In preparing to spend nearly a month on the road with my 5 and 3 year olds, I consider games a must-have on our trip. Luckily for me my husband is a board game enthusiast, we have a rich field of games in our home to choose from. Here are a few that will be coming with us. They have been selected based on appropriateness for young kids to play and box size.
You and your fellow adventurers are exploring an ancient Incan temple. At every turn you must decide to play it safe by returning to camp with the treasure you’ve gathered so far; or wager it all and keep exploring. On each turn a card reveals whether you have found gems or if something dangerous is following you. Every player decides secretly to run or to stay for the next turn. Those who run keep their treasures. Those who stay may find more gems, or may fall victim to giant spiders, wandering mummies, fire spouts, or venomous snakes.
Publisher: Gryphon Games
Ages: the box says 8+ but even our three year old can play along.
Players: Plays best with a minimum of three people.
Pros: Only one decision is made at a turn (stay or go) so it plays pretty fast.
Cons: There are small bits so it may be inappropriate for those who are prone to put things in their mouth.
Players build a pyramid using animal pieces. If, when placing your piece, the stack topples, you must acquire some of those pieces into your hand. A roll of a dice decides how many animals you must stack on the pyramid, or whether you can make your opponent stack your pieces for you.
Ages: 4 and up.
Pros: No thinking necessary. Great animal parts, they can easily double for imaginary play.
Cons: With 29 pieces, you may need to take care not to lose any.
Each player gets a set of differently shaped tiles. Players take turns trying to place all of their pieces onto the board and simultaneously try to block their opponent from having access to do the same. To place a piece, a corner of that tile must touch a corner of another tile of the same color on the board. They cannot be directly adjacent, in other words, the sides can’t touch.
Publisher: Strata Gems
Ages: 5 and up
Players: Travel game requires 2 players; original game plays 2, 3, or 4.
Pros: The pieces are fun to play with, regardless of the rules. Not boring to adults.
Cons: The travel sized game is a two-player game only. The actual game can play 2, 3 or 4 people, but the box is gigantic.
Tiles that each contain a picture of either one, two, or three fish are placed together to represent a pack of sea ice. Each player has a few penguins that he can use to hop around the ice, catching fish. Each time a penguin moves, the tile beneath him is removed, creating holes in the ice. Since these penguins don’t swim, you can make enough holes to create an island, leaving your opponent stranded with limited fish.
Publisher: Phalanx Games
Ages: 5+ (box says 8 but I think 5 year olds would do fine.)
Pros: Easy to play. Our three –year-old plays but just doesn’t have strategy down.
Cons: The set-up (placing all the tiles together) can be tedious.
Technically, this is a card game and not a board game. It has no words, ideal for pre-readers, and yet is interesting enough for adults to want to participate. The object is to collect several cards of a given color, but not get stuck with cards of a color you are not collecting. The strategy is in the beginning of each turn, where each player creates piles that ideally contain cards you want, but other players can add to that pile cards that you don’t want. Though this may sound confusing, once you play one round it is easy to understand. I was surprised at how easily my youngest picked up on this concept and put some thought into his decisions.
Publisher: Rio Grande Games
Ages: 5+ (box says 8, but I think it’s playable for much younger ages provided you help them add up their points)
Pros: After each hand you accumulate points. The hands play pretty quickly, so really you can stop at any time, regardless of points.
Cons: The requirement to tally points at the end may be difficult for those younger than first grade.
photo credits: gameboardgeek.com and parentsconnect.com