I remember playing board games as a kid. I had a slew of Parker Brothers games (Monopoly, Clue, Sorry, etc.) that I played regularly. Looking back at those classic family games, I realize now how horrible some of them were playing together as a family. Something I will not be repeating with my kids.
One thing that stands out in Monopoly and Risk (two old past favorites of mine) is that each game revolves around the elimination of other players to win. Now I am simply boggled by the game concept where the losers are dropped sequentially and forced to wait around until the winner is decided. As a family game, I just don't see this as fun. Winning and losing is part of playing a game. I'm all for teaching that idea to kids, but dragging out the process forcing them to become spectators while the winner is slowly decided is not fun. Now that I'm older and thinking of playing games with my kids, I'll be making sure these four games are regulars in my lineup:
Carcassonne - You place tiles to slowly expand cities and roads, filling up the country side. All the while you place followers (or meeples) to score points on completed features. It's fun, has simple rules, and is surprisingly strategic. My niece loves this game, and the adults I've played with have really enjoyed it too. Play is fast and definitely has that draw to play 'just one more game' to it.
Apples to Apples Kids - The adult version is a hoot and an excellent party game, but I got tired of trying to describe who Maryln Monroe or Dr. Jack Kevorkian was. The Kid edition is a great fit. Players try to secretly match adjective cards in their hand with a specific noun. Rotating as a judge, a player will pick which one seems to be the best fit. If your card is picked you score a point. Another simple game that is fast moving. The only downside is you need at least 3 players, with more definitely making a better game.
Settlers of Catan - This will be my replacement for monopoly. Plenty of info can be found on this game. As a quick description, you play a settler on a new island and must engage in barter and trade to further build settlements. The first player that builds the most wins. It is a resource management game that requires interaction with other players. And more importantly as a family game, everybody is in until the end. The hexagonal board pieces also make for a different game each time.
Risk 2210 - What better game to seed my children with thoughts of world domination. A fun light war game. The combat mechanics are very similar to that of risk. There is a small economy portion. Plenty of luck with the addition of power cards. Lots of different territories to control, defend, and attack (water, land, and the moon). Three territories are randomly removed from the start for each game, effectively becoming natural barriers, thwarting a wrench in specific map strategies (like turtling up in Australia).
Two important points I love about this as a family game. There is a 5 turn limit. You have to get moving quickly as there is limited time to set plans in motion. Say goodbye to the all-nighter risk game. Also, there is no bonus for eliminating a player. Yes, you can wipe out a fellow player from the game but there is no incentive for doing so. In the original game of risk, it is a main strategy to eliminate players in order to get their territory cards. Fortunately this rule is removed from 2210.
This is a short list of games I think are a bit more family oriented and will be playing with my kids. What are your favorites?