10 Board Games Not Named Monopoly Your Kids Will Love

board games(Guest Post by Ken Myers)

Sick of traditional board games like Monopoly or Sorry? Tired of playing Old Maid and Uno, the games you grew up with as a child? Why not try something new? Here are 10 challenging board games for kids and adults to try:

  1. Qin: This simple color matching game is great for adults and kids. The idea is this: match up three colored tiles to form a village and put down your pagoda. Five matching tiles gets you a city with two pagodas. The twist is that you can take over other villages to gain more land and remove their pagodas, but cities cannot be conquered. The first player to place all his pagodas wins the game. The board has two sides offering both a beginner version and more advanced play. Once you learn the simple rules it is addictive and fun to play with two to four players.
  2. Twilight Imperium – A far more complex game, this one is best for adults and older kids. You will need a long time to play as the set up alone can take over an hour. Why would you want to play a game that takes that long? Well, as tons of fans can attest, it is addictive fun! Even the set-up is like a mini game itself. If you have a day to set aside or are willing to leave a table alone for a while so you can take it a round at a time, you need to play this game. The idea is this: you choose your race and journey out into space to find supplies and fight enemies. Every player has different strengths and hidden objectives. One may want to rule the center of the galaxy while another tries to sneak in and steal your home planet. Some aliens have the power to change your mind (with or without your approval) while others will blow up in your face, literally. Every game means different battles because there are so many aliens and objectives to choose from. Even the board changes with each game, leaving hidden dangers lurking on every move. Use your battleships to fight or protect your space, wield your influence to vote in new laws and try your best to gain your objectives before your opponents do. With three to up to eight players (with the expansion), the whole clan can join in.
  3. The Politics of Cannibals – Funny name, fun game! This color matching contest is simple enough for kids and yet fun enough for adults to enjoy as well. It is almost like poker in that you read your opponents and try to guess how it will all turn out in the end. The idea is this: you are trying to lead a village of cannibals. Voting time is coming soon and your opponents are out to get you. Lay down your color cards to determine what things you support: Trade? Religion? Farming? You must choose and support your choice as your opponents try to kill off those who will vote for you! Save your voters from the pot and send others to be eaten in this fun and dark fast paced game. The one with the most surviving voters wins! For three to five players.
  4. Dark Horse – If you have ever played Settlers of Catan, then you get the gist of this simplified version. Everything relies on the dice in this game, but it is easy enough for even younger kids to figure out. Try to build your villages, railroads and cities before your opponents do and earn victory points from gold and trade. The idea is this: you pick a character type – banker, merchant, gambler, etc. – and then use their talents to make your cities grow. As you roll the dice you can perform different actions like harvesting crops and building railroads. Become sheriff or mayor and gain special powers, or keep it simple and go for the gold. Whoever has the most victory points by the time the last city is built wins! For up to four players.
  5. Takenoko – This cute and colorful game is all centered around feeding a panda. The idea is this: You have been left in change of a sacred panda. You must keep it fed and happy. However the weather, the gardener and the bamboo all have to be taken into account. Roll the dice to see what the weather is. Pick cards to tell you what your objectives are and try to meet them as you grow bamboo and feed your hungry panda. Fun and simple to play, kids will love stacking the bamboo and trying to fend off the hungry panda from eating it all! For two to four players.
  6. Small World – Another game for older kids, this one also has endless variations. The idea is this: a bunch of creatures are fighting over the same plot of land. You pick a creature: Tritons, Orcs, Dwarves, Skeletons, etc. and they are matched with a power: Flying, Forest, Heroic, Mounted, Seafaring, etc. Each creature gets a different power every game, so something new is always going on. Most creatures have their own powers already, like Tritons are already seafaring and Skeletons multiply by killing enemies. After you pick your race you spread out on the board and try to gain coins by killing off your opponents or just taking the most land you can. You can switch races throughout the game, so there is no way to get bored or run out of things to do. Fast paced and fun, this game is played with two to five players. The two and three player board is smaller, which makes the game stay fast paced and competitive!
  7. Tetris Link – If you have ever played video games then you know what Tetris is. The speedy game of blocks is brought to life by this board game. Four colored tiles in the basic shapes make for a fun game. Roll the dice to see which shape is dropped in and try to match up your color to win points. When you reach the top the game is over. It’s enjoyable for all ages.
  8. The Order of the Stick Adventure Game – If you love Dungeons and Dragons but hate the effort that goes into it then this is the game for you. Even if you have never played D&D you can still have fun with this fast-paced card game. Keep in mind this is another long game, so set side several hours to play or shorten it with house rules. This is great for older kids who love card games like Magic as well. The idea is this: you are one of a band of adventures, each with their own powers, and you enter a dungeon. Each room you enter presents danger in the form of monster cards that your opponents play against you. Each monster you defeat gives you new skills and loot to win the game. Everyone gets to both fight monsters and send out monsters as well as other cool cards with special powers. Get to the boss and beat him and then run as the dungeon starts to collapse. Whoever gets out with the most loot wins!
  9. Dungeon Roll – For kids that love dice games, this is a simple one that is great for traveling. Everything packs up into a small treasure chest and the game can be played in just a few minutes. Perfect for waiting at the doctor’s office or other boring times! The idea is this: you are an adventurer out to explore a dungeon. You roll dice and use your powers to defeat monsters. Every level deeper you get the more monsters there are and the more points and treasure you get. Your opponent rolls the monster dice and tries to kill you before you can escape. Then you switch sides and you roll the monster dice for them. Fun for up to three players, although you can even play it alone!
  10. King of Tokyo – Will you be the winning monster? This fun fighting game is all about rolling the dice and destroying the city. The idea is this: you are a monster, like Godzilla or King Kong, and you want to destroy Tokyo. The only problem is that there are other monsters waiting in line! You battle each other to see who can stay in Tokyo longest. The last one to die is the winner. Fun for two to six players, this imaginative and simple game will entertain kids and adults alike.

As you can see, there are so many other board games out there that you won’t have trouble finding something your family will love!

Ken Myers is a father of three and passionate about great childcare. He’s always looking for ways to help families find the support they need to live fuller, richer lives. Find out more about expert childcare by checking out @go_nannies on Twitter.

photo credit: haslo via photopin cc


  1. says

    Twilight Imperium? We play a lot of games – even complex ones – in my house, but I’d never crack that open even for motivated teens. It’s a fun game, but expect 3+ hours, at least. :-)

    • Christian says

      I need to wait until my kids are a few years older before I can embrace a 3 hr gaming commitment, but I do have fond memories of getting lost in Risk and Monopoly. I’m woefully behind on the gaming scene, though, which is why I was eager to publish this guest post!

    • Ken myers says

      Hi Dave,

      3+ hours? More like 8+! It is not a game you can play often, but it is great to keep teens entertained and thinking, especially during long rainy weekends. I need to take breaks to keep going, but some groups really get into it and barely stop to eat. Thanks for your comment, Ken.

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