Dicebreaker Answers: You wanted family board game recommendations, and we’ve got ‘em!
No mo’ Monopoly.
It’s time for the Dicebreaker family to help your family find its next favourite board game!
Earlier this week, our second Ask Dicebreaker column opened the floor to the question of family board games.
You could ask us anything you wanted about the must-have games to replace Monopoly, the best kids’ board games for any age and the games we remember playing when we were young.
The Dicebreaker team gathered together some of the best questions below and jotted down their thoughts. Although let’s be honest: it’s mainly an excuse to insist everyone plays Rhino Hero.
Tell us your own family board game of choice in the comments below, and let us know what tabletop topic you’d like the Dicebreaker team to tackle next!
Sordros: Have you gone back to play the old games from the ‘70s and ‘80s like Outburst or Scattergories, the original versions? Over Xmas break we rummaged through my parents’ basement and found a few old games and tried them out. Reading the questions and answers we couldn't help but wondered how they got away with it?! Let’s just say they were not so PC back then. I would hate to find games from further back....
Matt: Other than the typical family favourites like Monopoly, Taboo and Scrabble (plus my family really loves the shouty card game Pit), my parents don’t necessarily have many board games - at least anymore. Recently I have been enjoying the rebooted ‘70s and ‘80s games coming out of publisher Restoration Games - Downforce is a highlight, as is Conspiracy: The Solomon Gambit and Fireball Island, and I’m excited by the upcoming Return to Dark Tower. I didn’t play any of the originals as a kid, but giving them a modern sprucing up seems to have worked wonders - I had a blast as an adult.
Adrian: What's the best board game to start children on? I have a four-year-old.
Meehan: I am a SERIOUS advocate for Rhino Hero. It’s a card game that works with kids of any age, even if some of the card effects might be a little too much for them - you never know, they might not be - because the visual element of stacking cards is so easily understandable. The tense excitement whenever anyone moves the little rhino token is also super effective, and is sure to have your child clenching their fists in pleasure.
Andrew: Our seven-year-old is a big fan of Catan Junior and Carcassonne. Any suggestions for what we can all play next?
Matt: There are a number of kid-friendly versions of the big board games out there. If you want to continue introducing your seven-year-old to modern classics, Ticket to Ride: First Journey is ideal - as is something like My First Stone Age. If you’re just looking for the best board games for kids in general, almost anything from Haba will go down a treat - Rhino Hero should be at the top of your list.
Meehan: RHINO HERO. Also, I love a game called Ghost Blitz. It’s a super simple board game where players have to grab one of the items included in the box before anyone else does. What makes it especially good for kids is that it’s an incredibly visual game, making it easy to understand for anyone, and it actually improves your reactions and comprehensive thinking skills, because you have to work out which of the items to grab. It can actually be challenging for adults as well, I know I’ve been beaten plenty of times. You can find the game really easily on Amazon, but be sure to get the English language version.
Lolies: Seven is a great age to be getting into games as a lot of game designers are making their games more and more friendly for a wider age range! I love simple games that can have more depth if you want it to but are easy enough for a younger audience to get their heads around. I would highly recommend some of my favourite area control games like Marrakech and Blokus! Super simple rules and tons of fun!
Pickle_Rick: What would be a good board game to try get my wife interested? Had some limited success with Pandemic and Villagers, but it's still a hard sell to play a board game.
Wheels: If you're really keen to get someone into board games and they're not fussed, you have to pick up the slack yourself. Be a great teacher, find a game that's themed with something they're really passionate about, set the mood with snacks and appropriate background music. Beginner games like Pandemic are great for those who are already trying to get into the hobby but not everyone gives a damn about diseases. Give them a game set in a world they're passionate about and it will go a long way. Most importantly though, if they're really not into it, don't force them! No hobby is for everyone and you may be better off finding something you both enjoy.
Sara: Have to agree with Wheels here, it’s all down to finding the right games for them. I think first it’s important to assess whether your wife will prefer story or more strategy-based games. Then find stuff that theme-wise they’d be interested in; board games are so hugely varied that this could range from collecting beautiful birds to escaping an eldritch castle of horrors.
Double-down on snacks, music and watch a few playthroughs yourself beforehand so you’ve got the rules down pat. Alternatively, something fast and simple can be an excellent entry-point - I really recommend taking a look at our myriad best of beginner, family and two-player board games lists. Co-op board games can also be a little less intimidating for new board game starters. In addition, if there’s a local board game cafe near you, maybe head out for a date there and let them pick out stuff they’re drawn to.
Meehan: Villagers is a surprisingly complicated game, so I wouldn’t lean into trying to find something simpler - perhaps ask her what she liked about those games and find a board game that fits those elements better. There’s unlikely to be one exact board game to ever really get any one person into board gaming, so provide options and, most importantly, get their feedback and work with it.
Raimonds: Currently our top two games are Codenames Pictures and Mysterium. These two games are great for multi-language parties and are also easy to play with different ages. It is easy to jump in at any time because the rules are simple. Also this is great that there is no geeky story idea under the games and won't scare away older people. Can you suggest similar games that are easy to jump into, for more than four people and there is no "scary fantasy" story background which will switch off people who are not interested in deep story background.
Matt: If you enjoyed games like Mysterium and Codenames Pictures, there are plenty of other great board games about identifying pictures that work well for big groups of people who speak different languages - Dixit is one you might have heard of already, and Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is one of the best party board games going.
Meehan: I cannot recommend Detective Club to you enough. It’s a party board game that combines elements of Mysterium with social deduction, to make a hugely enjoyable experience - it was actually my favourite game I played last year. Also, consider other big group games like Cash ‘n’ Guns, The Resistance and Bang! The Dice Game. We’ve actually covered quite a few games of this type.
Lolies: Coming from a multi-lingual, non-gamery family myself I completely understand the difficulty in finding games that won’t scare them and are also inclusive. I am in love with Las Vegas, a simple little dice betting game which always goes down a treat! They’ve brought out a newer edition of it recently (Las Vegas Royale) and I wouldn’t bother too much with that one to be honest, the original is great as-is! Also, area-control games like Marrakech or Blokus are often quite simple, have next to no theme and are super friendly to all.