Shane's been gaming for over 30 years and loves a broad array of games in addition to being one-quarter of the Assorted Meeples gaming group
We're in a Golden Age for Board Games
When I was growing up, board games were something you played as young kids or maybe as teenagers when visiting Grandma's house, but then they sort of faded away—at least until you had kids of your own or younger nieces/nephews to play games with.
No shade thrown at classic board games like Monopoly, Clue, or Battleship, but there was so much more potential in the board game space. For decades, it seemed like no one was going to step up and fill that potential.
Times have changed. Gaming is mainstream, whether it's video games, board games, or tabletop RPGs, and that has led to what many of us consider to be an absolute golden age for board games.
This articles focuses on amazing board games that gamers and families will love. These games offer a challenge that will keep teenagers and older children engaged and in love with board games as a hobby for many years to come!
8 Awesome Family Board Games for Kids, Adults, and Teens
- Lords of Waterdeep (With Expansions)
- Stone Age
- Bunny Kingdom
- Red Dragon Inn
- 7 Wonders
- Settlers of Catan
- Sushi Go Party
- King of Tokyo Dark Edition
1. Lords of Waterdeep (With Expansions)
Lords of Waterdeep is one of my absolute favorite games. This incredible board game is a worker placement game in one of the most famous high-fantasy settings in fiction and one of the most famous places in the Dungeons & Dragons universe.
Score points by gathering warriors, rogues, clerics, wizards, and gold to complete quests. Buy buildings, attempt to fulfill the bonuses from your Lord Card, and use intrigue cards to both boost your own chances and aggressively get in the way of other players' plans.
Because of the different lords, buildings, and intrigue cards, not to mention player strategies, no two games play exactly alike. This is an amazing game that stretches you as it requires balancing multiple strategies at the same time to win consistently.
Why I Recommend the Expansions
I do recommend buying the expansions Scoundrels of Skullport and Undermountain, which are a "2 in 1" expansion sold under the Scoundrels of Skullport name.
While Lords of Waterdeep is an incredible game that is complete as a gaming experience in and of itself, the game with both expansions is near perfection and brings a gaming experience that plays out in exciting and new ways every time.
After nearly six years of play and thousands of hours on this game both in online and offline forms, I can attest that it is endlessly replayable.
2. Stone Age
Stone Age is a worker placement game where you start as a Stone Age tribe. Through resource management, developing technology, and building the available buildings you acquire points, push forward your tribe, and hope to end up with the most points by the end of the game.
Every resource costs a certain number of dots off a die, and the more valuable resources get more expensive. So food costs 2, wood costs 3, brick costs 4, stone costs 5, and gold costs 6.
You get to roll a number of dice each round equivalent to how many meeples you have in your tribe. The number of meeples on a resource is how many dice you get to roll for that.
So someone rolling three dice for a 15 would get 7 food if those meeples were on food, 5 wood if they were on wood, 2 gold if on gold, etc.
There are limited spaces available so a major part of gameplay is blocking other players off from resources that they need.
Worker placement games are extremely popular because of their excellent gameplay mechanics, and there are many experienced gamers who believe that Stone Age is the best worker placement game to teach beginners how these types of games work, how the mechanics work, and I'm inclined to agree.
This is also a game that younger kids who are sharp can pick up on, at least enough to understand the basics.
3. Bunny Kingdom
Bunny Kingdom is one of the most surprising games I've ever played. The artwork on the cards is amazing, the game is extremely cute, and that threw me off when I realized just how in-depth the strategy could be - especially with experienced board game players!
This is a game about claiming territory, taking bonus cards, and multiplying points. There are multiple competing strategies in Bunny Kingdom, and the best part is that all of them are incredibly effective. This means games don't get boring as strategies and gameplay can vary immensely based on how the cards play out.
Major Strategies in the Game
- Resource & Luxury Resource Game
- Parchment Game
- Heavy Resource Game
- Pure Territory Grab
- Cloud Kingdom Grab (If playing with the Sky Towers Expansion)
This is a surprisingly in-depth strategy game that looks intimidating but is easy to learn, has excellent well-crafted pieces, and the artwork is just stunningly good. This is a game that has it all and then some.
It brings together family friendly gaming, great art that lets you dive into that game's world, and strategy that will keep the most serious of gamers engaged.
4. Red Dragon Inn
Red Dragon Inn is one of those rare games that plays extremely well at more than four players, and in fact works best at the 5-6 player mark in most people's experience.
This card game is all about the popular Red Dragon Inn Tavern in whatever fantasy universe everyone imagines themselves in. You start with 20 Constitution and 0 Alcohol, with a token at each number denoting each, as well as a number of coins. Every time a player is given a drink they must take, they move the alcohol token forward. When they get hit or take damage, the Constitution token moves down.
When the amount drank is even with damage taken, the player is out. They are also given "The Bum's Rush" if they run out of gold.
The last character standing wins.
The card art is funny, detailed, and really outstanding while may of the cards are outright hilarious. The humor in this game hits its mark and helps add to that fun playful element that makes it such a great group game.
Add in a couple of players who enjoy throwing voices or roleplaying the hilarious text on the cards and things just continue to become fun and even more memorable.
