Our Favorite Family Board Games A to Z
Let’s start November off with a bang.
It’s time to reveal our favorite family board games from A to Z!
Our overall favorite family board games, card games, and dice games (those we collectively rate 4 or higher) are easily found on our site.
We’ve also listed each of our personal favorite board games from time to time (mom’s list being the most popular).
However, this year we’re going a slightly different route with something a little more restrictive.
We’ve narrowed our list down to our favorite games starting with each letter of the alphabet.
So without further ado, here are our favorite family games in the form of an A to Z storybook:
We know this was an alphabetical list. But before we jump to “A”, we’ve got to begin with our favorite game starting with a number. Hands down that goes to 7 Wonders. This civilization card-drafting game shows up regularly on our personal favorite games list so it’s just natural to hit this list as well. Since turns are taken simultaneously, the game plays just as quickly with 7 as it does with 3.
See our full review of 7 Wonders.
Get a copy of 7 Wonders.
Runner-up: 7 Wonders Duel
A is for Alien Frontiers
A is a tough letter to start with because there are so many good choices for fun family games starting with the letter “A”. The one that tops our list is Alien Frontiers. It’s a strategic, space exploration-themed game where spaceships are represented by colored dice. Players use their dice in various ways to colonize and control different regions of a planet. Random dice can be mitigated as players strategically evaluate their choices every round.
See our full review of Alien Frontiers.
Get a copy of Alien Frontiers.
B is for Blokus
While there are a number of family board games we enjoy playing that start with B, it’s hard to beat Blokus. This abstract strategy game is as fun to play as it is colorful. Players try to place all their Tetris-like pieces on the board while blocking their opponents from doing the same. It’s a great game for developing spatial recognition in both kids and adults.
See our full review of Blokus.
Get a copy of Blokus.
C is for Carcassonne
The letter “C” is the one we had the most trouble narrowing down a winner. In the end we keep going back to one of the modern board games that got us (as well as tons of other families) fully engaged in the board game hobby – Carcassonne. This tile-placement game is a modern classic that we highly recommend for families everywhere.
See our full review of Carcassonne.
Get a copy of Carcassonne.
D is for Dominion
Or should we say Domination? That’s because Dominion continues to be dad’s most-played game year after year. The multiple expansions for Dominion have created quite an addiction. Deck-building may not seem like such a novelty any more, but that’s just because so many games have been published since trying to mimic the success of Dominion. Many have tried, but none have succeeded. Dominion is still the #1 deck-building game around.
See our full review of Dominion.
Get a copy of Dominion.
E is for Escape: The Curse of the Temple
Escape: The Curse of the Temple is a cooperative board game that only last 10 minutes. And what a frantic 10 minutes it is! It’s a dice rolling fest with a time limit and an ominous soundtrack that really puts the pressure on. Players quickly roll dice to explore areas of the temple searching for the way out. But they also must use their dice rolls to place gems along the way or they won’t be able to escape even if they do find the exit. So fun.
See our full review of Escape: The Curse of the Temple.
Get a copy of Escape: The Curse of the Temple.
F is for Forbidden Desert
Forbidden Desert is a cooperative game born out of the success of Forbidden Island. Yet even though we enjoy playing both games, Forbidden Desert edges out its predecessor because of the shifting tiles. Players must uncover parts of the ship to escape the desert dangers. But those tiles keep moving in the wind while sand endlessly piles up. It’s a great game for working together with your family to achieve a joint win.
See our full review of Forbidden Desert.
Get a copy of Forbidden Desert.
Gravwell is a game about being the first player to get your spaceship out the warp gate. And the only hope you have of escaping is by using gravity to slingshot your vessel to the escape point. The funny thing about gravity is that it can work for you or against you. Play your cards right and you’ll head in the right direction. But watch out for the others, because their shifting positions may pull you back the other way.
See our full review of Gravwell.
Get a copy of Gravwell.
