Recommended Board Games for Family Game Night

Several of us here at Rambling Ever On participate somewhat regularly in game nights with our respective families. So, we have decided to share some of our favorite family appropriate games with you, starting with board games.


Pandemic

by Phill Lytle

I don’t like board games. That makes my wife sad because she loves board games. It makes me sad that it makes her sad. I wish I liked them so that my wife would not be sad and I would not be sad because she is sad. But, I don’t. I never really have.

But, I kind of, sort of like the board game Pandemic. I’ve played it a handful of times with my family. I played it once on New Year’s eve with fellow Rambler Ben Plunkett. It’s a board game where you play as a team trying to stop a worldwide pandemic that will kill all human life. You are assigned roles that come with various skills and abilities. I probably enjoy it because it takes the insane and sometimes off-putting competitiveness of most board games off the table. (Pun intended.) You work as a team or you die. It’s a challenging game that can be modified in just how difficult you want it to be.

It is the rare board game that does not bore me. Or make me uncomfortable. And there is less sadness in my household when we play.


Risk

by Ben Plunkett

Risk has been my favorite game since I was about 13-years-old. The first time I ever played my strategy was to capture every single country on the fringe of the map and to then work my way in. I considered this a masterpiece plan and that my foes would soon despair of my world-dominating genius. I don’t think I even finished a third of my circle. Oh, what folly! Oh, the naivete of youth!

My strategy of play has greatly developed since then. I know things like it is usually best to capture continents one at a time. My first choices are usually South America, Africa, or Australia. My last choice is Asia because it is so big and hard to defend. 

This is not to say that I’m great at it (I would guess I have won between 5-10% of the many games I’ve played through the years.) For me winning isn’t the most enjoyable part of playing most games, this game in particular. Yet this and Balderdash (which I don’t think I’ve ever won) remain my favorite board games of all time. I even wrote an essay in high school about Risk, and a poem right on here

If you are a beginner, be warned: tempers may flare, back-stabbings may occur, there may be weeping and gnashing of teeth going on during the waging of this classic game of world conquest.


Outfoxed

by Nathan Patton

As my dear wife has informed me (on multiple occasions), I can be a tad overly competitive when playing board games. After a particularly ruthless round of Monopoly, during which I’m pretty sure all of my children shed tears, I was banned completely from ever playing the game again. Then, a couple years ago, my daughter received a birthday present that solved all of our family gaming woes: Outfoxed.

Outfoxed is a cooperative game. All of the players work together and either win together or lose together. It is like a cooperative version of the game Clue. Instead of murder, a fox has stolen a pie, but we don’t know which fox, and we have to work quickly to gather clues and eliminate suspects before the guilty fox escapes.

There is a physical fox piece that moves on the board towards the fox hole escape under certain circumstances. Each player has a physical piece that moves about the board searching for clues. When enough suspects have been revealed and clues found, the players can make their accusation and reveal the thief. If they are correct, they win. If not, the fox escapes. Should the fox makes it to the fox hole before the players have discovered enough clues to determine the thief, then the fox escapes, and the players lose.

This is a great game for younger kids, but the older ones enjoy it too in my experience. Rule variations allow the players to adjust the difficulty if they are winning too easily or losing too much.


Azul

by Mark Sass

Azul is a game of set collection with scoring based on spacial organization. There is almost no luck as you collect sets of tiles from communal pools (no blind draws). The game is a balance of advancing your own sets while hindering your opponent’s. Scoring is varied, awarding points for completed rows, columns, and colors of tiles on your personal player board. So, you can focus on a different strategy from one game to another. 

Azul is a great board game, but is it a great family board game? To answer that question we must explore the criteria for family friendly board games. A family board game should…

Be easy to learn

Azul is not a complex game. You can learn to play in 5-10 minutes. But don’t let its low rule set fool you. There is a good deal of depth tucked away in the game’s simple formula! Much of Azul’s appeal is its simplicity. This filters down into everything from the rules to the components.

Look exciting on the table

If a game looks boring then it’s highly unlikely you will convince anyone in your family to try it. Fair warning: 
Azul is very abstract and lacks the wow factor of other games. The game exchanges a larger game board for small round boards and personal player boards.  The game centers around placing tiles which are colorful and artistic. They are high quality, sturdy, and polished similar to a half domino. Visually Azul will appeal to the artistic.

