Why We Love Board Games

During yet-another-recent-lockdown here in New Zealand, I put together this video explaining where my passion for board gaming comes from, and specifically why I believe them to be a wonderful tool for families that are looking for ways to break free from screen addictions, or escape those negative cycles that revolve too much around time spent in solitary interactions with technology. I have expanded a bit on the recommended games (more than the YouTube description box allows!) below the video here. Hope you pick something up; though be aware that the below links are to Amazon, but if you’re in New Zealand like us, check out Might Ape instead! 🔥 Zak, September 2021


🐔 ZELDA [nearly 11] 🐔 likes most games, but here are some of her favourites:

Wingspan: very pretty, very popular, low-interaction game about attracting a wide variety of birds to your sanctuary, suitable for anyone 8 and up

Root: while still very attractive, it’s basically the opposite style of game to Wingspan! Super interactive, with direct conflict and lots of competition and definitely on the more complex end of anything we’re suggesting here!

Zelda also really enjoys Star Realms (2-player, directly-competitive deckbuilding game with a SciFi setting), The Crew (fully co-operative “trick taking” [think traditional cards games like Hearts/500/etc] game, really good – probably 10+) and Codenames (party-style word game that works well with 4+ players)

💥 Vera [aged 9] 💥 loves LOUD, fun, social games:

Bohnanza: trade beans with each other, in loud and frenetic fun for ages ~5 and up, with funny illustrations on the cards

One Night Ultimate Werewolf: party-style game where you have to figure out who is on your team and who isn’t – with a bit of help little ones can join in too!

Vera also really likes Sushi Go (choose pieces of sushi from a rotating pool of cards), For Sale (auction of real estate, then flip it for profit), and Captain Sonar (two teams, trying to sink each others submarines in real time). She doesn’t really care for longer games, and has been less interested in games in general if there’s not some kind of ‘excitement’ factor to pull her in – which is a lovely little reflection on her personality!

🐇 Tilda [7 and a half] 🐇 loves games that involve story-telling:

Dixit: they all love this actually! A game where you tell a little story about cards with crazy art, probably good for about 6 up, but littler ones can “join in” with a bit of help!

Stuffed Fables: a cooperative adventure game with cute miniatures that you can paint [I actually think this game is more-complicated than it needs to be for the ages of kids that are most attracted to playing it, with sessions dragging quite a lot unless you as parent fudge a fair bit to keep it moving forward!]

Tilda also likes La Boca (partner up to simultaneously build a puzzle that you each see different parts of: great for communication and spatial awareness, currently out of print!) and Pictomania (everyone draws and guesses all at once!)

🦊 Gretel [5 and a half] 🦊 is at such a great fun age for discovering the deeper joy of games:

Outfoxed: highly recommended for ages 3 – 8; introduces dice rolling and some really clever logic/deduction puzzles, cute fox pictures all with fantastically old-fashioned names

Hive: amazing at all ages (super competitive between adults), and when playing with new people (or young ones!), you can easily give them an advantage by limiting which bugs you get access to each match – stretches many of the same parts of your brain as Chess, without the need for such deep memorisation of openings or dedicated study!

Gretel is also really enjoying Love Letter, which all the older girls also got a lot out of from around this age, right as beginning to read (the role cards a numbered from 1-9, which reinforces numeral recognition too)

👦 William [just turned 3!] 👦 loves ALL games (regardless of unimportant things like rules!), but for his age:

Go Away, Monster!: this is more of an activity than a game; no way to win or lose, but they still get to learn about turns and tactile interaction, good from toddler age; lose interest around 4-5

Hey, That’s MY Fish!: this is a game that can actually be super competitive and “mean” when played ultra-competitively by adults, but is great for kids too (though William needs help in moving in straight lines!)

William is at a really gorgeous stage, that all the others also went through: on a regular games night where I might have grown-up friends over to play longer, more complex games, William still loves to “join in”, believing himself to be playing, when he sits with me and moves my games pieces around 😍

🌳 Janie 🌳 enjoys lower interaction games where people can’t interfere too much with what she is trying to do:

Agricola: Family Edition: farming, worker placement game, a more friendly version of the more competitive “mean” full version that has been popular for a long time

Carcassonne: pull tiles out of a bag, and place them to build up a shared tableau, good for all ages (without ‘farmers’, 9+ with them!)

She also likes Patchwork (gently competitive – good from 7+) and Lords of Waterdeep (like Agricola, this is also a worker placement type game set [very superficially] in the D&D universe, somewhere between regular Agricola and the family edition in terms of complexity)

🔥 Zak 🔥 enjoys just about anything with the right people (seriously, I love games!), but usually prefers longer, more highly-involved games with his gaming group. For this family video though, recommends:

Cockroach Poker: have taught it to people from 2 to 75 years old! Quick fun, with lots of laughter and bluffing, small compact and super cheap game [best value ever!]

Air, Land & Sea: 2 player only, ages 10+, fast-playing, highly interactive; like Love Letter it’s a very minimal game, with just a few cards – oodles of replayability in a tiny package

Other games I really rate (in increasing degrees of complexity!) include things like Irish Gauge, Imperial, Twilight Struggle, anything by Splotter Spellen and the 18xx series of games!

🎯 The above links to the individual games are all through Amazon, but if you are also here in New Zealand – support local instead! I pick up most of our games through Mighty Ape, they carry an ever-growing range of these kinds of games.