The 5 Best Boardgames You Should Buy Kids & Casuals That Isn’t Monopoly

Let’s face it. Monopoly sucks.

But it’s the single most sold board game because it’s the only title familiar to many. Every conceivable franchise, for better or for worse, has had their own Monopoly variant. And despite its roots in trying to educate its players about the evils of corporate monopolies, Hasbro has unfortunately monopolized the beginner tabletop experience by keeping this boxed anomaly on every shelf of every toy shop and bookstore.

Monopoly is regrets
According to the Daily Mail, Monopoly is the top 1 board game in breaking up families over the holidays

I mourn the misfortune in the thousands of childhoods wasted on a boring, unbalanced, and stimulation-impaired game, especially since there are so many fantastic ones on the market today.

Monopoly is white nonsense

If you’re searching for smart and fun gifts for kids, wanting to try out a casual game for a dinner party, or if you’d like to crack into your first board game with a new, inarguably better classic, then I urge you to get any one of these instead:

  1. Settlers of Catandye_catan_150407_0564

    • A classic to replace a classic—Settlers of Catan is a resource management game that should rightfully replace Monopoly as a household staple. It’s a race to ten victory points, through building the biggest settlements, largest armies, and the longest roads. And you do so by collecting resources like stone, wool, lumber, and wheat on a hexagonal map that always changes. No two games are ever the same, rendering this new classic to be truly timeless and enjoyable for kids and adults alike. Catan has also had its own variants with famous franchises, like Star Trek, with additional material and mechanics that keep the game interesting.
    • Love this game? If you want to try something similar, Machikoro may be what you need.


    • While Catan holds you to the same dice roll numbers the entire game, Machikoro will allow you to buy infrastructure with different effects and different dice rolls to activate the resource.
  1.  Splendorsplendor-board-game-components.jpg

    • Another resource management game that is just so good that Real Human Adults host tournaments for, but with mechanics simple enough that you could regularly play it with an eight-year-old. (I have! Countless times!) You play as newbie merchants hoping to make it big. In Splendor, you take turns mining gems, or using them to buy bigger investments. Nobles may recognize your prestige and join you. The first to fifteen points takes it all home.
    • It’s worth noting that I have not met a single person that did not enjoy Splendor. This game is a dangerous gateway drug.
    • Love this game already? Check out Century Spice Road, which changes the mechanic by which you gain your resources without making it too complicated.
    • Century-Spice-Road
      Taken from Geek and Sundry: “Why Century Spice Road is Splendor 2.0
    • Got Bigger Kids? Upgrade to Lords of Waterdeep, set in Faerun (of the Dungeons & Dragons literature) which includes Intrigue tactics, and varying effect-type rewards on Quests other than just points.0653569692584-g.jpg
  2. King Of Tokyo

    Photo from Across The Board Game Cafe
    • It’s a dice roller’s Battle Royale of Kaijus and robots on Tokyo Bay, and the winner gets to be King. Whether you punch your enemies, blow them up with tech you acquire, or hide and heal up til the coast is clear, King of Tokyo is about being the Last Kaiju Standing. Silly graphics and vibrant designs accompany this energy-packed game to bring a roaring good time.
    • Already have this game?
      Image from the review by Shut Up & Sit Down

      Cash & Guns may just be a fun addition to your collection. Not a dice roller, but it has the same elements of social gaming, making allies, calling bluffs, and outliving your opponents. Plus, foam guns!

    • Liked the theme? If you enjoyed robots and monsters, maybe you’d like cars too. Formula D  (like, InitialD meets Formula One) has tiny cars on a race track, and several dice you can roll to get you to the finish line.
      See the review of Formula D by phlophouse

      But this has a bit of risk involved: higher dice will get you there faster, but can get you in trouble in tight curves.

  3. Pandemic51iNoyxoamL._SY450_

    • Not all illnesses are cured by doctors alone. Instead of fighting each other, Pandemic is about joining forces and saving the earth. In this co-op cult fave, each player takes on a different role with varying abilities, from scientist to communication officer.
      Find this image from the review of The FIMS Gaming Club

      This Us-Against-The-World style game has had its fair share of spinoffs, like Iberia, Rising Tide, Reign of Cthulu, and the critically acclaimed Pandemic Legacy.

    • Want an upgrade?
      Image courtesy of Fantasy Flight games

      You can check out XCOM, based off the video game of the same name. This one goes hand-in-hand with an app that would tell you what crisis is coming your way.

  4. Love Letter

    Find this image in Geek & Sundry’s breakdown of the different Love Letter variants
    • I know some families are protective of their girls, but this one has guards on the lookout for a messenger of a romantic note. In Love Letter, you are dealt cards revealing the cast of characters within the castle. Using each character’s abilities, you must take out the other players or at least outlast them. Love Letter is fast-paced and uncomplicated to learn. It’s incredibly easy to teach to new players, regardless of their age. It also features several variants such as Batman, The Hobbit, Munchkin, and Adventure Time that keep the game fresh, and also a great collectible.
    • Seems Familiar? The classic board game Cluedo bears similar roots in deduction without deception.
      See a review of Letters from Whitechapel by The Board Game Show

      If you want this type of game but upgrade it for adults, go for Letters from Whitechapel, where you try to deduce the hideout of Jack the Ripper following a series of murders.

    • Similar but Different: coupCoup is another card game where you need to eliminate your opponents, but this game heavily relies on deception and bluffing to do so (whereas Love Letter does not allow any lying.)
    • Another deception genre game is The Resistance
      The Resistance
      Get The Resistance at The Game Hub

      similar to Avalon, Werewolf, and Battlestar Galacticawhere you must identify a hidden enemy amongst yourselves.

    • The Sheriff of Nottingham
      Get The Sheriff of Nottingham at Arcane Wonders

      The Sheriff of Nottingham is a game of deception and risk, where you are a merchant who must smuggle goods across the border alongside your usual wares.

While there’s been a terrible connotation that board games are “bored” games, it really doesn’t have to be this way anymore. Great board games don’t have to be complex with fifty tiny pieces and a thirty-page manual. Great board games let you have fun, encourage social interaction, and still get your brain juices flowing

So please–PLEASE–for the love of all that is good on this earth, swap out that Monopoly set for something worthy of your kids’ childhood memories, and your dinner party activities.


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