Be equally entertaining for kids and adults

Azul is not a kids game. Both adults and kids should enjoy playing it. Azul is appropriate for ages 8-10 and up. Nothing in Azul targets one gender over another.

Be quick setup and take down time

No one wants to spend a good portion of their time setting up and putting away a game for game night. You want to play! Azul takes almost no time to set up or put away. Set out a few tiles and boards and you’re ready to go!

Take a reasonable amount of time to play

Even a fun game will lose it’s appeal if it goes on and on. Azul has no problems with this as it can be played in an hour or less.

Have a small price tag

Similar to time money is often not in abundance.  Azul routinely sells for $20-25 on Amazon. And you will feel like you got your money’s worth from the game.


Loopin’ Louie

by D.A. Speer

There was a time not too long ago when I was able to organize and enjoy somewhat regular board game nights with my group of friends. The board game scene has just exploded in the past twenty or so years, bringing out tons of gems that range from fun party games all the way to all-day galaxy conquering adventures.

These days, however, I have far less time for such all-day commitments, much less even an occasional evening. My wife and I have two kids, a 5-year old and a 2-year old, so they aren’t exactly ready for complicated rule sets and taxing mental brainwork.

Thankfully, though, there are games like “Loopin’ Louie.” The game is simple. Louie is a wacky guy in an airplane that circles around in a loop. You face off against up to three other people in smacking Louie’s airplane up in the air in an effort to keep him from running into one of your chickens. Each person has three chicken tokens that can be hit before it’s game over, and the last chicken farmer standing wins.

The rules are simple, and for where my family is in life right now, simple rules are a necessity. I’m glad that there are games out there besides Candy Land that can appeal to the younger age category.

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Phill Lytle

I love: Jesus, my wife, my kids, my church, my family, my friends, Firefly, 80's rock, Lost, the Tennessee Titans, the St. Louis Cardinals, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, Arrested Development, pizza, vacation, etc...
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Nathan Patton

Nathan lives in the foothills of the Ozarks in Southeastern Missouri with his wife and five children. They used to live in New York City; and, while they sometimes miss it, especially the food and public transportation, they do enjoy being closer to nature and Cardinals baseball.

Latest posts by Nathan Patton (see all)

D.A. Speer

Daniel was raised in the woods of Dickson, TN by a group of elves. He ate lots of turnips and grew up quickly, learned kung fu and mercilessly fought his way through the ranks to become Dickson County's own king of the gnomes. Soon, he grew bored and bid them a tear-filled farewell, then sailed away to Bible college where he met the girl who would become his wife. They got married, had kids, then his family ended up being international missionaries just outside of Tokyo, Japan. He kind of sort of likes gaming, graphic novels, and good podcasts.

Ben Plunkett

Greetings from the booming metropolis that is Pleasant View, Tennessee. I am a man of constant spiritual highs and spiritual lows. I pray that I serve God at my highest even when I am lowest.
Ben Plunkett

Latest posts by Ben Plunkett (see all)

Phill Lytle

I love: Jesus, my wife, my kids, my church, my family, my friends, Firefly, 80's rock, Lost, the Tennessee Titans, the St. Louis Cardinals, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, Arrested Development, pizza, vacation, etc...

5 thoughts on “Recommended Board Games for Family Game Night

  • July 20, 2019 at 1:15 am
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    I am sold on outfoxed. It sounds fantastic.

    Reply
    • July 23, 2019 at 12:05 pm
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      Azul sounds intriguing to me.

      Reply
  • July 23, 2019 at 9:51 pm
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    Looks like some fun games on there. My children love risk and I’ve started getting into it. There is just something about taking over the world. The other games look interesting. We have one like the Looping Louie, that we used to play when the kids were little. (Read: I can’t get them to play it with me anymore.) We tried pandemic but I’m not sure we gave it enough of a chance. Or maybe we are just cutthroat and don’t want to work together. Well, that can’t be it. Anyway, when I get together with my siblings we enjoy playing a little stock market game called PIT. I can’t seem to get my friends excited about this as the stock market part seems boring and off putting, but it is a super fun game. And there is a bell involved, so…

    Reply
    • July 23, 2019 at 11:50 pm
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      I love Pit! Hopefully we’ll be doing a similar article on card games soon, and we’ll definitely have to consider Pit.

      Reply
  • July 24, 2019 at 8:00 am
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    Pit is indeed a classic. It has been one of the family favorites since I was a kid. Lots of shouting, chaos, and laughing till you can’t breathe going on.

    Reply

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