Ten of the Best: Family Games

19 August 2022
A family comes in all shapes and sizes, and so too do the games that might suit them. Whether you’ve got the younger family to entertain, or early gamers, there’s no better way to get people together for an afternoon of bonding (we make no promises about potential arguments, though stick to the cooperatives ones if you’re the overly competitive group!). 

1. Pokemon Battle Academy 

Gotta Catch ‘em all! Taking out the obvious aspect none of us enjoys talking about, which is our youth at the first wave of Pokemon, there’s little more joyous than sharing memories of your first Charizard. The great thing about Pokemon Battle Academy is the step by step instructions and pre-constructed decks that make it up, because these are perfect for young and old alike to begin playing, and playing confidently. Family proof from Grandma to reading-age kid, and bound to start a new wave of collecting. 

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2. Magical Kitties Save the Day

RPG’s are somewhat perfect for family gatherings, though of course, Pathfinder 2nd Edition may not be entirely suitable for diving into headfirst with the asymmetrically talented family. Instead, something bright and breezy, with just enough peril to be interesting yet stave off potential tears, Magical Kitties Save the Day is a perfect example of an incredibly light storytelling game. What would you do here? Let’s roll the dice and see if it goes the way you planned. From young to old, RPGs offer problem solving, cooperation, number recognition, but not many will let you be the fluffy kitten as you do. 

3. Overboss

One for the older aged family (though the age rating is 8+), Overboss is a tile laying game from the same universe as Boss Monster. Both utilise the retro graphics of early computer games, but that’s where the similarities end. In Overboss, you’ll build your dungeon based on the tiles available to you, attempting to maximise the points you gain for those you lay. There are ways to interfere with other dungeons, but it’s a much calmer competitive game than others, and there’s something innately satisfying about a well built dungeon that resonates with anyone. 

4. Kingdomino

If Overboss was too complex or too fiddly, Kingdomino is the family crowd pleaser. similar to dominoes, making it universally easy to explain and mostly familiar to play. Essentially, you want to expand your kingdom by using the matching tile pieces, up to a 5x5 grid where possible. Of course, you’ll gain points for connecting tiles, but also for coveted crown pieces. It can get surprisingly strategic or can be a comfortable matching game, depending on the ages and comfort levels of the players. Grandma will love it, guaranteed. 

5. Dobble

Sometimes, classic games are classic for a reason, and Dobble is a perfect family game. We all know how to match one shape to another, but it takes us a few moments longer when there are multiple different shapes on entirely different cards. Your fellow players are trying to place their own matching symbols down, so you’ve got to be quick to place yours before the playing field changes once again. Nicely, the game also comes in multiple flavours, so you can avoid potential disputes by offering familiar characters, and different game modes can change up the pace to suit the players. 


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6. Horrified

It doesn’t sound the most family friendly of names, but you’d be surprised! This is a cooperative game (see: no arguments), where classic film monsters are terrorising the town, and you’ll need to stop them. You’re the hero of the story, with special perks, picking up and delivering items around the board to slowly take down the monsters, and save the villagers from peril. It’s never too complicated that people can’t pick it up, nor are the decisions too perilous, and yet has enough depth to it that it won’t bore the more engaged younger family members. Plus, it’s cool to win against Dracula. 

7. Disney Sorcerer’s Arena 

A newer game for a slightly older family unit, Sorcerer’s Arena has the familiarity of Disney characters, with a skirmish style mix and match game. Ever wondered if Sully from Monsters Inc would win against Ariel from, and indeed is, the Little Mermaid? This is the game to find out. It’s a competitive game that uses familiarity of concept to introduce strategy, and frankly, it’s just good fun. A few too many rules for the little’uns, but different game chapters that steadily increase difficulty means you can stick to the level you find yourselves comfortable with. 

8. Catapult Feud

Dexterity games are an easy win for family based games, because whilst there is admittedly a dose of skill involved (or so I say when I am declared victorious!), a huge amount of luck is often more helpful. Catapult Feud is one such game, where you’re given catapults and projectiles to send flying at your fellow players perfectly built and armoured fort. Of course, you have your own fort, and they, their own catapults, so it’s a race to knock out the guards.  With very little learning curve - “Build a fort. Fire catapults. Knock minis off”, there you go, you can play now – it’s suitable for family play, even if you choose to level the playing field by teaming up an adult and child. 

9. Dodo

Welcome to the island of Mangalopanesia, where the Dodo has laid her egg at the top of the mountain, and you’re going to need to stop it rolling to the bottom. It’s brightly coloured, hugely eye catching, and feels like a good mixture of a traditional game – like the nostalgia of seeing Kerplunk on the table – and a game hobbyists can get behind. With a pleasing concept, familiar to most children, it’s all about your teamwork and your speed, leading to a frantic, somewhat silly, afternoon to share with the family. 

10. What Next

A game we can’t help but come back to, What Next is a mixture of so many different types of games that it’s hard not to consider its wide appeal. Essentially, you’ll have three different cases that contain sets of cards. Overturning these, you may have a decision to make, which will tell you to head to another numbered card, as you begin to unfold the story. You may also have to complete a challenge, which are party game like in theme - drop a card from a height through the arms of another player, identify this piece from a draw bag, pick something up using only the cards of the game… soon you’re hurtling through a quirky story whilst giggling at the challenges set. A great way and reason to get the family together, and though youngsters would need a little extra help, there’s nothing stopping a parent and child duo. 

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