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London Family Rank List:

(Last updated early July 2020. Come visit us as www.theplayathomeorder.com for the living list!)

1. Catch Phrase

2. Terraforming Mars

3. Gloomhaven

4. Decrypto

5. Kingdomino

6(T). Queendomino

6(T). Citadels

8. Seafarers of Catan

9. Galaxy Trucker

10. Coup

11(T). Bargain Quest

11(T). Codenames

13. Codenames Duet

14. Mysterium

15(T). Lords of Scotland

15(T). Isle of Skye

17. Clans of Caledonia

18. Viticulture

19. The Mind

20. Skull

21. Stuffed Fables

22(T). Ticket to Ride

22(T). Pandemic

24. Above and Below

25. Powergrid

26. Azul

27. Bananagrams

28(T). Not Alone

28(T). Takenoko

30. Concept

31. Agricola

32(T). Root

32(T). Alhambra

34(T). Everdell

34(T). Balderdash

36. Metropolys

37. Betrayal at the House on the Hill

38. Boggle

39(T). Bang

39(T). Castle Panic

41. Clue: Harry Potter Edition

42. Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion

43(T). Machi Koro

43(T). Dominion

45. Patchwork

46. 7 Wonders

47. Dixit

48. Ultimate Werewolf Legacy

49. Colt Express

50. Tokaido

51. Arboretum

52. Santorini

53. Forbidden Island

54. The Game of Things

55. Carcassonne

56. Splendor

57. Evolution

58. Mastermind

59. Blokus

60. Talisman

61. Spirit Island

62. Just One

63. Taboo

64. Dungeon!

65. When I Sleep

66(T). Pass the Pigs

66(T). Hanabi

68. Seven Meadows

69. Set

70. Fluxx

71. Munchkin Zombies

72. Crows

Catch Phrase

Family Rank: 1

Kids' Score: 96.0

"Always really fun, especially with our family, because we are all either quick thinkers or good communicators."

Adults' Score: 93.5

"Our family may have played this more than all other games put together. At least, if you count both Catch Phrase and the generic app version on my phone called “Phrase Party.” I feel a little guilty that on a page of board game reviews, the top spot is going to an app-based game, but it deserves this honor because we never seem to get bored of it. It’s great for families because we can use shared life experiences to get people to say certain words or phrases. Not infrequently, a hint leaves everyone in stitches. A few years ago when Malcolm was trying get us to say, 'No Can Do,' his clue was, 'Mom, what I would say to you if you asked me to poop in the shower.'"

Terraforming Mars

Family Rank: 2

Kids' Score: 79.0

“A little complicated, but it’s nice to have the freedom to build whatever you want. Also, there are a number of different strategies, which evens the playing field. Dad isn’t always going to win this one.”

Adults' Score: 97.6

“Nicely straddles the borderlands of science and science fiction. There are enough surprises that every game is different. The corporations allow players to start with different strengths. And it’s wild that the game takes 10-20 ‘generations’ as you play your way through it.”


Family Rank: 3

Kids' Score: 73.4

“A good strategy game that encourages thinking in advance. I wish there was more to it than fighting monsters. It was fun to play, but I don’t understand all the hype.”

Adults' Score: 100.0

“Grown-ups agree: Gloomhaven is the best board game ever made. A cooperative game that offers the chance to master a character’s unique abilities and work on both short-term and long-term goals. Just when you start to get sick of a character, you are forced to retire it, break the seal on a new box, and start with a brand-new character with an entirely different game play. It has nearly unlimited replay value. We played it weekly for over a year. The mechanism of playing the top action of one card and the bottom of the other card is ingenious. There is an underlying story, but it is not really what drives the game. The only real downside is the number of pieces. Set up and clean up are a nightmare.”


Family Rank: 4

Kids' Score: 84.7

"I love the concept. It is very satisfying to slide the cards into the decoder area to reveal your key words. It reminds me of Codenames but a lot better."

"I like games that let us work in teams of two, and this one works best if you and your partner know each other well. I also like that you are trying to simultaneously figure out both your own words and your opponents’ words."

Adults' Score: 78.5

"This was a surprise hit. The goal is to give one-word clues to a teammate to help them identify words, while opposing teams try to use the same clues to break the code. Good pacing and high replay potential. It takes some time to get the order of play down, but once you fall into a rhythm, it’s very fun. When we played adults versus kids, the kids won, completely on the merits of their codemaking and codebreaking."


Family Rank: 5

Kids' Score: 84.7

"I really love this game. It’s so simple to play and score. You can play it over and over again in one sitting. Highly recommend to children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly of all ages."

Adults' Score: 73.4

"For a turn-based game, this is paced really well. You can learn and play an entire game in five minutes, and one play is not enough. There is a lively sense of anticipation that comes from turning over a new set of domino-like tiles every few seconds. You can pick the most valuable tile, but this comes at the cost of your turn order in the next round. This creates a feeling of balance, where stronger rounds alternate with weaker rounds."


Family rank: 6 (TIE)

Kids' score: 76.6

"I like it better than Kingdomino. The new elements are cool, especially the city-building."

Adults' score: 75.0

"It is Kingdomino, but with a few new elements that remind me of other games. There is a marketplace where unpurchased items get progressively cheaper (like Above and Below or Powergrid), and the opportunity to buy badges that increase the value of your holdings at the end of the game."

"I have mixed feelings about these 'upgrades' from Kingdomino. On one hand, the new mechanics definitely create opportunities for more depth and strategy. That said, one of the pleasures of King Domino is how simple, unique, and fast it is. The new elements don’t feel particularly fresh, and they slow the game down a little. It’s like learning contract bridge after playing euchre for a number of years. It is more sophisticated, but is it better?"


