The best timeless board games for the family

varying board game pieces

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted February 21, 2023

Stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200. The verdict is in for the top family board games, and the results may get dicey.

That’s not a word!


Professor Plum in the library with the rope!

As many families will know, these phrases have become part of common vernacular heard every ‘games night’.

With the idea of competition for fun, or gaming, going back to 3300 BC, society still has a penchant for getting together for some friendly competition. With billions in sales every year, the creation and distributions of these family favourites are certainly no game.

That said, much like the rivalry families and friends have during play, competition is rife when it comes to naming the most classic family board games.

To quantify, we settled on those that have remained popular throughout time, the true timeless board games (and one sans board) of the household that can be played by generations old and new.

So, from games that originated centuries ago, to newcomers on the gaming scene, here's our list of the best family board games of all time. 

family playing chess

Chess has been around since the 19th century. Image: Getty.

Must-have family board games


Age range: 8+

Players: 2 - 8

Love it or loathe it, Monopoly, the world’s best-selling game at 200 million and counting, is sold in 80 countries, translated into 26 languages, and has had so many variations, from a Harry Potter-themed board to spin-offs like Monopoly Deal – that it is impossible not to include.

The concept is revolved around getting a ‘monopoly’ on a real estate board by purchasing property and forcing other players to eventually go bankrupt. It’s a fun rivalry while teaching concepts of money, banking, street names (should you go a local edition) and possession.


Age range: 8+

Players: 2 - 4

With 150 million physical games sold, Scrabble has been around since the 1930s, teaching spelling and vocabulary and causing many a family squabble over what is, and what isn’t a word.

A word game, each player is given an assortment of tiles with random letters. The aim is to make these into words utilising the player’s own tiles, and those already placed on the board. Points are given depending on letters used and words created.

Just remember to have a dictionary on hand when needing to prove a point about the fact that words like muggle and emoji make the Scrabble cut.


Age range: 6+

Players: 1 - 4

One that can get the younger kids involved, Operation is more about motor skills than cognitive ability in this fun board game for the family. Battery-operated, the game includes light-up and buzzing features that will delight adults and kids alike.

The game that has been in – operation – since the 1960s consists of a board that is an ‘operating table,’ with a toy patient lying down with a series of funny and fictional ailments.

The aim is for each player to go around with tweezers and carefully remove them (such as the Butterflies in Stomach or the ice cream from a ‘Brain Freeze’) without touching the patient’s body and lighting up his big red nose. Good luck!


Age range: 10+

Players: 3 - 6

Formally known as Settlers of Catan, this game has consistently rated as one of the best-selling family board games since its inception in 1995, winning a range of awards and spinning off into video games, a TV series, online tournaments, and even world championship competitions.

The aim is for players, or ‘settlers,’ to build ‘victory points’ by trading, building, and developing resources to grow their individual settlements. The original game was up to four players, but new editions have now expanded to six.


Age range: 8+

Players: 2 - 6

As part of the Cluedo franchise spanning films, books, a TV series and a musical, Cluedo is a murder mystery game with the aim of finding out whodunnit.

While rules and the number of players may vary depending on the edition, the general aim of the game is the same – each player must collect clues to determine what really happened at Tudor Mansion. 


family playing a board game

Board games are a great change of pace and can keep the kids entertained for hours. Image: Getty.


Age range: 8+

Players: 4+

Think charades in pictures rather than acting form in this fun family board game. Inspired by Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary divides players into teams, where they are given a category and word to draw, which can range from objects to people, actions, difficult words and more.

Being able to effectively guess what a player is drawing allows a team to move forward on the game board, with the first team to reach the end declared the winner.

You don’t have to be a good drawer to play – half the fun is figuring out what on earth they are doing with that paper and pen in play!


Age range: 6+

Players: 2+

This is a big board game – so big, in fact, that the players fit right on it! Created over 50 years ago and now in the National Toy Hall of Fame, the ‘game that ties you up in knots’ is a floor mat covered in coloured spots.

Spinning the wheel directs where a player moves – right hand red, left foot green – twisting players up into crazy moves. The last player left without falling is the winner!


Age range: 10+

Players: 2 – 6

A strategic game for older kids and adults, Risk is world domination, board game style. With many variations, video games, a TV series and devoted forums, Risk is one of the world’s most popular games, with 25 million sets sold and counting.

While complex, the aim is to use army combat and reinforcement to control territories on every continent and become the ruler of the world. The game can go on for many hours, but as the game says - it’s a risk, but you have to take it.

Trivial Pursuit

Age range: 8+

Players: 2+

An absolute classic trivia format, Trivial Pursuit has players answer questions in various categories, from science to sport and literature; with correct answers advancing the players along the board.

The classic game which has continual trivia updates has been translated into 17 languages with more than 100 million copies sold, as well as many spin-off editions such as those for children, specialised movie versions like Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, a TV series, game show, and video game.


Age range: 5+

Players: 2

Perhaps one of the most classic games, originating back to the 19th century, chess is a board game that can be played by multiple ages, cultures, classes, and sexes worldwide, making it one of the world’s most popular games in history.

Chess is a game of strategy, patience and skill, which is not only good for your brain but can mean serious money if you become a world champion!

Consisting of a checkerboard with each player having a range of pieces to cross, the aim is to capture the other player’s king. Check mate!

RACV Club Members can join social chess at the City Club.


Family playing a game of scrabble

More than 150 million physical copies of Scrabble has been sold across the world. Image: Getty.


Age range: 6+

Players: 2 – 5

A faster game that came along at the start of the 21st century, Carcassonne has built a cult following, with video games, spin offs, expansions, and even a yearly world championship.

Named after a medieval fortress in southern France, the aim is to strategically place tiles of followers to gain control of the town. It can be quick – but full of possibility.

Ticket to Ride

Age range: 8+

Players: 2 - 5

A winner of multiple board game awards and with sales topping $150 million, there’s a reason Ticket to Ride continues to dominate best board game lists year after year.

In a similar vein to Carcassonne and Risk, the aim is to claim train routes across North America, with more points given for longer routes and more connections. All aboard!


Age range: 7+

Players: 2 - 10

While more of a card game than a board, we would be remiss not to include the 1970s game with over 560 variations that has become a staple in most households across the country. 

Consisting of two or more players holding cards of various numbers, colours and powers, the aim is to be the first player to shed all their cards by yelling Uno! With variations including UNO Junior, UNO Dare, UNO Super Mario and more, the game has sold 150 million copies – and counting.

Honourable mentions: Backgammon, Guess Who, Rummikub, Battleship, Scattergories, MouseTrap, Boggle, Trouble, The Game of Life. 

New(ish) board games worth a try: What Do You Meme, Articulate, Cards Against Humanity (Family version), Herd Mentality, Qwirkle, Codenames, Azul, Exploding Kittens.


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