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Games for younger gamers (and gamers-to-be?)


Here at work, we do a gift drive for the Salvation Army, in which we can select tags that indicate children and their interests and age ranges. Well, this year, the first one I looked at said “Movies, video games, board games” and, well… how could I resist fate?

The kid’s 9, though, and I don’t deal a lot with kids that age range, so I was wondering if we had any parents (or aunts/uncles) that had some advice and experience to share. Obviously, this is made a bit tougher by not knowing this boy directly, so in my case I feel like I ought to play it safe but try to deliver something good and potentially eye-opening that will lure the next generation into friendly neighborhood gaming shops for years to come.

Since this could well be a good general topic, please don’t limit your advice to safe-plays for 9-year olds, either.


My son’s currently 2 going on tantrums–er–three, so imagining a nine-year-olds board game desires is going to have be extrapolated a bit. But!

I’d think you’d want something engaging and fun and interactive for a nine-year-old, but nothing too intricate or rules heavy. Something sleek, simple and fun. Ideally, it’d also be something easy enough to transition likely non-gamer parents into playing as well (since they’re likely to be frequent players as well). I’m sure you probably don’t want to spend a fortune on it either.

Sadly, that cuts out my first impulse of recommending TI3.

So! Classics! I think whatever set of Carcassonne you can get your hands on would suit just fine. It’s a good introduction to point scoring and placing meeples, yet there’s still a lot of depth to learning the game. Should last for years.

Spot It! (aka Dobble) might be worthwhile–a good party/performance game of speedily matching images that teaches and plays quick, and should be a level playing field (or even give a slight advantage to the younguns whose eyes aren’t quite so tired…whippersnappers!)

Sushi Go! I hear is a good, light card-drafting game that apparently plays as a slimmed down 7 Wonders. I say apparently because I haven’t played it, but so many people have recommended it recently I figure it must be worth some consideration.

If you really wanted to turn the kid over to the nerd side, you could land a copy of WOTC’s reprint of Dungeon! It’s a pretty simplistic dungeon crawl, but if anyone would enjoy it to its fullest, it’d be a nine-year-old boy (I know I would have pulled a N64 kid reaction if I had gotten this for Xmas when I was nine). There’s better games, sure…but there’s time for that. This one’s fun. Of course, skittish parents might take this one back to the store when they see the big demonic dragon on the cover…so maybe not the best idea.

King. Of. Tokyo. Can’t beat that for pre-adolsecent youth. Yatzee with big ol’ kaiju duking it out. Yes, there’s player elimination. It’ll teach him about humility. And hopefully also about the beauty of the rematch comeback.

Finally, Telestrations comes to mind as one of the better, funnier party game offerings a young person could appreciate. It’s Pictionary meets telephone. It’s best when the game is mostly ignored, and people just give in to the urge to draw ridiculous attempts at understanding the morphed clues that get plopped in front of them.

Just some thoughts. I’m sure there’re others, but these seem like solid bets.

Good on you for stepping up to the plate here–for making someone’s holiday more merry, and for sharing the gift of gaming!


I bought Mice and Mystics for a 7 year old. This game is fantastic, but required some older people to play with him for the first few games. Also, he won’t play it with his friends because he doesn’t think they’ll get it. If the parents, older siblings, or you, will be around to play: I heartily recommend.

Otherwise, I second King of Tokyo, and add Rampage. Rampage has more destruction.

Perhaps Pitchcar as well. I’ve not played that yet, but it looks both simple and accessible.


Yes, of course M&M can’t believe I forgot it–though might be a bit reading heavy for a youngster not accustomed to such. Still, might be good motivation for the same.

And yes Rampage–also Cube Quest for that matter!

And and Star Realms–it’s inexpensive, quick, fits in a backpack, and can be taught relatively quickly.


I hadn’t thought of Mice and Mystics for a younger gamer. I could definitely see that working, though I worry that it’s got quite a lot of reading to be a playable option without direct adult involvement. Perhaps a great option for people to consider for their own families, but one I’m hesitant to rely on for a stranger’s situation.

Similarly, if this was a kid I knew I’d have the opportunity to interact with and teach a game in person, Carcassonne would be a really nice choice. It’s got just heavy enough a mixture of complexity and abstraction that it might be a miss to some in this age range, I think, without the potential for some light guidance in the first couple plays. Or maybe I’m not giving the average kid in this age bracket enough credit, but thanks to you guys, I think I can avoid this risk and still make a good choice.

Rampage sounds like a great idea. I’ve never played it myself, but I’ve seen it played at conventions and the like, so I’m familiar with the way it works. The physicality there could be great for that age range, and the theme will probably delight a movie/video game fan.

