Families experience some of the most difficult changes with social distance. Children are at home from school and parents have had to switch to a new way of learning for the first time. There is also the question of keep children busy while they are stuck for hours. We’ve created a list of family-friendly games, sorted by age group, to make downtime a little easier.
This is the third in a series in which I emphasize board games and role plays on the table for people to try out at home. We started with single player friendly games (sometimes called solo or “solitaire game” games) games for two players, and now family-friendly games. We also keep the door open for more articles in the future, including one for board games and RPGs for people separated by social distance, and we welcome suggestions for things you’re looking for.
I’m adding a mix of physical games and digital versions – Steam versions of existing games or PDFs from different RPGs – for people who want options that don’t require home delivery. I also emphasize game developers’ websites for purchases through large checkout shops and Amazon, unless that option isn’t available, but make sure to communicate with potential sellers about their delivery situations. Amazon has also experienced serious delays due to high demand, so that should be taken into account when making purchasing decisions.
- 1 Young children (3-6)
- 2 Older children (7-12)
- 3 Teenagers (13+)
Young children (3-6)
Animal to animal
Animal to animal HABA is an entertaining stacking game in which children (and adults) try to make large structures out of wooden animal pieces. Think of it as Jenga conversely, only with more unique challenges and problem-solving skills. There is also a version for even younger children Animal Upon Animal: small yet big!, with larger pieces of animals. Animal to animal costs $ 25 and is available on HABAs website.
Also from HABA, Rhino Hero is a variation on the “house of cards” game, where players try to build a tower by placing cards in different patterns – while the annoying rhinoceros tries to scale the building. The game says it’s for five-year-olds and above, but the four of me played it-year-old cousin fine. Rhino Hero costs $ 15 and is available on HABAs website.
Count your chickens
Tired of Sweet country? Count your chickens follows a similar structure: just instead of taking a leisurely journey through a candy forest, kids work together to bring a chicken’s chicks back to the coop. It’s a great collaboration game that helps with cooperative and counting skills. Count your chickens costs $ 16 and is available at various stores such as Target and Walmart.
No thanks, evil!
No thanks, evil! is a role-playing game on the table, designed with younger children in mind, helping them learn the first lines of RPGs through the already familiar concept of make believe. Players create their own children’s characters based on a few fun, inspiring traits (like a robot that only eats candy canes) and team up to explore the land of Storia: The Land Next Door. There are a number of tools available online – including as a PDF file – to help parents set up their own games, including drawing sheets, scenarios and adventure packs. No thanks, evil! is available as a PDF for $ 10 at MonteCook’s website.
Kids Dungeon Adventures
As No thanks, evil! sounds a bit daunting to the four of you-year old, there is Kids Dungeon Adventure. It’s a simple two-step role-playing game where kids use their blocks, legos or other home toys to build a dungeon and then create a story to fit in. Creator Ben Garvey has created game rules for the game with suggestions for storylines, treasure ideas, monster cards, battles, and tips for introducing kids to role-playing. Kids Dungeon Adventure costs $ 6 and is available on Garvey’s website.
Older children (7-12)
Want to familiarize your children with Dungeons and Dragons? Dungeon Mayhem is a great way to get the ball rolling. It is a card game for two to four players in which players compete with different spells, skills and weapons. Each character in the game is based on a different one D&D class – paladin, wizard, barbarian and villain – so it’s great to try different combinations and see what comes of it. I have played this with children from six years old and they have mastered it quite easily, although you may want to start by combining them with an adult player to explain the rules. Dungeon Mayhem costs $ 15 and availability information is at Wizards of the Coast’s website.
Of course I would recommend it Disney Villainous. This has been running regularly in my household for the past two weeks. In this game, each player takes on the role of a different Disney villain and everyone works to achieve their own individual goal …while sabotaging everyone else. Suitable for up to five players, the range of expansions guarantees even more variety in gameplay and challenges. Disney Villainous costs $ 45 and is available at Ravensburger’s website.
