Kudos to these double duty games.
These are the board games that get played with my kids at the dining room table, and that we still play once the girls are in bed. I like to think of it as a two for one deal; you put out money and shelf space for one board game and end up with both a game you can play with your children and a game you can play with other adults.
Some of these are games which aren’t necessarily meant for kids which you can play with younger children (my youngest started playing these when she was four). While the rest are games which are marketed as “for kids” which are still fun for adults to play, even when the kids aren’t around.
(This post was originally published on my gaming blog, which has closed down. I figured I’d repost it here because I thought you folks would enjoy checking out this list of “on target for kids”, yet “fun for adults” board games. When this post was originally published by girls were ages 4 and 7. Four years later, at ages 8 and 11, they are still playing these games — and so am I.)
The box for this super cute Panda themed game says ages 13+. Ignore that. My four year old can play this one. The colourful bamboo pieces and the 3D panda and gardener figurine give this a high cuteness factor. No reading required, the cards which give you the goals are all icon based. Overall the game is strategic yet easy to explain.
(But why does that box say 13+? If you want an interesting read, check out this post on BoardGameGeek which explains why many game publishers put 13+ on the box of games being marketed in the US to get around pricey toy testing regulations).
Take the old playground game King of the Hill, add a dash of Yahtzee and a pinch of the old monster matinees and you’ve got King of Tokyo.
Simple game mechanics plus well realized giant monsters theme makes for a quick and fun game. One which is surprisingly popular with adults at our local board gaming club events. Some reading is required for this one. There are upgrade cards which you can purchase during the game. Most of the cards are very simple, however, a few are quite wordy. We get around this by reading the cards out loud to the kids when they first get drawn. (This was also a great learn/practice to read incentive with my eldest.)
Take colourful Tetris-like pieces, now place them flat on a board and take turns putting down pieces, trying to get all of your bits to fit on the board — bingo you’ve got Blokus.
This game is extremely simple to explain, yet can be challenging to play versus a clever opponent. My kids picked this up ridiculously quickly, as in the four-year-old had figured it out before I was done reading the rules. Yet I’ve witnessed adults who have gotten flustered by this game, while engaging in some seriously intense gameplay.
This is one of my personal favourites. No reading required and the basic principle is very simple: match colour and shapes to lay down your tiles. Scorekeeping math required means younger kids can’t play this solo.
Qwirkle doesn’t hold the interest of my four-year-old, but the older kid loves it and has been playing it for years. Trying to find the best possible combinations to score the most points is fun and challenging. This is another one that can lead to surprisingly competitive play amongst adults. (I will never forget hearing one grown man call another a “Qwirkling jerkwad.” I still giggle just thinking about it.)
This is a kids’ game. A silly dexterity based kids’ game in which you flipper mash (ala Hungry Hungry Hippos) and try and keep Looping Louie from knocking down your chickens. My kids love it and play it frequently on their own.
This game is simply not my cup of tea, but people, grown adult people, do play this at our local board game events, frequently and with much laughter. It’s an often requested favourite, so I thought I should include it on this list.
This is another kids game which makes the Fun For Adult Play list. Rhino Hero is basically a “build a card house” dexterity game in which you build a skyscraper out of playing cards. You can end up with a three or four foot tall skyscraper, which means you need to play on the floor if you’re playing with shorter children.
This one is a bit like Mouse Guard meets Hero Quest. It’s a story-driven dungeon crawl where the player character heroes are mice.
The miniatures are gorgeous. The anthropomorphic mice can’t help but bring to mind the Mouse Guard comic books, or the Redwall series by Brian Jaques. There is a strong story element to the game, and as you play the story progresses through chapters.
The game is meant for ages 7 and up and has heavy text elements. We were able to play it with our pre-literate girls and the game went over well, but despite initial enthusiasm, the 4-year-old wandered off halfway through the game (and not just once, every time we’ve played). The 7-year-old, on the other hand, LOVED every minute of it.
We’ve yet to play this one without the kids, mainly because of the progressive story elements, but I know many who play this as an adults only game and I could totally see playing and enjoying this kid free.
What double duty games would you recommend?