Family Rank: 6 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 76.0

“A fun, easy game that never gets old. All the characters are equally matched, which is cool. You always feel like you’re making progress.”

Adults' Score: 77.9

“A nice combination of luck, strategy, and bluffing. The winner is usually the person who does the best job getting into the heads of their opponents, so knowing who you are playing with is key. A great grab-and-go game that is short enough that you can play several games without getting bored.”

Seafarers of Catan

Family Rank: 8

Kids' Score: 62.9

“It’s better than Settlers of Catan. The seafaring element really adds a lot. There are a lot of different ways to win, lots of different strategies. It’s a good mix of logic and luck.”

Adults' Score: 88.7

“The Settlers franchise games, despite countless imitators, still feel fresh. The game keeps you engaged by allowing you to gain resources when it’s not your turn. The ability to have unrestricted trade with other players makes this a social game, another reason why it has maintained its popularity after all these years.”

Galaxy Trucker

Family Rank: 9

Kids score: 69.4

"I had low expectations for some reason. It looked a little too cartoonish and annoying, but there are a lot of elements in the game that make it fun. I love that half of the game is spent building a spaceship and the other half is seeing what happens to it on it’s intergalactic journey. For less competitive children, the speed round can be a little annoying."

Adults' Score: 74.2

The bifurcated style of play works nicely. You build a ship, then try to survive with it through an adventure and see how it fares. Part of it is a race in real time, measuring speed and visuospatial skills, and part of it is a little more passive. Building a good ship is legitimately difficult.

One of the funniest instruction manuals I’ve read. It’s hard to believe the same game designer came up with both this and Codenames. I can’t think of two games that are more different, but we love them both.


Family Rank: 10

Kids' Score: 98.4

“The best game of this generation. You can just play over and over, and not get bored! The fact that I never win, and still love it so much, should tell you that this game has something special. I like Coup.”

Adults' Score: 44.4

“An elegantly simple social deduction game that rewards players who are good at bluffing. And you have to commit to your lies quickly. But it is not as well-balanced as it could be, and once you start to lose, you keep losing. Games are pretty quick, so even when your character gets eliminated early on, you never have too long to wait before you get another chance.”

Bargain Quest

Family rank: 11 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 76.6

"It is really fun because it allows you to play D&D from a different angle… you’re the shopkeeper instead of the adventurer. They could make this game with a different theme, like selling clothes or something, and it would still make sense, but it wouldn’t be as fun."

"A pretty friggin' balanced game, because when you are ahead, there are consequences. You always feel like you’re in it."

Adults' Score: 62.9

"A fun twist on the fantasy genre. You are the proprietor of a store that outfits heroes to fight whatever monster happens to be invading the area. You have to woo a hero into your shop and hope the things they buy from you prepare them to fight the baddie. If they succeed using your wares, you get honor points. The game involves a card-drafting mechanism (think 7 Wonders). Since you are allowed to keep one card from round to round, the player who is lucky enough to draw a valuable item in the first round may have an advantage for several rounds. Fortunately, many of the monsters pick on the players who are doing best, evening things out a little."


Family Rank: 11 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 76.6

“Very engaging. I like working with a partner and playing against another team. It’s a game of trust. You have to trust your partner well enough to know how they’ll guess.”

Adults' Score: 62.9

“This has always been a favorite party game with adults, and its strength as a family game has grown as the kids’ vocabulary has grown. This game doesn’t feel stale, even after several plays. Even if you’ve seen a particular card before, the challenge is coming up with clues to two or more words, and the combinations are never the same.”

Codenames Duet

Family Rank: 13

Kids' Score: 75.7

"Not a completely brainless game, but a good one when you’re not in the mood to play a really complicated family board game."

Adults' Score: 63.2

"Everything about the game play is identical to Codenames The only difference is that this is a two-player game, and thus takes away the thrill of competing against a team of humans. I'm pretty sure all the cartoon spies are supposed to look like actors an actresses who have played spies or action heroes. There's Will Smith, Michelle Rodriguez, Tom Cruise, Jaime Lee Curtis, Jason Statham, and a few others I haven't identified."


Family rank: 14

Kids' Score: 87.1

"I played as the ghost. Sometimes the cards are obvious winners, and other times, you’re like “Oh God, I hope the color scheme is kind of similar to what I’m trying to get them to say.” A good game for families, because it’s a simple concept that doesn’t require reading. But it stimulates your nervous system. Please don’t write that down.""

It makes me feel like a real detective."

Adults' Score: 51.6

"It’s like Dixit, but it’s cooperative and the pictures are decidedly spookier. Beautiful gothic art and gratuitous cardboard cutouts. It is about pattern recognition rather than logic, so a player of any reasonable age can play as either the ghost or the psychics."

Lords of Scotland

Family Rank: 15 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 66.1

“I don’t know why I like this game, it’s just really fun. I loved the names of the Irish guys (JK). You always feel like you’re doing well, and you’re playing for yourself, no matter what other people are doing.”

Adults' Score: 62.9

“A surprising diversity of playing options for a card game. The Clans’ special abilities add a unique wrinkle that take this game to the next level and allow moments of strategic triumph. It’s clever that the cards are used for scorekeeping as well as game play. Very creative and easy to teach to the kids.”

Isle of Skye

Family Rank: 15 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 35.5

“I think it’s a very fun game in which you have a nice freedom to build wherever you want.”

“This game is the definition of ‘meh.’ It’s, like, fine, you know? It doesn’t stand out in my mind as anything other than a boring game that dad always wins.”

Adults' Score: 93.5

“It takes the same fundamental game play of Carcassone and makes it ten times better, by allowing you to weigh your priorities against your opponents’, rather than relying on pure luck. Also, it brings in an element of psychology, daring you to guess how much your opponents will be willing to pay for a piece you want to sell them. It tests a great variety of skills.”

