Kris’ Picks: Top 5 Family Games

Kristina Reynolds

I got to the gamer world a bit late in life. Prior to meeting my crazy fiancé, I thought games were just for kids. As a single mom, I was constantly looking for activities to engage my daughter but found that most games strictly geared towards kids were not very interesting to either of us. After meeting my love (a lifelong, passionate tabletop gamer), realizing that there is a vast world of board gaming possibilities and coming to grips with the fact that lying dormant inside me was a super competitive board gaming chick, I now have a fresh perspective on what games work for us as a family. I hope your family can benefit from our mostly fun, trial and error gaming experiences with our 9-year-old!


#5 Backstab: A Macabre Card Game (2015):

I’ve got to be honest here, Backstab has made me feel pretty salty. It’s all about backstabbing and the “take that” element, as the name implies. But my daughter LOVES the game, it has fun art, and it’s quick and easy to learn. The first player to collect 25 (cents) wins but be careful because before the end of each round (when you get to bank your earnings) your loot can be stolen right out from under you by your backstabbing friends/family! It’s great fun if you happen to have a slightly mischievous child you don’t take yourself as seriously as I do.


#4 Camel Up! (2014):

This is one of our favorites. It’s a fast-paced camel racing game which plays up to 8 and loads of fun for kids and adults alike. Production quality is really high in this game, you even build your own dice-rolling pyramid which is great fun to shake around and see where the chips fall for the camels in the race. Everyone places bets on the camels and even though you think you may know which camel will make it to the finish line first, you often wind up being surprised! We’ve played this game many times with family and friends and without fail, we’ve always wound up laughing along the way.


#3 New York 1901 (2015):

The winner of the 2016 Mensa Select award, New York 1901 is deceptively simple but a very “thinky” game. It is a city building/area control game with a good amount of strategy/future planning/spatial reasoning involved. Your goal is to build the most skyscrapers in town in the most efficient way possible. Of course, as with many other games, you can play without worrying too much about the strategy but, I love how this game really encourages critical thinking in a way that is understandable to a child.


#2 Lost Cities: The Board Game (2008):

I love this game. I love the pretty colors, the multiple paths to victory, the strategy involved. You are aiming to collect card sets to move your Explorer up a stone path, closer to victory. Every card you play must be followed by a card of equal or greater value which creates an interesting hand management dynamic because you must play or discard every turn but sometimes, both of those options are bad. It’s quite a fun game for us, despite my daughter not fully understanding the strategy, she still enjoys trying to figure it out.


#1 King of Tokyo (2011)

This game is a super fun, highly thematic game that even younger kids can play. Each player becomes a monster, scary alien, gigantic robot, etc and rolls a die to determine who will be the ultimate winner in the battle for control of Tokyo. Even though it’s simple, I’ve played with many different adults who have really enjoyed thrashing their monsters about Tokyo, trying to gain control and kill off the other monsters in the process. It’s a silly, good time.

What games are a must for your family game night? Thanks for reading and happy gaming!