Banish the boredom: Best board games for families
Half term is upon us and with the weather turning all frightful on us, we're all about staying home right now with a big mug of hot choccie and a list of things to do at home when it's raining. Which means we're also turning our mind to one of our age-old fave things to do as a fam: board games! We've been chatting to Rebekah Jordan, co-owner of Playopolis Board Game Cafe Bar in Rochester, about the games we all need to stockpile right now.
About Playopolis Board Game Cafe Bar
We've long been fans of super friendly games cafe, Playopolis, so knew these guys were exactly the people we needed to speak to about all things board games for families. The cafe has reopened - it's keeping a close eye on government guidelines as well as ensuring extra cleaning measures throughout each day - and not only is it packed to the rafters with every board game imaginable, but it's licensed too! Hurrah! Also, if you live in or around the Rochester area, it offers a fab and very reasonably priced rental game service for members. All games are sanitised prior to collection, and believe us, there are some absolute corkers amongst the 550 games to choose from! Win, win.
Playopolis Board Game Cafe Bar, The Repro Centre Of Rochester, 2 Star Hill, Rochester ME1 1UX; www.playopoliscafe.co.uk
Playopolis top picks for best board games for families
Here's what Rebekah, and some of the cafe's members, are recommending right now:
Rebekah: This a super quick to learn, fast paced game, with plenty of different ways to play, so kids won't get bored. Spot the matching symbols as cards are drawn, with the aim of being the fastest player to spot it. Perfect for even very young children as you don't need to be able to read to play. It's all about the power of observation!
Kerri: For a quick game that is suitable for all ages from littlies to bigger kids, we like Dobble because it's not only simple, but it's good for observation and concentration skills.
Kathryn: Harry Potter Dobble is great too! You do need be a fan for this particular one though, otherwise you won't have a clue.
Lyndsey: We love Dobble! We even got my dad into it, and he's 65!
Rebekah: A simple but fun game where you lay tiles in order to keep your token on the board for as long as possible, without bumping into people. As it's suitable for up to 8 players, this is especially perfect for larger families. No one has to miss out!
Leeanne: The fact that all four of my kids can play this at the same time is both a positive and a negative. Positive in that they can all play together, negative in that it does get a tad heated at times. Parent supervision recommended, haha.
Rebekah: Clear the table and get ready to appreciate the beautiful, and somewhat haunting, detail that has gone into this storytelling card game, which consists of black and white picture cards, all with stunning, intricate ink drawings. Suitable for players of all ages, there are apparently a whopping 2,432,902,008,176,640,000 story building possibilities, so this is certainly one the kids will never tire of.
Mark: The drawings are fabulous and I love that my kids can be entertained over and over again, always with different outcomes. Big thumbs up for this one.
Rebekah: If you are self-isolating right now, co-operation is key, and this game has it in spades. Everyone has to work together (yes, that includes you, siblings), to gather treasure from an island before it's lost to the ocean. Ideal for kids age nine years and above.
Kate: Teamwork and treasure all in one game? What's not to love when it comes to a great family board game!
Rebekah: A game where you each start drawing something from a card, but be quick, people: you have very limited time! When your time is up, play passes to the next person who then needs to continue to draw what they think they have seen! Belly laughs guaranteed.
Emma: Our kids head straight to this one whenever we come to Playopolis. We're definitely going to buy our own for playing at home too.
Beasts of Balance
Kerri: We love Beasts of Balance, a digital tabletop stacking game, for its mix of logical thinking and family togetherness. It's a great compromise for kids who tend to prefer screen-games, and I love how the kids really get involved when it comes to making their decisions about who to save in this game. How you play the game is up to you: you can play to discover new beasts, play to keep all of the regions of the world balanced, or even to stack all artefacts into one tower. There's plenty of ways to navigate the game, all of which will keep the kids busy time-and-time again.
Sarah - Definitely a big hurrah for Beasts of Balance! We love playing this one as a family, but equally the kids are happy to play without us grown ups.
The rest of the best
Classic old school and although it's more about luck than skill, the mad dash around the board to get your coloured pieces to home-base first and declare victory is always a hit with the fam.
An abstract strategy board game for two to four players, this one has even won some pretty impressive awards, including the Mensa Select Award and the 2004 Teacher’s Choice Award. But don't let that fool you into thinking it's dull: this one really brings out the competitive streak in the whole fam, with a large side order of concentration, determination and, yes, slight frustration too (especially when your seven year old is trashing you...).
Game of Life
Load up colourful little cars while deliberating hard about career choices: the aim of the game is to get around the board making as much money as possible before you end up in the retirement home. It really is the game of life.
Snakes and Ladders
An oldie but still a total classic. Interesting fact alert: this game originated in ancient India! Roll the dice and go up the ladders, and back down the snakes in a quest to get to to top of the board first. It never gets old.
Break out your creative moves with this one: you'll need to do certain tasks as you move around the board that can include humming a song, whizzing up a clay model, or acting out a movie scene. It's random but it's oh-such-fun.
Battleship is a guessing game for two players, with the focus of the game being to sink your opponent’s ships. Before play begins, each player arranges their ships on their own side of the grid: no peeking at your opponent's! Then the guessing, hitting and sinking of the ships commences. Warning: ships have been known to be thrown around in temper…
If you have the space, the big garden version of Jenga makes for something a bit different from a table-played board game. If not, bog-standard sized Jenga is also a whole ton of fun. Remove bricks from the tower, one person at a time, until the whole thing collapses. It makes us jump EVERY time it topples! Toppler = loser.
Two players pop discs into a grid with the aim to get, yep, you’ve guessed it, 4 discs of the same colour in a row. It's simple, and yet an ever-fave boredom buster in our house.
The origins of this ever-popular family board game staple can be traced all the way back to 1903, when American anti-monopolist, Lizzie Magie, created a game that she hoped would explain the single tax theory. It was originally called The Landlord’s Game, and became Monopoly in 1932. We'll be honest... it's caused some almighty tantrums in our house: this is a serious game that can definitely lead to a bit of tension! Our longest game to date? Three days!
Perfect for teaching your child the art of strategy, this game, which is as old as the hills, is an essential part of childhood, we think. Just don't get too upset when your 10 year old puts you into 'check mate' 14 times in a row...
We do love a board game where the kids are learning without even realising it, and Scrabble is excellent for that alone. Start off with Junior Scrabble for younger kids, and work up to the full version once they're ready. It's all about making words - something we're big fans of - but do have a dictionary on hand to check on any cheating that's bound to happen.
Now go have fun, and don't forget to let us know what your own fave board games are!
Like this read? Here are some more winter warmers to keep you busy with:
Halloween 101: our guide to all things spooky season
Easy recipes to bake with your mini chefs
Fam-friendly restaurants in London
Autumn TV to binge on when the kids are in bed
Fun activities for a rainy day at home
Oh, and don't forget to also follow us for more adventures over on Instagram and Facebook!