Board games are the ultimate classic toy. They have been around since time immemorial and have become an essential part of childhood experiences worldwide. We are lucky enough to now live in their golden age, where board games are more popular than ever. Every year, new innovative brands arise, and we have access to an incredible diversity of games.
Genres include strategy, role-playing, card and skill games. While certain games are designed for you to move or react quickly, others require deep concentration. This ultimately means that there is a perfect board game for every child. We’ve designed this article to help you find what that is for your little one, or even for yourself!
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best board games on the US market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about board games
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- The market offers an incredible variety of board games, with countless categories to choose from. There’s everything you want from simple dice games, to elaborate role-playing or strategy games.
- Playing is the absolute best activity if you want your child to learn. Board games will encourage his or her cognitive, motor and social development while having fun.
- We encourage you to search for games that will entertain your child as well as yourself. This will allow you to have afternoons of family games. Teamwork and healthy competition also contribute to strengthening family ties.
Ranking: The best board games on the US market
There truly is a board game for every taste. We want to help you find just the right game for you, whether it’s to entertain your child and his friends or for a family night at home. We’ve selected our favorite board games in the following section to get you started in your search.
No. 1: Monopoly by Hasbro
In the unlikely event that you do not own monopoly, or the even unlikelier event that you haven’t heard of it, then this post is for you. Monopoly is the classic family board game and probably the most popular board game in North America. For this reason, it tops our list. The object of the game is for players to basically become a monopoly – develop and own all the real estate on the board.
In order to play you need to have at least two players and up to 8. Everyone starts with a set sum of monopoly money and takes turns rolling the dice and progressing around the board. The most successful developer who ends up outlasting and ultimately owning your competitors, wins. This game is guaranteed to give you hours of enjoyment. Due to the presence of small game pieces, there is a choking hazard for young children three years and under. Best suited for 8 year olds and up.
No. 2: Scrabble – by Hasbro
Scrabble, another American classic, is the ultimate cross-word game. In scrabble participants take turns constructing words on the game board with the letters in their possession. The words and letters have values, and the goal of the game is to consistently construct words that have higher values. How do you do that? By building long words as well as strategically constructing words on the board where you can gain more points on premium squares. Confused? All this will make sense when you start playing.
Scrabble is a wonderful brain-centric game that can help participants develop vocabulary. Suitable for kids once they can read and write. From then on, it is one of those games that can be enjoyed by all. Scrabble basically consists of a board and dozens of small pieces of letters, so best to keep away from toddlers.
No. 3: Trivial Pursuit by Hasbro
Trivial Pursuit is another classic American board game. Trivial pursuit ranks high on our list – this is a game that is both educational and engaging and can be enjoyed both as a teenager and an adult. The purpose of the game is to correctly answer questions from 6 key categories – geography, entertainment, history, art, literature, science and nature, and sports and leisure.
Players move around the board and need to answer questions in all of the categories thereby collecting ‘wedges of each category.’ The first player to collect all the wedges, can proceed to the center of the board and after correctly answering the final question – wins. This is no easy feat, these questions can be hard! Minimum of two players are needed. Best suited for ages 16 and up.
No. 4: Clue by Hasbro
Clue is a timeless game that is likely an American mantlepiece. A murder has taken place, there are six suspects and the purpose of the game is to find out who did it! Players progress in this detective game trying to decipher the mystery. To win you need to identify not only who committed the murder but also what they used and where they did it.
Clue is appropriate for kids 8 and up. Anywhere from two players can play, and up to six participants. Earlier versions of the game were just made out of carton. Over the years, the game has developed and this version runs on batteries to include different sound effects.
No. 5: Twister
The ultimate party game for kids and adults alike. In contrast to all the other games we have reviewed to this point, Twister is a dynamic game which requires you to use your body. Yoga enthusiasts will particularly love this game. Twister requires no less than two participants with one person relaying the instructions and the other attempting to follow them by positioning your body on the right place on the board.
The game is appropriate for kids aged six and up. For the older participants you may consider some light stretching before playing as the positions can get challenging to complete. This game develops flexibility, concentration and hand eye coordination. Given the simplicity of the games’ contents, this is an easy one to transport.
No. 6: Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle
Harry Potter is a newer addition to the list compared to many of the classics reviewed thus far. Harry Potter enthusiasts will especially love this game. The game setting: dangerous forces are threatening to take over Hogwarts castle. It’s up to four students to ensure the safety of the school by defeating the villains. Here, players take on the role of a Hogwarts student: Harry, Ron, Hermione or Neville.
By gaining influence, players add more cards to their deck which include spells, and magical items. Other cards allow them to regain health. Only by working together will players be able to defeat all of the villains. Most appropriate for ages 6 to 15.
No. 7: Days of Wonder Ticket To Ride
This is a game for American geography enthusiasts. Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure where players need to collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. Players compete to connect famous cities across the United States by claiming railway routes on the map board. The person with the highest number of total points wins.
While connecting cities, it is important to pay attention to the route you are on. If you manage to build the longest path on the map board, you will earn extra points at the end of the game. In order to play a minimum of 2 players is required, and there is room for up to 6 to play. This game is most appropriate for ages 8 and up. Each game takes an hour to complete, which is much shorter than most of the games we have covered so far.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about board games
Board games are the perfect gift, with each one being unique. The almost endlessness of concepts and genres can be overwhelming when you’re on the hunt for the perfect game for your child. In the following section, we’ve discussed some of the most frequently asked questions about board games to give you all the information you need.
What types of board games are available out there?