Red Dragon Inn has a base set of card decks, and dozens of decks added in expansions. The base game is an absolute blast, and it only continues to get enhanced with all the additional decks.
Because of how the game is setup, the new decks can just keep getting added without diluting the game at all. Rules stay the same so gameplay can continue.
Each character has their own strengths, in addition to often falling under a general strategy such as:
- Gambling decks
- Causing fortitude damage
- Evading damage
- Giving & Evading drinks
- Balanced decks (which ironically tend to struggle)
Each deck also has certain shared counter cards that everyone has and is familiar with, in addition to their own unique takes that can lead to interesting plays.
An outstanding game, but fair bit of warning: this is an addictive game and you will end up buying a lot of decks to keep filling out your game collection!
5. 7 Wonders
7 Wonders is a great game but it does generally require 5+ players to get your best overall gaming experience. Classical civilizations each have various advantages and cards get passed around the table as you must develop science, build military might to defend against (or invade) your neighbors, produce resources, create money or point generating buildings, and build those Wonders of the World.
The end goal is to score points and this comes from multiple sources, from guilds, and the Wonders of each Civilization help in different ways. Paying attention to what your neighbors are doing while developing your own strategy for success is crucial.
A little bit of luck helps, too, but this is a strategy game at its heart and being able to figure out the best strategy for your faction and the Round 1 cards available is crucial to set yourself up for victory in the late game.
It is worth noting at this point there this is a re-release that aside from improved board and construction materials also has some serious mechanical changes to how each faction is played.
This is one of the fastest games available once it's actually set up.
Which Edition Should You Get?
Here is a comprehensive guide to 7 Wonders 1st Edition vs 2nd Edition to help you decide which edition to seek out. It's also helpful for those of you who already have the first version and what to know if it's worth getting the new version or not.
6. Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan is a classic game that often acts as a bridge for board gamers to walk away from a chance heavy strategy game like Risk and get into serious strategic board games that require next level thinking and don't just rely on the roll of the dice.
This is a classic strategy game that handles 3-4 players, with multiple expansions that rise that number up to 5-6 or even variant rules up to 8 depending on the expansion and the rules.
However, the classic game is one all of my gaming groups continue to play because it's just so good. There's strategy, there's strategic positioning, there is a degree of strategy and chance thanks to the Development Cards in the deck.
This game is fast to set up, fast to play, and consistently delivers a great gaming experience. There's a reason that it gets broken out at so many family gaming nights.
There are multiple expansions to this game, as well, with Cities & Knights being the most common. While these all introduce new gameplay options, they tend to be easy to learn with the first game a bit complex as you pick up on concepts but then smoothing out quickly after that.
7. Sushi Go Party
Sushi Go Party is the expanded version of the original Sushi Go game, and is an outstanding option to any collection of games. The base game is rock solid as a fun 3-round card game where you get points from playing food cards and matching the highest point pairs or trios while keeping crucial cards from your opponents.
The Party version does what really good add-ons do: they heavily enhance an already great game without radically altering the base mechanics or gameplay. Added dishes offer more ways to score points, have several interesting new desserts, and introduce some crazy alternative foods that can really throw major wrinkles into the round by round strategy.
Fun, family friendly, and very repeatable because of the different combinations of food that will come into play, Sushi Go Party is an amazing game and one that is easy to set up and play in an hour's time.
8. King of Tokyo Dark Edition
King of Tokyo is a great game that has seen plenty of play in our gaming group. Inspired by the long tradition of giant monsters or Kaiju in film, King of Tokyo is a great multi-player game as monsters battle each other for control over the city of Tokyo. Wins can come from points or by simply being the last monster standing.
This is a game that was very well designed with good gameplay, but the updated Dark Edition took it to an entirely new level. New powers, monsters, and cards have created an awesome gaming experience where everyone can be their favorite monster duking it out for control of the city.
This is an incredibly well designed and thought out game where there are advantages and disadvantages to grabbing the city as there are to avoiding it. Manage your health, threaten other monsters, and keep going until only one of you is left standing as the true King of Tokyo.
Got Teenagers? Try These Amazing Long-Form Games
There are other long-form board games that can really hit the spot, especially for players who love strategy games. Most of these didn't make the list not because they're not great games, but a lot of us don't have time for a 3- to 12-hour game on a consistent basis. These games are also intended more for teens than kids, with the minimum recommended age being around 12–14.
Depending on what your specific tastes are, games like the following deliver incredible gameplay experiences, but the game sessions will almost always be three hours or longer:
- Dead of Winter
- Axis & Allies
These games are amazing experiences but require major time and mental commitment. They can still be wonderful additions to a board game collection, and if you're a serious gamer, taking a look at big long-form board games is going to be worth it.
Truly, This Is a Golden Age for Board Games
The sheer number of good or great board games out there really adds support to the idea that we are in a golden age for board games. Whatever your taste or whatever style of game you enjoy, there are at least dozens if not hundreds of decent options from small, medium, large, and indie publishers to choose from.
The list of games I've reviewed here have led to thousands of hours of entertainment around the gaming table, but they're only a fraction of the huge collection we have or the massive numbers of amazing games available out there in the market right now.
So find your perfect board games—and enjoy!
© 2022 Shane Dayton