5 Awesome Family Board Games for Young Fantasy Lovers
Creativity and imagination are two of the things I prize most about childhood – so it’s no surprise how big a fan I am of fantasy stories. I love reading fantasy novels aloud with my kids, and I particularly love it when the fantasy genre makes its way into picture books. But there’s another place that fantasy has always thrived and inspired little ones – in the world of family board games.
I am a huge sucker for a good board game theme. If I were to be completely honest, I think that the theme influences me more than gameplay sometimes. If a game has a good story attached to it, I’m going to be along for the ride. Medieval fantasy with swords and sorcery is a surefire path to endearment in my house. But I also need these games to be accessible to our little ones. After all, playing with our kids is our main inspiration.
One day while perusing our board game collection, I happened to notice just how many family board games we have with evil wizards and dragons and goblins and knights and princesses that needed to be rescued. The best part about all of these games is that our 6-year-old can play every single one of them with us. And I think they’re all a blast to play as well. The board game renaissance has certainly brought us some amazing family titles in recent years.
The following board games are some of our very favorite fantasy-themed family board games. If your family loves fantasy as much as ours does, or if you have a little one obsessed with dragons and magic, make sure to give these games a try. They most definitely spark our imaginations with their storylines and their monsters. And there’s nothing more satisfying than foiling the plot of an evil sorcerer and saving the kingdom as a family.
Based on what we know about the long history of fantasy stories and role playing – and the monumental success behind the fantasy juggernaut Dungeons & Dragons - I suppose it should come as no surprise that these family board games with similar themes fire up our creativity the way that they do. Suffice it to say, playing these games is highly likely to stir up the desire to go do some role playing of our own in the backyard.
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Published by Wizards of the Coast and Designed by David R. Megarry, Gary Gygax, Michael Gray, Steve Winter & S. Schwab
Originally published in 1975 by TSR - Dungeon! is kind of like a light version of Dungeons & Dragons. Players choose to adventure as a Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, or Wizard, and they search for treasure in a dungeon filled with monsters. The winner of the game is the first person to escape the dungeon with a certain amount of treasure.
The different characters have different strengths - the most notable difference being the wizard who has spells to cast. As you dive deeper into the dungeon, the monsters become more difficult, but the rewards are much higher. As a guy who grew up playing Diablo and Hero Quest - I’m surprised I didn’t discover this game until I had kids. But I’m glad I did because it’s the most perfect introduction to dungeon crawling with my 6-year-old that I could imagine.
Published by Drei Magier and Designed by Inka Brand & Markus Brand
The Enchanted Tower is one of the newest additions to our family board game collection, and it has instantly become one of our very favorites. An evil wizard has stolen the princess and locked her away in a tower. A hero named Robin tries to rescue her – but he’s in a race with the evil wizard.
We’re big fans of cooperative games in our house, and this is kind of a competitive/cooperative hybrid. One person can be the evil wizard while everyone else teams up to try to rescue the princess. What makes this game really special is how the princess is actually locked into place until you find the key and then stick it into the correct keyhole in the tower.
The evil wizard gets to hide the metal key in one of the many hiding places on the game board – so he knows where it is the whole time, but the good guys get a head start. If you step over the hidden key, a magnet will pull it up to your character and you’ll hear a clank. Then you get to choose a lock and see if you can rescue the princess from the tower. If the key works, you win!
Published by Peaceable Kingdom and Designed by Shanon Lyon, Marisa Pena, & Colt Tipton-Johnson
Peaceable Kingdom is still the king of cooperative games as far as I’m concerned. Our son grew up playing a lot of their games with us, and Cauldron Quest has always been one of our favorites. The story in this one features an evil wizard who has cast a spell to destroy the entire kingdom. Only you have the power to stop him and reverse the spell with a magic potion - but you have to find the right ingredients first.
Cauldron Quest is a dice rolling game where you have to cooperate to discover the right ingredients, and then navigate them into the cauldron before the evil wizard blocks all of your paths. The classic fantasy storyline is a big hit - and the ingredient list (like bat wings and eye of newt) is a nice touch. Peaceable Kingdom has now brought to life many games that promote working together with our kids towards a common goal - and Cauldron Quest will definitely always be a fond memory for us.
Published by Fireside Games and Designed by Justin De Witt
This is the one game on this list that our 3-year-old can 100% participate in. She understands the game completely and absolutely loves it. It’s one of a few games she often recognizes, grabs, and asks to play.
It’s actually a simplified version of one of my personal favorite board games – Castle Panic. It’s a cooperative tower defense board game. And if the concept of a cooperative tower defense board game for little ones isn’t enough to convince you this is a fantastic game – I don’t know what to tell you.
The art is amazing, the theme is great, and the gameplay teaches little ones about shapes and colors to boot. My First Castle Panic is a huge success in my book because it brings our little ones a lot of joy.
Published by Ravensburger and Designed by Reiner Knizia
This is one of the coolest board games I’ve ever played. It comes with a talking treasure chest that completely keeps track of the game for you, and gives you hints along the way. An evil wizard has stolen the king’s magic ring. He used his evil powers to hypnotize an innocent person to steal it for him - and you have to figure out who it was and where the ring is hidden.
In order to find the ring, you need to gather clues from talking animals in the castle. They’ll help you figure out who the culprit might be, but they won’t give you a clue unless you bring them their favorite food first. Using their clues, you eliminate potential suspects using deduction - similarly to the way you eliminate your options in the game Guess Who?.
You’re actually racing against the clock as well. Occasionally the talking treasure chest will remind you how much time you have left. If you don’t find the magic ring in time, you lose the game. The great thing about this game is that every round is different, and the talking treasure chest controls the whole thing for you. It’s like having a little built in dungeon master. It simply blows the kids away - it really feels like magic.
Do you like sword fighting and casting spells as much as we do? What’s your family’s favorite fantasy-themed game? Tell us in the comments!