H is for Hive
Hive is a fantastic family board game that we’ve played all over. This 2-player abstract strategy game may have simple rules, but it’s loaded with strategy. In fact, we think it’s the simplicity that makes this family game so appealing. Hive has also been a hit on many scout camps. The handy carry bag makes the game so portable that you can take it anywhere. And the game pieces are so durable they can hold up splendidly with all the dirt and danger present at Boy Scout camps.
See our full review of Hive.
Get a copy of Hive.
I is for Ice Cool
Ice Cool is a relative newcomer in our game closet and it’s already hitting this favorite family board games list! We got a copy at Gen Con 2016 and have played it a bunch since because it’s so fun. It’s a dexterity game where players flick their penguins around the rooms of this icy school gathering fish for points. It’s lots of fun for kids and adults alike.
See our full review of Ice Cool.
Get a copy of Ice Cool.
J is for Jamaica
Jamaica is more than just a tropical island; it’s also a fun family board game. Players race around the island of Jamaica collecting gold from places on the island or stealing it from each other. Players may start with the same types of cards in their deck, but how and when they’re used will determine who gets ahead and who falls behind. We haven’t done a review of Jamaica yet, but it’s on the docket because it’s such a fun family game that plays up to 6.
Get a copy of Jamaica.
Runner-up: Jungle Speed
K is for Kingdom Builder
Kingdom Builder is another great family game with simple game play and a lot of variety. Right from the outset the game has a variable board set up as well as variable objectives. So every game has a different layout and different ways to win. Thus, the game is puzzle-like in nature as players grow their settlements to best achieve the win conditions for that particular game setup.
See our full review of Kingdom Builder.
Get a copy of Kingdom Builder.
L is for Lanterns
If you’re a regular visitor to our site, you may already know that we really enjoy playing games that center around tile-placement. We love creating a game board as the game progresses – whether it’s our own game board or a collective game board. And Lanterns is such a colorful tile game, it’s hard not to have it be one of our favorites.
See our full review of Lanterns.
Get a copy of Lanterns.
M is for Mastermind
As much as I love Memoir ’44, collectively our family vote goes to Mastermind. This classic deduction game is a must-have in a family game collection. It’s great for developing minds as well as keeping older minds sharp. One player secretly places colored pegs behind a screen at one end of the game board and the other player works to figure out the color code. After each guess, the code-master gives clues that the code-breaker must decipher to arrive at the solution. The original Mastermind is played with a 4-peg code. But we prefer Ultimate Mastermind with its 5-peg code.
See our full review of Mastermind.
Get a copy of Mastermind.
N is for New York 1901
New York 1901 is another relative newcomer to our favorite board games list. It’s the first family strategy game published by Blue Orange Games who is very well known for their children’s games. Players compete to build New York City using their colored Tetris-like pieces and score the most points along the way. It has easy to understand rules, simple game play, great components, and a good balance of strategy and luck.
See our full review of New York 1901.
Get a copy of New York 1901.
O is for Othello
For the letter “O” we turn our attention back to another classic 2-player abstract strategy game – Othello. According to BoardGameGeek.com, Othello dates back to 1883! Even though my kids may joke about it, I’m not that old. Yet Othello is a game I vividly remember learning to play as a kid. It’s simple to understand, yet takes a while to understand some of the strategies. It’s great for young and old alike.
See our full review of Othello.
Get a copy of Othello.
P is for Power Grid
Ok, so this is dad’s indulgence to get Power Grid on this list. If I didn’t push for it so hard, Pandemic would have won out. It’s not to say I don’t agree that Pandemic is a wonderful family board game. It’s just that Power Grid is one of my most favorite board games. It takes a couple hours to play and is a thinky game, but my mind is immersed the entire time and I love it.
See our full review of Power Grid.
Get a copy of Power Grid.
Q is for Qin
While there aren’t too many family board games or card games that begin with the letter “Q”, we’ve still played a number of them that we enjoy. So it wasn’t a slam-dunk to choose Qin. Yet, Qin is a very solid family board game. While the game play centers around tile-placement, the strategy revolves around area control. Players compete to be the first to place all their pagodas on the board. We haven’t done a full review of Qin yet, but we really need to because it’s fantastic.
Get a copy of Qin.
