Board games you can play with your parents
Parents want to play games that don’t have too many moving parts, but still challenge them. They also want to interact with you and your gameplay as much as they can. And a nice aesthetic doesn’t hurt.
How it's played: Each player takes turns pulling tiles from a pile and connects them to the board. The tiles have to match existing roads, cities, and fields. As you grow your landscape together, you'll strategically claim parts of it to try and earn the most points.
Why parents like it: It feels like you're building a puzzle together, and parents love that. There's some strategy to this game but it never feels too cutthroat. It's probably the most pleasant competitive game I've ever played . The pieces are also called Meeples which you'll find yourself saying over and over with your parents. Even when you're not playing.
If your parents are into this one, surprise them with one of the expansions for the next visit. They make several of them but Inns & Cathedrals is the best one.
Players: 2-5. You'll have to adopt a slightly different strategy as you add more players, but any number is fun.
Amazon Price: $35.11
How it's played: You'll play in teams of two and take turns being the spymaster. 25 word cards are visible to both players, but only one knows which ones will earn points and which ones will ruin their game. The spymaster tries to make their partner guess the correct cards by using only one word: the codename. The players who can successfully get their partners to associate the Codename with the most amount of words win.
Why parents like it: I'm convinced this game was invented for the purposes of bringing your romantic partner home to meet your parents and all four of you play against each other. Similar to how the game Taboo tests how well you can read your partner's behavior, this is a game of word association and making assumptions about how someone else thinks. Parents also love clues, hints, and and relying on memory - this checks all those boxes.
They make a version of codenames with pictures and it's not nearly as good. The drawings are ugly and you can't really tell what some of them are, which makes it more confusing.
Players: 2-8+ but you should really only play this with four people (2v2).
Amazon Price: $8.04
How it's played: Players take turns placing tiles next to each other that match their color or symbol. You'll earn points by placing a tile that touches multiple pieces with matching attributes, and if you create a line of all six in a row, you score a Qwirkle.
Why parents like it: It's really easy to learn and the colors and shapes are great for anyone with vision problems. It plays similar to dominoes, so if those are your parents, they will definitely love this. The only downside is that this might be too simple for some (my mom Pam, a Scrabble gal, gets too bored with this one). If you think that might be the case for yours, Lanterns is a little bit down on this list and will be a better fit.
Players: 2-4. It's more fun with 3-4.
Amazon Price: $24.95
4. Ticket To Ride
How it's played: Players connect cities with trains and earn points by completing route assignments.
Why parents like it: It's a map of the United States (or Europe) and parents are obsessed with maps of where they live. It's also got this industrial revolution vibe to it which was probably a horrible time to live but your parents will think it's charming. I personally think the game has one of the most hideous designs of all time but it's always fun to play.
Players: 2-5. If you want to actually finish more train connections play with 2 or 4 players. If you want a more competitive game, play with 3 or 5.
Amazon Price: $24.51
How it's played: Players pick stones and follow paths laid out in front of them. The paths are built as the game continues and new tiles are added. You'll want to keep your stone on the board. If you fall off the board or run into another player, you'll be eliminated.
Why parents like it: This is the quintessential game for parents. Its strategic but also relaxing. It's wildly simple to learn and the replay value is very high because each game adds new challenges depending on where the tiles are placed. The board is big and beautiful and there aren't too many elements to keep track of.
Players: 2-8. It's increasingly more fun the more players you add. If you have a big family or are dating multiple people, get them all together to play this.
Amazon Price: $39.95
How it's played: On your turn place a lantern onto the floating lake. Players receive lantern cards depending on what you placed (this includes your opponents). Certain sets of lanterns bring honor to your family and help you win the game.
Why parents like it: This game combines a few parent-friendly elements you've seen in this guide already like tile placement, pattern building, set collection, and a relaxing aesthetic. There is an additional element here of card management that provides for an extra challenge. You have to place your lanterns in ways to get the right cards for you, but not your opponents.
Players: 2-4. 3-4 players is more fun, but 2 works fine.
Amazon Price: $34.98
7. Drop it
How it's played: Players take turns dropping pieces of different shapes and colors into a vertical board and score points depending on where it lands and what it touches.
Why parents like it: It's a good game to play if the rest of your family is watching TV and or there's a lot of noise. You can play as individuals or teams. Pieces don't always land where you think they will and there's some randomness to how they fall sometimes, so it's not a game you'll get too serious about.
Amazon Price: $34.98