Our grand tour of the best board games by age continues with 6-year-olds. I really enjoy putting these articles together, because they’re truly years in the making. Many of the games on these lists have been on our shelves for years, and were bookmarked long ago for this ultimate roundup.
And 6 years old is truly a spectacular age for board games. As the years go by, it’s fun to see what kids are newly capable of. And it’s clear to see that games in this age range start to expect more out of their sense of strategy and memory and planning. And, for that reason, this age range tends to be perfect for amazing junior versions of popular adult board games.
Several games on this list truly are some of our oldest family games in our collection. For some reason, we bought a lot of games for our son when he was little that were probably a little bit too advanced. We didn’t really let that stop us, though, and he was able to play most of them with a little help from a young age. And of course he’s grown into them all quite well.
So of course this list includes some of our very favorite family games of all time. There is a lot of nostalgia on this list. And the great thing is that our son - now 8 years old - will still happily play every single one of these games. And several new ones have come along recently too - just in time for his 5-year-old sister to enjoy them. But one small, disappointing note involves the games we didn’t include.
Three of our all-time favorite family games for this age had to be left off of this list because they’re just impossible to find right now - unless you’re willing to track down a used copy on eBay or maybe go shopping in a different country. Those games are Mole Rats in Space, The Enchanted Tower, and Whoowasit?. If you can find a copy, you definitely should, and all I can say is I hope they get republished again soon, because it’s a shame when great games disappear. (Update: Mole Rats in Space is now republished as Space Escape, and you can find it on our list of the best games for 7-year-olds!)
But I suppose the games that do stick around typically do so for a good reason. The games on this list have certainly provided us with a lot of family fun, and they’re sure to do the same for you. As always, I certainly hope this article helps you track down a game that will bring a lot of fun to your house for a long time to come.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. Clicking on these links will lead you to view the games’ listings on Amazon.com.
10. Pusheen Purrfect Pick
Published by Ravensburger and Designed by Steve Warner
This game was actually our introduction to the world famous cat Pusheen, and I can see why the web comic is so popular. It’s pretty adorable, and we were converted into fans quite quickly. And, best of all, this board game was not just a cash-in on the name. It was published by the very trustworthy Ravensburger, and it’s a very well-designed game of collecting cards and purchasing snapshots. And of course the art is spectacular.
Prepare for kids to fight over the adorable Pusheen figure that’s included in the game. Our kids wanted to keep it out and carry it around in their pockets all day long. They did a wonderful job capitalizing on the cuteness factor, as you can see, and I’m impressed by how the simplicity allows our youngest to get involved without making the game boring for adults by any means. This is a very solid game that cat fans, especially Pusheen fans, will adore.
9. The Magic Labyrinth
Published by Drei Magier Spiele and Designed by Dirk Baumann
This is an impressively designed memory game. There is a secret labyrinth under the board that you can change before every game you play - and you have to wander around the invisible labyrinth trying to collect magical items before your opponents. You will certainly fail many times, but the point is the try and remember where all of the walls are after you discover them.
The great innovation is the system of magnets that the game uses. Your game piece is connected to a metal ball through the game board, and if you run into one of the walls of the hidden labyrinth, your ball will be knocked loose from your piece, and you have to start back at the beginning of the labyrinth. Ultimately it’s an elegantly simple design and it makes for a fantastic memory challenge.
8. Sleeping Queens
Published by Gamewright and Designed by Miranda Evarts
You know I don’t get really worked up about whether a game is technically a card game, a dice game or a board game. For better or worse, family games are all board games to me on lists like this, and Sleeping Queens has been one of our family’s favorite games for a very long time. Both of our kids have played it since they were little, but 6 is a pretty good recommended age to feel very confidant about things.
Of course we also added this one to our list of the best card games for families, and our special list of games for kids who love princesses and unicorns and pink things. It’s really a classic at this point, and it features a very quirky theme of queens with funny names and elaborate dresses - like the Chess Queen, the Dog Queen, or the Book Queen. As players you’re trying to score the most points by collecting queens and stealing them from each other. The obsession is real with this one.
7. Detective Charlie
Published by IELLO & LOKI and Designed by Théo Rivière
Detective Charlie is a new favorite in our house and a spectacular cooperative experience for the whole family. We’re big fans of games about deduction around here, and we’ve never played anything quite like Detective Charlie. The game comes with several cases to solve, that progress in difficulty each time. And they’re perfect for including both our oldest and youngest in the gameplay.