R is for RoboRally
The only dissenter in placing RoboRally on this list was mom. Maybe it’s because her robots always seem to drive off the board or into a pit rather than to the checkpoints. But for the rest of us, RoboRally is a hoot. We love the simultaneous programming of our robots and the chaotic mess they get into when the moves are revealed. Not only do most of enjoy playing it as a family, it’s also a hit at our monthly Guys Game Nights.
See our full review of RoboRally.
Get a copy of RoboRally.
S is for Sequence
It must be an unwritten rule when publishing a game to come up with a name that starts with “S” because there are so many great family board games that begin with this letter. Even with all the competition, our vote still goes to Sequence because it’s such a staple in our family. The beauty of Sequence is that any number of people can play – making it fantastic for extended family gatherings.
See our full review of Sequence.
Get a copy of Sequence.
T is for Telestrations
Telestrations has become one of our “go-to” games for large group gatherings. We have the Party Pack which plays up to 12 players and we love it. Telestrations is definitely a game where the more players there are, the merrier the game is. Why? Because the more the chain of pictures can get messed up. Games of Telestrations always end with a lot of laughter.
See our full review of Telestrations.
Get a copy of Telestrations.
U is for Ubongo
Even though this was a quick and unanimous decision with no runner-ups, it isn’t because it’s the only game starting with a “U” out there. But rather it’s because we really enjoy playing the game! Ubongo is a spatial recognition game in the form of a race. Players compete to be the quickest to place their pieces in the designated space on their player board. It’s a quick game to play because there’s no taking turns and no down time.
See our full review of Ubongo.
Get a copy of Ubongo.
V is for Vikings on Board
Vikings on Board is such a newcomer to this list that we haven’t even posted our review of it yet. It’s a recently published game that Blue Orange Games was showcasing at Gen Con 2016. It’s a light strategy game where players vie for control of the Viking ships before they set sail. Once a ship sails it can’t be adjusted anymore so players have to time their moves carefully. Watch for our full review coming soon.
Get a copy of Vikings on Board.
W is for Wits and Wagers Family
Not everyone enjoys playing trivia games. And when asked, most people say it’s because they don’t want to “feel dumb”. But in Wits & Wagers Family, you don’t need to know the answers to win. The pressure is off and everyone can have a great time. There are a number of different editions of Wits and Wagers, but we like the questions in Wits and Wagers Family the best.
See our full review of Wits and Wagers Family.
Get a copy of Wits and Wagers Family.
Runner-up: Word on the Street
X is for eXtra
Ok, so we’re copping out here. I don’t think we’ve ever played a game that starts with X. And rather than force a fit here, we’ll just call it a skipped turn.
Y is for YINSH
It may have a strange name, but Yinsh is a great game. There aren’t any elements of luck in Yinsh. Doing well relies completely on strategy. Many games have the main objective to get 5 of something in a row. But it’s the unique movement and flipping of the markers in Yinsh that make this game so great. To win, players need to get 5 in a row 3 times. However, once a player gets a row of 5, that player has to remove those markers as well as one of their rings from the board. So as a player gets closer to winning, they also get handicapped. It’s a fantastic way to keep the game interesting all the way to the end.
The catch with getting a copy of Yinsh though is to watch for a good price. It’s out of print and hard to get. So keep an eye out and you’ll eventually be able to get one for a good price.
See our full review of YINSH.
Get a copy of YINSH.
Z is for Zooloretto
We haven’t met a kid yet who doesn’t love going to the zoo. It’s fun seeing the wide variety of animals that you can see at a zoo. So what could be better than a family board game where kids get to build and manage their own zoo! Zooloretto has a fantastic theme, great components and artwork, a good balance of luck and strategy, and engaging game play. The player who does the best job managing the animals in their zoo will be crowned the king of the zoos.
See our full review of Zooloretto.
Get a copy of Zooloretto.
We hope you’ve enjoyed looking over our A to Z list of favorite family games. We’d love to hear which games you’d have on your list!
And if you’re looking for even more gaming goodness, check out our list of 5 Traits That Make a Great Family Game.