I introduced my kids to video games a couple of years ago, and I love that it not only gives us something to share, it teaches them to persevere even when things seem difficult. But despite all the pros of picking up a joystick and duking it out on Super Smash Bros., they’re still in front of a screen, which can lead to some well-covered negative behaviors.
Whenever we want to keep the togetherness going, we’ll often break out a board game that improves hand-eye coordination or helps build problem-solving skills. Here are a few suggestions that fit the bill if you’re looking for a game that will fire up the imagination, help solve a mystery, deploy some strategy, or just something for a family fun night.
What better way to get your teen’s eyes off the screen than playing a strategy game named after the British computer science pioneer? The goal of the game is to find the secret code before the other players using perforated cards and deductive reasoning. And with over seven million possible codes to find, your family won’t get bored any time soon.
Munchkin Treasure Hunt
Strongly recommended by a colleague, this board game for younger players doesn’t require knowledge of the popular Munchkin series of games. Players move around the board collecting gold, which can be found by picking up treasure cards or fighting monsters. The game is easy to play and uses fun, colorful illustrations to make even the most serious player snicker.
Similar to a hike in a National Park, this strategy game for tweens and up features quick gameplay and scenic artwork. The object is to collect the most points by taking pictures, gathering resources, and earning badges. Reviewers love its simplicity and compact size, making it ideal for a road trip or a quick evening game on a school night. There are also expansion packs available.
Race to the Treasure
A favorite among my two young kids, the secret of this game is working together to blaze a trail, collect keys, and reach the treasure before the Ogre does. It’s the perfect way to end arguments between siblings.
King of New York
Perfect for your kaiju-obsessed child, this eye-catching update to the King of Tokyo game is designed by Magic: The Gathering’s Richard Garfield with artwork from Regis Torres. The board game features giant monsters who want to destroy the City That Never Sleeps; one roll of the dice can take your creature down or make them ruler of the Big Apple.
Formerly known as Settlers of Catan, this is the inspiration for nearly every simulation game on your smartphone. The whole family must use skill and strategy to develop the titular island. Though it’s recommended for those above the age of 10, this game is simple enough for anyone eight years old and above.
A combination of Turing Game and Race to the Treasure, players take on characters who must work together to crack the code behind a mysterious board game that somehow knows every aspect of the person’s lives. A comic book helps build an immersive world that resembles your teen’s favorite RPG. It’s recommended for ages 8 and above.
No, this isn’t Tetris. Each player is a color and takes a turn putting block-like pieces on the grid, but there’s just one rule: Each piece can only touch the corner of another. Whoever has the fewest pieces left wins. This classic game, perfect for elementary school ages and above, requires quick thinking and a sharp eye to win.
Your favorite online obsession is now a board game you can play with friends, and chances are our hints will be of little help. One player writes down a secret five-letter word while the others compete to solve it first. This party game, perfect for teenagers and their families, has three different modes of play to keep things interesting.
Yeti in My Spaghetti
Like one of the Super Mario Party minigames, this was our family’s favorite thing to play during the lockdown. The object is to take out a rigid spaghetti strand from underneath the adorable yeti without causing him to fall into the bowl. It’s perfect for nearly all ages and has all the elements of Jenga without the cleanup.
The Isle of Cats
The reviews of this game praise not only the cats’ cuteness but also how much fun the family version is. The premise is that you’re the resident of an island ruled by an evil lord, and you must save as many felines as possible before the leader returns.
In this 3-D board game, players must move their penguins around the board by flicking them around corners and doors. The only thing standing in the flightless bird’s way is a hall monitor, who will send them back to where they started. This game is for ages six and above and helps players learn dexterity and hand-eye coordination.