneously receiving a hand from your right, this is commonly known as ‘card drafting’. The object of the game is to play card combinations that will score you the most points over 3 rounds of play.
The cards are really simple to follow and the game flows quickly. The card drafting mechanic is great in this game leading to some interesting decisions as you try to predict what will become available to you when you receive your next hand.
The other thing we really like is it’s a great way for our younger children to practice their basic maths skills by working out the various effects on the cards to add up their points. A great game with a cute theme!
Check out our Sushi Go! review.
Play Time: 15 Min / Players: 2-6 / Complexity: Low / Age: 14+ we think 7+ / Publisher: Indie Boards & Cards / Designer: Rikki Tahta
- Good tension each turn created through the ability to challenge any action
- The roles are all interesting and unique. Each is valuable
- A lot of replay value from such a small amount of components
- Quick 15-minute play time means you can get multiple plays in one sitting
- The bluffing and social deduction elements in Coup work very well and create a lot of player interaction.
- Coup is not as interesting at 2 players, we think 4 or 5 players is best
- If you don’t like bluffing or social deduction games, this Coup won’t appeal to you.
Coup is a game of social deduction and bluffing where you must use all your powers of influence, manipulation, and deception to destroy your political opponents and gain absolute power for yourself.
Each player will begin with two hidden role cards representing their influence. To win you must be the last player left with any influence once all other players have been eliminated. There are five different roles in the game, each has three copies so multiple players can claim to have the same role.
Each role has unique actions and in some cases counter actions that make them valuable in their own way. You can claim to have any character however, every action can be challenged and if another player challenges a bluff successfully you lose one influence. If a player is challenged while telling the truth, the challenger loses one influence. This makes it important to carefully consider any bluff or challenge.
I have often thought the magic in Social Deduction games is the stories they create that are often retold. ‘Remember the time when…you had no idea I was on to you!’ Those moments you realise that someone has fallen for your trap or that you have caught them in a lie, and they know it. There are few things more satisfying. That’s why these sorts of games are such a hit in our household, it’s the stories and the interaction that create the fun. In this regard Coup is an absolute triumph. There are multiple levels of thinking involved and many things to consider before committing to your choices.
Coup really is an exceptional game. It is amazing what the designers have achieved with the few components in the box. Coup regularly creates tense and interesting games that keep us coming back to this game repeatedly. It’s a real family favourite for us.
Check out our full Coup review.
Play Time: 15 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Hasbro / Designer: Katherine Chapman
- Easy to learn and suitable for whole family
- Lots of great variety in the cards and actions
- Card actions enable some good gameplay options
- Instructions on the cards are really clear and the colour scheme helps nicely to differentiate cards
- Plays really well with different player counts.
- No complaints from us!
I am not a fan of the Monopoly board game but we love Monopoly Deal. Monopoly Deal takes Monopoly’s best traits and distills them into a simple, quick, and streamlined card game. We think this is the best version of Monopoly available.
The object of the game is simple, collect three sets of coloured property cards to win. The catch is the large range of card abilities that can thwart your plans. You could have your sets stolen from under you, get slapped with rent to pay or have your prize properties swapped for duds. We also enjoy Monopoly Bid but this one is the better game for us.
Check out our reviews of Monopoly Bid and Monopoly Deal.
Star Wars: Don’t Upset the Wookiee!
Play Time: 20 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ / Publisher: Ridley’s Games
- Adorable soft Wookiee to keep your game safe
- Cards are humorous and well done
- Game play is fun and quick
- Some good special cards to keep you on your toes.
- Best as a short filler, not a deep strategic game.
This is not a deeply complicated or strategic game. It’s the sort of game we play as a family to chill out and not over think things. Our teenage son just loves this game! He is a huge fan of Star Wars so this is right up his alley.
The gameplay is very simple, you are dealt a hand of seven cards and the first person to run out of cards or make a set of four cards wins. A game is played until someone wins 3 hands and is crowned Wookiee champion.
There is some hilarious art work in this game and there are also some special cards to keep things interesting. Overall a great quick game for the whole family that you can play without having to concentrate too hard. So great as a filler game or when your short on time.
Check out our review of Star Wars: Don’t Upset the Wookiee!
About the Authors
We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time.
I’d argue that Go Nuts for Donuts is better than Sushi Go. Particularly for younger kids. Setup is quicker and gameplay flows better. Obviously the downside is the discard mechanic
Hi Alex, thanks for the suggestion. I tried Go Nuts for Donuts recently and enjoyed it. I haven’t played enough yet to decide if I like it better than Sushi Go but keen to try it some more and introduce to the family. I agree about the discard mechanic, I found that a little frustrating when I played.