While I've done some more in-depth board game posts - and I'm sure I will again, this is a quick list of some of the board games that get the most table time when the whole family plays. Please leave any input, and/or questions regarding the games in the comments - are there any I missed?
5 - Cloud 9 A fairly simple press your luck game where the bigger the risk, the greater the payout. As the balloon rises players have the option of "bailing" and keeping points earned to that point, or staying in the balloon as the probability of completing the hands gets more difficult. Player build a hand of colored balloon cards that are then used to "pay" for passage to the next level based on the roll of the dice.
4 - Scene It, Disney - Like the other games in the "Scene It" genre - this one involves watching movie clips, puzzles or other items, all from Disney movies, and then answering questions. There are two sets of cards, with one set especially for the younger players. Questions are such that even those without a lot of Disney knowledge will have a shot. Not only is it something fun for the whole family, but it has reminded us of some older Disney classics, and encouraged us to get them out and give them another watch.
3 - Carcassone
A great tile laying game with mechanics easy enough for a young player, but strategy to keep the older ones (and adults) intrigued. I had a full post about it here. This is one of our favorite "gateway" games with families. As mentioned in the original post - there are multitudes of expansions for this one. We finally wised up and marked the various expansions and play with no more than one or two on any given game. Really, the base game is sufficient.
2 - Pandemic! We are a competitive family. Very competitive. Probably why we enjoy games so much. What I love about Pandemic! is that it is a cooperative game - everyone wins, or loses. Your goal is to beat the game. In this map based games, each player has a role (Scientist, Medic, Operations Expert, etc.) with special skills. How you use those skills to cure and eradicate the diseases is up to you. What makes this a great game for families - is, since you are working together, there is plenty of table talk, and it is perfectly acceptable to bounce your ideas and suggestions off of the entire time. It's also a great change to really discuss strategy. The fact that everyone either wins or loses is an added bonus. Here is a time lapse video of Mr. Chewy and I playing a game.
1 - Ticket to Ride While this has nothing to do with the famous Beetles tune, I bet it's in your head now! Geography, History, a simple rummy style mechanic - what's not to love about this one? This favorite made an early appearance in the blog here. This is another one that we will bring out frequently to introduce people to a "different" board game. We have had the most success with the Chewy kid playing with the basic rules/US Map. Each turn you must choose whether to collect or play cards that are used to complete various routes for points. Longer routes take more time to collect the cards, but the payout is exponentially greater!