Monopoly. Clue. Yahtzee. Chutes and Ladders. There are many board games out there that are staples in homes across New Jersey. Family Game Night provides an activity the whole crew can look forward to. Board games decrease screen time, keep the mind engaged, enhance family bonding and can even teach you a thing or two about creativity, math, trivia and more.

Classic board games are wonderful, but there are some hidden gems out there waiting to be discovered. Erik Arneson, a longtime reviewer of board games for About.com and other websites, was kind enough to share his favorite unique board games with Best of NJ readers. So why not think “outside of the box” for your next Family Game Night and give one of these fun options a try?

Unique Board Games for New Jersey Families


Board Games Ticket to Ride – Days of Wonder

Ages: 8 & up
Where to Buy: JaZams
Price: $49.99

Players travel the world while playing this fun game. There are a number of different versions available including USA, India and Europe. “You build railroads across the United States, collecting cards of various colors to build routes connecting specific cities,” explains Arneson. “And if you really like the game, you can try out the many other maps, too.” Ticket to Ride is a game that users can learn quickly. “It’s certainly no more complicated than Monopoly, but the gameplay is so much more interesting and interactive,” adds Arneson.

Board GamesPandemic – Z-Man Games

Ages: 14 & up
Where to Buy: Amazon
Price: $27.69

Everyone works together to stop the spread of four diseases in this cooperative game. “It’s an amazing game on many levels,” says Arneson. “It might be a bit complicated for children, but the same game designer, Matt Leacock, also designed two other cooperative games, Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert, which are perfect for family game nights.” More serious players might like Pandemic: Legacy, in which the game itself constantly changes as it gets played.

Board Games

Codenames – Czech Games Edition

Ages: 14 & up
Where to Buy: Barnes and Noble
Price: $19.95

Arneson promises that this is “the best new party game in many years.” The concept is as follows: 25 cards are placed on the table, each with a single word. Two players are the clue-givers trying to get their teams to guess certain words. “The problem is that if they guess too many of the other team’s words or the assassin’s word, they’ll lose the game.” Codenames, says Arneson, really encourages creativity. “I’ve played it at least 50 times and I’m not even close to being tired of it.”

Board GamesSushi Go! – GameWright

Ages: 8 & up
Where to Buy: Amazon
Price: $9.99

This game is aimed at younger kids, but it’s a great game for parents to play as well. “Everyone’s a sushi chef trying to make the best sushi dishes, it only takes about 15 or 20 minutes a game, and the artwork is cute and fun,” says Arneson. “The game box says ages 8 and up, but I think 6-year-olds can play it, too.”

Board Games

Animal Upon Animal – HABA

Ages: 3 & up
Where to Buy: JaZams
Price: $21.95

Animal Upon Animal “is a great dexterity game,” says Arneson. “Players have to stack animals like a crocodile, sheep, monkeys and penguins without making the pile fall over. Great fun!” This well-made game encourages hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. The animal pieces are thick and fit nicely together. Think of it as a great introduction to Jenga.


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