Walking into a gaming store can be quite unnerving for parents who are on the desperate hunt for the perfect board game for their kid(s). The golden age of board gaming is upon us, and aisles are stocked with games from all sorts of genres, publishers and complexities. If you have an early elementarian who has the intellect of a tween, but the attention span of a toddler how do you know which beautifully packaged box to spend $50 dollars on. Should you buy a game that uses customized decks, or maybe have a cooperative game night where the whole family plays as a team. There are so many options that your head could rapidly inflate and brains would splatter all over the 4,000 expansions of Munchkin.
Relax, take a deep breath. This is the part where your good friends at Nerdy With Children step in. We know you have your favorite games that you like to play with your adult friends. After all, this isn’t your first visit to the gaming store. So, before you waste $45 on a game that your child is going to throw a temper tantrum over, heed our advice on fantasy board games you’ll both enjoy. Keep in mind this is a list of board games in the fantasy genre that include a physical board in no particular order.
What happens when you take a game like Sorry and make it actually fun to play? You get Talisman. A wonderful spin on the traditional board game ruleset. Roll the die, move that number of spaces and follow the text on the board. Simple enough for an 8-year-old, but still enjoyable for mom and dad. The mechanics are rather simple. Move around the board, complete quests, and kill monsters to level up and ultimately win the game. Be warned for those of you with antsy offspring: This game can take a few hours to finish. Up to six people can play the game at one time, but it tends to lag with more than four. The detail on the miniatures are great and player vs. player combat takes a back seat. This is a great game to intro your children into more RPG elements.
2. Small World
If you want something a little more on the competitive side that is great for four players then you should check out Small World. The board is a map broken up into different “territories,” each with their own terrain and resources. You choose a race — like Dwarves or Skeletons — and take over as many territories as you can. Each race has its own unique abilities and advantages. Unfortunately, races will go extinct, and you’ll have to choose another one. Think of it as a kind of evolution. The gameplay has been referred to as a civilization-building game. That would be like saying pre-Algebra is comparable to Calculus. However, your family will most likely enjoy Smallworld, especially with four players. The game is recommended for ages 10 and up, but kids 7 and 8 should be able to pick up on it with a little coaching.
If you are looking for a slight spin on the traditional fantasy theme, then it might be time to introduce your children to the classic horror genre. When it comes to classic monsters you have to start with the original vampire himself, Dracula. For two players, Dracula pits player against player in a race against time, set in Victorian London. Take the role of Van Helsing and try to destroy Drac’s coffins or control the Count himself, and do what vampires do best, draining the blood from beautiful women. The simplicity of the game makes it perfect for kids 8 and up. However, you’ll want to use your own judgement when it comes to horror and more mature themes.
4. Castle Panic
If you are looking for a cooperative game to play as a family, then Castle Panic is one of the best on the market. Hordes of goblins and orcs are attacking the castle, and it’s up to you to stop them. The only way to survive this onslaught is to work as a team and coordinate your attacks. This is an excellent game to teach team building skills. With up to six people playing together, you can trick siblings into getting along as they slay enemy after enemy. The game relies on analytical skills more than just plain luck. Younger kids can join in if you are willing to guide them during their turn. Imagine a simpler version of Pandemic or Arkham Horror, a stepping stool to those more complex games.
There’s a running joke in Britain about why board games are so popular in Germany. The British accuse Germany of having the worst television programs in the world. As an American, I can vouch that the scripted reality garbage that oozes from our TV sets doesn’t leave us much bragging room. However, one thing is for sure: Germans publish some of the best damn games on the market. Just take Whoowasit, a cooperative board game that forces you to work as a team to defeat an evil wizard. The game comes with an electronic talking treasure chest that randomly spews clues. Parents, might not enjoy this one as much as the others above, but if you’re looking for something for younger kids to play together this is the game. Did I mention that it won copious awards in the last several years?