5 Fantastic Family Games to Try in 2021

If you’ve been given a Lazy Horse gift voucher, or perhaps signed yourselves up for a subscription, but don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing games, let us try to help you out. We try to give regular recommendations on this blog and you can see some old recommendations here.

This is a collection of 5 games that we think every family should try at least once. These games are a mixture of 2 credit, 3 credit and 4 credit games, which offer a variety of difficulty levels, themes and styles of play. Hopefully there will be something in here that you love.

  1. Pandemic. Credits: 3 | Difficulty level: Medium | Players: 2-4 | Time: approx. 45 – 60 mins

Where better to start than the co-operative game which sees you trying to cure 4 infectious viruses as they spread around the World. Yep, you just can’t get away from it right now! But trust us when we say this game is fun. The magic of Pandemic is just how much teamwork is involved in containing outbreaks as and when they happen. If you haven’t tried a co-operative game before then this is a great place to start. Expect plenty of head scratching as you carefully plan each others movements and actions. If you enjoy being at the centre of a tense mission to save the World with the odds increasingly stacked against you then you will love Pandemic. If you simply can’t face dealing with a World pandemic (quite understandable if you ask us) why not try Pandemic Fall of Rome or Pandemic Rising Tide which are both similar games with different themes.

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2. Carcassonne. Credits: 2 | Difficulty level: Easy/Medium | Players: 2-5 | Time: approx. 30-45 mins

This tile laying game is 20 years old and seems to be getting better with age. It is a great introduction to the wonderful world of modern games and a Lazy Horse favourite. Players take turns to place tiles and in doing so build up a landscape of fields, roads and walled cities. The genius of the game comes in the form of meeples (little wooden characters). Place your meeples on the roads or cities to claim them and score points. The bigger the road or city, the more points you score. Sounds simple and the theme might be a bit drier than some games but the strategy involved is surprisingly complex. If you don’t like the theme you can always try Carcassonne Hinters & Gatherers for something a bit different.

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3. Splendor. Credits: 2 | Difficulty Level: Easy/Medium | Players: 2-4 | Time: approx. 30mins

If you like Carcassonne you may well enjoy Splendor. It is a card game which is straightforward to learn and plays quickly but tricky enough to require some strategic thinking. All you are doing is collecting gems (you can take 3 on your turn) and using the gems to buy cards from a central market. Some of the cards you buy also give you bonus gems which count towards the cost of future cards – a mechanism that is known as engine/tableau building. Splendor is quite a plain looking game on the surface but you won’t mind that once you start playing. Why not try the Splendor Marvel collection which is essentially the same game but has (you guessed it) comic book artwork and marginally different scoring rules.

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4. Wingspan. Credits: 4 | Difficulty Level: Medium | Players: 1-5 | Time: approx. 60 mins

The game that won almost every prize going in 2019 is an engine building game about bird-watching. Firstly, Wingspan is a very beautiful game with amazing components (including a cardboard birdhouse dice-tower) and a comprehensive deck of 170 individual birds to admire. If you don’t love bird-watching…. fear not! This is a brilliant game with so much to think about and enough variety to make sure that anyone with an interest in puzzle solving will enjoy it. You have a hand of birds and on your go you have the choice of whether to play an action or to place a bird onto your board. The more birds you have placed, the better your actions will become. Points are scored in a variety of ways including the number of birds on your board. The rules might be a bit complex if you are new to board games but if you are looking for a game to take your board games to the next level, this is it!

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5.The Isle Of Cats. Credits: 4 | Difficulty Level: Medium | Players: 1-4 | Time: approx. 60-90 mins

Don’t be fooled by the name, this game sounds soft and fluffy but The Isle of Cats comes in a big box with a hefty rule book and hundreds of pieces. All of that can take a little while to get your head around but once you come to terms with everything the game is so good that even cat-haters will be glad they persevered! The game also offers a family friendly version with simplified cards to help you get up and running. The Isle of Cats is essentially made up of two distinct phases; card drafting and polyomino tile placement. The premise of the game is that you need to catch cats (which are represented by Tetris-like tiles with cute cat artwork) from the island and store them in your ship. Your hand of cards will help you to catch or store cats in various ways, and then it’s a question of squeezing them together in your ship to leave as few gaps as possible. This game is designed so well and the combination of different mechanisms fit together perfectly. You might just wonder how you’ve gone so long without this sort of game in your life.

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