Can Family Games Be Fun For Everyone?

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There’s a common belief that family games are not fun for adults – especially games that are geared towards preschoolers. Simple and easy to understand surely equals parental boredom. Right? Well, I’m on a quest to find games that my daughter and I can both enjoy. Let’s be honest though, a preschooler isn’t going to do anything they don’t want to do. So, priority #1 is finding games that my daughter enjoys. My personal enjoyment is an extremely-distant second. Still, I’ll assign a rating (1 to 10) for her enjoyment as well as mine, and for the quality of game components.

A while back, Dad Kingdom reviewed several of the best iPad games for toddlers. But, whenever possible, it’s great to unplug from all the electronic devices! Hopefully this comparison will encourage you to bond over a new game or an old classic. Of course, let us know in the comments if you have some favorites that we’ve missed!

Race To The Treasure!

family games race to the treasure
Sweet sweet treasure. (Photo by Heath Washburn – DadKingdom.com)

This tile-laying game from Peaceable Kingdom (an allied kingdom of course) is a refreshing deviation from your normal “spin & move” or “roll & move” family games. Instead, everyone takes turns blindly drawing tiles from the box and works together to collect keys on their way to the ultimate goal (hint: it rhymes with schmeasure). But, draw too many ogre tiles and he’ll get there before you do. Setup is educational too, there are alphanumeric rows and columns that can help your preschooler learn about coordinates while placing the keys.

I give Race to the Treasure! a bonus “dad” point, because it can serve as a gateway game for one of my favorites – Carcassonne! In a few years, this game will be a fond memory and we can take the next evolutionary step in tile-laying board games. My only gripe is that the components are mediocre. I would prefer that the tiles were thicker and heavier, both for tactile quality and to keep them from sliding around on the board.

  • Preschooler: 8/10 – Dad: 8/10 – Components: 6/10
  • Overall: 8/10
  • Click for price ($15-$20)

Candy Land

Oh, Candy Land. What can I say? Spin the wheel, move your sugary-sweet pawn to the next colored space. Rinse and repeat. I’m including Candy Land just for variety and because so many people associate it with children’s games. The truth is, I think my daughter has more fun deciding between the cupcake and the strawberry pawns than she does actually playing the game. Folks, there are family games out there that kids and parents can both enjoy!

  • Preschooler: 5/10 – Dad: 2/10 – Components: 4/10
  • Overall: 3/10
  • Click for price ($5-$15)

Guess Who?

DK Tip: After Guess Who? has worn out its welcome, follow this simple guide for adding an NBA theme!

Another classic family game! But, unlike many others, this one is actually pretty good. It’s to teach your child about the process of elimination. Still, replayability is lacking. The fun starts fading after the 10th time you’ve asked whether their character is “wearing glasses.” Also, the fact that it’s strictly a 2-player game limits the versatility of the game.

*DK Tip: There’s hope! After Guess Who? has worn out its welcome with your kids, follow this simple guide from Dad Kingdom. We show you how to give the game new life with a more adult-friendly NBA theme!

  • Preschooler: 6/10 – Dad: 6/10 – Components: 5/10
  • Overall: 6/10
  • Click for price ($10-$15)

Animal Upon Animal

Family Games Animal Upon Animal
Animals were born to be stacked. (Photo by Heath Washburn – DadKingdom.com)

Dexterity games are probably the safest bet for mutual parent/child enjoyment! Animal Upon Animal from HABA is one of the best dexterity family games around. Everyone knows Jenga, but just because it’s a classic doesn’t mean it’s the best.

Stacking colorful animals one by one is a good time. It gets better, because sometimes you have to place two and sometimes your opponent gets to hand you an animal of their choice. One great aspect of the game is that it’s about getting rid of your animals and the game is not over when the stack falls. I feel like there’s a hidden lesson there. Don’t get discouraged kids, just keep on stacking!

