Board Game Nights Can Help You Live Longer and Be Happier

Our List of our Top 10 Favorite Family-Friendly Board Games

My wife and I have an established weekly board game night with a couple of our closest friends and we constantly walk away every time thinking of how amazing it is to have a weekly (sometimes monthly) thing to look forward to and how much joy that brings us each time we get together.

While watching a TED Talk by Dan Buettner on people who live over 100+ years old, the people who were found in the “Blue Zones” were always found to be surrounded by good friends and people they could entrust their lives and talk about life with.

Fifteen years ago, the average American had three good friends. We’re down to one and half right now. If you were lucky enough to be born in Okinawa, you were born into a system where you automatically have a half a dozen friends with whom you travel through life. They call it a Moai. And if you’re in a Moai you’re expected to share the bounty if you encounter luck, and if things go bad, child gets sick, parent dies, you always have somebody who has your back. This particular Moai, these five ladies have been together for 97 years. Their average age is 102.

I think one of our goals in life is to find that “Moai” — that group of 5 friends — with whom you can share your adventures and your life with.

You’ll hear this again and again in today’s self-development literature:

You’re the average of the 5 closest people you hang out with.

And you’ll make roughly the average of their incomes, you’ll think like them, you’ll basically be like them. So why not find people who raise you up, who lift you higher and who inspire you to be more than you can be?

We should only be so lucky to find 5 people like that in the world. Once you do, hold on to them because they’ll bring you more happiness, joy, and life to your long years on the road ahead.

So, we’ve found at least 2 people with whom we can proudly say that we’d be happy spend our lives interacting with and hanging out with since they bring so much joy to our lives in so many ways.

Our board game nights are just the tip of the iceberg, but here are the list of games that we’ve played so far and have had a blast doing. We like group board games, but also story-oriented games.

1. One Night Ultimate Werewolf

This is a GREAT group game if you’re looking for something to play with a LARGE family of anywhere from 3 people to 10+ players. It’s hilarious and oh so much fun. It’s quick lightning 5 minute rounds make it engaging for all ages. And the iPhone app is super helpful to help narrate the entire story. This is a great ice-breaker and we love playing this game with our friends!

2. Codenames

This is another GREAT party game and family game. It engages vocabulary and just an all around group team aspect. The hardest position in the game is the “spy master” but literally he enables the entire table to have fun figuring which words he is trying to convey through his single hint. It’s a ton of fun and we’ve brought it to a few family parties!

3. The Captain Is Dead

For anyone who LOVES co-op games, this game is probably MY FAVORITE game of all time. It’s such a fun way to “work together” to solve a common problem. Each player assumes a role, and if you’ve ever watched, seen, heard of Star Trek or any sci-fi television show for that matter, you’ll love all the great references to common Starship terminology.

With a tag line like this, how could you not want to play it?

It’s the last 10 minutes of your favorite sci-fi TV show… Except that this time things have gone seriously wrong and The Captain Is Dead!

4. Kittens in a Blender

We just played this card game recently, and WE LOVED IT. It’s fast-paced, playful nature keeps you guessing and laughing at what’s going to happen to these poor kittens who might end up in a blender! (Don’t worry, no kittens are actually ever harmed ;)

The cute graphics and adorable kitty names just warm your heart as you try to save your team’s colors of kittens! You never know what might happen in this crazy lively game!

5. Captain Sonar

If you ever wanted to take 8 of your closest friends, board a submarine together, and fight to the death, this might be your next favorite game. This takes Battleship to a whole new level. In the “live” version (not turn-by-turn), a team of 4 players assume the roles of: Captain, First Mate, Engineer, and Radio Operator. They have to work together to keep the ship running while finding out where the enemy ship may be lurking and trying to be victorious without being sunk by the other team!

6. Betrayal at House on the Hill

If you want another co-op type of game that has a little scary adventure vibe to it, this is your next one to try! You all enter the “house” together, explore the many different rooms, collecting artifacts and finding treasure. But haflway through the game, a “betrayal” happens, and then the entire gameplay changes as one player then is given a new set of rules while the other remaining players have to figure out a way to stop the betrayer from capturing them. There are over 100+ different storylines to follow, so this has a very high repeatability.

7. Carcassonne

This is a classic tile-placement game where players claim castles, farm land, and take-over roads in southern France. It’s actually a fun multiplayer game that takes a good couple hours, but is definitely worth it and has a LOT of strategy behind its design and thinking. This actually has an amazing iPad app that could be the replacement for the board game because it auto tallies the points at the end.

8. Power Grid

This is a classic strategy board game but with a fun almost “Sims-meets-Ticket-to-Ride city-building-across-the-country” aspect to it. It’s a ton of fun and you get to grow your power plants while trying to power your different houses in different cities around the United States or Europe.

9. Innovation

This has to be one of the funnest most complex card games I’ve played, but it has AMAZING game mechanics and is really fun to play with a group of friends who love history, technology, and innovation! It spans from the early days of time to our advancements in human knowledge. It’s super compact and easy to carry around from house to house.

10. Sushi Go

Another amazing fast-paced super-light game like Monopoly Deal or Exploding Kittens that’s really easy to pick up and doesn’t require a lot of brain power. Great for playing after work when you just want a pick-me-up that doesn’t involve alcohol but just loads of fun and quick lightning rounds!

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Jonathan Chew is a Disney Imagineer, multi-potentialite, writer, coach, inspirational speaker, and work-in-progress. He lives in Los Angeles with his newly-wedded wife. He’s on Twitter @jonathangchew, is the co-author of Secrets to Being a World Changer, and is on a mission to “Chews” Joy.

He is also a Coach, so sign-up if you want to talk more :)