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2021 – Best Family Game Nominees

Join us as we review the 2021 Best Family Game nominees for Meeple Mountain’s 4th Annual Diamond Climber Board Game Awards.

A good family game should appeal to the whole family: simple enough for kids yet meaty enough for adults. A light-hearted theme is a must. It also has to remain interesting even after a dozen or more plays.

The Diamond Climber Awards are in their 4th year, and with each year we’ve grown and changed, sometimes in uncomfortable ways. Because our team has such a wide and diverse taste in games it was tough this year to come to a consensus on a single game that really fit the category. So this year we’re presenting multiple picks for Best Family Game, written in the words of each author who loved this category. We feel this will better represent the breadth and diversity of the games on the market, and offer a more genuine selection for our readers.

So without further ado here are the 2021 titles that made us push back bedtimes to fit in one more play.

Bullet♥︎

Thomas Wells

It’s fast, fun, and has its own soundtrack! Low impact competition, easy to understand rules, and an interesting puzzle to solve under pressure each game.

The Quest Kids

Justin Bell

The Quest Kids was my favorite family game of 2021 for one very simple reason: my kids asked to play it more than any other game we had the chance to review last year. My wife or I has played The Quest Kids 15+ times with either my daughter, my son, or both, and they can’t get enough of playing it over and over again. They love getting treasure. They love helping each other defeat baddies. They love having player boards. They love getting those big, chunky jewel pieces whenever they can. Family games were the category that really grew the most for me in 2021 and The Quest Kids is the easy winner here.

Read our review of The Quest Kids.

Block Ness

David McMillan

This game’s bright, colorful, chunky pieces are a joy to play with. The concept is so simple that you’d never guess the game would be as challenging as it is. At a svelte 20 minute playing time, this one is sure to hit the table time and time again.

Read our review of Block Ness.

Horrified: American Monsters

Jesse Fletcher

This standalone follow-up to 2019 Best Cooperative Winner Horrified takes the basic formula of the original and keeps it going with new baddies to deal with, drawing from the wide and wacky world of American folklore. With such monsters as the Chupacabra, Bigfoot, and other curious cryptids, it provides the same delightful experience as its predecessor.

Canvas

Bob Pazehoski, Jr.

Canvas is something of an anomaly. The aesthetics of the cards are entirely frivolous in that the art does not impact the game’s puzzle or its outcome. At the same time, however, I couldn’t imagine playing without each player introducing their newly minted works of art. What I love about Canvas is that our youngest can play with an eye toward creating a lovely painting while the more experienced can dig into the game’s delightful puzzle, balancing the various artistic qualities represented in the artwork. From top to bottom, the folks at R2i have put together an engaging game that plays well with the whole family and looks fantastic on the table.

Whirling Witchcraft

Andy Matthews

Whirling Witchcraft is a quintessential family game. It’s really easy to teach, it plays in under 30 minutes, it’s really fun, and any game that can get my 11-year-old excited about playing board games is a winner in my book. Plus the artwork is vibrant and interesting. It has just the right combination of strategy and luck: requiring players to simultaneously plan for the movies they want to make, while preparing and anticipating for the moves of other players so as not be taken unawares.

Read our review of Whirling Witchcraft.

Fast & Furious: Highway Heist

Andrew Holmes

Look, I was sorely tempted by Carcassonne‘s 20th Anniversary Edition for this category because it is still brilliant but I held off for two reasons. Firstly, choosing a 20 year old game for Best Family Game of the Year feels like cheating. And secondly, because in Carcassonne you don’t get to ram an SUV off the road, jump on the roof of a tank and punch an anonymous bad guy in the face, all with an accessible rule set and some seriously absurd stunts. Nuff said.

Watch our review of Fast & Furious: Highway Heist.

Dive

Ian Howard

If you’re looking for something splashy to entertain younger children without leaving the adults high and dry, Dive might be the hidden treasure you’ve been seeking. This quick romp through murky waters offers a unique experience that’s as interesting as it is fun. With no reading required, Dive is playable at almost all ages. Adults might even find themselves at a disadvantage from time to time since the game relies on visual acuity. Dive makes for a perfect shorter game for families looking to step away from standard board-and-card fare.

Read our review of Dive.

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About the author

Bob Pazehoski, Jr.

On any given day, I am a husband and father of five. I read obsessively and, occasionally, I write stories of varying length, quality, and metrical structure. As often as possible, I enjoy sitting down to the table for a game with friends and family. I'm happy to trumpet Everdell, in all its charm and glory, as the insurmountable favorite of my collection.

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