10 Board Games to Play With Kids Under 10
So being in lock-down sucks. I assume. Our country won’t go into lock down in spite of an escalating infection rate and mounting death toll. But since we’re working through a global pandemic together, here’s some games that help pass the time and develop some solid planning and communication skills.
This game is as fun and engaging as it is simple to learn, and it’s so easy to crack open and jump in you won’t need to put aside much time for it (unlike Ker-Plunk, Mouse Trap and those other kids games that take longer to set up and play). You have a collection of blocks featuring one of six symbols in one of six colours, and you play them as dominos in order to make a set of six matching colours or symbols. Easy, nice minimalist design…perfect for beginners.
You can always rely on German creators HABA to deliver a solid, well thought out game for younger players. This game actually does something very, very few games manage and that’s putting every player on the same footing. There’s zero luck as we’re all playing with the same configuration and resources to lay a path through a jungle to find treasure. As challenging and well designed as it is easy to learn.
If you’re looking for something a bit cartoony with complexity, then take a look at Takenoko. This game tells the tale of a Japanese Emperor being gifted a panda, and striking the perfect balance of growing a bamboo garden, feeding the panda and making things look nice. Young players will have to consider their decision making skills each turn as they have to pick the actions that will help them achieve their goals. With pastel colours and a cute aesthetic it’s always a hit with the younger set.
Beasts of Balance
This crowd-sourced collection of abstract plastic creatures puts a digital spin on the classic stacking genre of games. At the core, this game is about balancing some oddly shaped animals on top of a plinth. Firstly, however, you have to scan your creature and they get added to the ecosystem you’re building on a tablet or phone screen. They’ve recently added battle modes and surprisingly effective AR mode for extra fun.
If you can’t already tell, this HABA series leans more heavily into one side of the gender spectrum. The mechanics are basic even for the younger players, as it’s down to rolling a dice, hopping along some clouds and collecting gemstones. What’s handy is that there’s a sequel for when this gets too simple, moving players into a more complicated co-op game. If there’s one thing HABA consistently do well, it’s make games accessible for learners.
If you’re kids are at an older age and you want to introduce them to D&D style fantasy games, this familiar classic is a good introduction. There’s a massive range of fantasy creatures and archetypes to choose from, and players get a fair amount of freedom to pick the path their quest will follow. They may favour strength, intelligence or magic and still succeed. Or they’d be turned into a frog.
Here’s a 3D planning and building game adopting a child-friendly theme of Greek mythology. Every player gets 2 builders and have to co-ordinate their movements around a grid map, choosing where to build their towers. You want to hold the highest spot on the map before another player caps the tower off. Simple gameplay, made more fun with a collection of Greek gods and heroes to give each player a unique skill.
Or, instead of building the world you can burn it down! For tourism! This excellent remake of a tabletop classic is one of the most eye-catching games in our collection. A 3D island is home to a mighty volcano that threatens the visitors as they run around taking photos and collecting souvenir trinkets. Lava marbles roll down paths, knocking down players, disrupting bridges and causing chaos. Add the expansions and you’ve got Indiana Jones outrunning boulders, pirate shipwrecks, bees and snakes!
My Little Scythe
If you’re a gamer you’d be familiar with ‘Scythe’. It’s a bleak alternate history where giant farming mechs slowing crawl across the cold landscape and societies must fight to survive. This greatly reduced version keeps the basic mechanics but make them accessible for kids. You need to carefully plan your moves and even more carefully pick which goals to work towards amid the pie-fights and apple collecting. You also get some very cool and unique minis if you want to get them started on painting.
Whilst the original version of this game is not for all ages, there’s all manner of new editions including Disney, Marvel and Harry Potter to help ease kids into it. You form teams, and one member has access to a map of the images or words on the grid of cards. The team leader has to provide simple, one-word clues to lead their squad to select the right item. Fun, clever and immediately replayable.
Catan Jr. – My First Carcassonne – Ticket to Ride: First Journey
We’re bundling these together as they’re not games specifically made for younger players, but reduced versions of classics that every gamer should know how to play. Whether you cut your teeth on Catan, Carcassonne or Ticket to Ride you now have the chance to introduce the next generation to your favourite hobby.
Stay safe out there!