Dad Tips

Our Top Family Board Games


This list may not be compiled on merit, but the granddaddy of board games has to come first. The finest strategy game, played down the ages by everyone from kings to peasants – using pieces made from precious metal to scraps of paper or stones. When Grand Masters become household names, you know this game is worth taking seriously.


The great game of acquisition, greed and, er, Scottie Dogs. Pick your playing piece, roll the dice and off you go on a whirlwind tour of London (or New York or almost anywhere nowadays). A top family game and a training ground for young entrepreneurs.


If you can make something out of Z,U,K,P,T,A,S* this one’s for you. The game for wordsmiths everywhere, though anyone who can string seven letters together will love it. Keep the dictionary close at hand and let the arguments begin…*Zapus is a type of rodent; Auk is a type of bird. If you got either of those, you’re a full-on Scrabbler.


A strategy and development tile-placing game based on the French city of the same name. Sounds dull? Actually it’s great fun and if you include the add-on sections, games can last for hours. Might also persuade you to grab a low-budget flight to southern France for a weekend of out-of-season sun – a powerful incentive.


Big kids and small kids love this surprisingly tense yet simple game which involves pulling straws out of holes in a tube without letting all the marbles inside go tumbling with a, er, kerplunk.


Tacky plastic, wacky-shaped device which you build up before shouting ‘Mousetrap!!’ at the top of your voice as the trap is sprung and the hapless mouse is caught. That’s what the telly adverts told us all those years ago and the reality is not far away. Plenty of fun, especially for teenies.

Tumbling Monkeys

Another big hit with little ones. A bit like Kerplunk, this one involves straws and, well, tumbling monkeys. A budget option so worth getting hold of if it means half an hour of relative peace.


You don’t have to be Picasso to play this but it might help. On second thoughts, if late-period Picasso did play this, no one would have a clue because it’s all about scrawling pictures on paper for fellow-players to guess.

Trivial Pursuit

Old favourite for the smug, the fact-fans and the show-offs. Most of us fit into at least one of those categories. Move your cheese wheel around the board, answering questions and collecting mini-wedges as you proclaim your brain power. Or something.


More Inspector Gadget than Inspector Morse. The old country house murder mystery number is still going strong. A great one for those who like to read character and facial expression and it will keep you guessing all the way.

Connect 4

A maths strategy favourite – all you need to do is get four discs in a row on the vertical grid. Watch out for your opponent trying to do the same, though. Compulsive stuff.

The Game of Life

Well over a century old, this game traces the player’s path through, er, life. School, work, marriage, kids etc. A tedious premise? Try it out and see how well you can mess up – sorry, succeed.


Whether you identify with Robin Williams or Dwayne Johnson, you’ll have fun recreating the movie which recreates a board game. Just don’t expect hostile animals, indigenous tribes, double-crossing treasure hunters etc. No, really, they won’t leap out of the board.


One for the consumers in our midst. All about identifying logos and answering retail-related questions. Great if you like that sort of thing. Just don’t buy the American version or you’ll be waiting in vain for questions about Colman’s mustard and Penguin books.

Start your settlement from scratch and get growing. Farming is the way forward as you turn your mud huts into towns, then cities. Enticing, but it does feel like playing Forge of Empires online gives you more of a visual experience. And you get to blow up stuff.


A favourite with all the petits generals out there. There are various versions of this world domination game but the premise is the same – annihilate your enemy and stand astride the board, er, globe.


Pile your wooden pieces in a tower, pull them out one by one and see which numpty sends it crashing to the table. What could be more fun?

Guess Who

Great game for the very young and those a bit older. All about learning recognition, question-asking and assessment as you try to work out which player your opponent has chosen.


Like chess only simpler, and just as old. Ticks all the boxes – strategy, conquest and pretty patterns. Takes minutes to learn and is a great way to engage pre-teens in thinking board games.

Rob Friedlander
All games available online and also at retailers like John Lewis, WH Smith and The Entertainer