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10 best board and card games to play with your family

By Catharina Cheung 14 February 2020

Put the phones down and connect with your loved ones the old-fashioned way—by initiating a good ol’ games night! Board games are seeing a cultural resurgence recently, due in part to a backlash against the deluge of device-based games and partly to a revived interest in old-school analogue experiences.

A good family game choice is one that is kid-appropriate (as much as we love Cards Against Humanity), not too difficult for younger players to pick up, and interesting enough to not send the adults to sleep. Keeping this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of board and card games to entertain your whole family with. Some are classics, and some are weird, but all are must-haves!

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Exploding Kittens

Imagine if Russian roulette, Cards Against Humanity, and UNO had a lovechild. The objective is to avoid drawing the exploding kitten card from the deck, in which case, a player can only be saved if they have a defuse card. Other cards in the deck are either action-based—which will help you avoid being killed and enable you to sabotage other players!—or hilariously-drawn kittens for building up combos. Expect lots of screaming and hurling of abuse!

Suitable for: Two to five players

Photo credit: Across the Board Game Café

Bohnanza

Be the best bean farmer ever with German-style card game Bohnanza. Plant enough beans to make up a full crop, which you can then harvest for coins.

What’s the catch? Only beans of the same variety can be planted on the same plot, you have a limited number of plots at your disposal, and you can only plant your seeds as they arrive—with no reshuffling of your hand.

There will be plenty of trading and bargain-striking as players try to foist off the beans that they don’t want onto other people while selling it as a good idea. The player with the most coins by the end wins!

Suitable for: Two to seven players

Catan

One of the best board games around, for real. Because the board is set up by shuffling and assembling the hexagon pieces randomly, each gameplay will yield a different experience. Roll the dice, collect resources from the pieces that match the numbers, and use them to build your civilisation. Roads are needed to link to the areas you wish to reach, while settlements and cities will yield resources like wood and brick for building. Think strategically so your properties are managed to their best advantage, and accumulate the most Victory Points to win!

Suitable for: Three to five players

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By Catharina Cheung 6 February 2020

Clue

What a nostalgic classic. Formerly known as Cluedo, this whodunnit board game mystery has entertained generations, and is still as good as ever. Roam around the mansion and discover clues in each room as players piece together the overarching murder mystery: which character committed the crime, in which room, and with which weapon. Was it Ms Scarlett with the rope in the study? Or Professor Plum with the revolver in the conservatory? Put on your deerstalker and get ready; as Sherlock Holmes would say, “The game is afoot!”

Suitable for: Two to six players

Pandemic

What sets Pandemic apart from most other games is that players have to work together to beat the game instead of competing against each other. There are four diseases spreading across the world, and each player has a special ability that contributes to the cure for the pandemic. Figure out a way to share resources, think several steps ahead in a strategy for moving doctors and medicine around the globe, and save the human race. The game is also different each time you play, so replay value is high.

Suitable for: Two to four players

Photo credit: PR Newswire

Throw Throw Burrito

This is an easy-to-pick-up game that’s brought to us by the folks behind Exploding Kittens, so you know it’s bound to be quirky. Imagine a matching game crossed with dodgeball. Players have to pass cards around to make matching sets as fast as possible, but the game also bizarrely comes with a couple of innocently smiling soft burrito toys, which are thrown when triggered by certain card sets. If you’re hit with a burrito, you lose points. You may want to move precious breakable items out of the room before you start!

Suitable for: Two to six players

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Codenames

Between unearthing secrets and clues, you also need a good smattering of luck to stay alive! Players race to unveil true identities behind codenames using only single-worded clues given. Do you know the players well enough to deliver exactly the right nudge? Of course, this is all hampered by the fact that there is a secret assassin lurking in the midst of the group, and they have to be avoided at all costs. Best of luck!

Suitable for: More than four players

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Technically, this is not a board game as it requires a phone or a mobile gaming device, but we’re letting it slide because it’s not just a mobile game either! One person in the group is stuck with a bomb (on the device), while the rest of the party has the manual to defuse it but can’t see the bomb itself. Everyone needs to communicate fast to solve each section of the bomb before the timer runs out. We prefer printing out the manual for a more authentic experience of frantically flipping through it as the defuser yells at you in increasing despair.

Suitable for: More than two players

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Players all begin in the foyer of a haunted house and explore with the help of blind draws from the deck of cards that builds the house as they go along. A random player will get possessed by a monstrous entity at some point, and the rest have to band together to defeat it. More spooky than scary—because how scary can a board game be, really?—but still definitely one for the horror fans.

Suitable for: Two to four players

Big Two

This is the quintessential Hong Kong card game that almost everyone knows how to play! All you need is a normal deck of cards, and the objective is to get rid of your entire hand. Play in singles, pairs, or poker combinations that are bigger in value than those played before you.

Those who know poker will already have half this game down, as the combinations are the same: straight, flush, full house, four-of-a-kind, and straight flush. The key difference with this card game is that two holds the highest value instead of ace, while three is the smallest. Learn to chor dai di (as the game is called in Cantonese) and you’ll be in with the locals when they break out the deck!

Suitable for: Four players

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Catharina Cheung

Senior editor

Raised in Singapore and the UK, Catharina has recently returned to her hometown of Hong Kong. She is enjoying scouring the city for under-the-radar things to do, see, and eat, and is committed to finding the perfect foundation that will withstand Hong Kong’s heat. She is also an aspiring polyglot, a firm advocate for feminist and LGBTQ issues, and a huge lover of animals. You can find her belting out show-tunes in karaoke or in bookstores searching for new tomes to add to her ever-growing collection.

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