  • Preschooler: 9/10 – Dad: 8/10 – Components: 9/10
  • Overall: 9/10
  • Click for price ($20-$25)

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel

At it’s core, The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel has a boring “spin & move” mechanic. But, for some reason, picking up the acorns with a cute plastic squirrel makes you forget about the simplistic nature of the game. Plus, the OCD completionist in me is comforted by successfully filling the tree stump with colorful acorns. The components are mostly great, the acorns are perfectly weighted and the tree-shaped box is ingenious! But, I worry a little about the tree stumps and box corners getting beat up over time. Mom and dad will probably enjoy this one, but it’s more fun for the kids.

  • Preschooler: 9/10 – Dad: 6/10 – Components: 8/10
  • Overall: 8/10
  • Click for price ($10-$15)

Lucky Dogs

family games lucky dogs
Dads know all about the dog house. (Photo by Heath Washburn – DadKingdom.com)

Say hello to the only high-volume dice roller on this list. Lucky Dogs has a wonderful concept. Roll a hand-full of dice and match them up with the bone graphics. Then, once filled, flip the bones over to spell the game’s namesake. I like the educational value (numbers and spelling), but the rules for when dice go in and out of the dog house aren’t intuitive. Family games don’t need to be complicated! Fortunately, preschoolers don’t care if you break the rules! My daughter has a blast just rolling and matching the dice.

Lucky Dogs has some of the best components I’ve seen in a kids game: High-quality game tiles, a boat load of vibrant green dice and a molded box insert to keep everything well organized. I love that kind of attention to detail!

  • Preschooler: 8/10 – Dad: 6/10 – Components: 10/10
  • Overall: 7/10
  • Click for price ($15-$20)

Let’s Go Fishin’

DK Tip: A fun DIY alternative is making a life-sized fishing game out of a cardboard box, construction paper, magnets and paperclips.

We’ll continue this comparison with another underwhelming classic game. Miniature fishing! There are subtle variations – with and without magnets. I think the version with magnets is better. The fish carousel moves too fast for my preschooler, so she has to turn off the battery-powered motor, hook a fish with the flimsy pole, then restart the carousel. Amusing? Yes. Fun? Not exactly.

*DK Tip: A fun DIY alternative – much better than the actual motorized game – is making a life-sized fishing game! Make an imaginary boat out of a cardboard box, a pole with a magnet on the end, some fish and waves out of construction paper, then slide paperclips on the fish’s mouths. Let’s really go fishin’!

  • Preschooler: 6/10 – Dad: 4/10 – Components: 5/10
  • Overall: 5/10
  • Click for price ($15-$20)

Quickpick

family games quickpick
The facial progression of an average toddler tantrum. (Photo by Heath Washburn – DadKingdom.com)

This might be the only game listed that I enjoy more than my daughter – not to say she didn’t enjoy it. I just love seeing her try to process each monster face and contort her face to make various expressions. I could see this one being fun even when she gets a few years older. It might even be fun for a group of intoxicated adults!

I’ll happily give a bonus point to any family games with components that fit in a tiny box. So easy to stow away on trips!

  • Preschooler: 7/10 – Dad: 8/10 – Components: 8/10
  • Overall: 8/10
  • Click for price ($10-$15)

GAMES FOR ANOTHER TIME

Lastly, here are a few family games that I can’t wait to try when my kids are closer to 5 years old (great opportunity for a follow-up post). Cauldron Quest is a really interesting cooperative game where players work together to avoid a wizard and combine mystery ingredients. It can be a good gateway to the wonderful co-op Pandemic (we reviewed it recently). Another game I want to try is My First Stone Age, an introduction to resource management games (AKA “Euros”). Finally, Go Cuckoo! is another dexterity game from HABA. I’ve heard great things about it, but I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet.

Dad Kingdom was not paid for these reviews, however some free promotional product was received. Opinions expressed are purely that of Dad Kingdom and not the product’s manufacturer.
Dad Kingdom earns revenue through AdSense advertising and also receives a small commission percentage from purchases made through Amazon links. For details, read About Dad Kingdom.

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