As you probably know, there are a great variety of board game genres to choose from. These can be defined by their physical elements, their rules or their mechanics. In the table below, we’ve summed up the main board game categories:
|Category||Way of playing||Characteristics|
|Dice games||They are based on throwing a die and moving a token on a board. They include some of the most classic and iconic games, such as the Game of the Goose.||Winning mostly relies on chance, and games tend to be shorter. They are generally easy to understand.|
|Strategy games||These games involve players developing a series of strategies to achieve a goal.||They can be cooperative or individual. They depend on players’ analytical, planning or deduction skills.|
|Card games||Card games are only played with cards, whether traditional or specifically designed for the game, such as Uno or Dixit.||Each game is unique. Some are purely random, while others involve strategy, skill or deduction.|
|Role-playing games||These games involve a narrator, and the players must take on the role of a character.||They test players’ storytelling skills, communication and imagination. The games tend to be very long.|
What are the benefits of board games?
Children learn best by playing. They are developing key cognitive and socio-affective skills while they’re having fun with a good board game. While the educational content will naturally depend on the game you choose, most games offer the following benefits:
- They contribute to cognitive and motor development: Board games, and more specifically those with attractive and colorful designs, contribute to the cognitive development of children. They help them better identify shapes, numbers, letters and colour. Games with different pieces also stimulate motor skills and coordination.
- They stimulate social skills: Playing a board game with other children helps them to learn bout healthy competition and cooperation. Children therefore train their patience, generosity and even their understanding of justice. They may even learn to analyze other players’ strategies and adapt their own.
- They allow quality family time: One of the best ways to make the most out of board games is to play them as a family. Game nights are ideal to spend some time with your child while being away from screens. Teamwork and healthy competition are also concepts that are uniting.
Should I play board games with my children?
Of course! Most child-oriented board games are easy to understand and perfect for children to play with their friends or siblings. They’ll even be able to enjoy them without supervision once they understand the rules. That being said, it is important for you to also play games with your kids.
Easy board games are fantastic didactic tools for your youngest children. As they grow, you’ll be able to play games that you can also enjoy and that are more challenging for all ages. That way, you can organize family game night and spend quality time together.
When can my child start playing board games?
As you might know, there are different board games designed for each stage of childhood. Experts recommend children to start playing board games around the age of 4. This is when children are developing the appropriate motor skills for this kind of games. This is also an age particularly favorable for them to learn to play in a structured way with their peers.
Children will be attracted to more complex board games as they grow up. There really is no age limit for board games, and teenagers may have a preference for role-playing or strategy games. There are also excellent options that any adult will enjoy if you’re looking for a fun way to spend an evening with your friends.
Board games are more popular than ever, which also means that the market offers an incredible diversity. This is great news, and we bet you want to find the perfect game for your child. In the next section, we’ve discussed some of the most important criteria to consider when looking for your new board game. They are the following:
- Age of your child
- Number of players
- Game genre
- Difficulty and length
- Educational content
Age of your child
Your child will be able to start experimenting with board games around the age of 4. In that regard, it is crucial that you provide the right games for the stage of life they are in. Opt for short games if you don’t want younger kids to lose interest. Because children of that age are so energetic, we recommend a game that involves movement.
Classic games like Uno or Monopoly can be introduced a little later in life. Children can understand just about any board game around the age of 8. This will be the appropriate time for you to initiate them to more complex games, like strategy games. You’ll also be able to enjoy your time playing with your children.
Number of players
This is naturally a key element to consider when buying any board game. We encourage you to go for a product tailored for more people if you’re not quite sure how many players you’ll have. Most games can be played when you have guests over, or during a family evening.
You should also think about when you’ll be playing the game. If you have several children, some game are ideal for playing in pairs. Other games, on the other hand, are more tailored for large groups: they are perfect for a family evening or for your child’s birthday party.
The personality of your child and his interests will naturally determine which type of game you should go for. Extroverted children, for instance, will particularly enjoy games that involve singing or miming. Narrative games like Dixit are great for creative kids who love to tell stories. If your child is very alert, you might be interested in strategy or deduction games.
Didactic games are also a fantastic way to contribute to the development of our kids. You can also find products that encourage physical activity if you want your child to exert himself. Certain games available on the market are designed to test the flexibility, balance, coordination and even the rhythm of the players.
Difficulty and length
The complexity of a board game is a big differentiating factor, and one that will strongly influence which you choose. Role-playing games and certain strategy games, for instance, are harder to understand and entail more rules, but they are fascinating to play. These games that are more complex immerse the players in elaborate fictitious worlds and can last several hours – or more.
That being said, please do remember that not every child and teenager enjoys these harder games. As we mentioned earlier, try and stick to simpler and shorter games if your child is still under 8. Complicated games that require a lot of patience will most likely bore kids of that age.
As you’ve probably understood, board games don’t have to be explicitly didactic to contribute to your child’s cognitive development. Most games actually allow kids to work with different skills and learn while playing. Simply think about the skills you want to stimulate in your child and look for games that provide the right playing environment for this.
In our selection of board games, we’ve tried to include games that also contribute to the development of various skills in your children. Monopoly, for instance, serves as an introduction to money management. Scrabble, on the other hand, will help expand their vocabulary and they’ll start playing with letters in a fun way.
Board games are always an excellent gift idea, whether it is for a boy or a girl. Their ever-growing popularity means that the market has an almost infinite offer of all genres and types. There is always a board game out there suitable for everyone, regardless of age, personality or interests.
Your child’s development can also greatly benefit from playing board games, as they allow kids to learn while having fun. We can’t encourage you enough to choose a board game that you can also play with your children, as they are a great way to spend quality time together.
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(Source of featured image: Artem Oleshko: 70148148/ 123rf.com)