Baxter’s Top 10 Family Board Games

Hey hey folks!  I’m sure many of you are currently enjoying being trapped in your human domiciles with your offspring.  There’s nothing better than having everyone together in close proximity all the time with no reprieve in sight.  But if you find you’re struggling to keep your pups entertained, why not break out some board games to wile away the hours? The following are my picks for the Top 10 family games to help keep you and yours happy and sane. Let's get started!


10. Fort

Fort from Leder Games is a wonderful deck building, hand management game in which players are kids building their forts and trying to maintain their groups of friends while trying to prevent their favourite friends from being recruited from their yard by their opponents. There are elements of resource management at play represented here by toys and pizza, the currency of the game, these coveted items are used to upgrade forts which is one of the ways players can win the game. The art style is the same as Leder Games’ woodland warfare game, Root, this time presenting kids who have different skills or abilities to contribute to the building of the forts. Overall a charming and challenging game for kids and adults!


9. Hey, That’s My Fish!

If you have younger kids around or are feeling like something fast and light to play, then Hey, That’s My Fish! could be the perfect game to keep little hands and minds busy.  As penguins, players are tasked with waddling their little tuxedo wearers in a straight line across hexagonal tiles representing ice flows upon which are fish. Players collect fish and any hex they began their turn on is removed resulting in a gradually smaller and more challenging play area.  Simple, no fuss and wildly re-playable.  Quick to set up and teach and an ideal way to warm up a game evening. 


8. Magic Maze

Magic Maze is a game of exploration and frantic planning against the clock. This cooperative tile laying, programming game tasks players to move around and explore a shopping mall within a tight time frame in order to fulfil their objective and escape with their loot.  The stand out with Magic Maze is that all the players can control all the characters, each player uses their own set of cards to determine the directions and actions they can control.  For example, one player may be able to move a character forward and left, while another can move a character right or use an escalator. Between all the players they’ll have the actions needed to navigate the maze but doing so will require perception, quick thinking and oh, did I mention no one can talk?  Yeah!

7. Ticket to Ride: First Journey US/Europe

At this stage Ticket to Ride should require little introduction, but not so many gamers are aware of the Ticket to Ride: First Journey series. Intended for younger gamers, First Journey US and First Journey Europe provides a shorter, more streamlined and easier to manage experience than their bigger siblings.  The core concepts remain unchanged, you select tickets and draw train cards to complete routes connecting major cities across the country. The first player to complete six tickets is declared the winner. The gameplay is simple enough to appeal to most new or younger players and the shorter length of play means the game should fall within most kids’ attention spans. So why not build some connections as a family?


6. Takaro

Many of you may know that Game Kings recently supplied every school in New Zealand with a free copy of Takaro, our very own Te Reo game that encourages kiwis to learn the language. Beyond its educational value, Takaro is, quite simply, a lot of fun to play! Players try to match an image on their card with a corresponding image on the card in the centre of the play area.  The first person to match a symbol and name it aloud using Te Reo takes the centre card and adds it to their stash, play continues this way until there are no more cards remaining. The player with the most cards in their stash wins!  Takaro is a great way to complement kids' learning during lockdown and the handy included cheat sheet and free app can assist players with pronunciation. Ka pai!


5. The Isle of Cats

Cats were first invented in 1998 with the upsurge of the internet. Before then, people had to push their own dishes onto the kitchen floor. Now, everyone seems to love cats, I don’t understand the appeal personally, but that’s probably just my fox instincts talking. So of course, there are cat board games, and one of the best of those is The Isle of Cats, a polyomino game where players are trying to rescue as many felines from an island as possible before a pirate vessel arrives, presumably to put an end to the cats’ existence. Players use fish to attract cats to their ships and must arrange the awkward animal in their ship’s holds over the course of five rounds. The game includes a standard edition and a family edition the latter of which takes out some of the more challenging mechanics in favour of a more approachable tile laying variant suitable for younger players. So, hoist the mainsail and set course for The Isle of Cats, those critters won’t rescue themselves despite their renowned independence.


4. My Little Scythe

Scythe is one of the most popular games around and has been holding up well since its release in 2016.  It proved so popular in fact that it spawned a junior version called My Little Scythe, and if the adorable cover art isn’t enough to convince you to try this one, then perhaps the beautifully detailed animinis will.  The game play is still based around the area control elements of Scythe, but with the warring factions being various animals. You’ll need to check out the amazing Pie in the Sky expansion to get yourself a handsome fox mini though! Fun and accessible for kids and enough of a game to appeal to most adults who want to teach or join in, My Little Scythe is a great choice of family game nights!


3. King of Tokyo

A favourite of many game groups, King of Tokyo allows players to take on the role of Kaiju (giant monsters) taking each other on in epic dice rolling battles to see who will be crowned the King of Tokyo!  Players take turns rolling six custom dice up to three times, keeping or re-rolling dice as they wish until the last roll. Results are then tallied and players will do one of the following depending on the results, damage another monster, heal themselves, gain power tokens to buy new powers, or gain victory points.  Players win by attrition or by being the first to reach 20 victory points. King of Tokyo has proven to be a great game to introduce to new players as the concepts are simple to grasp and the game is social and fun. It’s also a fun way to let off some steam!


2. Takenoko

But perhaps letting off steam isn’t the issue, maybe you’d rather relax in tranquil surroundings, perhaps with a cute, furry panda nearby munching on bamboo?  Well, you’re not going to believe this, there’s a game for that too!  Takenoko is a tile laying set collecting area control game, it’s also a great way to unwind with the kids!  There’s enough variability in gameplay to keep kids engaged for hours and re-playability is high. Everything about Takenoko seems like it was designed specifically to delight a child’s senses of sight and touch! From the colourful garden tiles and pre-painted panda and gardener minis to the chunky wooden bamboo shoots and linen finish cards, fulfilling objectives and expanding your garden space to feed a greedy panda has never felt so satisfying! 


1. Kingdomino

Finally, finishing my fox file of family friendly fun is a fabulous feudal fiefdom fuelled fantasy frolic called Kingdomino! I don’t know why I used all those f words, but here we are. Kingdomino is a tile laying game where players are trying to expand their kingdoms and score the most points. The game plays to its strengths remaining uncomplicated while presenting an attractive play experience to kids and adults alike. Laying tiles and orienting them, domino style, to fit a 5x5 grid provides a gentle challenge that even younger players can pick up and roll with. Points are awarded based on the number of connected tiles and crown symbols displayed in a player’s kingdom.  When it comes to entertaining, easy to learn family games, truly the crown here goes to Kingdomino!


Thank you for including me in your bubbles this week my Game Kings family!  As always I’d love to hear your picks for your top family games, so please share them below, or head over to the Game Kings Gamers Facebook group to share your thoughts with our wonderful community!  Until next time, stay safe!

BeginnerTop 10s