Clans of Caledonia

Family Rank: 17

Kids' Score: 30.6

“Overcomplicated. I literally fell asleep while dad was explaining it, because the instructions were so long."

"The game is ok. You never know who’s going to win – it’s never really obvious – so that’s interesting.”

Adults' Score: 97.6

“An immensely satisfying and perfectly-balanced worker placement game. Every round is exciting for everyone, and whatever your goal is, you can always reach it if you’re willing to make the right sacrifices. There are also a huge variety of meeples, so if you’re into meeples (and who isn’t), you’ll go absolutely nuts for this game. Seriously, are there people who aren’t into meeples? Highly recommended for moderately experienced gamers.”


Family Rank: 18

Kids' Score: 41.9

"This game was very long, but i really liked it. It reminds me of Agricola, but I like it better; it is more straightforward and you don’t have to worry about your family starving. There are a million steps to making the actual product (wine), but you always know what you need to do. You can never accomplish everything you want to do on one turn, which leads to everyone having different strategies."

"Nope. I was bored all the way through. It could be fun, but it wasn’t."

Adults' Score: 85.5

"Viticulture incorporates two elements that solve many of the problems of other worker placement games. One is that it utilizes a system whereby players vie for the order in which they get to place the workers, and those that choose later slots are often compensated with other rewards. The second, and more important is the concept of the “Grande Worker.” Everyone has one worker (a giant Meeple!) who can be placed on any spot, even one that is already occupied by an opponent. Thus, if there is one task you really want to do, you can’t be elbowed out of it."

"A four player game takes too long, at least with new players."

"The game feels realistic. I have no a priori knowledge about winemaking, but after playing this a couple of times, I feel like I could go out and inherit a winery and keep it afloat for a little while."

The Mind

Family rank: 19

Kids' Score: 85.5

"It’s like Dixit, but it’s cooperative and the pictures are decidedly spookier. Beautiful gothic art and gratuitous cardboard cutouts. It is about pattern recognition rather than logic, so a player of any reasonable age can play as either the ghost or the psychics."

Adults' Score: 41.1

“A silent game. Which means we finally found something that gets the kids to shut up! The dynamic is such that the team gets more in sync, and therefore does better, the more they play together. But when things go badly, and players are out of sync, the silence is often broken by outrage.”


Family Rank: 20

Kids' Sore: 74.3

"Some say it’s the perfect game to play at German Park because it is simple and can be played with a lot of people."

"I'm really into bluffing games, and the strategy was easy to learn. You could play this game anywhere without even buying it. You could use coasters or even bottle caps."

Adults' Score: 52.1

"Brilliant in its simplicity and begs to be played over and over again. All you have to do is fool your opponents and not be fooled by them. I would compare it to Liar’s Dice, but even that has an element of luck. This game is just deception, deception, and more deception. The game pieces are few, large, and heavy, which makes this one of the few games I would take to a windy picnic. A terrific party game."

Stuffed Fables

Family Rank: 21

Kids' Score: 55.8

"A good game for people who are attracted to cooperative adventure games like D&D. I’m not as interested in that stuff as my brother, but everything about this game is charmingly adorable. You each play stuffed animals ('stuffies') who collect buttons. The stuffied can get soggy if they are not careful.. They can encourage each other by sharing stuffing. They get little heart points for doing good deeds, and instead of dying, they just collapse and wait for more stuffing to arrive."

"I love all the cute items you can have, like a skateboard, rubber bands, a number 2 pencil, or… a bloody cleaver!"

Adults' Score: 69.4

"This was billed to me as Gloomhaven for kids, and I get that, but unlike Gloomhaven, the narrative is more important than the mechanics of battle. The story is very reminiscent of a Toy Story movie… a team of stuffed animals fight bravely to protect a sleeping toddler from genuinely creepy nightmares. The basics of are easy to learn, but in our first game, we had a few questions that the instruction manual didn’t do a great job of answering."

"I wish each adventure was a little shorter. A 60-minute game is easier on kids than a 90-minute game."

Ticket to Ride

Family Rank: 22 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 76.6

“This is one of the classic games I grew up playing and have always enjoyed. I like how everybody is working on their own personal missions. You won’t know who’s going to win until the end, so all you can do is your best, and hope for the best.”

Adults' Score: 46.8

“It works as a family game, because the kids don’t realize how badly they’re losing until we count points at the end. If you want to play defensively, it provides a number of delicious ways to really make your opponents miserable.”


Family Rank: 22 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 51.6

“Super, super fun cooperative game. You never really know what you’re going to get when you sit down to play. It could be an hour of stress, or an hour of feeling like you’re saving the world.”

Adults' Score: 71.8

“It’s a great exercise in prioritizing goals, and fascinating/heartbreaking to play in the time of COVID-19. The problem, as with many cooperative games (other than Gloomhaven), is that it is too easy for one person to grab the reins and run the show for everyone.”

Above and Below

Family Rank: 24

Kids' Score: 50.0

“It’s simple at first glance, but once you go into the depths of the game, you realize how complex and different it is. I love the stories.”

“This game makes me want to walk into the ocean. I would literally rather hit a scooter onto my ankle than play this game ever again. Ever. You never know what you’re trying to accomplish, and the stories are stupid. Everything about the game sucks donkey balls.”

Adults' Score: 71.0

“A perfect marriage of worker placement, card selection, and storytelling, with beautiful, cartoonish artwork to boot. The story elements can feel a bit frivolous as the game goes on, but they provide a nice creative element to the players’ exploration of their world. The setup is complicated, and it takes up a lot of table space, but the game play is much easier than it looks.”


Family Rank: 25

Kids' Score: 58.9

"Sure, the game is fun, but it glorifies the use of non-renewable energy sources! If a player gets off to a good start at the beginning, the sky is the limit. If not, tough luck."

