The Best Board Games for Kids to Play in 2024
10 mins read

The Best Board Games for Kids to Play in 2024


Anyone who’s got kids will be aware of the worries about them being drawn into TikTok and other addictive phone apps. Board games offer the perfect antidote. They’re enthralling, face-to-face, and social, and most of them don’t involve using a screen at all. But when it comes to picking out titles for them to play, the marketplace is absolutely dominated by mass-market producers who favor glossy advertising over great gameplay.

Delving into the hobby market is the obvious answer, but here you have the opposite problem: dozens of worthy titles that look about as exciting as a brown box with a glum man on the cover. Fortunately, more and more designers and publishers are discovering the importance of serving the kids’ market and the last few years have seen a glut of great-looking, fast-playing games. Below are our picks for the best — but also check out the best family board games for ideas that are fun for everyone, regardless of age.

TLDR: Best Board Games for Kids

Board Games for Toddlers and Preschool-Age Kids

The Color Monster

The Color Monster

Very young children can’t really understand even simple strategies, but games can still be a great tool to learn about turn-taking and sharing. The Color Monster, based on a popular children’s book, achieves this but also helps with emotional development. On your turn, you roll a die and move to land on a color space, then talk about the emotion that’s associated with that color. Afterwards, there’s a simple memory element to place the emotion in the correct jar as a step toward a cooperative win. Adults have to take turns too, of course, making this a wonderful platform for sharing your feelings and experiences with your kids.

Dragomino

Dragonimo

Children’s versions of popular family board games often aren’t worth the time over their bigger siblings but Dragomino, a spin-off of Kingdomino, does something special. Your goal is to build a map in traditional domino-style, winning dragon eggs if your piece placement matches the ends of one or more adjacent dominos. So it’s possible for a good placement to get you several eggs, which may contain baby dragons for your victory tally. It’s a very simple framework yet it makes basic strategy play accessible to preschool children, an impressive and unusual achievement. It’s a great board game for 5 year olds if that’s what you’re looking for.

Animal Upon Animal Junior

Once kids have developed a little dexterity, at around age three, the wonderful world of stacking games opens up. Animal Upon Animal is a great place to start and is fine fun for adults too. A die roll decides who gets to choose an animal shape and who will stack it. Cause the pile to fall, and you must take some of the toppled animals: first to clear their pieces wins. It’s the shapes that really make this game, a brilliant set of designs that open up a myriad of stacking options that reward clever play.

Board Games for Elementary School-Age Kids

Unlock! Kids: Detective Stories

Unlock! Kids: Detective Stories

Escape Rooms are very popular at the moment, especially with kids, and there’s a burgeoning genre of board games that essentially provide the same kinds of puzzles in a one-shot box. The Unlock series is one of the more popular, and it now includes this fantastic entry aimed at younger players. The puzzles are simpler, there’s no timed element and no “failure” – you just keep trying until you get the answer. And the three scenarios, set across a farm, a funfair and a haunted house, are written to draw in young imaginations. It’s a great series of challenges that will fill kids with a real sense of accomplishment once they’ve solved all the riddles and made it out.

Kids Chronicles: Quest for the Moon Stones

Kids Chronicles: Quest for the Moon Stones

This is an app-driven game, so you’ll need a screen to play, which might be a little controversial if you’re trying to steer the kids away from electronic devices. But the app is excellent and is incorporated seamlessly into a cooperative experience that will see the players working together to come up with a plan to find the legendary moon stones, so it can be a good incentive to encourage kids to get involved. It’s a junior version of the very adult Chronicles of Crime series. Players have to scan 3d scenes on the phone, identifying characters and objects they can use as clues, which will propel them through an unfolding narrative. It’s a simple mystery, but it’s very engaging for kids, especially given the great writing, graphics and sound of the app element.

Valley of the Vikings

Valley of the Vikings

Dexterity meets tactical puzzling in this bizarre yet entertaining bowling game. The aim is to push a large ball into a group of colored barrels. For each barrel you knock over, the corresponding player piece is advanced down a pier track toward the water. What you’re trying to do is dunk other players in the sea while keeping yours dry. The tactics come from the fact that your reward when another player goes swimming depends on the icon above your own space. So, sometimes you want to advance your own piece after all, sometimes not, and sometimes a clumsy ball flick leaves you with no choice in the matter.

Andor the Family Fantasy Game

Andor

Adventure games tend toward the longer and more complex end of the spectrum, and that’s a shame because it’s a theme that kids really dig. Andor aims to redress that with a straightforward yet fun and varied quest framework. Players choose a class and try and complete random missions while a dragon slowly makes its way toward the capital city. If it gets there before you’ve delved into the dungeon and rescued the cute wolf cubs therein, it’s game over. You can push it back by battling its minions, but that diverts efforts from those all-important quests, giving players a basic priority balancing strategy to work with.

Board Games for Middle School-Age Kids

My Lil’ Everdell

My Lil’ Everdell

The original Everdell won a lot of acclaim thanks to its combination of rich worker placement strategy and incredibly cute artwork featuring anthropomorphic animals. That latter aspect has clear family appeal, so the rules and strategies have been simplified, and the cute art made even more cute for this slimmed-down family version. Players send their friends out into the meadow to pick up resources, which they can then spend to recruit other cards into their burgeoning community. Some give instant bonuses, others permanent round-by-round extras. Between them, they allow players to construct basic engines and build an ongoing strategy. It’s a fantastic introduction to the wider world of worker placement and engine games, offered in incredibly appealing clothes.

Horrified

Horrified: Universal Monsters

Don’t be fooled by the theme: this is based on classic Universal monster movies of the ’50s and is even less scary than they were. So it’s a great way for kids to face their fears as they work together to overcome some hokey horror foes. Players must move around the town and collect items necessary to defeat the selection of monsters they’ve chosen to face. There are six to pick from, each with different powers and requirements to defeat. But beware, as you’re not the only targets: you’ll also need to protect wandering villagers and guide them to safety. And when the kids are done, this is a pretty good horror board game for adults, too.

Zombie Kidz: Evolution

Zombie Kidz Evolution

At first, this seems too simple for this age bracket. Players move their characters over the school map, eliminating zombies. If they can meet and lock the gates against the zombie horde before being overrun, they win. But as each scenario is passed, the real magic of the game unfolds. This is a “legacy” style game for kids, where each game adds to a growing narrative. Your choices also make your copy unique with pens and stickers and unlockable envelopes of new rules and other content. It’s a wild ride of imaginative customization that children will love.

When Is The Best Time to Buy Board Games in 2024?

If you love board games, it can unfortunately be a rather expensive hobby. Thankfully, retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target tend to offer board game sales fairly regularly. Keep an eye out for those throughout the year. A sure-fire time to find a deal is during major sales, like Prime Day 2024 and Black Friday 2024.

For more ideas, check out our list of the best classic board games, or for the more military-minded, the best war board games. And if you’re on the lookout for a more general pool of ideas, take a look at our list of the best board games to play in 2024.

Matt Thrower is a contributing freelance board game and video game writer for IGN. (Board, video, all sorts of games!)



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