The cases take place in a world of cute animals, who serve as both the suspects and the witnesses you need to question. Together you must gather clues from the witnesses and deduce who the culprit is based on everything you learn. The cooperative aspect of the game is perfect for us, and the art and design is top notch for engagement with our kiddos.
In a sense, the game is kind of designed like the popular escape rooms you see nowadays, because once you solve the case you can’t replay it (unless you wait long enough for everyone to forget the answer!). But LOKI has also announced that there will be expansion packs to add more cases to solve - and I assure you we are very excited about that around here!
For a closer look at Detective Charlie, make sure to read our Game of the Month article.
Published by Blue Orange Games and Designed by Bruno Cathala, Marie Fort, & Wilfried Fort
Dragomino is a junior version of the immensely popular Kingdomino, and I have to applaud the job they did introducing this game to a younger audience. Both of our kids are in love with the dragon and dragon babies theme. So much so in fact that our daughter would be happy just playing with the dragon eggs and forgetting all about the game.
This game has the same domino-like tiles, the same grid concept, and the same goal of connecting similar terrain together that Kingdomino has. But there are far less restrictions. You aren’t restricted to a 5x5 grid, and you don’t even have to connect matching terrain if you aren’t able to. But for each terrain that you match, you get to collect a dragon’s egg - and you score points if there’s a baby dragon inside.
For a closer look at Dragomino, make sure to check out our featured article.
5. Shadows in the Forest
Published by ThinkFun and Designed by Walter Kraul
Shadows in the Forest is actually a game from the 80s, recently republished by ThinkFun featuring little forest spirits that resemble something out of a Studio Ghibli movie. The game is meant to be played in pitch dark, and it used to have a single candle to light the game board, but that’s been replaced by a single battery-powered lamp (I suppose legal departments weren’t fans of requiring kids to play with fire).
Otherwise the gameplay remains the same. One person moves the lamp around the board trying to catch the spirits hiding in the literal shadows. Everyone else is helping the spirits hide behind trees and rocks and trying to make sure they aren’t frozen by being touched by the light.
The atmosphere of this game is wonderful and we’re big fans. I don’t think our kids will ever forget the times we turn all of the lights off and cram into a closet to play this game in the darkest dark we can find. I have to applaud games like this that dare to give you new and memorable experiences, and that also makes it a very easy recommendation.
For a closer look at Shadows in the Forest, make sure to check out our featured article.
4. Rhino Hero
Published by HABA and Designed by Scott Frisco & Steven Strumpf
Of course many people also prefer the excellent Rhino Hero: Super Battle as an alternative, but I think the game that started it all deserves a shout out. I love this famous stacking game. And competitive dexterity games with kids can sometimes be unfair, especially the younger they are, but 6 years old is a good age to compete in a tower stacking on equal footing.
Everyone is stacking a tower of cards and trying to be the first one to empty their hand. Some cards have special powers - like reversing the turn order or making someone skip a turn. And they’re also the eponymous rhino to keep track of, as players are sometimes required to move his wooden game piece to the top of the tower. It’s well-designed and - not to be undervalued - incredibly well-illustrated. Rhino Hero and it’s many variants are all a treasure.
3. SOS Dino
Published by LOKI and Designed by Ludovic Maublanc & Théo Rivière
SOS Dino is made by LOKI - the children’s division of IELLO - and they are doing amazing things for kids games. SOS Dino is easily one of our favorites of their creations so far. It has that perfect combination of great theme, great gameplay, and great presentation. It’s simply a very attractive game with great art and awesome dinosaur game pieces. And of course we love the fact that it’s cooperative.
The idea is that a volcano is spewing lava everywhere, and it’s gradually filling the game board and cutting off pathways. It’s your job to get all of the dinosaurs to safety, and rescue as many eggs along the way as possible. Our son first played when he was 6, and it worked out fantastically. It’s a very engaging game because of the theme, and the fact that it’s cooperative certainly gives you the leeway to try it out with younger kids too.
For a closer look at SOS Dino, make sure to check out our featured article.
2. Ticket to Ride: First Journey
Published by Days of Wonder and Designed by Alan R. Moon
For a family that loves cooperative games as much as we do, it’s funny that the top two games on this list are actually competitive games. I never thought I would see the day - but I suppose that’s just the nature of moving up in age and playing some of these magnificently designed games aimed at a slightly older audience. Of course Ticket to Ride: First Journey is the junior version of the amazing Ticket to Ride, and do I really need to say more?
