We were recently discussing which board game to get our niece. She’s recently got interested in board games as a way of socialising with her parents but also having fun reading the rules, implementing them and trying to win! Naturally, being a geeky board game playing couple we thought we should encourage this enthusiasm for board games. We were then hit with the reality that, being adults, and not having our own children, how on earth do young children enjoy board games and what would they understand? Having used reddit to help create Lab Wars in the tabletopdesign thread, we turned to reddit once again to ask about their experiences playing with their own children or young relatives. We were blown away with the responses and detailed answers they gave. In total we received around 30 comments/suggestions about how their young ones play and what the enjoyed and why. So we decided lets share this information for all you lovely people out there who are thinking along the same lines as us with their young relatives. Below we give a run through of the top 5 games for young children (aged 5-9). We base this on the total number of mentions for each game, and give a low down on the basics of the game and experiences of playing these games with children.
A tabletop classic played by adults, clearly enjoyed by children too. In this game the aim is to build train tracks and complete routes. Other players may also be competing for the same routes too. Our reddit respondents said that the game mechanics were understood quickly by their children and that their favourite aspect of the game was having to build the routes. New versions of the game allow you to play in different countries rather than just the U.S.A.
I’ve read somewhere that Forbidden Island is described as the “children’s version of pandemic”. While I’m not entirely sure how true that is, it’s certainly easier to pick up. In this game you play as adventurers to try and capture treasures from a sinking island and escape before the island disappears into the sea. The beauty about the game is that it is cooperative and was commonly described as a fantastic way to introduce children into games for a multitude of reasons. The first being that it teaches children that it’s OK to lose, an important lesson parents kept reiterating in the feed. The second being that working together was more fun since no one was competing against anyone else. The third reason was that it allowed parents to teach certain strategic movements on the game that children would not have otherwise picked up singularly. The third reason is the one I like the most as for me, learning strategy from board games allows one to understand reason, logic and evidence, especially as a young adult. In the real world all three are required for everyday uses but is also really helpful in class room as it allows one to see an overview of everything before making a decision. Any way, I digressed…but at around $18 it’s a snip at a family orientated fun cooperative game.
We had a lot of comments about how great King of Tokyo is to play with children. In this game you each control a monster to try and destroy Tokyo and one another, with the most destructive or last to stand winning. Parents told us that the game itself was absolutely loved by their children, often by the gameplay and the theme. Many told us it was their children’s favourite game often asking parents to reach for that one first on family board game nights. Although this was the case some children did need parents to explain some of the cards for them often needing a run through of the consequences of the cards. One user “dimwell” also suggested a house rule that they changed to allow easier pickup of the game by getting rid of the power cards all together and allowing energy cubes to be traded in. This was a very receptive house rule by other parents. Me personally, I think the game is great and my favourite part of the game is the absolutely amazing and detailed artwork.
With 10 votes, Sushi Go was the front runner of best game for young children by reddit users. In this game you only have three actions, pick a card from your hand, place it in front of you and then pass your hand to the next player. The player with the most sets of valuable sushi wins. The artwork is cute, and the simplicity of the game were top mentions for why the game was successful with their children. At $10 for the game you can’t go wrong!
Other games that were mentioned as well: Labyrinth and Catan Junior.
I hope that’s given you food for thought, or should I say Sushi for thought?! Haha. Do let us know your opinions and experiences below. We’d love to hear how you got on.