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The best kids’ board games 2023

These are best board games for kids in 2023 - an easy tabletop guide to the best board games for kids aged four, five, eight, ten, and beyond.

photo of someone moving a game piece on the tile board in Labyrinth board game

Kids’ board games can be a sticking point these days. Board games aren’t just for kids any more; we’re in a golden age of tabletop games for adults of all ages. But the new tabletop era has delivered fantastic board games for kids too – this guide tracks the best picks for each age group.


We’re not talking about glorified plastic doodads or spring-loaded mess-making machines here, either – these are the absolute best board games for youngsters to play, that still require only a minimum of parental supervision to get them into the swing of things. Each has a good theme, proper turn-taking, and a balance of pure fun and gameplay challenge.

There’s always many fantastic titles that can’t make it to the list, but we’ll do our best to include the absolute essential games for kids at each age level to enjoy. And once you’re done with that, we can even recommend the total opposite – the best board games for adults.

The best kids board games in 2023 are:

Kids board games - photo showing the box art for the board game Race to the Treasure!

Race to the Treasure!

The best team game for younger kids

Race to the Treasure! is a surprising and curious achievement, in that it’s a proper strategy board game that your four-year-old can get their head round (and teeth into). It’s a cooperative quest to chart your way across a grid, collecting keys on your way to claim the treasure chest.

On each turn, you’ll draw a card, which might be a Path card, adding to your road to the booty – or an Ogre card, each of which takes the game’s boisterous, bearded baddies closer to beating you to the punch.

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It’s a smart mix of random card-drawing and teamwork that’ll give your young comrades a feeling of agency, even though the action is primarily driven by flipping random cards. It feels great to lay down your path, closing in on the glittering prizes – but the Ogre is a constant threat.

The grid positions of the keys and treasure chest are randomised each time by a quick few dice rolls, meaning your little team will have to plot a different path to victory each time you play. Physically, there’s not much to it – but trust us, you’ll end up playing this a lot.

Kids board games - photo of the box art for Snail's Pace Race board game

Snail’s Pace Race

The best racing game for younger kids

Take turns rolling the colour-spot dice to find out which shelled speedster dashes forward, and follow along with the random speed bursts and overtakes, until one snail wins. That’s it. Nothing complex, nothing fancy – just quickfire dice-rolling and charming, competitive, colourful snails, crafted from brightly coloured wood.

It’s dead simple, and wicked fast – you can zip through a five-to-ten-minute game before bedtime, easy – and, while three-year-olds can easily grasp what’s going on, four-year-olds will likely be better able to get their rolling and racing up to the breakneck (snail’s) pace where the game comes into its own.

Kids' board games - Photo showing the board and pieces for Ticket to Ride: First Journey

Ticket to Ride First Journey

The best board game for kids and adults to play together

Ticket to Ride is a modern classic board game, combining super-simple mechanics with satisfying, slow-burn scheming, devious competitive tricksiness and the veritable festival of serotonin that comes with placing conga lines of adorable little coloured trains across a map.

Ticket to Ride: First Journey is effectively the same thing, but in miniature – and with anything remotely fiddly simply lopped off. Routes between cities are only one to three train carriages long, cut down from up to twice that.

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In place of the original’s careful end-of-game tallying of points from different routes and special bonuses, here, the first player to complete six tickets is simply declared the winner. What’s more, it’s an actual rule that you have to slap the table and shout “TICKET!” when you complete one.

Kids board games - Photo showing the box and tiles for Cobra Paw game

Cobra Paw

The best matching board game for kids

A game of quick thinking and quicker reactions, the unassuming Cobra Paw poses you with a deceptively simple challenge: roll two dice with coloured symbols on the faces, then find the domino-like tile on the table bearing the same two-symbol combo, and snatch it up before your opponent can. Easy. No problemo. Perfect for a five-year-old.

Except that, whether you’re five or thirty-five, this goes from zero to confoundingly challenging in two shakes of a ninja kitten’s tail. Mentally locking in the combination of symbols you’re looking for, then swiftly grabbing it from the sea of colour before you, is harder than you think.

