Board games for a clever 7 year old?
March 30, 2021 8:53 AM   Subscribe

My son and I have been playing Catan Junior and it was pretty easy for him, so we tried regular Catan and he loved it. Now I'm building our board game library and would love some suggestions.

Things I've bought:
- Carcassonne
- Ticket to Ride
- The Quest for El Dorado
- Splendor

Any other must-haves?

posted by bighappyhairydog to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (32 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Our favorite kid games are Poetry for Neanderthals (like Pictionary, but instead you have to describe the word using one-syllable words. Like, for example, for COW you might say “guy in field with spot who make grass juice.”)
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:58 AM on March 30, 2021 [5 favorites]

...And the other is Apples to Apples Junior. Be aware that the latter has cards for Disney channel shows you have never heard of, and we just weed them out. But if you have collectively heard of them then you probably don’t have to be so active with it!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:02 AM on March 30, 2021

I picked up Sequence once on a whim, and it's a great game that's easy to learn, but fun to play with 2, 3, or 4 people.

Set is also a great game that really makes you think.

I recommend both of these because a kid is pretty evenly matched against an adult.
posted by hydra77 at 9:02 AM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Our kids love Wingspan because there's a Pokemon-esq element to collecting and playing the birds and the rules are pretty easy to understand.
posted by lockestockbarrel at 9:04 AM on March 30, 2021 [7 favorites]

Takenoko is pretty and fun. Great game. We've played it with our adult friends and their children and it's always a hit.
posted by Zumbador at 9:16 AM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Oh and I second Set. It's amazing how kids pick up on the logic of it.
posted by Zumbador at 9:18 AM on March 30, 2021 [4 favorites]

If he liked Catan, Burgundy is in the same genre, and allows for 2 players only, which is difficult in Catan.
posted by garbanzilla at 9:24 AM on March 30, 2021

Sushi Go!
posted by rockindata at 9:38 AM on March 30, 2021 [6 favorites]

We found legacy and/or campaign games were good ways of gradually introducing more complex rule sets.

The Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle Card game is great in this respect -- it starts off very simple and each "year" adds in new rules.

Charterstone starts off a little more complex than Harry Potter, but probably not any more complex than Catan.
posted by yankeefog at 9:44 AM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

I am not seven, but I think of myself as having a skill and enthusiasm level for boardgames that aligns with that age! Some friends introduced me to Azul , and I found it easy to get into and really enjoyable to play. (It also seems to be highly rated in the "Family" category at the linked boardgamegeek forum.)
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 9:45 AM on March 30, 2021 [8 favorites]

Shipwreck Arcana is great if you like cooperative games.

Pompeii is fun, and you get to toss meeples into a volcano.

Dixit has been a ton of fun with our 8 and 12 year old - we have the family edition, and it does take more than two people.

Star Realms is a good one for two people.

Sagrada is another fun one. OnPreview: seconding Azul.

Blokus is also playable with two people, and plays quick for the end of night games.

Once he gets a little bit further in, Kingsburgh is our absolute favorite. Might have too many moving pieces for a seven year old, but I bet he's close if he does the others.
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:45 AM on March 30, 2021

If you're interested in a co-op game, Forbidden Island is cool.

If your kid is okay with a hefty dose of chaos in the game, Robo Rally is wild fun. 5 Minute Dungeon, too (it's also co-op, and is fun without any timer at all, but with a timer there's a lot of cheerful yelling in our house.)

If you are interested in going in an RPG direction, we found that Mice and Mystics was a good entry in that direction.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:49 AM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

Is your son a fan of Minecraft? Builders & Biomes is a solid boardgame implementation.
posted by jozxyqk at 9:52 AM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

My 10 year old loves Dominion and I could have easily started her earlier - you need to be a good reader for the 20 different card types but the concept is pretty straightforward. Ticket to Ride is also very approachable.
posted by Happydaz at 9:56 AM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Definitely Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert. :)
posted by joycehealy at 10:05 AM on March 30, 2021 [6 favorites]

At 7, kids can range from still needing kids games, or ready for really complex games. I'm seeing a lot of kids games above, so I've provided some adult recommendations below. (Are they still in a checkers phase, or are they getting good at chess?)

Here's my "best of category games". I highly recommend them all for any age, for many reasons, but usually for how fun it is at any given second, and for replayability.

Pandemic Legacy (Co-op)
Clank Legacy (deck building)
Modern Art (Bidding) (Requires 3 players)
Camel Cup (racing/probability)
One Night Ultimate Werewolf (social deduction) (requires 4 players)
Can't Stop (push your luck, diamonte is close second)
Times Up (charades/taboo style) (requires 4 players)
Wavelength (communication through word association) (best with at least 4)

Categories missing are 4x games, engine building, and hard euros. For those, people tend to like Space Empires 4x, race for the galaxy (or roll) and Terraforming Mars, though I haven't experienced the genres enough to give an award.
posted by bbqturtle at 10:16 AM on March 30, 2021

Seconding Castles of Burgundy. There is also a pared-down, portable version.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:15 AM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

We play quite a bit of Qwirkle, it’s fun for adults and kids.
posted by ohio at 11:30 AM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

Mysterium is a great game of nonverbal/visual communication and intuitive reasoning for all ages (listed for ages 10+, but shouldn't be too taxing for even slightly younger kids) that plays a little bit like Charades/Pictionary crossed with Clue/Cluedo.

