The Best Board Games for Quarantine

Bored in the house? Try one of these eight family-friendly board games. 

As the weeks indoors stretch on for many of us during the pandemic, you may be seeking new ways to energize your evenings and keep you and your loved ones entertained. Board games are an ideal activity for these times, providing an engaging and lighthearted way to have fun and give our brains a little workout. While there are many games available online, here we focus on tabletop board games that pull us away from our screens and provide opportunities for real-time interaction among partners, roommates, and family members. These eight games include some classics as well as new hits, all of which can be played with kids.

Scattergoriesimage of Scattergories box

Two–six players. For ages 10 and up.

A classic word game ideal for family tournaments. A player rolls the dice, landing on a letter of the alphabet, and everyone then has three minutes to come up with words starting with that letter to complete a list of categories. Players receive points for each word no one else has, and the winner is the player with the most points at the end. Scattergories encourages creativity and quick thinking and also helps kids expand their vocabularies.

 

Ticket To Ride

Two–five players. For ages eight and up.Image of the board game Ticket to Ride

Another old-time favorite, players in this adventure game race to build the most color-coded railroad lines, connect cities, and create the longest route across North America. Players gain points by completing destinations and laying down tracks. New versions of the game are set in India, Europe, and other regions. A bonus is that players learn geography lessons as they build their routes.

 

Catan

Three–10 players. For ages 10 and up.image of the board game Catan

This uber-popular civilization-building game, also called Settlers of Catan, has long been recognized for its many educational benefits. Players must strategize as they gather resources, trade supplies, and compete to create the largest settlement in the fictional island colony of Catan. The goal is to be the first player to get 10 points and dominate the island. There is also a Kids of Catan version available for children ages four and up.

 

image of board game DixitDixit

Three–six players. For ages eight and up.

This creative game is played with wordless picture cards and is ideal for those who like to tell stories. In each round, one player is the storyteller and has to say a word or phrase that represents one of their cards. Players rack up points by trying to get others to choose their cards. The colorful, slightly surreal cards have dreamlike images on them that encourage imaginative thinking.

 

Azulimage of board game Azul

Two–four players. For ages eight and up.

This art-themed game, based on Islamic-inspired Portuguese tiles called azulejos, is beautiful to look at and fun to play. Players take turns picking chunky, ornate tiles to decorate the walls of a palace while competing against other players to be the first one to complete rows of tiles. There are only a few rules, turns are quick, and players score points based on the way the tiles are placed.

 

Codenamesimage of board game Codenames

Four or more players. For ages 10 and up.

This lively spy word game is played in teams. Each team has a spymaster who knows the secret identities of 25 agents who are represented by cards on the board. The spymasters take turns giving one-word clues to help their teammates identify the correct cards and stay away from the wrong cards. There is also an assassin lurking who needs to be avoided. There are now multiple versions of Codenames available, including editions based on the “Harry Potter” series, Disney characters, and The Simpsons.

 

image of board game TelestrationsTelestrations

Two to eight players. For ages eight and up.

This drawing game combines the classic fun of the party games Telephone and Pictionary. Each player starts with a word or a phrase that they need to sketch on the first page of their booklet. When time is up, players then pass their booklets to the next person, who has to guess what the word was based on the drawing. The game continues until the booklet reaches the original person, and everyone gets to see if they were correct in their guesses. A bonus is that players are consistently writing and drawing, so no one needs to sit and wait for their turn.

 

image of board game WingspanWingspan

Two–five players. For ages eight and up.

This science-themed newcomer is ideal for naturalists and bird lovers. Players try to attract the best birds to their individual nature preserves. Birds are represented by cards that include accurate information about their diet, habitat, and nests, and players use these details to help them win. Different birds are worth different amounts of points. Wingspan has been recognized by many gaming groups for its lovely aesthetics. It has colorful boards, a stack of 170 cards featuring attractive bird illustrations, pastel plastic eggs, and even a wooden birdhouse that holds the dice.


Melanie Kletter is an educator and freelance writer and editor.

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