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This game’s dead easy to grasp, and superb for teaching young kids quick recognitions and reactions – but it’ll give any unsuspecting grown-ups that wade in a sobering run for their money, too. Be warned.

The game’s smooth black tiles are very friendly to little hands – and the elegant Chinese-character-like symbols are oh, so easy on the eye. It all makes for a striking overall presentation.

Kids board games - Photo showing the game cards from No Stress Chess

No Stress Chess

The best chess set for kids

Chess is the original board game, and the original wargame. Every kid should have the chance to learn how to play Chess, but, while the Great Game’s rules are simple enough, learning them can be a tedious trial for kids. Enter our favorite technically-educational board game ever: No Stress Chess.

Coming paired with an ingenious set of cards that act as both demonstrations and player aids for the abilities and uses of each piece, this absolute gift of a game removes all the boring, inhospitable memorising from your kids’ first Chess games, so they can ride smoothly into the fun part.

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Honestly, whoever had the idea to give Chess instructional rules cards similar to a miniature wargame like Warhammer 40k (with its handy datacards, player aids, and apps) deserves a medal.

Getting the hang of how each chess piece moves really is the boring bit – and, once No Stress Chess has helped your young-uns past that, they can get to the really satisfying, strategic, competitive business of thrashing you in game after game (you have been warned). Highly recommended.

Kids board games - Labyrinth board game box art photo


The best maze game for kids

Labyrinth is a board game with a single, simple concept at its heart: You’re in a maze, trying to collect the treasures within and escape – but, wouldn’t you know it, the darned maze itself is moving and shifting every turn, scuppering your mission, and threatening to trap you within its winding corridors for all eternity.

The Labyrinth board is made up of a grid of tiles, arranged in rows, with a single tile always outside the grid. On each of your turns, you get to slide that spare tile onto the end of one row, pushing out the corresponding tile on the other end, thus shifting the internal walls of the maze in the process.

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You might only make a slight change, or you might close off two entire passages, and open another, all in one go. Not so easy to collect your treasures, now that your opponent is the one moving the walls around! Younger children might simply treat this as a random element, but as they get older they’ll be able to use it strategically.

Surprisingly deep, flexible and as competitive as you want it to become, Labyrinth will captivate them at eight, and continue delivering hard-fought tactical contests well into their teens. And twenties. And thirties…

Kids' board games - Photo of the tile board and cards for Catan Family Edition

Catan: Family Edition

The best strategy board game for kids

The Settlers of Catan is the Godfather of European “designer” board games. Ten-year-olds could get stuck into the full fat version of Catan perfectly well, but it’s not designed for kids, per se, and they might have trouble identifying and remembering some of the in-game elements.

Hence this absolute knockout of a kid-optimised version, which makes hardly any gameplay changes to the simple, already perfect original – but tweaks every aspect of the game’s presentation to make it more accessible to young players. The board tiles are smaller. The hexes are more distinctly colour coded to show which resource cards they correspond to. The cards, likewise, are more distinct, in colours and symbols. The road and city pieces are bright plastic, instead of demure wood.

Kids' board games - Photo showing the box, tiles and pieces for Kingdomino


The best dominoes game for kids

Another multiple-award-winner, Kingdomino is a tile board game of two halves that’s fantastic for kids (as well as being both easier and more colorful than learning how to play dominoes).

On each turn, you’ll first choose a double-ended domino tile from the shared pool – and then place it, with care and forethought, in your personal Kingdom, aiming to build up a five-by-five grid containing as many connecting matched tiles, and special point-scoring symbols, as possible. Simples.

If it were as simple as picking the juiciest tiles each time and slapping them down, then victory would almost always go to the first picker – but there’s a wrinkle or two. Whoever chose the highest overall value tile in each round, picks last in the next – so your kids will learn fast that being a greedy guts doesn’t necessarily pay off.

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What starts off as a slightly pepped up version of classic dominoes, quickly shows itself to be a fiendish, poker-like, competitive drafting game with the potential for some serious social shenanigans. It helps that the presentation is gorgeous too.

