Crusaders Games

Family Board Games

Family orientated games combine a strategic challenge but without being overly complex on the rules or too time consuming to complete, at say 2 hours or less. Joining a local games club in 2012 really expanded my knowledge of available games, and I have now played well over 150 at the group, purchasing a few for home play too. I have highlighted below my personal list of recommended family games :

1. Lords of Waterdeep – Wizards of Coast (2012)

A strategic worker placement game where you assign your agents across the town of waterdeep and collect resources to help you complete quests. This is a strategy game based on a dungeons & dragons theme rather than a pure fantasy adventure game. It is simple to pick up and is excellent fun to play and usually provides a close run finish, without being too complex or too long for a decent worker placement game. It has become extremely highly regarded in my family, always feels tense, and has a great balance between blocking others from the best locations whilst being able to easily work out your own strategy from the quests you choose. There is an expansion called Scoundrels of Skullport which adds extra locations and a corruption mechanic where you can take long term risks for short term gains.


2. Smallworld – Days Of Wonder (2009)

A conquest game where you try to conquer a small world using various fantasy races each with differing special abilities, and rack up victory points as you progress. These races wont last long in dominance so you need to make the most of their time on the board before the race goes into decline. As the special abilities and armies are separate, each game will bring different army combinations and abilities into play which keeps the game fresh. The artwork is lovely and the gameplay is quite simple and yet very fun. Expansion armies and an Underworld version are also available and add additional replay value. This is my teenager sons favourite game and it works brilliantly with all ages. Whilst is has a fantasy theme it is not an adventure style game, and it has seen more family play than any other game we have.


3. Kingsburg – Fantasy Flights (2007)

A dice worker placement game where you seek the help of the kings advisers to build your province, whilst fending off invading enemies each winter. This game has a good mix of strategic selection of which adviser to go to, and then what buildings to focus on to give you special abilities or protection from invaders. The use of the dice as your workers makes for an interesting variation and adds some random element in play, together with the potential ability to block other players (which can be mitigated). This game works so well, is pretty simple to explain to newcomers and has a lovely theme and board artwork. The expansion for this makes it even more interesting, with more varied building combinations and a much better mechanic for your army strength, giving you more tactical defense choices to make each turn.

4. Flamme Rouge – Stronghold (2016)

A card driven racing game where each player competes as a team of two riders within a peloton. You have a sprinter who can break away at speed, and rouleur who is more steady and consistently. Gameplay is driven by drawing 4 numerical cards for each rider and then using one each, moving along the road the set distance, however once you have used a card, it won’t be coming back. Pull away during the race and lead a group, and you will take a low value exhaustion card which hampers you later on, or maybe you will try to slipstream to gain extra ground. This is an easy to teach game, and has a simple mechanic, but it is tactical, with variable hills and slopes coming into play too. Each game can also be set up differently using a jigsaw of double sided track tiles. This game is excellent fun, and has quickly become a new favourite of mine.


 5. Champions of Midgard – Grey Fox Games (2015)

A worker placement game where each player is a viking tribe looking to defend the village and conquer new monsters to obtain the most glory over 8 rounds. Your workers will obtain gold, food and wood and also recruit axemen, swordsmen and spearmen who will then go out each round to fight trolls, draugr and other larger creatures found across the seas. Battles are dice based which adds a nice change in mechanic alongside worker placement. The artwork is great, and there is plenty to think about, from buying ships to seeking advice from the runemaster or taking new objectives from the seer. New expansions in 2017 added extra leaders, new rules and monsters and deepened the game. The dice rolling really adds to the worker placement to break up the routine. An alternative, similar and also recommended game is Stone Age (2008).


6. Abyss – Bombyx (2014)

A card drafting game where your aim is to gain influence and rule the undersea world by recruiting various sea lords to your cause. This has some of the best artwork of any game and a really lovely theme. It also has a simple set of actions, as you decide whether to buy cards using pearls or potentially allow other players to get them. The main strategy comes through the undersea lords you recruit to help you, as each will bring you different abilities for either instant or future use. You then choose to take over locations to enhance your victory points position. Elements of pushing your luck on the card drafting combine with recruiting the best lords to make a really excellent family game.


7. Ticket To Ride – Days Of Wonder (2004)

A train route building game, with a simple concept to learn and so enjoyable to play. Build your railway routes connecting cities across America, deciding how many routes you will take on, or maybe go for the longest overall route. Collecting different coloured carriages to form your train connections, you can never really tell who has won the game until all the completed routes are revealed right at the end. It is so easy to teach and the replay value is extremely high. A top class family game which is my wife’s favourite. Many expansions are available covering maps of different countries and adding in some minor extra rules, but they are not essential we still just use the original American map version.


8. Jamaica – Asmodee (2007)

A racing game with pirates. A beautifully produced game with some really lovely artwork. Race your pirate ships around the island collecting gold and treasure and fighting each other using canons to steal from your opponents. The dice and card combined mechanic is relatively simple but is much cleverer than just rolling a dice and moving, and works really well, as you do have to plan ahead a little. The game is just very fun to play, working out where to store your food and gold, and deciding how many extra cannons you may need. Stealing from your opponents is an essential part of the game, and the theme is very family orientated and always gets a lot of laughs.


9. King of Tokyo – Yello (2011)

A dice battle game where your selected monster will fight other monsters for control of Tokyo city. This game is quick and easier compared to others on the list but very fun. You decide whether you go to the city itself, at which point all the other players can attack you, but you also can attack them all back. Holding on in the city for as long as you can reaps victory points, but you must eventually quit to lick your wounds. Energy tokens provide access to extra card abilities add some additional powers and depth to the game. This is fast and fun and superb for when you want dice rolling or shorter game experience.


10. Carcassonne – Z-Man Games (2000)

A popular and well established tile laying game. Each turn your will randomly select one tile and then make the best use of it by adding it to an ever evolving and growing map. Then you can place a worker on that tile to claim a road, castle, cloister or grassland, depending on what tile you just laid. You will be trying to maximise your points by building the longest roads and largest castles. It is a relatively quick game, limited by the number of tiles available and your choices are pretty simple but it is a lovely looking game, and strategically you will be trying to muscle in on your opponents buildings. A classic game that is really easy to learn.