Holly asked me to compile my top 10 list of board games every family should play for Quirky Momma. I am a certifiable board game geek, so I was more than willing to comply. And I’m her husband so I do what I’m told.
- First, these games primarily fall under the category of strategy board games. No Apples to Apples, no Wits & Wagers, no Balderdash (although that last one is really fun). Specifically, no party games. These are board games like we used to make in this country but are now primarily produced in Germany.
- Second, no card games. I have nothing against card games, but I’m focusing on board games. With a board. Boards are awesome.
- Third, these games need to be accessible to families. Hard core 3 day long 20-sided dice rolling marathons need not apply. These need to be games that can be enjoyed by adults and children about 8 to 10 years old and up. And they need to run about 2 hours or less, preferably closer to 1 hour.
- Finally, these games should be fun and competitive. When you finish playing, you should want to play again. And while you’re playing, you should enjoy it enough to want to win.
One other caveat: this is my list. These are games that I like that I think others should try. There are many great games not on this list, often simply because I haven’t played them yet. If you play games, please give these a try. If you don’t, most of these are excellent gateways to board gaming.
To aid in deciding on a game, I am providing a Strategy-Luck Spectrometer to indicate where each game falls on the Strategy-Luck spectrum relative to other games on this list.
I have also developed a Fun to Age ratio. This is my Fun Factor divided by the lowest age that can play. My Fun Factor is determined by how quickly you will be having fun, and how much fun you will have. Remember, ultimately it’s all about fun. So the higher the Fun to Age ratio, the more accessible the game and the more quickly the entire family should be having fun. If you’re new to the games on this list, you may want to try the ones with a higher Fun to Age ratio first.
While I have primarily drawn from my own experiences to compile this list, I should acknowledge the following websites which are invaluable sources of board game information: Funagain Games, Board Game Geek, DiceTower and Spielbox.
Many of these board games have iPhone/iPod/iPad editions available. I feel this is both good and bad. While this provides for some great mobile gaming options and a good way to learn how to play, these will hopefully be an adjunct rather than a replacement for the traditional board game. One of the points of this list is to get the family around the table playing a new board game, not to create another solo video game experience. Remember, boards are awesome.
Over the next couple of weeks I will count down my Top 10 Board Games for Families starting today with number 10.
Designer: Stefan Dorra
Publisher: Mayfair Games
Players: 2 – 5 (Components for up to 6 players)
Time: 45 to 60 min.
Age: 10+ (My recommendation: 8+)
Fun to Age Ratio: 10
I’m beginning my list with a light strategy game called Streetcar.
This is the first of several railway type games on my list, and is definitely one of the most accessible by the widest variety of family members. My family is actually more familiar with the original German edition of the game called Linie 1, but Streetcar is the version sold in this country.
Streetcar is a tile laying game in which you create a trolley route that connects specific stops on the board. At the beginning of the game, you are assigned 2 or 3 stops (depending on the level of difficulty you choose) to connect with rail tiles between your two stations. The rail lines created on the board are shared amongst the players. But because each player has a unique agenda, competition for the direction of rail lines becomes stiff. On each turn, rail tiles are placed or upgraded depending upon the player’s needs. You want to create the shortest, most efficient route possible but as the rail line grows, your route will likely become more circuitous than planned as others work the route to their benefit or just try to thwart your efforts. Once you’ve completed your route, the second half of the game begins as you race to move your trolley through your route. The first player to complete his route wins.
Streetcar utilizes an unusual movement technique (you may move one more than the previous player’s movement) that eliminates the die-roll used in the original version of the game. We actually prefer variant 2 in the rule book, which gives the player the option of this movement technique or rolling the die. Ultimately though, it’s building your rail line during the first part of the game that is the most satisfying.
Streetcar has a high Fun to Age ratio, and is a good choice if you’re new to board games.
Similar game: San Francisco Cable Car by Queen Games.