Adults' Score: 81.3

"At first glance, this looks like Ticket to Ride, but it is more interactive and requires more economic choices. The storyline (trying to provide electricity to the most cities) is every bit as unexciting as it sounds. Unless you’re from Germany, where this game was invented. The German board game audience famously gravitates to games about fiscal equilibrium, no matter how dull the theme is. I think I’m one-eighth German, which might be why I kind of love them, too."

"Powergrid gives the losing players first crack at various resources, but this is not enough to slow down the player who is in front, and the rich tend to get richer on a steady march to victory."


Family Rank: 26

Kids' Score: 68.5

Kids say: “It’s more fun than it looks. You’re working on your own thing, but also screwing the other players, which is always a blast.”

Adults' Score: 50.8

“It’s hard not to love the feel of the beautiful pieces in your hand. The pattern-building can be addictive, and the strategy aspects are front and center in this game. It also has an ‘ancient’ feel, which adds to its allure. Pretty good replay value. I’ve played the game about ten times, and still feel like a novice.”


Family Rank: 27

Kids' Score: 43.5

“Really engaging, but you have to love being competitive, because you are racing against each other the whole time. I love this game and would highly recommend it to people of all ages.'

'I don’t like how everyone is always hurrying during this game. I wouldn’t recommend it for children under 40.”

Adults' Score: 74.2

“A quicker, dirtier version of Scrabble. If your players don’t have the same speed or vocabulary, it can be very imbalanced and stressful for the loser.”

Not Alone

Family Rank: 28 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 60.5

"The game is asymmetric, which means it pits one player against all the others. It is stressful for the team, because it feels like you have to work harder to win, but it turns out that the game is pretty evenly-balanced. The art is pretty. I wish the cards were more equally-valued."

Adults' Score: 56.5

"If you strip away the bells and whistles, this is essentially a more nuanced version of Battleship. The team hides, and the Creature tries to guess where they are hiding. The adversaries are well-matched when the guessing is random, but the fun comes from trying to outwit your opponents by predicting their moves. I love that the Creature is not trying to kill the humans, but to assimilate them into the fabric of the planet they invaded. We like to have the creature groan 'One of us…' throughout the game."


Family Rank: 28 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 50.8

"The backstory is adorable, because it promotes world peace, and I like the idea of giving a panda as a gift. The little figurines are fun to move around, and the panda is really cute. I wish the goal cards were a little more evenly matched."

Adults' Score: 66.1

"If you’re just getting into board games, or trying to introduce some new friends to the hobby, this is a great place to start. A very satisfying blend of goals and options… Tilling the earth, irrigating gardens, and caring for a hungry (and easily startled) animal. I like the three-dimensional aspect of the bamboo growth. Some of the goal cards (especially those about growing bamboo) were not realistically attainable."

"A great way to teach your children about whether pandas are really bears. (Note: I don’t actually know the answer.)"


Family Rank: 30

Kids' Score: 62.9

“It’s fun when you’re in the mood, but boring when you’re not. You kind of have to know who you’re playing with, so you can read what they’re trying to tell you. I love the ‘concept’ of the game, and the cooperative aspect to it.”

Adults' Score: 52.4

“It’s like a modern version of Charades using icons instead of gestures. Like Charades, it works equally well with two people as with ten. At first, it feels impossible, but you quickly become familiar with iconography, and it feels like you've learned to communicate in a new language. It is remarkably engaging. I recommend playing for fun, not for points. The clues on the cards can be a bit esoteric at times, so feel free to make up your own.”


Family Rank: 31

Kids' Score: 41.1

"There are certain boxes on our shelf that just scare me, and this is one of them, but it looks more complicated than it is. It has a lot of pieces. Like usual, lots of choking hazards. Would not recommend playing with children under 3 years of age."

"It would be more fun if you didn’t keep score. I just want to raise sheep and not worry about feeding my family. There is some frustration with not being able to do the things you want to do."

Adults' Score: 72.6

"This was the first game we owned that involved turn-based competitive worker placement to collect resources. Agricola is a game typified by scarcity. You will never be able to complete your chosen projects, so you are forced to prioritize. This used to bother me a lot, but doesn’t bother me as much anymore, as I have resigned myself to building mediocre farms. We’ve only ever played the Family version of the game, which seems sophisticated enough to maintain interest after a dozen sittings."


Family Rank: 32 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 26.6

“It’s just ok. I think we were playing the game wrong, because my character (the Vagabond) got almost no points. I had a lot of fun, but ended up losing very badly. I liked having a simpler role. If you don’t know the rules, you can make a lot of mistakes very fast.”

Adults' Score: 83.1

“It is genius that every character plays a completely different game all the way through the forest, but this is also the game’s downfall. Of all the games on our shelf, it is the hardest one to teach – as you essentially have to teach every player a completely different set of rules. Even on our third game, we were digging around in the instruction manual to clarify rules and see sample moves. That said, it seems well-balanced, and I can’t wait to play again.”


Family Rank: 32 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 55.6

"A good mix of the other games we have played to far. I like it better than Carcassonne. You are each building your own world rather than one big world. I also like it better than Isle of Skye, because the scoring is less complicated."

"It’s a fun game in concept, but it is frustrating when someone buys the tile you want before you can get it."

Adults' Score: 54.0

"Alhambra combines a lot of the common mechanics of European-style board games… card drafting, tile placement, and collecting resources. All are done in the most straightforward way possible, making this a great introduction to the genre. It has just enough interactivity to make other players’ turns interesting. The art if simple, but attractive, and the sense of steady progress is satisfying."


Family Rank: 34 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 26.6

"It’s one of those games where you can’t quite get done everything you want to do. It’s fun if you plan your moves well, but it’s a lot to learn the first time you play. It might be too complicated for younger kids.”

