Games My 5 Year Old Dominates

After writing the Top 8 Board Games for Children with Gaming Parents I realized there’s not a lot of information or games out there for children under seven. So I was happy to pass along the word and hear some great suggestions from my readers. However what I didn’t do was highlight my child’s favorite and most competitive games. 

So without further delay here are some board games that my child will dominate you in.

It was no surprise when I asked my daughter what were her favorite games were, this was at the top of her list. She started playing Takenoko at a pretty young age and as a toddler the concepts were easy for her to understand.  Pandas eat, gardeners grow and match the tiles to the cards. Although this year was the first year the panda no longer wandered the pastures. Instead she plays each game with strategy and focus; easily pulling out a win on any new gamer at the table.
Edited Rules: When she first started playing this game I would give her one objective card to focus on at a time. This would help her realize the cause and effects of her choices during the game and how she should choose certain tasks to help complete different objectives.
Age my Child Played: 3, Recommended Age: 8+
Skills Requires: Not putting pieces in their mouth. Skills Acquired: Learned how to multi task in a game and create a strategy. 

King of Tokyo 
This was the very first game I started my daughter with because it didn’t really matter if she wandered in and out of the game; the idea of it was easy for her to grasp and she got to pick out her own little monster. Fast forward to today and she’s a pro. My little one no longer has remorse for trying to roll as many punches as she can to knock you out.
Edited Rules: I didn’t edit any rules here but I made sure to explain all the cards you could buy for her and if the card was too complicated we just drew another. 
Age my Child Played: 2, Recommended Age: 8+
Skills Requires: Not putting pieces in their mouth. Skills Acquired: She learned how to take turns and gained the focus to sit at the table for a full game.

Exploding Kittens
Yes I know some of you are wondering how I could subject my child to such a game. However we also play Kittens in a Blender and she thought this game was hilarious. Also a big thank you to the Kickstarter peeps for the meowing box, that I have to listen to over and over and over again until I pry it from her tiny little hands.  However this game plays like a cuter version of Hot Potato and she picked up on it quickly.
Edited Rules: I went through what all the cards did and she was a champ. They’re color coded for each function and easy to remember.
Age my Child Played: 5, Recommended Age: 7+
Skills Requires: N/A Skills Acquired: Ruthlessness.

Forbidden Island (Mensa Select)
We played this game quite a bit when she was younger. It was one of the few games that she could play that was co-op and it really gave her a lot of insight on how to make strategic choices. It was also pretty easy for her to understand as we were just flipping over tiles. At five years old she’s now the team leader and we converse on which move each person should make on their turn.
Edited Rules: We had her play as the Pilot until she had a good grasp of the game. Then we introduced her to other roles. 
Age my Child Played: 3, Recommended Age: 8+
Skills Requires: Not putting pieces in their mouth. Skills Acquired: Leadership and teamwork.

Lanterns (Mensa Select)
After I played Lanterns this year I was super excited to get it home and introduce it to my child. The concept is super easy to understand but it also has a ton of depth once you get into it. On my child’s second play though she was one point away from taking first place and beat two other grownups at the table. Granted she’s five now but I really think you could introduce this game to a child as young as three (not two just because of the length of time it takes to play) and have no problems playing the game.
Edited Rules: None
Age my Child Played: 5, Recommended Age: 8+
Skills Requires: Matching Skills Acquired: The sky is the limit on this one, skills as simple as matching or as advanced as long-term planning can be acquired here.

This game pretty much solved all of our Dixit problems since she didn’t have to struggle with holding a bunch of cards and we didn’t have a random round of “who knows what the kid chose”. What I didn’t expect was for my child to win on her first play though.  She helped other people find their cards and was super intuitive to what her cards might be referencing. Let’s just say she might be a master detective when she gets older.
Edited Rules: We changed the entire story of the game thinking ghosts and people getting killed was too gruesome. Instead we have dreams of where to find our friends who are lost within the mansion. Although she got to play this game at five years old but I can see younger children (2-3 yrs) playing this game as long as they’re ok with the style of the cards and they aren’t made the ghost. 
Age my Child Played: 5, Recommended Age: 10+
Skills Requires: N/A Skills Acquired: Abstract thought and deduction.

Over all it’s been fun watching my child move from learning how the basics of a games works;  to dominating grownups during play. There’s nothing more adorable than seeing grandma getting lesson on how to win by my five-year old.

Are there any games your child dominates in? Have your friends been shocked when they lose? Let me know your story in the comments below!


  1. Thank you so much for this article! I have been contemplating what to get my four-year-old for christmas and only knew that I wanted to try an “adult” game (played in a child-friendly version). However, I was quite unsure what would fit and therefore your experiences helped a lot! Takenoko it will be :-).
    The only other “adult game” we played with her, yet, is Mice and Mystic – an instant hit (maybe because I painted the figures while she watched, too) 😉

    PS: Hm. Mysterium. That really works at such a young age?

    1. I’m glad to offer some insight on what we did! If your kiddo is Playing Mice and Mystics then they should be ready for some panda action! As for Mysterium I was curious how well she would do but I figured she could handle a co-op game. She caught on quickly!

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