Every game is a whodunit scenario where a murder has occurred and they've identified all the possible suspects, weapons, and crime scenes. One player takes the role of the victim's ghost and tries to send clues (in the form of dreamlike images taken from a deck of beautifully illustrated art cards) to the rest of the players, who are psychic detectives trying to solve the case. Using the images on the cards, the ghost has to communicate the identity of the murderer/weapon/scene without speaking or making any other signal to the players, which leads to some hilarious "Is it about the bunny?" type conversations among the players as they try to decipher who or what the ghost is trying to point to.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:41 AM on March 30, 2021

Since you already own Ticket to Ride, get some of the other versions of Ticket to Ride (Asia, India, Europe, etc). I was skeptical at first, but they really do introduce new elements that fun/interesting, and require a shift in strategy. (The Steam online versions also offer fun "badges" to try to acquire -- e.g. win using one continuous route with all 45 train cars (all versions), win using loop routes in India).

Echoing recommendations for Sushi Go and Azul. Re: Dominion, I used to really enjoy it (played with my nibling over the holidays a lot) but it takes a while to set up, and the theme/art is ho-hum in my opinion (generic Europe fantasy-history).

A caveat regarding co-op games like Forbidden Island or Pandemic: I'm not necessarily the most competitive person, but I found that in practice, it was the person who was most familiar with the game who made most of the decisions, and I felt like I was along for the ride. On the flip side, the different "roles" (medic, researcher) made it interesting.

p.s. A great resource for reviews at Shut Up and Sit Down!
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:55 AM on March 30, 2021

Kingdomino, King of New York*, Hey That's My Fish, Coloretto, Forbidden Island (or Forbidden Desert or Skies).

(*my kid enjoyed this but it does have the pitfall that people can be knocked out of the game - less of an issue with only 2 players)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:24 PM on March 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Loot has a good balance and is fun, and it rewards strategic thinking. My kids love it.
posted by sleeping bear at 12:28 PM on March 30, 2021

Tiny Towns has remained popular with our family even when our kids have tired of Catan and Ticket to Ride.
posted by chr1sb0y at 12:45 PM on March 30, 2021

If you're open to boxed card games as well, my son loved Dragonwood and Logic Labyrinth at that age.

LL has some ambiguities in its rule set, and in addition to being a fun, quick play was a good introduction to the idea of "house rules" and stock games as a set of tools you can modify or use to make your own games, or improve.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:21 PM on March 30, 2021

Seconding Kingdomino! It is a quick game, fast to learn and really fun.

Also - I'd recommend checking out Board Game Arena. You can test out online versions of lots of games (note that you need a fairly cheap monthly membership to do the more involved games, but it's still cheaper than buying a game that is overly complicated).
posted by Paper rabies at 2:03 PM on March 30, 2021

So many good suggestions, but since it was only mentioned once I'll second King of New York (and the simpler King of Tokyo) as fun, short games.

Arboretum and Parade are card-based games that balance simple play, strategic options and beautiful art.
posted by mark k at 3:00 PM on March 30, 2021

Most of our favorites are already on this list, but let me plug Stone Age.
posted by rikschell at 3:19 PM on March 30, 2021

Sleeping Queens is an awesome game for just that age! it is not a story game but it is fast and satisfying and plays with other game concepts - a little math, a little memory, a little priority.
posted by mutt.cyberspace at 4:50 PM on March 30, 2021

If your kid likes the idea of something with more conflict (as most 7-year-olds do) but you like the idea of something without the blood and gore (as most parents of 7-year-olds do) then I recommend My Little Scythe.

If you're looking for a legacy game - a game that grows and changes each time you play it - then Zombie Kidz Evolution is a nice one for that age.

If you want to try a cooperative challenge with restricted communication then Magic Maze is hilarious.

If you want a game that involves manual dexterity, ICECOOL and Junk Art are both surprisingly tactical and fun.

Dixit, Azul, Forbidden Island and Desert, Kingdomino, and Hey That's My Fish are all good'uns too.
posted by Paragon at 7:04 PM on March 30, 2021

Better with more than two players, but Survive: Escape from Atlantis! is one I'd add to the many good suggestions here. I play it still with adults but one of those simple to learn, impossible to master games, imo (the decisions you make are important, but also plenty of chance, and the opportunity to go after other players with sharks and sea monsters).
posted by booooooze at 8:36 PM on March 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think Quacks of Quedlinburg would be great for a clever kid his age! It's a push-your-luck game where you're drawing chips from a bag, trying to add as many ingredients to your "potion" as you can without blowing it up. Very fun, tactile, and productive of much excited yelling, while still full of strategic decisions.
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 2:22 AM on April 1, 2021

Treasure Hunter would be my go-to recommendation these days - it's one of the most tightly designed yet simple to understand game I've played with a short runtime, I particularly dislike games which seem to drag.

At its core it's a drafting game, a previously rare mechanic that has been appearing more and more. Basically, all players can see the random game state, and "draft" a deck from piles of cards that get passed around the table, each player selecting one card from a pile and passing it on. By observing the decks that they receive, players infer information about what cards other players before them are picking: that information plus the game state then informs their strategy.

In a sense it combines some of the best aspects of traditional games like Hearts, where you have multiple possible objectives and have to guess which ones the other players are pursuing - but wrapped in bright coloured art and whimsical storytelling. It's got an extremely simple concept, that even total newbies would have no problem grasping, yet contains surprising complexity because of how you need to infer the strategies of other players based on what cards they are rejecting. There are surprisingly hard choices you need to make.

The game ends after 5 rounds and points are totalled, there's very limited ability for anyone to "stall" out or speed up the game, so games tend to be very consistent in length, and best of all if you don't have enough time to complete the full 5 rounds you can just agree to score after 3 or 4 rounds. Ooh and the best part, with more players in the game, it doesn't make the game longer! It just gets more complex, with more hidden information as some players will be "far" from you so it's hard to infer what they picked.
posted by xdvesper at 5:27 AM on April 1, 2021

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