We'll be Board for Xmas
December 16, 2014 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Help me find some awesome board games for my daughter and me!

My daughter and I love board games. She is 9, and a pretty good reader. But I find that age 9 is a bit of a dead zone for games. So many games for 5-7 years olds...and then it kinda jumps to 11-13 year olds. She normally does pretty well in games that are a couple years older than her according to the box, but its such a crap shoot.

But I know you guys have tons of good suggestions for me! Right? Right? :)

Games we currently enjoy:

King of Tokyo
Small World
Carcassonne Hunters and Gatherers
Catan Jr

For xmas I am planning on getting her King of New York and The Laser Game (Khet 2.0). I've also been dabbling with the idea of getting her (and me!) Munchkin. However despite all my years getting Little Debbie crumbs on Monster Manuals and DM guides, I've never played Munchkin. Is it too much for a 9 year old? The FAQ on the site looks massive and headachey.

Are the Small World Expansions worth it?

Any other games you'd suggest?

posted by ian1977 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (35 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Young ms. flabdablet (9) is coming along quite nicely at chess.
posted by flabdablet at 9:32 AM on December 16, 2014

Munchkin is do-able for a 9-year-old, but start with one set. You're playing mostly against each other, but it's pretty basic-level "treachery" despite the "backstab and steal" stuff on the box.

Games my 10-year-old daughter loves:
Fluxx (especially the Zombie variant, especially the card that means you must groooan like a zombie at certain points), because all of the rules are out on the table all the time.
Timeline, with various handicaps for the grownups (most recent one is that if she plays anything in my lifetime correctly, I have to draw an extra card).
Roll for It is occasionally asked for and is a good probability exercise.
posted by Etrigan at 9:44 AM on December 16, 2014

Abalone is a good one - easy to learn and games are generally pretty quick... but it also lends itself to more deliberate chess-like, thinking-a-few-moves-ahead play too.
posted by usonian at 9:46 AM on December 16, 2014

My daughter is also 9, and we play board games almost every night. Current favorites include Trumpet, Lost Cities, Hare & Tortoise, Once Upon a Time*, Ticket to Ride, and when we can rope some of the rest of our crew in, Apples to Apples.

* Great game but we had to modify the rules to make it fun ... basically, ignore the rules, just deal everybody five cards and have them make up a story using them.
posted by jbickers at 9:53 AM on December 16, 2014

My friend A could not get enough of Risk when she was nine. And we adults enjoyed playing with her because....Risk. There's also Risk Legacy, which is more involved and allows you to retain the changes made during previous game-play.

So I'd get classic Risk now, and Risk Legacy for later. Now that A is 14, I'm thinking that would be an AWESOME Christmas gift.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:57 AM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ticket to Ride would be good for both her and you. It'll introduce you to a new mechanic, and it's a game that is easy to learn but leads to complicated strategies.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:57 AM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Munchkin! SO much fun!
posted by DriftingLotus at 10:02 AM on December 16, 2014

Also I find Yu-Gi-Oh card gaming to be excellent.
posted by DriftingLotus at 10:02 AM on December 16, 2014

Mille Bornes is fun
posted by Lucinda at 10:26 AM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by the_blizz at 10:29 AM on December 16, 2014

If it's just the two of you, Lost Cities is beautiful and interesting, but I'd get it through the marketplace because for some reason it's crazy expensive on Amazon.
posted by theweasel at 10:37 AM on December 16, 2014

Oh, and do you guys do Set? A little different from what you're usually playing, but it never gets old and is kind of a level playing field age-wise, once you've got those basic logic skills down.
posted by theweasel at 10:39 AM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

defective yeti (mefi's own shadowkeeper) is my favorite game reviewer... his rundowns do a great job of giving you the flavor and tone of a game. here is this year's instance of his annual good gift game guide (my fave is machi koro). and here's his all time greatest hits. it's hard to go wrong picking anything that he recommends.
posted by bruceo at 11:17 AM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Blokus. Great logic/strategy game. It's 6+, but great for any age (Mrs. Kabanos and I play when the kids are in bed!)
posted by Kabanos at 11:20 AM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Top 10 Family Board Games one, two, three, from a SAHP who is a big gamer.
posted by jillithd at 11:24 AM on December 16, 2014

My 8 1/2 year old daughter loves No Stress Chess and it has taught her to play regular chess. Carcassone is a hit, and older games like Aggravation are huge as well.
posted by purenitrous at 1:00 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

machi koro and eight minute empire!
posted by monologish at 1:11 PM on December 16, 2014

Forbidden Island is a cooperative game with huge replay value. Working with each other is a very different dynamic in board gaming, and a lot of fun; there's different role cards that are randomly distributed which changes it up too. (I hear good things about Forbidden Desert too, by the same folks, but I haven't tried it yet).

If you guys end up liking cooperative games, Pandemic is fantastic, but more complicated than Forbidden Island. I think a 9 year old who plays Small World could do Pandemic though, and the nice thing about cooperative games is that if she needs a little help, you're supposed to be cooperating anyhow. :)

Jaipur is a lot of fun and even though the play doesn't change, I've found it replays well. It's two player only, which can be nice at the times when there's only the two of you, since a lot of games don't play well with two.

Nth-ing Ticket to Ride; any family gathering with us involves at least one game. Also Nth-ing Blokus; the kid in my life kicks everyone's butt at it.