Kingdomino isn’t just one of the best kids’ games, it’s on our list of the best board games full stop. Check out our Kingdomino review for our full thoughts on this tactile treat.

Kids board games - Photo showing the box art for Talisman 4th edition board game


The best adventure board games for kids

Talisman is a strange beast of a fantasy board game: a well-shaken cocktail of elements that combine to make a vast, sprawling, delightful high fantasy adventure that’s sometimes infuriating, often roundabout, but always a whole bunch of fun.

It’s got a board like Chutes and Ladders on methamphetamine, a style, setting and cast of characters straight out of the original 1970s Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, and enough campy, old-fashioned fantasy names to make your head spin. It’s utterly fantastic.

Players select a character from a choice of 14 (!) different fantasy archetypes, each with its own special abilities, baked-in boons and drawbacks, and stats for life, strength and magic. Then you’ll set off on your way around three concentric tracks of spaces, triggering events along the way, that could make you stronger, make you richer, or give you new companions to aid you in battle – or they could cripple you, curse you or murder your existing followers.

Games can last a good couple of hours, but Talisman is glorious fun, generating oodles of ridiculous stories. It’s also an excellent way to desensitise the young’uns to fantasy tropes and tabletop RPG style mechanics, ready to be inducted into full-on Dungeons and Dragons.

Kids board games - Pandemic board game action shot showing the board, cards, and pieces


The best cooperative board game for teens

Nothing inherently to do with Coronavirus (although it probably won’t be long until a Covid-19-themed special edition comes out), Pandemic is a precision-engineered, thrilling and strategic cooperative board game. Your team of two to four players become expert disease-fighting operatives, coordinating the global response to several simultaneous, deadly pandemics ravaging humanity.

It’s pacy, unforgiving and surprisingly difficult to win – but its core mechanics are so damn simple that teenagers will get the hang of things pretty quick. More to the point, it’s among the most impressive cooperative experiences out there, and has a near-magical ice-breaking ability to pull a team together.

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In the face of an encroaching tide of deadly infections, with enough resources for only a few vital actions each turn, even the most reticent teens or tweens will eventually step up to the plate, offering ideas for what their character can do to help.

By the end, when everyone knows the last deadly, game-ending outbreak is on the cards, and you’re feverishly counting out the remaining actions to see how the human race can possibly still be saved, all awkwardness has been jettisoned. More often than not, you’ll find usually-sullen souls suggesting another game. You know, just to see if they can win it. Not because it’s awesome or anything.

Oh! And if the kids don’t like it, it’s a great board game for couples.

Kids board game - Lord of the Rings Adventure Book Game, a board with a variety of models of Lord of the Rings characters standing on it

The Lord of the Rings Adventure Book Game

The best board game for young Lord of the Rings fans

The Lord of the Rings Adventure Book game is a treat for young fans of the fantasy franchise. Rather than a board, the box contains a heavy cardstock book. Each two-page spread is a unique game board, recreating famous parts of the Lord of the Rings books and films with distinct challenges. Players work together to try and complete the Lord of the Rings saga, and throw the ring into Mount Doom!

The central mechanics of the game are simple: each turn, you’ll move the heroes around the board, discarding cards from your hand to grant extra movement or to complete the challenges that stand in you way. In Moria, Gandalf must battle the Balrog on the bridge of Khazad-Dûm, while in the forest of Fangorn Merry and Pippin need to incite the Ents into toppling Isengard.

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Failing one of the chapters of the game, or using powerful risky One Ring cards you might pick up, increases the party’s  corruption. Losing a single scenario won’t end the game, but getting all the way to the end of the adventure before the corruption of the One Ring becomes too much to bear is no easy feat.

The unique rules for each scenario are straightforward enough that pre-teens and younger teens should have no trouble grasping the rules, but this does a good job capturing the spirit of the films. If you like the sound of this kind of game, but not the Lord of the Rings, there are two others in the Adventure Book line, The Princess Bride and The Wizard of Oz.