This is certainly one of the best junior versions of popular games out there. They simplified Ticket to Ride just the right amount, while retaining the spirit of the original. Players are still trying to complete colorful train routes using their cards, but the map is simplified, and the concept of the secret routes is significantly simplified. In this version, you simply have to be the first one to finish 6 routes, so it’s a lot easier to stay focused on what your goal is. It goes without saying that I think Ticket to Ride: First Journey is a staple for building a family game collection.
1. Catan Junior
Published by Mayfair Games and Designed by Klaus Teuber
Catan Junior was really one of the first board games we bought our son - so he’s actually been playing it since way before he was 6. But of course we were helping him a whole lot with his decisions when he was smaller. 6 really is a fantastic age to start playing this game - which is probably the very best junior adaptation of a board game of all time. But, believe me, it’s basically impossible to outgrow this one.
My wife and I probably honestly enjoy playing this one about as much as we do the adult version. It’s a joy being able to introduce the concept of Catan with our kids - while retaining so much of the original. You are still building houses and claiming territory and gathering resources, but it’s perfectly simplified and easy to understand. And there are also different paths to victory as well - which our son would happily tell you because he so often crushes us with his strategy of buying up the parrot cards. It’s truly a no-brainer for fans of Catan that want to introduce it to their kids, and it’s also our very top choice for absolutely anyone looking to pick up a new board game for their 6-year-old.
Bonus Board Games for 6-year-olds to Track Down!
The following games used to appear in this Top 10, and some are unfortunately either out of print or otherwise difficult to obtain. They are well worth it if you can track down a copy because they are still family favorites.
Scotland Yard Junior
Published by Ravensburger and Designed by Michael Schacht
I like this game a lot, and it’s no secret that I’m a sucker for junior versions of popular board games. Scotland Yard Junior is a great adaptation of the famous Scotland Yard chase and deduction game - and it’s perfect for kids as young as 6. They won’t soon outgrow it either, because chasing Mister X will be fun for many years to come. In fact, it’s still a lot of fun for us parents to play too.
In this game, one player plays as Mister X, while the other players try to chase him down. I’m a big fan of asymmetric gameplay like that with different goals. And it’s fun to have the family team up against me. Mister X is running around the map secretly, moving from station to station trying not to be caught. It’s like a cat and mouse game where the detectives have to try and corner him and limit his options - and hope to guess which way he’s moving next.
The Legend of the Wendigo
Published by IELLO & Scorpion Masqué and Designed by Christian Lemay
One of our newest discoveries, The Legend of the Wendigo is a spooky game about a monster that is stealing campers one at a time - and then taking their place. It also recently stole the hearts of both of our kids - and they’re quite obsessed. I think they like the fact that the theme is a little spooky, and it’s legitimately a very difficult and interesting challenge.
The point of the game is to identify where the monster is. There are many camper cards spread out and they all kind of blend together. Among them is the Wendigo who is impersonating one specific child, and it steals one camper each night and moves to their location. Everyone else tries to pay close attention to which camper has moved, and they only have 5 nights to correctly identify the monster before it’s too late. It takes great cooperation and an eye for detail, and you really can’t beat that theme!
For a closer look at The Legend of the Wendigo, make sure to check out our featured article.
Gnomes at Night
Published by Peaceable Kingdom and Designed by Carlo A. Rossi
Gnomes at Night is a cooperative game by the publishers of our very favorite cooperative games for kids - Peaceable Kingdom. In many ways, it’s the ultimate game of cooperation. It’s literally impossible to win if you don’t cooperate. That’s because both players have their own side of the board that they’re looking at, and they simply have to verbally communicate with each other.
Your gnomes are connected by a magnet through the vertical game board, and both sides of the board have a different maze on it. You have to talk to each other, and take turns moving your connected gnomes, to find and collect the objects scattered around the board. It’s a fast-paced and chaotic game, and it’s also very rewarding. Truly teaming up with the kiddos and practicing verbal directions is really a lot of fun.
For a closer look at Gnomes at Night, make sure to check out our featured article.
For more of the best family board games for each age, make sure to read:
The Best Board Games for 2-Year-Olds
The Best Board Games for 3-Year-Olds
The Best Board Games for 4-Year-Olds
The Best Board Games for 5-Year-Olds
The Best Board Games for 7-Year-Olds
The Best Board Games for 8-Year-Olds
Did we include your favorite game for 6-year-olds? Let us know in the comments!