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Best Board Games of 2016: Family Games Of The Year

Best Board Games of 2016: Family Games Of The Year

The holidays are a time for family, so what better time to reflect on some awesome family games of 2016? With New Years Eve parties just around the corner, it makes sense to also look at games that are fun to play when tipsy, which perfectly sum up the other niche family games fill.

Here are some of our family favorite games of 2016, perfect to play with that child in your life, or that friend who knows to bring a bottle of wine when they come over:



If you’ve ever wondered if you could turn one of those innocuous but ubiquitous phone games into a fun tabletop game, this would be the best outcome of such a concept. Players are students in a potions class and need to collect materials to make potions, using this brilliant feeder component that gravity-feeds marbles down channels, creating the proverbial explosions that are the game’s namesake (there are no real explosions in this game).

Completed potions have additional effects during gameplay as well. Players race to complete their potions, finish their potions course, and presumably get to the rest of wizarding school homework. This game is fun, quick to set up after the first play (where you build the gravity feeder, after which it remains built for storage and subsequent plays) and is arguably as addictive as the aforementioned phone games.


The premise is not much different than the original version, but this standalone game can be played as an expansion to the original, Welcome to the Dungeon, offering more monsters as well as more heroes, each with awesome and unique equipment, changing the dynamic of the game.

Simple bluffing games are fantastic family games, since half the fun is that you’re relying on your own knowledge of the people around the table to help you win. In this game, players take turns drawing from a deck made out of potential dungeon creatures, deciding whether to stack the dungeon with said monster or to keep it out of the dungeon, at the price of removing one of the equipment items the hero has with them to fight whatever ends up in the dungeon. Players can pass, forfeiting their turn to potentially stack the dungeon with a monster, but also keeping them safe from having to go into the dungeon with whatever items the hero has left. Heroes who survive, get treasure. Heroes who die, don’t (and their controlling player is eliminated after one more unsuccessful dungeon crawl). It’s got elements of gambling, bluffing and luck, is quick and fun, and perfect for the entire family.



This little engine building game offers so much for an entire family. Conceptually, you’re a young magical student (hence the game’s name) trying to finish your assignments to graduate. Players start with an empty game board, but build out their options to gain materials and complete assignments, many of which are spells that can benefit them or hinder other players (it’s a competitive sort of school, and everyone apparently has aspirations for the OWL-vy league universities.) I’ve previously featured this game (and Potion Explosion) in our games for Harry Potter fans article because these games are great if you’re a Potterhead household, but ultimately even if you’re not, the lovely and accessible art, rich and strategic gameplay and, lovely fun makes this a great game for families with older children (10 years+).



Building on the mechanics of the much beloved game Sushi Go!,  this game spreads a full all-you-can-eat buffet of kawaii-style anthropomorphic food items, allocating them points, setting out a menu and adding more options. The core mechanics still stand but in creating a menu of additional food items with more points options (like giving bonus points for having a hand of exactly X number, but penalizing points for having too many) it also creates more options for savvy players who can both play in a way that maximizes their points while additionally playing a game of points denial. While the original is the perfect small-box game to keep in your purse, this bigger and more expansive game is perfect to take off the shelf at home, clear the table and let the family play with their food.

What was your favourite family game of this year? Let us know in the comments!

Featured Image & Image Blog Credits: Teri Litorco

Teri Litorco isn’t above getting tipsy and playing family games with her adult friends, but it often leads to her daughter getting mad about how poorly her games were put away. She also provides tips to child/alcohol proof your games, outlined in her book, The Civilized Guide to Tabletop Gaming. Check out what she’s playing on social media: FacebookTwitter, Instagram and YouTube.



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