Likewise, you guys are going to make me look into King of Tokyo more closely. I didn’t realize it’d be as accessible to youth as you guys (and BGG and the manufacturer!) are implying. Again, the theme here could be a winner.

Telestrations is a grand suggestion. We play it a bunch with my local board gaming group, though we just use metric forests-worth of index cards and whatever prompts pop into our heads. I love that the box set for this uses dry erase.

It occurred to me that Escape! Curse of the Temple could be great for this age range, but I want to steer clear of it in this situation because I don’t know if reasonable equipment to play the soundtrack would be available.

I’m off to dig a bit on King of Tokyo, but I think I can safely put my order in today between one of those 3.

But please, do continue the discussions!


Machi Koro. There’s virtually no strategy to it, anyone can pick it up :stuck_out_tongue:


And once again I’ll recommend “Such a thing”. It’s my absolute go-to-game for all age groups. It’s a very simple game, it’s easy to learn, it fits an almost limitless player count and it does not suffer from people dropping out or jumping in at any one time. It’s also not extremely competitive and people usually are up for another game right away. It’s the favorite game of my base gamergroup, and I heartily recommend it. Buy it for yourself, buy it as a present, buy twelve of it and throw them at random people on the street, making them happy.


So apologies for the thread necromancy but I was gonna start a topic which is essentially the same thing. However, this thread as it stands seems to be addressing 7 yr olds and up.

My daughter’s just turned 4, she’s been a fan of messing with my game components for the last three years, especially my Go stones (because of course) and Inis (I guess it’s just that pretty, but why she cares for that more than Seasons mystifies me…)

For her most recent birthday, she got a copy of a game called Smelly Wellies - basically a memory matching game with player boards - and she LOVES it.

So she seems to be well on her way… What else can I hook her up with, other than the same boring old Unos, Candy Lands, Guess Whos and Snakes & Ladderses so many of us tolerated at that age, bearing in mind that she can’t yet read?


A fair few of the forum members have posted about Outfoxed! being great for younger children (from age 3). I’ve yet to grab a copy for my daughter, so can’t give a first hand recommendation.


My daughter also just turned 4.

She’s pretty much graduated from our HABA game collection. She’s currently into Outfoxed, Incan Gold (aka Diamant, a push your luck game in which you simply simultaneously choose to continue or leave each turn, featuring treasure! snakes! spiders! mummies! - she gets so excited), and sometimes a simplified version of Flamme Rouge in which she just flips cards instead of choosing them.

Games which have garnered a bit of interest, but I can’t really recommend, are King of Tokyo, Push a Monster, Chef Alfredo, and anything with colourful miniatures. All of these have been “played” a fair bit, but only using vague approximations of the rules.

HABA games that still see some play are Animal upon Animal and Zitternix - simple, fun, balance/steady hands games.


The first “real” game I played with the kid when she was 4 is Escape: The Curse of the Temple!


Coconuts is great.


I haven’t played them but what about the kids versions of adult games. My First Carcassone, My little Scythe or the like? My kids are 3 and 5.


I would say that if you can find the Lego Games second hand (as they are not made any more) they are really good as you first get to build the board before playing the game, and once that has happened the Lego can be played with like a toy.
I remember that I spent along time with my sister messing around with the Heroica game(it is a bit like a modular Lego dungeon crawl) making new dungeons and playing with all the little goblins and heroes you got with it.


Dobble is fab with little ones
My youngest (who’s now 10) started gaming at about 5, with things like Forbidden Island (with help) and Ticket to Ride (again with support and the odd bit of rule bending!)
Loopin’ Louie is great fun no matter how old you are


My 5 year old and I played two rounds of Flamme Rouge this week. He recently figured out which numbers are larger, 1-10 so I thought I could give it a shot. He thinks they are motorcycles but still we had fun. I had to do a lot of shuffling and keeping up with Exhaustion, but he loved playing except for the losing part.


I find it very amusing to think of motorcycles becoming exhausted… So thank you for that.

That said, as somebody who’s ridden a crotch-rocket in excess of an hour… It very much makes sense on certain timescales


Cube quest is good for those who want a bit of carnage. In it you must flick cubes at other peoples cubes to try and knock those cubes of the board. However the cubes bounce in such a unpredictable way that children will be on a level playing field with their parents. Plus, once they’ve got the basics down, they can build their own custom cube army.


Machi Koro and Carcassonne are good shouts. We recently played Survive Escape from Atlantis with my eldest son and niece (albeit a little older than 9) and that went down very well…


Operation Pick on Dad as it is known in our house!!