The best family card games have a tough gig. They need to be simple enough that small children know how to play, but without the right level of complexity, they’ll leave parents bored to tears. They need to engage everyone from the moody teen to the reluctant grandma. And while this is a tall ask, it means the greatest card games of the genre really shine.
If you’re a big fan of card games for adults, you might be keen to pass your passion on to the next generation. And with new tabletop titles coming out every year, you no longer need to stick to easy card games like Snap and Happy Families. The best card games in the family card games category have had a glow up – and below you’ll find some of the best available as we enter the year 2023.
These are the best family card games in 2023:
Even if you’re new to board games as a hobby, you’ve likely heard of Uno. You might have played it as a child (though perhaps the Uno rules are a distant memory by now), or you may still be cracking it out at parties. Either way, this colourful, simple game of picking up and putting down numbered cards is still worth a visit.
The aim of Uno is to clear your hand of cards as fast as possible. You can only play one when it matches the colour or the number of the last card played, and you’ll need to shout ‘uno!’ once you’re down to your last card. Beware, though, as special cards can force you to draw fresh cards, skip your turn, or turn the tides of play.
We’d wager you could play a passable game of Uno with children as young as five. As long as you can count, you can make it through this simple, deceptively fun card game.
If your family prefers something cooperative, give Hanabi a try. Here two to five players work together to create the perfect fireworks display. To do so, you’ll need to play your cards in the right order, laying out the five different coloured suits in order from number one to five.
It may sound simple, but there’s a catch – you can’t see what cards are in your hand. Other players can look at your cards, but they can only hint at what you hold. For example, they can tell you which cards are red or which are threes, but not both. With clever hints and timely discards, you and your family might just be able to piece the patterns together.
Exploding Kittens takes the concept of Russian roulette and swaps the gun for some combustible cats. Everyone takes turns drawing a card into their hand. If that card is an exploding kitten, then you better hope you’ve got a defuse card left in front of you. These can stop the bomb from going off in your face, but you can only use them once. After that, drawing an exploding kitten knocks you out of the game for good.
But what if you don’t draw an exploding kitten? Well, then you can start playing some of the cards in your hand. Use these to protect yourself or screw over someone else. The goal is to be the last person left in the game, so you’ll need to do whatever you can to avoid being blasted by a stray tabby.
Exploding Kittens is suitable for players aged seven and above. While there’s not much strategy to chew on, the rising tension and all-or-nothing gameplay mean family members of all ages will have a good time.
As we said earlier, playing card games like Snap are pretty tired by now. But what if there were a vibrant snap alternative? Meet Dobble – or Spot It! as it’s known by our American readers. Inside Dobble’s portable tin is a stack of round cards, each decorated with various symbols. There are several ways to play, but all of them revolve around the same core concept – match an image on one Dobble card to another. You’ll need to call out the symbol you’re matching for everyone else to see, too.
You might be matching symbols to be the first person to clear your hand, or you might do it to end up with the most cards at the end. Whatever you dabble in Dobble for, you’ll find it to be a fast-paced game that quickly ends in frantic shouting.
Saboteur turns your family into gold-mining dwarves. And while these little prospectors may look cute, they’re also greedy. Saboteurs lurk among the mining party, waiting to lead their fellows down a false path and claim all the gold for themselves.
To begin playing, secretly assign a miner or a saboteur card to each player. Three to ten people can get involved, so the chances of there being more than one traitor are high. A starting card and three goal cards are laid out next. Behind one of these is the gold you all seek, but no one knows which to head for.
During play, you can play a path card or an action card. The miners want to create a functioning path to the goal, but the saboteurs will covertly be working to prevent this. Aimed at players aged eight and above, Saboteur is a simple yet effective introduction to the world of hidden role games (or games like Among Us, if you want to explain this genre to your kids).
Kids Against Maturity
Cards Against Humanity took tabletops everywhere by storm back in 2009, turning funny card games into a party must-have. However, this is a self-proclaimed “game for horrible people”, and its dark humour certainly isn’t for everyone. Luckily, there are family-friendly alternatives like Kids Against Maturity.
Kids Against Maturity plays in a similar way to its sleazy older sibling. A card is played with the opening to a sentence, and you play a card to complete it in the funniest way possible. A warning to anyone who likes sophisticated jokes, though – expect a lot of toilet humour.
Mantis is a beautiful card game from the publishers of Exploding Kittens that’s inspired by the colourful vision of the mantis shrimp. But while there are plenty of rainbows in this game, the box is also stuffed with revenge.
Everyone is competing to get ten cards in their score pile first, something you can do by drawing cards and matching colours. You ‘score’ by adding the drawn card to your mantis tank – as long as the new card matches the colour of your existing cards, you can add them all to your score pile. However, sometimes it’s better to steal. This is when you add the drawn card to someone else’s tank – if the colour matches, you can pinch them all.
Released in 2022, this is one of the most recent card games in the guide. Rest assured though – it may be recent, but Mantis will keep game nights colourful for a good while.