Stuffed fables Plaid Hat Games is a great way to familiarize children with RPG campaigns. Players take the role of stuffed animals that try to save their child from a series of terrifying nightmares. What makes this game special is that it is a role-playing game that you don’t really have to plan for. Instead, it plays as one Choose your own adventure book, with each page telling a new part of the story – and with a new map for the latest encounter or adventure. Stuffed fables costs $ 70 and is available at Target and Barnes and Noble.
Hero Kids is a table-top role-playing game designed for children and adults to play together. It is arranged in a fantasy world, and players take on the role of noble (underage) heroes trying to save their friends and the world. The great thing about this pen and paper game is that you only need traditional six-sided dice that you have in old ones Yahtzee box, meaning it’s accessible to adults who are new to the genre as well as children. It also says it works for children over the age of four, with gameplay options to keep kids engaged even when it’s not their turn. Hero Kids is available as a PDF for $ 6 at DriveThruRPG.
For kids who have outgrown the most introductory RPGs but aren’t quite ready Dungeons and Dragons yet there is a cool intermediate game that uses more complex rules in an environment they probably know. Bromstix, a free role-playing game by Jared A. Sorensen, takes place in the world of the Harry Potter series. Players are students at Hogwarts – ideally part of the same house, although they can come from different houses (except Slytherin). They take classes, participate in Quidditch tournaments, and perform other tasks that the average Hogwarts student would complete. Her a nice one way to show children who have read Harry Potter how to understand complex RPG rules, because they already understand a lot of the material. Bromstix is available as one free downloadbut no campaign is added.
A Legacy game is a smart investment for social distance as it is an ongoing story that the family can look forward to every month. Of course we avoid Pandemic Legacy for good, forever, so I recommend Avalon Hill’s instead Legacy betrayal– what I currently play with some friends (or rather, I was). Set in the world of Betrayal at House on the Hill, Betrayal Legacy is a 13-episode game that slowly unfolds with each session, adding new characters, locations and challenges. At the end of the game you will have a unique copy of it Betrayal that can be played on its own. Legacy betrayal costs $ 75 and is available at Barnes and Noble; it is also for sale at Walmart for $ 55.
Span is technically for kids ages 10 and up, but I put it in the teen section with the caveat that some younger kids might have it too. This is a beautiful and soothing strategy game in which players build natural habitats to attract certain birds. It’s a great game and an even greater educational tool, plus it’s a way to get your kids to talk about nature when they can’t really get out. Span costs $ 60 and is available at Stonemaier Games’ website.
From the people behind Cyanide and happiness, A joke is a Cards against humanity-style game that replaces sentences with memes and comics. One player places two panels and it is up to the rest to come up with the last piece of the strip. Keep in mind, there are several panels in the set that are really adult, so it might be a good idea to go ahead and get the worst out of it before playing. I’m not saying you should; your teens are almost adults, they have seen porn, they are stuck in your house and the world is screwed. Maybe they can have a bit of raunchy humor, as a treat. A joke costs $ 25 and is available at Cyanide & Happiness’ website.
Evil Hat Productions’ Bubblegum show is a role-playing game on the table where players are teenage detectives who solve mysteries in a small town. You can make it as one Nancy Drew story, Strange things, or something even stranger. Using the Gumshoe system, this is a game that can be played with two or more people, providing a lot of variety. This one is for kids ages 13 and up, so it’s a perfect way for pre-teens to learn the rules of more complex role-playing games and familiarize them with the shared storytelling experience. Bubblegumshoe is available as a PDF for $ 8 at DriveThruRPG.
Dungeons and Dragons vs. Rick and Morty
It is time: you are finally ready to introduce your children Dungeons and Dragons. But how do you get them to know the rules? and keep them busy? A great solution is a starter kit you need Dungeons and Dragons and adds the whimsy of it Rick and Morty to brighten things up. Players take place in an old-school dungeon (and inspired by the graphic novel series of the same name) and can use any of the pre-made characters to explore and find all the references that non-fans will find not to understand.
Dungeons and Dragons vs. Rick and Morty is a funny game with a lot of jokes and winks to the series, but it is also a surprisingly effective learning tool for Dungeons and Dragons. In addition, the starter set comes with everything you need to start a campaign. Dungeons & Dragons vs. Rick and Morty costs $ 30 and is available at Fantasy Grounds. It also has a digital version Steam for the same price.
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