Welcome to Part 2 of our comprehensive guide for the best board games to buy these holidays. Whether you’re looking to buy for yourself, your tabletop gamer friends, a total newbie or a lifelong board gaming addict, there’s something for anyone and everyone on this list.
Part One covered classic games, the best new games from 2017, top party games for lots of players, and the little stocking stuffers. In Part 2, we look at the best family games. In this list are the board games accessible for all ages, the family games better for older children and teens, as well as the dedicated two-player games for when you’d like an escape from the rest of the family crowds.
Accessible for all kinds of gamers, these board games are easy to learn and have creative, entertaining gameplay.
Simply put, Tsuro is a tile laying game. All you need to do is lay a tile, then move your token along the path your tile creates, and stay on the board longer than anyone else. The more tiles there are, the harder it gets, as the paths you and your fellow players lay down get more turned and twisted until you fly off the edge of the map.
Estimated play time: 15 minutes
A cooperative game in the same style as Pandemic, Forbidden Island is a race to rescue sacred treasures from an island paradise. All players take on different characters with special abilities and work together to collect the relics and get off the island before it sinks and everything is lost. Advanced warning, Forbidden Island can get really tense!
Estimated play time: 30 minutes
Betting on camel races is not an easily accessible sport for the most part, which is where Camel Up comes in. Place bets on the camels you think will win, but how fast the camels go is all dependant on the dice rolls. A combination of chance, skill and lucky guesses might see your favourite camel first on the podium.
Estimated play time: 20-30 minutes
Family Games for Older Children
Fun and rewarding for both parents and kids, these games are a bit more challenging than your average family game, requiring foresight and strategy.
In Takenoko, you’re in charge of looking after a politically important panda bear, while trying to lay out a beautiful bamboo garden and grow different types of bamboo. Lay plots, irrigate them, and feed the hungry panda before the Emperor arrives for an inspection! My absolute favourite board game of all time, Takenoko gets a hearty endorsement from me.
Estimated play time: 45 minutes
Taking place on a 3D train, you and the other players are scheming bandits, setting out to become the richest outlaw in the Wild West. Bandits can move between train cars, run on the roof, punch or shoot the other bandits, rob the passengers, or draw the Marshal out of position. But be careful, you have to plan your actions before you take them, so lay out your steps carefully or you run the risk of getting caught out.
Players: 2-6 players
Estimated play time: 30-40 minutes
Survive: Escape from Atlantis
A cutthroat game of meeple rescue, Survive: Escape from Atlantis will have players shoving each other out the way in order to get their high-value survivors home before the island sinks. But the danger isn’t over once you’re off the island, as you still have sharks, whales and sea serpents to contend with!
Estimated play time: 45-60 minutes
Teens and Adults
Offering a higher complexity and more direct conflict, the games for teens and adults are more cerebrally demanding, if you’re looking for a challenge.
Pick your fantasy race, gather your troops and set out to take control over Small World. Scoring points for every area you control, your troops get pushed to the limit, and you might have to put your race into decline and start afresh with a new race. This board ain’t big enough for all of us!
Players: 2-5 players
Estimated play time: 40-80 minutes
Sheriff of Nottingham
Prince John is coming to Nottingham! As an aspiring entrepreneur, this is a great time to bring your goods into the city. But first, you have to get past the Sheriff, who can inspect your goods at any time. And if there’s any less-than-legal merchandise in your shipment, you’re in trouble! Sheriff of Nottingham is all about bluffing, bravado and good old-fashioned bribery.
Players: 3-5 players
Estimated play time: 60 minutes
Lords of Waterdeep
Control the resplendent city of Waterdeep from the shadows in this strategy game of trickery, negotiation and political intrigue. Recruit adventurers to earn rewards and increase your influence, and expand your ownership of the city by snapping up real estate. You can also hinder, or help, your fellow powerful lords with Intrigue cards that implement your carefully laid out plans.
Players: 2-5 players
Estimated play time: 60-120 minutes
Obviously, board games are great in large groups, but sometimes you might feel like a quiet night in. Limited to two players only, these games are perfect for those occasions.
In Patchwork, players compete to design the most aesthetic (and high scoring) patchwork quilt by buying patches and laying them on a grid. Each patch has both a time cost and a button cost, so lay out your quilt carefully, but don’t fall behind your opponent.
Estimated play time: 15-30 minutes
7 Wonders Duel
A two-player version of the original 7 Wonders, 7 Wonders Duel allows only two players to face off against one another as they acquire resources, advance their scientific and military growth in order to develop a civilisation, and build the titular wonders. If you’re a fan of 7 Wonders but you can’t get enough players, 7 Wonders Duel still captures the fun of the original.
Estimated play time: 30 minutes
An abstract strategy game, Onitama needs tactical thinking as you manoeuvre your Kung Fu students and master against your opponent to gain control of the dojo. Containing chess-like limited movements, Onitama is all about outthinking your opponent as your movement options vary from turn to turn.
Estimated play time: 15-20 minutes
Last Updated: December 12, 2017