Board games are analog solutions for a very digital problem: too much screen time. Convert your kitchen table into a tournament hall with a board game, and revisit classic games generations have enjoyed as kids and adults. With tangible pieces, colorful designs, and fanciful escapes from everyday life, what’s not to like? These four favorites for all ages will remind you that people were actually able to have fun before the internet.
This cheesy game for kids ages 6 and up gives a lesson or two in chain reactions and construction in addition to more traditional gameplay. The premise is simple—just gather up (and even steal) cheese without landing in a mouse trap. However, the 24 parts that elaborately work together to capture tiny cheese rustlers in the act are a bridge to STEM and more advanced creative games.
If you grew up with this riveting strategy game, the 60th-anniversary edition for ages 10 and up is a beautifully designed treat. For some people, the non-graphic war-themed gameplay will activate their most competitive instincts and awaken a thirst for power. For pacifists and fans of diplomacy over colonialism, playing Risk is a great way to start a conversation about the good and evil in human nature and its impact on world history.
Your household probably already has a few words that no one is allowed to say. Taboo turns the classic struggle against blurting out the wrong thing into a cathartic game for four or more players ages 13 and up. Use the electronic buzzer to hold each other accountable as you work to describe certain words without using other words designated as taboo by the game’s 450 cards. Aspiring writers, avid readers, and relentless editors may have a slight advantage, but anyone can win. (Note that ordinary words, not offensive words, are designated as taboo in this game.)
If you want to teach your kids a centuries-old game rooted in strategy and applied mathematics, a chess set is a must. This affordable wooden set is simple and elegant, and lets beginners focus on the board rather than the clever but impractical designs of fancier sets. The board is 15 inches square and easily portable. Strap the felt-bottomed pieces neatly inside in their designated spots, and then fold the board in half for storage.