Finally, it's not a board game, but I've never met anyone who didn't like Phase 10.
posted by joycehealy at 1:13 PM on December 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Came in to suggest Machi Koro. The art is so cute!
posted by Mizu at 1:42 PM on December 16, 2014

Survive: Escape From Atlantis! (aka Survive!) is a big favorite of mine. It's not too reading dependent, and the strategy elements are flexible enough to suit multiple ages and play styles -- i.e. younger and older kids can team up while adults have to fend for themselves. The game also comes with a whole bunch of wooden bits, ranging from standard meeples to sea monsters, so kids can have fun sinking lifeboats and devouring helpless swimmers.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:52 PM on December 16, 2014

7 Wonders
A co-op game - I've only played Pandemic and Flashpoint, but Forbidden Island might be good too
posted by backwards guitar at 4:04 PM on December 16, 2014

Seconding Ticket to Ride. The USA version has the simplest rules, but it can get unbalanced depending on what destination tickets you draw. The Europe version introduces changes that offset some of the randomness.

Also seconding Forbidden Island. Another co-op game is Flash Point. It's more advanced than Forbidden Island, but with similar mechanics. Players cooperate to rescue people from a burning building. The game can be played with a basic set of rules, or with added elements that increase the difficulty and complexity. (There are some expansions available too, but the added elements I mention here are included in the base set.)

I recommend Hey That's My Fish. It's cute and very easy to learn, while including lots of potential for advanced strategy and longer-term planning.

EVO might be a good choice. I've only played it once, but I enjoyed it. Players control the destiny of a species of dinosaurs. You bid on mutations that will help them survive.
posted by expialidocious at 4:06 PM on December 16, 2014

RoboRally says it's for age 12 and up, but if your kid plays a lot of board games, she might have the chops to enjoy it.
posted by miss patrish at 4:23 PM on December 16, 2014

I love Munchkin but fyi, some of the cards have some sexual innuendo that at 9 may or may not go over her head. There are also some mild swear words ("boots of ass kicking" etc). You could easily buy an extension pack and swap out any iffy cards until she's older.

Again, I love Munchkin - it's fun and funny; it's a spoof. It's really pretty easy to play - mostly the cards instruct you as you go.
posted by jrobin276 at 4:58 PM on December 16, 2014

Thirding Lost Cities- it's a really sweet little 2-player, and there's nothing even remotely complicated about it. My 9-year old gaming companions also enjoy Zombie Dice; simple, easy, fun, good for quick play.
posted by charmedimsure at 5:35 PM on December 16, 2014

Takenoko is similar in play style to the sort of games you mention, but has the added bonus of being adorable. It's been reviewed on TableTop, so you can preview the game play. It's also on sale on Amazon right now for half off.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:48 PM on December 16, 2014

Munchkin is totally playable by your daughter however its a pretty weak game with only two players, 3 players is really the bare minimum and 4-5 is ideal.
posted by Mitheral at 6:30 PM on December 16, 2014

I'm honestly not a Munchkin fan. And, I think Roborally is a bit much for this age. But every other suggestion in this thread is great.
posted by meinvt at 7:14 PM on December 16, 2014

I find jenga pretty fun or uno
not sure if they are board games though but it's close no?
posted by MgJr013 at 7:39 PM on December 16, 2014

Seconding Takenoko. The different scoring mechanics might be a tad complicated, but the panda and the harried gardener are so much fun.

We've had fun with Wasabi!, which is a bit like Scrabble with sushi rolls.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 8:35 PM on December 16, 2014

Machi Koro is great. Sushi Go! is another good choice if you've got at least 3 players.
posted by JDHarper at 6:57 AM on December 17, 2014

Response by poster: Awesome suggestions. Thanks a bunch everyone.

I decided to go ahead with Munchkin and I also added Zombie Fluxx. I am debating on getting her one more game but I already went with the Lego Delorean. Don't want to spoil the kid! :P

posted by ian1977 at 7:06 AM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hey! that's my fish is available as an android app and works really well. It is much easier to load the app than fiddle round setting up all the hexagons to make the board.
posted by poxandplague at 3:45 PM on December 17, 2014

If you're looking for card games as well I would recommend Spot It. It's a fast paced game that's very fun and good for kids and adults.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 7:27 PM on December 17, 2014

Here's a two-person paper and pencil game that occupied huge amounts of my childhood. The rules are simple but the strategy is surprisingly deep.

Print out a playing field that looks like this:
  x   x   x   x   x   x 
o   o   o   o   o   o   o
  x   x   x   x   x   x 
o   o   o   o   o   o   o
  x   x   x   x   x   x 
o   o   o   o   o   o   o
  x   x   x   x   x   x 
o   o   o   o   o   o   o
  x   x   x   x   x   x 
o   o   o   o   o   o   o
  x   x   x   x   x   x 
o   o   o   o   o   o   o
  x   x   x   x   x   x 
Two players, two pencil colors. One player takes x, the other takes o.

Players take turns drawing lines that join a pair of their own grid points: x to a neighboring x, o to a neighboring o. Crossing an existing line is not allowed. Lines can go anywhere on the playfield - they can, but don't have to, connect to existing lines. First player to complete a continuous trail all the way from one of their own edges to the other wins.

The 6×7 layout shown is just an example - playfields can be any size you like.

At 13 years old I built a battery operated version of this, where the playfield points were brads driven into a board, the links were little Ω shaped bits of metal cut from tin cans, and connecting one edge to the other made a bulb light up. I must see if that's still sitting around in a storage box somewhere.
posted by flabdablet at 5:33 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

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