Adults' Score: 80.6

“The beautiful artwork and playing pieces are calming, intricate, and downright cute. The game concept is lovely too – it’s wonderful how each player gets to move at their own pace through the world and build their own society. A thoughtfully-designed and well-balanced game of card-buying and worker placement. Strongly recommend for adults and older kids. You can play with 2-4 players, but 3 is the sweet spot.”


Family Rank: 34 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 30.6

“A classic. I grew up playing it and it’s a good way to release your creative energy.”

Adults' Score: 76.6

“It’s best when you play with a large group of people, and when you play to be silly, rather than to win. At least once in every game, there is a moment of truly sidesplitting humor, which makes the game a perennial hit. Great for adult parties and families alike, as long as your kids are old enough to read and write.”


Family Rank: 36

Kids' Score: 38.7

“More fun than I expected. It can be hard to do everything you want to do, because you’re all competing for the same spaces.”

Adult' Score: 64.5

“One of my all-time favorites. I love the continually shifting plans the game requires of its players. Your priorities are constantly changing. Like many games, you get into bidding wars with your opponents, but the unique twist is that you are bidding for neighboring spaces on the board, rather than for the same space. You have to gamble on what your opponents are going to be willing pay for the space next to yours. It’s brilliant. Buy this game, if you can find it.”

Betrayal at the House on the Hill

Family Rank: 37

Kids' Score: 41.9

"This game has an interesting concept, but a few features that might be disturbing for children. Hanging dead bodies, faceless children, snakes, skeletons, you know the drill. The game is orchestrated in a very suspenseful-horror kind of way."

Adults' Score: 56.5

"A guys vs. ghouls game set in a haunted mansion. It starts out as a cooperative game, as players explore rooms full of random terrors that strengthen or weaken their bodies or minds. This part is satisfying for fans of Gothic horror, especially when you are new to the game, but feels stale after you’ve played a few times. Then, suddenly, one player is possessed by something lurking in the house and turns against the others. From that moment on, every game is different… the enemy may be a mummy, an expanding vortex of darkness, or evil twins of the players themselves. Opposing instruction manuals guide the story, as the monster (and possessed person) try to kill the explorers, and they try to escape. The instruction manuals are not always perfectly clear. One team might have to spill some secrets to get the story right."


Family Rank: 38

Kids' Score: 24.2

“A classic that I almost never win, but it’s still very satisfying to make words and then realize that no one else found them. I’ll never win this game in this family, but I have fun trying.”

Adults' Score: 73.4

“In theory, this game favors players with large vocabularies, but it is not just about the lexical words. If you learn a lot of uncommon 3-letter words and remember to write down the plural of everything, you’ll win.”


Family Rank: 39 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 58.1

“Probably one of my favorite card games, because there’s a lot of teaming up and killing people. I like how the players work together to destroy their enemies.”

Adults' Score: 38.7

“The fact that the cards are written in Italian adds a lovely educational element. The problem is that once you start losing, you keep losing, and once you’re out, the fun goes on without you. The game relies much more on luck than on strategy, making it good for small kids or drunk adults.”

Castle Panic

Family Rank: 39 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 64.5

“Fun enough. I love the cooperation, working toward the common goal of not dying.”

Adults' Score: 32.3

“A great starter cooperative game, because it’s easy to teach and almost impossible to lose. If your kids are old enough to play Clue, they can play this.”

Clue: Harry Potter Edition

Family Rank: 41

Kids' Score: 58.9

"So much better than normal Clue! They literally fix all of the problems that I have with Clue, such as that it takes so long to move and other people can move your characters around against your will. The Dark Mark cards add a new level of challenge."

Adults' Score: 31.5

"We needed to include this just to highlight the ways that this game improves on the standard version of Clue. To expand on what the kids said, the biggest source of frustration in the original Clue is that it may take three or more turns just to get from one room to another. Harry Potter Clue lets you roll two dice, so you move faster. There are special spaces in the hallway, so even if you don’t make it to a room, you can get a reward. Other players can’t sabotage you by pulling you into the wrong room when you’re headed for an accusation. Plus, the secret passages move around, so you may have the opportunity to teleport across the board without having to use one of the corner rooms. In spite of all of these improvements, the strategy is still based on process of elimination, which is rather middlebrow. Good for smaller kids and philistine adults."

Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion

Family Rank: 42

Kids' Score: 50.0

"It’s almost exactly the same as Machi Koro in terms of gameplay and how fun it is. It just takes a little longer because you have to buy more landmarks."

Adults' Score: 40.3

"First of all, this is the easiest expansion to learn of any game we’ve played. Besides adding a few new cards, the principle difference is that the market changes every time anyone buys something. This solves one the few problems with the original Machi Koro, which is that the winning strategy doesn’t change much from game to game. With the shifting supply chain of cards in the Harbor Expansion, you can’t just rely on a diverse portfolio and several copies of The Mine. Overall, I think this does exactly what an expansion should; it maintains all the fun of the original and adds just enough to keep it from getting stale."

Machi Koro

Family Rank: 43 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 50.8

“I like the way you become more powerful throughout the game. It’s a fun dice game where you every choice is good, but some are better.”

Adults' Score: 38.7

“Like Settlers of Catan, players may benefit on every turn, no matter who’s rolling the dice. This keeps all players engaged. It’s a fun and easy lesson in making decisions based on probability, without too many layers of strategy. I recommend this for families and new gamers.”


Family Rank: 43 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 37.9

“I love this one because it’s a different game every time. You use different cards that give you different powers and there are lots of ways to win.”

