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Best New Board Games for Kids A 2013 - 2014 Review

Updated on January 9, 2014

Why I Think All Kids Should Play Board Games

I grew up playing board games with my parents. I think, in some ways, that's the reason that I eventually aspired to be like them. I know it sounds crazy, right? But, playing board games together gave us the time we needed to bond.

So, when I got to those years where I was ready to be a rebellious teenager I thought twice about the things which my Mom and Dad had taught me because they'd spent all that time with me throughout the years.

Now I'm a Dad of 4 kids and we try to do the same. In a world full of tablets, cell phones, and computers my kids still love sitting down with us and playing board games. That doesn't mean I've been able to completely keep them away from their screens, but it has helped. Here's a few of our new favorites which you've probably never heard of.

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Top Rated Kids Board Games 2013

Smash Up - For Kids 12 and Up Or a Smart 8 year old:

This game, Smash Up, is for kids 12 and up. That being said I have an 8 year old who loves to play this with his friends. It's a game for 2-4 players and it takes about an hour to play from start to finish.

The object of the game is to smash more bases than your fellow players. There are two 20 card decks of two different factions that you shuffle together to make a 40 card deck. Each faction stimulates a different part of the game.

For instance, pirates move cards, the zombies bring the cards back from the discard pile, and your dinosaurs are going to be the most powerful of all. Every time you make a new combination you get different play as well.

You need to make sure that you have a lot of power on your base from your own minions when the base finally gets smashed. It is more challenging than it sounds and will keep you entertained the entire time since there are so many surprises.

This game is also not as difficult as other games of it's ilk, like Magic: The Gathering. It is not a deck building game but what the manufacturer calls shufflebuilding.

Top Rated Kids Movie Lover Board Game 2013

Twilight Eclipse Board Game

For Twilight Fans Out There Age 12 and Up

For all those Twilight fans, this Twilight Eclipse Board Game will make them feel a part of the stories they love. This is a trivia type game that is best played by 2-6 children ages 12 and up.

It is a game that incorporates trivia questions and challenges based on the stories. The first player who collects 8 scene cards is the one who wins the game.

The thing I like the most about this game is that you don't have to be a TwiHard to get many of the questions. The game is covered in movie images that will keep the energy alive while you play.

Moving into the inner ring of the board is where the challenges get more challenging since you must defeat newborns and Victoria in order to collect the scene cards. Game pieces included are shaped in the Cullen Crest and the Volturi Crest.

This is a good game to add to all the Twilight board games and when the most recent movie comes out and the board game is made, you can add that to your collection too!

New Best Kids Strategy Game 2013

The Hunger Games District 12 Board Game

Speaking of popular movies, The Hunger Games District 12 Strategy Game is also a popular one among youngsters and grownups alike. For 2-4 players ages 12 and up, this is a great game that gets players thinking.

You are a resident of District 12 and must do your best to avoid getting chosen at the Reaping by being resourceful in getting yourself food, clothing, medicine and fuel; but don't get too comfortable, you might still be chosen to play in the Hunger Games!

This game is actually pretty detailed and took me awhile to figure out completely. It can be frustrating when you want to jump right in to play, but if you take the time to learn it well, you will have even more fun while playing it.

This game does not utilize play as if you were in the Arena as a contestant; rather, it is to see how well you can avoid getting chosen. I like that it always has a different outcome and can help young people develop critical thinking skills. It is definitely more fun when played with more than just 2 people

Best Board Games for Kids

Angry Birds Star Wars DeathStar Game - For Age 8 and Up

What is better than Star Wars or Angry Birds? Angry Birds Star Wars DeathStar Game! Yes, you and the birds take on Vader and his piggy friends.

You take turns trying to demolish the Empire in this game. You simply load your X-Wing Fighter launcher with your character of choice (Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, or Chewbacca) and shoot away.

You and your friend can take bets to see how many hits it takes to knock the whole thing down. Made with Jenga blocks (though plastic), the Death Star will eventually collapse, declaring one of you the winner.

The X-Wing Fighter slingshot is actually pretty fun to use and is a great replica. You will want to play in front of a wall, or other surface, to keep from having to chase down every bird that shoots past it.

This game also requires that it be put back together every time you want to play it and that might not be appealing to some kids, but if they have played Jenga before, they will understand what it's about.

It is recommended for children 8 years and up but even younger ones will enjoy playing it; it has small pieces and will pose a choking hazard for toddlers though, so be aware.

Great Gift for a Young Child

LEGO The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Take a look at this LEGO The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey game. If you like the movie, this would make an excellent gift for a young child.

It is good for 2- 4 players and includes 389 LEGO pieces and 4 LEGO microfigures and a LEGO dice. You can choose to be one of the following: Gandalf the Grey, Kili the Dwarf, Fili the Dwarf and Dwalin the Dwarf; unfortunately, there is no Bilbo figure.

The object is to find the missing Dwarves who have become lost in Hobbiton. Gandalf the Grey and some other Hobbits have left you clues that you must figure out to find your way to the lost earth dwellers.

If you want to play a more challenging game, you can transform the board mid-game to test your memory skills. Once the board is built, it is easy to pull back out and play again with no setup needed.

The instruction booklet gives you different variations and is pretty easy to read. Each game takes about 15-20 minutes. I like that instead of being just a board game, it is a LEGO activity as well. This has kept my son entertained by himself, and with his friends, for hours at a time.

For All Age Groups

Kids Travel Blokus Game

If you know kids that love strategy games and love to be challenged, then consider this Travel Blokus game. This travel version is great for kids who commute a lot for whatever reason.

It is easy to learn how to play and is a game for 2-4 players at a time. It comes with 42 pieces that go within 196 recessed squares and includes a storage tray, which is a bonus in my opinion.

This makes a good option when traveling but the game can sometimes be hard to play in a car if you don't have a flat surface on which to play.

The object of the game is for players to fit all of their pieces onto the board. All of your pieces must be touching at least one corner of your pieces that are already on the board. The player who uses up all their tiles first is the one who wins.

The games can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on how long you deliberate over your moves. A game like this is actually healthy for your brain since you must plan and choose your turns carefully. It is really easy to learn and is enjoyed by all age groups.

For Children Ages 8-12 - Or Even Younger!

New Stare! Junior for Kids Game

Another great option is Stare! Junior. This one is very fun and engaging as you test and train your visual memory skills. It is good for children ages 8-12 and for 2-6 players.

My 6 year old has also enjoyed playing it, so younger ones might also enjoy the game. Play consists of a 30 second time limit where each player must stare at an image on a card. It could be anything from a photo or a comic, to a poster or a piece of art. When the time is up, the player must then answer a set of questions to see how well they remember what they were staring at.

Little details must be paid attention to such as the color of socks the person was wearing, what the girl was holding in her hand. You can play individually or in groups for more ease.

There are 960 questions on 160 game cards so you get a lot of variety. The only drawback is that if you are playing with more than 2 or 3 people, you end up waiting awhile for your turn while the other players answer their questions. So I suggest you play with fewer people, or play in groups to make it go faster.

I have often played a couple rounds myself to exercise my brain and get better at observing things. I love that this game is so fun for young people and older ones such as myself.

Board Games for kids: Reader poll

Which of these new board games seems the most interesting to you?

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Final Thoughts

I hope you get just as much enjoyment out of these games as me and my kids do. If you have a good new board game that you like to play, then please use the open discussion area below to tell us what it is! Also take a look at my profile for more great stuff for kids.

Which family board games do you like to play?

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