20 best board games for kids that they’ll love to play this year

By Christina Colizza and Mili Godio for nbcnews.com

A good board game can be a fun way to get the family together and encourage kids to take a break from phone, television and video game screens. A great board game inspires, encouraging strategy, teamwork and interactivity.

Over the last couple of years, several standout tabletop games launched for kids between ages 3 and 12. And While classics like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders are top contenders for beginners and early gamers, there are plenty of kids board games to explore outside of the typical ones you’ll find crammed on the family room’s shelf.

To save you time browsing through the endless sea of board games online, we’ve compiled a few of the best, based on expert recommendations, high ratings and our past coverage, plus some new board games that debuted this year. They’ll keep your little ones engaged and entertained.

Best board games for kids

Here are highly rated board games for kids ages 12 and under recommended to us by board game experts. We also included approximate playtime, number of players and appropriate ages, as recommended by game manufacturers and the board game review site BoardGameGeek.

A Game of Cat & Mouth

W. Eric Martin, news editor of BoardGameGeek, recommended this game, which has a 4.8-star average rating from over 400 Amazon reviewers and is “like playing Ping-Pong,” but on a regular table. Players must use a magnetic “cat’s paw” to flick a yellow ball through the cat’s mouth to the opponent’s side of the board. Players win the round when they get rid of all the balls on the board.

“Each round lasts less than a minute, but your excitement level goes through the roof as you try to get rid of those last few balls,” Martin said.

  • Ages: 7 and up
  • Players: 2
  • Playtime: 10 minutes

Abandon All Artichokes

2021 American Tabletop Awards (ATTA) winner, this colorfully illustrated card game imagines a world where people suddenly hate artichokes — and your garden (aka, your hand of cards) is full of them. Your objective is to swap out your exclusively artichoke-filled deck and harvest fresh vegetables instead. Martin called this game, which earned a 4.5-star average rating from over 700 Amazon reviewers, “delightfully simple, yet engaging”

  • Ages: 10 and up
  • Players: 2-4
  • Playtime: 20 minutes

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