Our Favorite Board Games

I love board games, always have. We played cards and board games when I was growing up and the tradition has continued with my own family. When my children were teens, I made Sunday a mandatory family day and we would often play board games. Even now when they are all grown up, they come up on Sundays to eat and play board games and we especially love to play games during the holidays when everyone is together. I’ve done a lot of research on the best board games because I wanted to add something new to our repertoire and was looking for more games that two people can play. Here are some of our family’s favorites.


My favorite classic game is Clue. I prefer the 50th Anniversary edition because it has metal characters and weapons and the board is attractive. I’m partial to games that are beautiful and that have visually pleasing components. The newest Clue has the clever addition of a swimming pool in the center of the board where players have to go before making an accusation, but the characters, weapons and the Clue Detective Sheets are poorly designed. The 50th Anniversary Clue Deluxe Edition in Metal Tin is a Parker Brothers game and retails for $79.




Our current favorite game is Ticket to Ride Europe. I love it! It can be played with two or more players and can get really exciting. One chooses destination cards and then uses small plastic trains to complete the various routes, getting points along the way.

There’s enough variety, aesthetic satisfaction and strategy to make Ticket To Ride a top game. There are several versions. We’ve played both the USA and the Europe editions and though we like both, we prefer the Ticket to Ride Europe because it seems to require more strategy. Ticket to Ride is a Days of Wonder game and retails for $36.00.


Several new games, including Small World and Tobago are beautiful and clever but take too long to learn. Just reading the instructions of Small World took us three hours. From this experience, we decided that one criteria of a good game is a one-page instruction sheet. I bought another new game, Settlers of Catan, but we haven’t yet played it. It also takes a while to learn but has been named a top game.

We like two games new to us: Scattergories and Balderdash. Balderdash is better with more than three people and Scattergories is great for the English majors in the crowd.

A really beautiful new game is Dixit. The cards you use to play are colorful and evocative and I think this would be a great game for families with young children as the game encourages the imagination. Cranium is a really fun game to play with a bunch of people, especially if you want to laugh a lot!



I love the classic games of Chess, Backgammon, Go and Mahjong and would play Mahjong a lot more if it wasn’t a game for four players. I found one site online that ranked Risk as the number one most popular game and it can be fun too though I think the older versions are more visually satisfying.

Another classic is Chinese Checkers and we got a wooden and glass bead set from Melissa and Doug for ourselves for Christmas. Chinese Checkers is a surprisingly elegant, fast paced and heart pounding game, especially when played on such a visually inspiring board.

One of my favorite games is Mancala. This is a deceptively simple game employing glass beads moved around a board; it involves quick thinking and sophisticated strategy.

Another beautiful game that would be great for home schoolers is Bird Watching Trivia Game. Even the beginner questions are difficult, but the game would be a great way to learn about birds.

What are your family’s favorite games?

Here are some board game links to check out:

2010 Mothering Community Thread on Board Games for Younger Children

Best Board Games of All Times

Beyond Monopoly: The 15 Greatest Board Games of All Times

Top Board Games 2011-2012

Peggy O’Mara  (101 Posts)

Peggy O’Mara founded Mothering.com in 1995 and is currently its editor-in chief. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has lectured and conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League International, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four.

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6 thoughts on “Our Favorite Board Games”

  1. I am surprised to see Clue on this list. I like the strategy involved, but the game is about a MURDER! My husband and I played with our eight-year old son and he could not get over that someone had died! How do you kill someone with a candlestick? How do you kill someone with a rope?

    He could definitely handle the strategy (he won!), but these are not conversations I would choose to have with him right now. He did like the strategy and I wish it had a different theme. Luckily it was at the grandparents’ house, so we won’t be playing it again soon.

  2. Clue was a favorite of mine as a child. I also liked a Clue Museum heist game that was around. We also loved Guess Who? I was sad to see that Clue and Candyland have changed since I was a kid in ways that seem worse rather than better. Thanks for these tips!

  3. My kids absolutely love Quirkle and Rummykub. I like that they are analytical games where they have to think not only about what they have but what they see and what others might have. I also like that despite the age differences between my son and daughter, they are equally good and have an equal chance of winning each time. That’s important to me and keeps the peace 🙂

  4. I like your list! Here are some others:

    For a family game we love Apples to Apples. We played at Christmas and everyone from the 80 year-old to the 8 year old had a blast.

    Another newer, quick game to play is Yamslam (similar to Yatchzee but with a twist using chips to collect your points.)

    Blockus is another great all-age game.

    The “Lost Cities” board game and “Forbidden Island” are two great games for adults to play with older kids.

    Regarding Peggy’s comment on long instructions, I have found youtube a great resource, as people show you how to play.

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