Family games still land on the easy-to-learn end of the spectrum, but they might take a bit more time and energy to play. These games are great for the holidays or for a sit-down night with the whole family; accessible and fun, without too causing too much spite in the process. You’ll tend to find a balance of strategy and luck, so that your choices matter but you won’t be ruined if you make a few mistakes. Hopefully, a wide range of ages and interests will find something here.
Tokaido : Our review : Amazon link
Take a relaxing trip through Japan with your fellow travellers as you each paint landscapes, relax in hot springs, and eat at the various inns. You may also encounter helpful people on the road, donate to the local monastery, or earn coins and shop at the local villages. Remember, there’s more than one path to victory: it’s all about the journey in Tokaido.
Carcassonne : Our review : Amazon link
It’s a hard category to make a recommendation because there are a few stand out games for me. Our extended family members respond pretty well to (carefully selected) light games, and for us Carcassonne was a wonderful natural progression. Because of its simple play style and fairly straightforward scoring mechanisms, you’re able to tailor games of Carcassonne to different ability levels. Brand new players? No fields. Want to add some complexity? HERE ARE A BAZILLION EXPANSIONS! It’s a wonderful way to initiate people into tabletop gaming. So far for us it’s gone over wonderfully with an incredibly wide range of family and friends and we’ve even bought copies as house warming and holiday gifts in the past.
Expedition: Famous Explorers : Amazon link
In Expedition, players are trying to influence multiple expeditions so that they pass through locations that they control, earning points for that player. This is done by placing arrows on the map each turn and playing cards. You’re trying to direct the expeditions toward your locations, but you must balance that with not helping other players along the way.
The art is lovely and the theme is one that almost everyone will find inoffensive. The game accommodates up to six players and is playable by young children as long as they can read the basic text on the cards. There are advanced rules that introduce purchasable items and secret locations, which means that the adults can increase the difficulty once the kids go to bed. Finally, there is a little bit of educational value in the game as the information on the location and explorer cards is true and accurate.
Zooloretto : Amazon link
Kid-oriented titles that are honestly fun for adults, as well, are unfortunately rare finds in the hobby. Zooloretto is one of the few in that category. This one gets children to think, not just to go through the motions. With limited space and tough choices as when to take animals, you need to gather the most of a few species without piling up too many extra mouths – or beaks – to feed. With a charming theme that all ages can get into, the design’s set-collecting mechanics are simple to learn, intuitively engaging and pleasantly challenging. Another classic, this zoo building design is much warmer than caroling and an essential addition to any gaming family’s collection.
Mogul : Amazon link
Mogul is a stock manipulation game powered by an ingenious bidding mechanism. Each turn, players face a binary decision: place a chip in the bowl to stay in the running, or pass, claiming all the chips in the bowl. The last player standing chooses to either take the share of stock or execute the action (sell stock or place a depot on a train line), and the last player to pass gets the leftover choice. Mogul is always tense, always fun, and tremendously clever. The rules are simple, but the choices are grueling. This is a great choice for families.
Takenoko : Our review : Amazon link
This adorable game featuring an overweight panda and a very flustered gardener is sure to garner some attention when it hits the table. As you play, the garden expands and bamboo grows into the sky, and it looks fantastic. There’s enough strategy in the game to keep things interesting, with the right balance of luck to keep everyone involved. A recent expansion adds more pandas into the mix, and you just can’t go wrong with that.