Adults' Score: 51.6

“Dominion’s greatest strength is its replayability. We own several expansions, and they change the game enough to keep it interesting. One of the problems with deck-building games is that if there is no consistent mechanism for thinning your deck, cards become less useful as the game goes on. This takes the fun out of saving up for the powerful action cards. Another downside is that this game has very little interactivity. When it’s not your turn, there is no real incentive to pay attention to what your opponents are doing. You just wait until it is your turn again. Thus, it is probably best as a two-player game, because you’re not twiddling your thumbs as long.”


Family Rank: 45

Kids' Score: 50.0

"A lot simpler than I expected it to be, especially since it was written by the same guy that invented Agricola. Don’t try to latch on to a specific strategy before you start the game, because it’s easy to get carried away and not end up meeting your goal. A good game if you’re short on time, because it only takes about 15 minutes to play."

Adults' Score: 37.9

"It took us a while to take this one off the shelf, because you can only play with two people, so we had to divide the family up and play it twice."

"The comparisons to Tetris are inevitable, but this is less about perfectly interlocking the strange shapes than it is about balancing the two costs (time and cute button money) with the relative value of the pieces to your quilt. The layout, in which all the pieces are randomly placed in a circle around the table, is unique and visually appealing. It’s a clever mechanism to have the marketplace move around this circle as the game progresses.

7 Wonders

Family Rank: 46

Kids' Score: 27.4

“I love the historical vibe. Very fun to play once you understand the concept.”

Adults' Score: 56.5

“This is first game I played that relied on a card-passing mechanism. No matter how you shuffle the cards, this makes the game feel eminently fair. The winner usually picks one strategy and commits to it, but the strategy that wins is different every game. The game is surprisingly short, and if you play the app version, it’s even faster. We should pull this one out more often.”


Family Rank: 47

Kids' Score: 66.1

"A classic kids' game that never gets old. I like that you always have a fighting chance to win. It’s not really a logical game, but it is still fun to think of clues and respond to the other players’ clues. You could spend all of your time just looking at the pictures."

Adults' Score: 16.1

"Dixit is good for smaller kids because it doesn’t require reading or an understanding of probability. It requires a little imagination and deduction, so if you want to dip your toes into the waters of creative gaming, this is a good appetizer. The artwork is beautiful and abstract. Seeing each card for the first time is a treat. After a few games, you’ve seen all the cards, and the excitement level takes a significant dip. I guess that’s why they have so many expansions for sale."

Ultimate Werewolf Legacy

Family Rank: 48

Kids' Score: 61.3

"I had a great time. It’s always a fun game to play with a lot of your family friends. It’s a game that encourages the use of guns against werewolves. The game has towers and evil boxes."

Bass (Guest Reviewer): "I wish there were more chapters so we could play more."

Adults' Score: 20.2.

"The legacy version of the classic One Night Ultimate Werewolf can only be played with a very large group. While this is great for social reasons, the size of the group and the other bells and whistles make it harder to focus on who is lying. More guessing than actual social deduction. It is a bluffing game, in theory, but there is little incentive for people to speak up at all; sometimes the person keeping quiet will just win by default. Works well with a mixed audience of adults and kids, and can be done virtually, but it isn't quite as fun over Zoom, because once you're out, you can't just go into the other room and grab a beer with the other murdered villagers."

"By the way kids, you really shouldn’t have said that the boxes are evil. That’s a spoiler."

Mark (Guest Reviewer): “What a blast. The gore and violence were epic.”

Stacy (Guest Reviewer): "I like it because you can find out which of your friends and family have murderous rage."

Ben (Guest Reviewer): "Some of us old folks don’t know how to use this whole Zoom thing which was definitely getting in the way of being a 'WINNER.' "

Skippy (Guest Reviewer): "It’s really fun but it makes you stay up an hour and half past your bedtime."

Colt Express

Family Rank: 49

Kids' Score: 45.2

“I love how you physically build the game before you can play, and you don’t know what everyone else will do until the end of each turn. So, you have to make your moves as a ‘best guess’.”

Adults' Score: 33.9

"Such a clever idea, but it relies on being able to predict your opponent’s strategy 3-4 moves in advance, which is essentially impossible. This makes the game more random than strategic.”


Family Rank: 50

Kids' Score: 49.2

“I liked this game because there were so many different strategies, and they all seemed pretty evenly matched.”

Adults' Score: 30.6

“It feels very American to have a board game about tourism, but very unamerican that the goal is move as slowly as possible to enrich your experience. Unfortunately, the game play is not particularly engaging. It feels too linear. Literally, because you are traveling along a line. The artwork is beautiful.”


Family Rank: 51

Kids' Score: 34.0

"I didn’t enjoy this game much. If the theme was something other than planting trees, it might be less boring."

"You have to make sure you really understand the scoring, because if you miss some of the rules, it can mess you up. I agree that planting trees is not very interesting, but hey, if you’re a botanist, then check this game out.. It involves a lot of plants!"

Adults' Score: 45.1

"We Londons just like the feel of plastic and cardboard, so straight up card games never seem to get our top picks, but I think this one is a winner. Imagine playing Gin, but instead of trying to make sequences in your hand, you make them on the table in plain sight. Also, instead of just putting your cards in a horizontal line, you can build overlapping sequences in a grid. There is an added element of defensive play that really ramps up the excitement. If you’re willing to waste precious space in your hand, you can palm a card you know your opponent needs, and pull the rug out from under them at the end.


Family Rank: 52

Kids' Score: 49.2

“It’s one of the only strategy games I can win. The characters all have different powers, and it doesn’t feel like they’re evenly matched.”

Adults' Score: 25.8

“The shape and textures of the game pieces are very appealing, and the 40+ characters allows for nearly limitless replay value. Of course, some of the characters are basically unstoppable. It’s kind of annoying that the game designer calls himself out as a doctor. Is he one of those douchebags who writes MD or PhD when he signs credit card receipts?”

