Get rid of Monopoly, Life, Cluedo, Candyland… Recommended Fun Board Games for Family nights

Get rid of Monopoly, Life, Cluedo, Candyland…  Recommended Fun Board Games for Family nights

Some friends have asked me to recommend games for family nights. I thought that I’d put up a post of games with family appeal and I welcome you to add your own recommendations to perhaps create a definitive list.

Its well past the time to get beyond the likes of Monopoly, The Game of Life, Cluedo, Candyland, etc. which are the same poor dross which are churned out regularly by companies like Hasbro and Mattel. The marketing budgets of these companies foist this stuff on the ill-informed masses because they can and they know people will buy them because they are unaware of other choices. The shame of it is that they are poor games which aren’t much fun as attested to by the stacks of them collecting dust in charity shops.

End of mini- rant.

Here are some great games in no particular order which should be currently available through online board game retailers and friendly neighbourhood game shops. Some of these are starting to appear on Amazon and in larger chains such as Waterstones in the UK and Barnes and Noble in the US as well. Trust me, once you play these games, you will want to ditch your copies of Monopoly, etc.


The Settlers of Catan (3-4 players ages 8+, playing time 90 minutes)


In The Settlers of Catan, players try to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads. On each turn dice are rolled to determine what resources the island produces. Players collect these resources (cards) – wood, grain, brick, sheep, or stone – to build up their civilizations to get to 10 victory points and win the game. 

This game has won a lot of awards and sold loads of copies worldwide and you may possibly have heard of it. Its not an introductory game but doesn’t take to long to learn and is challenging and fun.


Ticket to Ride – (2-5 players ages 8+, playing time 45 minutes)

With elegantly simple gameplay, Ticket to Ride can be learned in under 15 minutes, while providing players with intense strategic and tactical decisions every turn. Players collect cards of various types of train cars they then use to claim railway routes in North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who fulfil Destination Tickets – goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who builds the longest continuous route.

This is one of my favourite games and is a great game to introduce to those with little experience playing games.


Forbidden Island (2-5 players ages 8+, playing time 30 minutes)

Forbidden Island is a visually stunning ‘cooperative’ board game. Instead of winning by competing with other players like most games, everyone must work together to win the game. Players take turns moving their pawns around the ‘island’, which is built by arranging the many beautifully screen-printed tiles before play begins. As the game progresses, more and more island tiles sink, becoming unavailable, and the pace increases. Players use strategies to keep the island from sinking, while trying to collect treasures and items. As the water level rises, it gets more difficult- sacrifices must be made.

I have never introduced this game to anyone who hasn’t said, “can we play again!”


Escape The Curse of the Temple (1-5 players ages 8+, playing time 10 minutes)

Escape: The Curse of the Temple is a cooperative game in which players must escape (yes…) from a temple (yes…) which is cursed (yes…) before the temple collapses and kills one or more explorers, thereby causing everyone to lose.

This game is quite frankly, stressful (in a good way), loud and crazy fun. My current favourite.


Carcassonne (2-5 players ages 8+, playing time 45 minutes)

Carcassonne is a tile-placement game in which the players draw and place a tile with a piece of southern French landscape on it. The tile might feature a city, a road, a cloister, grassland or some combination thereof, and it must be placed adjacent to tiles that have already been played, in such a way that cities are connected to cities, roads to roads, etcetera. Having placed a tile, the player can then decide to place one of his meeples on one of the areas on it: on the city as a knight, on the road as a robber, on a cloister as a monk, or on the grass as a farmer. When that area is complete, that meeple scores points for its owner.

I love this game. Its easy to learn, interesting, challenging and always different each time you play.


Love Letter (2-4 players ages 8+, playing time 20 minutes)

All of the eligible young men (and many of the not-so-young) seek to woo the princess of Tempest. Unfortunately, she has locked herself in the palace, and you must rely on others to take your romantic letters to her. Will yours reach her first?

Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction, and luck for 2–4 players. Your goal is to get your love letter into Princess Annette’s hands while deflecting the letters from competing suitors.

This is a fast playing, elegant card game which is loads of fun.


Qwirkle (2-4 players ages 6+, playing time 45 minutes)

This abstract game consists of 108 wooden blocks with six different shapes in six different colors. There is no board, players simply use an available flat surface.

Players begin the game with 6 blocks. The start player places blocks of a single matching attribute (color or shape but not both) on the table. Thereafter, a player adds blocks adjacent to at least one previously played block. The blocks must all be played in a line and match, without duplicates, either the color or shape of the previous block.

This is a brilliant, simple and elegant game for families.


Apples to Apples (4-10 players ages 10+, playing time 30 minutes)

The party game Apples to Apples consists of two decks of cards: Things and Descriptions. Each round, the active player draws a Description card (which features an adjective like “Hairy” or “Smarmy”) from the deck, then the other players each secretly choose the Thing card in hand that best matches that description and plays it face-down on the table. The active player then reveals these cards and chooses theThing card that, in his opinion, best matches the Description card, which he awards to whoever played that Thing card. This player becomes the new active player for the next round.

A fun, easy to play game. There is a “Kids” version for the younger ones.

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