It?s time to bin Candyland. You don?t have to just endure board games for kids. Here?s some you can actually enjoy with them!
Every parent has been there. It?s time for excruciatingly slow roll-and-move. It?s Candyland. It?s Monopoly Junior. It?s the Game of Life. It?s enough to give anyone half-interested in board games the heebie-jeebies.
Well, let me help you rediscover your sanity before you utter those immortal words: ?I?m sorry honey, but I?m bored more than I love you.?
The following board games for kids are not only good enough to actually enjoy with your offspring, they?re also the perfect stepping stone to the grown-up versions that you really want to play with them.
My First Carcassonne (a.k.a The Kids Of Carcassonne)
The grown up version of Carcassonne makes pretty much every ?gateway? games list (apart from mine!) as one of the perfect games to introduce folk of all ages to modern board games.
My First Carcassonne changes the game in a few ways to make life easier for the little(r) ones. Component-wise the tiles and playing pieces are bigger and chunkier than the original, making them more durable and easier to handle.
In terms of the game play, unlike the original, every tile matches every other one, and there?s no grave decision-making over whether to place your meeple on roads, cities or fields.
My First Carcassonne: RULE BOOK / BUYGrown-up version: RULE BOOK / BUY
Stone Age Junior (a.k.a My First Stone Age)
Haba is a publisher usually associated with kid?s games, so it was surprising to some to see them give us a more grown-up game in the form of the original Karuba. That?s not to say it?s an adult game ? it?s good for ages 8 and up, but it?s definitely a game that grown-ups can enjoy without the kids.
Such was Karuba?s success that Haba went on to produce Karuba Junior, aimed at ages 4+ and co-operative rather than competitive. It still retains the tile-laying exploration of the original, but incorporates the same kind of memory mechanics seen in Stone Age Junior with a more race-against-the-clock feel to it.
It?s colourful, straightforward and won?t produce the sort of tantrums that competitive games often can with the 5-and-under brigade.
Karuba Junior: RULE BOOK / BUYGrown-up version: RULE BOOK / BUY
Heck-Meck Junior (a.k.a Pickomino Junior)
Publisher: 999 Games Price*: 9.99 No. of players: 2?5 Play time: 20 mins Age: 5+
The full version of the game isn?t that much more complex, but Heck-Meck Junior has those little adaptations that can make all the difference to little ones.
The numbers don?t quite climb so high (to 4?9 instead of 21?36), and there are different types of food on the die faces rather than just boring old number pips. But apart from that it?s still essentially the same game.
The gameplay has a really fun push-your-luck element to it, and keeping track of the numbers and worms will help the little ?un?s numeracy into the bargain.
Heck-Meck Junior: RULE BOOK / BUYGrown-up version: RULE BOOK / BUY
Ticket To Ride: First Journey (a.k.a Ticket To Ride Junior)
Publisher: Days of Wonder Price*: 27.99 No. of players: 2?4 Play time: 15?30 mins Age: 6+
Like Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride is one of those modern gaming success stories and one of the games most likely to be cited to introduce someone to a world outside of Monopoly and Risk.
Players must play sets of cards of the same colour in order to place their colour of train carriage on the map and complete specific routes, with points awarded to players with completed (and longest) routes.
Unlike the junior version of Carcassonne, Ticket To Ride: First Journey remains largely unchanged in terms of gameplay, just making the playing pieces a little larger, the routes shorter and the cards and board more kid-friendly (like thematic pictures to help remember various cities.)
(N.B. There are both U.S. and European map versions of the game)
Ticket To Ride: My First Journey (Europe): RULE BOOK / BUYGrown-up version (Europe): RULE BOOK / BUY
Publisher: Kosmos Price*: 27.99 No. of players: 2?4 Play time: 30 mins Age: 6+
Forming the third corner of the Holy Trinity of Gateway Games is Catan (a.k.a Settlers of Catan), which would probably be cited by most gamers as the title that really brought modern board games to the masses.
Whilst it?s perhaps inevitable that a Junior version of the game would see the light of day, what?s more confusing is why on earth it took over ten years to materialise!
The Junior version really does play like a simpler, cut-down version of Catan with gentler mechanics, a more piratical theme and more kid-friendly resources/graphic-design.
Catan: Junior: RULE BOOK / BUYGrown-up version: RULE BOOK / BUY
My Little Scythe
Publisher: Stonemaier Games Price*: 47.99 No. of players: 1?6 Play time: 45?60 mins Age: 8+
In 2016 Scythe took the gaming world by storm with its stunning artwork by Jakub Rozalski, and engaging gameplay courtesy of Jamie Stegmaier.
Hoby Chou, a fan of the original, together with his daughter Vienna, wanted a more kid-friendly version of Hoby?s favourite game, so set about creating their own, which they released to the community in print-and-play form.
This caught the eye of Stonemaier Games, who decided to put the game into production, where it was an immediate success.
Gone is the Rozalski-wrought dark future of Scythe with it?s fraught gameplay and technical advancement trees.
In My Little Scythe, players take turns choosing to Move, Seek, or Make, allowing them to increase their friendship and pies, power up actions, complete quests, learn magic spells, deliver gems and apples to Castle Everfree, and perhaps even engage in a pie fight.
My Little Scythe: RULE BOOK / BUYGrown-up version: RULE BOOK / BUY
*Prices listed are RRP/MSRP. You can and will find them cheaper elsewhere if you shop around.