Forbidden Island

Family Rank: 53

Kids' Score: 34.7

“A very stressful game, where it’s easy to feel doomed, and easy to lose. It’s very luck-based, and while there is some strategy, too many things seem out of your control.”

Adults' Score: 36.3

“The outcome is surprisingly weighted against the players for a cooperative children’s game. Like Pandemic, it is too easy for the alpha gamer to take the reins and boss everyone else around.”

The Game of Things

Family Rank: 54

Kids' Score: 49.2

"A simple game that will get the entire family laughing. Make something up. That’s all you do. There are some loopholes in the design: if you don’t want to be found out, you write down something in the style of another person, which might not be what the game intended."

Adults' Score: 22.6

"Recommended for Zoom family game night. A don’t-have-to-think-too-much-but-still-get-credit-for-being-creative party game where you guess who said what in response to a prompt. Seconds to learn, laugh-out-loud moments, and good family time. It can be played with four players, but we had the most fun with eight."


Family Rank: 55

Kids' Score: 44.4

“It’s satisfying to place the tiles down and see the world that you create. The farmer scoring is confusing, though.”

Adults' Score: 24.2

“For my money, Isle of Skye is better. I’ve never understood the farmer scoring, and it’s frustrating to me.”

“Family, I respectfully disagree about the farmer placement. I think that is the most unique and strategic aspect of the game. The big downside is that during the second half of the game, you invariably find yourself needing a certain tile that may or may not exist, which can lead to a bottomless pit of frustration.”


Family Rank: 56

Kids's Score: 17.7

“A fun game but it gets boring pretty fast. The feel of the pieces in your hand is the best part of the game.”

“I used to like Splendor, but I must have had a bad experience, because now I think it is literally the worst game in the world ever invented. It’s frustrating how you never get the cards you want.”

Adults' Score: 49.2

“You can teach this game in 30 seconds, and yet it’s engaging enough that I’ve played it over 100 times (mostly on my phone) and never get sick of it. I can’t understand why the kids aren’t into it. I’m going to assume the problem is with them, not the game. It’s such a simple concept, and yet there is no single winning strategy. This is most noticeable when you play against the AI in the app version. Rather than have an easy, medium, and hard level, the AI players just employ different strategies, and I am equally likely to win (or lose) against all of them.”


Family Rank: 57

Kids's Score: 53.2

“I think it’s really fun how you can create whatever creature you want and then battle them against each other.”

Adults's Score: 16.1

“I like this one more in theory than in practice. (Ironic, because Evolution IS a theory, right?) It ties in nicely with lessons about Darwinism, but the mechanics are a little clunky. I’m not ready to take this one out of rotation entirely, but among our games, it’s an endangered species.”


Family Rank: 58

Kids' Score: 47.6

“Either too easy or too hard."

"I love it. It causes the guesser to really use their brain power to figure out the solution.

Adults' Score: 17.7

“A classic basic deductive reasoning game. It’s great for a 5-minute spin. If MENSA decided to kidnap 5-year old geniuses and raise them to be superspies, they would probably use Mastermind as a screening tool."

"I prefer the road trip game where we do the same thing with words, rather than colored pegs.”


Family Rank: 59

Kids' Score: 31.3

"I’ve played this five times or so. It’s exciting while playing, but it doesn’t stand out on a shelf full of games that have a theme. I wish it had characters or a plot or something. It’s the same kind of fun as Connect-4."

Adults' Score: 30.6

"This is a clever game that tests visuospatial skills. It’s fun with three other players, because you have to weigh the benefits of expanding your reach and defending your little corner of the world. The Londons insist on calling it BLOKE-iss, knowing full well that the rest of the world pronounces it BLOCK-iss. Don’t try to tell us we’re wrong. We know we’re wrong, but we aren’t going to stop, and if you want to play this with us, you have to pronounce it our way. House rules."


Family Rank: 60

Kids' Score: 44.4

"It takes way too long to play, but I love the D&D-esque theme with spells and items, etc."

"I’ve been playing this game since I was five. It’s like Monopoly, in that it is almost all luck. Sometimes good things happen to you and sometimes bad things happen to you, and you have no control over the consequences. I suppose it's good for people who are new to board games. Pro tip: Don’t ever go to the Enchantress. She is bad news. She will turn you into a Toad."

Adults' Score: 16.7

"We’re playing the version I bought when I was the kids’ age. Back in the day, this was a perennial favorite at sleepover parties."

"One glaring problem with Talisman is the lack of equity. The characters all start with special powers, but they can be ho-hum, like being safe in The Crags, or ridiculously powerful, like getting to draw two adventure cards instead of one every turn and deciding which one to play."

"You don't get to make many real decisions, and the decision you do make are often between two unknowns. (Do I pick a random card, or roll a die for a random effect?)"

"We were two hours into the game before realizing that nothing meaningful had happened and we hadn’t made much progress towards ending the game."

Spirit Island

Family Rank: 61

Kids' Score: 36.1

"I’ve played this game a few times. It's actually fun, and the artwork is beautiful, but it can take a while to finish."

"Nope. I really didn’t like this game. For most of the game, you have no power, and the bad guys are just beating up on you. Somehow, at the very end, you get a ton of power, and maybe you are able to fend them off. That was the only fun part, but it wasn’t worth the three days of playing to get there."

Adults' Score: 20.8

"This has all the elements of a winner: cooperative play, beautiful artwork, bizarre pieces that make for a wonderful tactile experience, differential character powers, and various levels of complexity. It has one of the best back stories of any game I have seen; the players are minor dieties that work with native people to fend off colonial invaders who look like Conquistadors. The world of Spirit Island has a unique and enchanting mythos that I want to know more about. The powers your characters wield are really creative and well-balanced. This game would be absolutely perfect... if it was more fun. Unfortunately, it's mostly just stressful. It reminds me of playing Pandemic when things aren’t going well. All you can do is take little bites out a menace that is growing way too fast. Plus, there is too much of administrative work to do between rounds, which is both time-consuming and hard to get right."

Just One

Family Rank: 62

Kids' Score: 37.9

“Simple, fun game that you can play with anybody, but gets old pretty quickly. I’m surprised it won Spiel des Jahres.”

Adults' Score: 12.9

“I was looking for a game that we could play with other families over Zoom, and this one was recommended on the Boardgame Geek forum. It worked well for that purpose but only kept us entertained for about 15 minutes at a time. I can see playing it again when we don’t have time for a full game night, but Spiel des Jahres? That’s hogwash.”


Family Rank: 63

Kids' Score: 25.0

"It’s fine, but it can be boring if nobody’s in the right mood. It’s the players that make the game fun. If you play with complete strangers, it might be a lot harder."

Adults' Score: 23.9

"A great game to play when you’re not in the mood to learn anything new. It’s a straight-up party game with little thinking, but lots of opportunities to flex your competitive spirit. Buzzing people out when they say the forbidden words is embarrassingly fun."

"I got buzzed for times, and all four of them were for the word 'eat.' Why the hell is that on so many cards?


Family Rank: 64

Kids' Score: 30.6

"It’s as if you took D&D and simplified it 100-fold. The game is very well-balanced between all the different character classes and the random things that happen to you."

Adults' Score: 8.3

"I keep this on the shelf for nostalgia purposes only. I used to play this with my friends when I was younger than my kids are now. It is most notable for inspiring the fear of sentient oozes, like Green Slime and Black Pudding. The gameplay itself manages to be both boring and frustrating. I would recommend this for children who are about 6-8 years old and love fantasy. Otherwise, don’t bother."

When I Sleep

Family Score: 65

Kids' Score: 27.4

“I liked it generally and would play it again. It combined memory with logic and thinking skills."

"I kind of hated it. From the very start, you’re likely to get them all right or all wrong based on who’s talking to you.”

Adults' Score: 11.3

“Possibly the most beautiful and innovative artwork of any game we own other than Dixit. Unlike Dixit, point-scoring is based on skill rather than popularity. The game wasn’t as immediately fun as I’d hoped, but it’s probably better with a larger group.”

Pass the Pigs

Family Rank: 66 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 29.0

“PIG OUT, PASS THE PIGS!!!!!!!!!!”

Adults' Score: 8.9

“The drunker you are, the better it gets. Everybody wants to roll the coveted Double Leaning Jowler, but in our experience, it doesn’t exist."

"Getting to shout PASS THE PIGS is the center of, and only reason to play, this game. And really, the best part of any game is when you get to yell out the name of the game.”


Family Rank: 66 (TIE)

Kids' Score: 26.6

"It’s ok. It’s a cool idea to have the other players see your cards and not you, but the game play was not what I’d hoped. It’s a little like Headbandz in that aspect.”

Adults' Score: 11.3

“Conceptually and mathematically interesting game. I hate to say it, but this one seems to suffer from lackluster artwork and a boring backstory about trying to put on a memorable fireworks display.”

Seven Meadows

Family Rank: 68

Kids' Score: 10.5

“This is a very simple, yet fun game that keeps everyone engaged.”

Adults's Score: 20.2

“A card game in the truest sense. In fact, you could play this game with a regular deck of cards. In that context, it’s a delightfully clever and unique concept. A great starter game for younger grandparents and people who get migraines from things that are too mentally taxing. When held up against more sophisticated games on this list, this is not going to stand out, but sometimes you’re just in the mood for a classy card game.”


Family Rank: 69

Kids' Score: 16.1

“I like it because it puts to work your visual skills and your ability to think fast, and your pattern finding skills. I don’t know why it’s ranked so low."

"I suck at this game and I hate it. The game play is so hectic all the time, it makes the whole experience stressful. I ended the game with zero sets.”

Adults' Score: 12.1

“A timeless concept, but I guess I’m starting to slow down, because Scarlett kicked my ass at this."

"For some reason, I feel like this is a good one to bring on a long train ride. I’m picturing a nice train, where you have a table between you and your travel companion, and they bring you tea service. Since I don’t ride on trains very often I might not play this one again for a while.”


Family Rank: 70

Kids' Score: 21.0

“I don’t really like this game because it’s too hectic. It’s fun sometimes, but there’s no way of knowing how long it will last. It might be over in a few minutes or take an hour and be super annoying.”

Adults' Score: 2.4

“A cesspool of endless chaos and learned helplessness. The whole point is that the rules keep changing, which is much more fun in concept than in reality. You have to revel in the entropy, because there’s basically no strategy and no sense of control.”

Munchkin Zombies

Family Rank: 71

Kids' Score: 9.7

"Honestly, I don’t know what to think of this game. It doesn’t stand out, other than the funny cartoons and the constant frustration of not being able to hold as many items as I want. I like the fact that we are the zombies and the 'monsters' are regular people."

Adults' Score: 11.8

"Any appeal the Munchkin games have comes from prepubescent silliness and a bottomless catalog of incongruous, yet fungible expansion sets. If these were around when I was in middle school, I certainly would have wooed by the siren song of collectible expansions, but it doesn't do much for me now. The unpredictability of the decks and of the cards in your opponents’ hands is so great, none of your decisions matter."


Family Rank: 72

Kids' Score: 11.3

“To be completely honest, I don’t remember much about this game. It was probably kind of boring, but it’s possible it was fun and just forgettable.”

Adults' Score: 6.5

“It has all of the elements of a great strategy game, but it somehow lacks the spark to elevate it from mediocrity. Maybe it’s just not relatable. It’s hard to get excited about birds flocking to garbage.”

Created By
Scarlett London