A 5-Year-Old Gamer's Top 25
Matthew Cordeiro
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My son just turned 5, which means it's time for an annual update of his top 25. This year's list is an eclectic mix, with lots of co-ops, Euros, kids games, traditional games, and of course, Star Wars. His favorites below, in no particular order.
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1. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
Matthew Cordeiro
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We're slowly introducing new cards so he doesn't get overwhelmed. We're playing with 6 kingdom decks at a time, and he's tried about 70 different kingdom cards. Trashing and extra buys are the latest mechanics he's learning.
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2. Board Game: Castle Panic [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:814]
Matthew Cordeiro
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This is the co-op we play most often. It's simple enough for him to understand the rules and tactics, but complex enough (with the Wizard's Tower) to keep adults entertained. The base game is probably a little too easy to beat. Wizard's Tower is much harder, and he doesn't mind the lower win rate.
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3. Board Game: Catan: Junior [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:1472]
Matthew Cordeiro
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He's a little too obsessed with the Coco tiles, but he can certainly hold his own. This version does a great job at capturing the core elements of the standard Catan. I think this is the year that we incorporate player-to-player trading.
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4. Board Game: Angry Birds: Knock on Wood [Average Rating:4.62 Overall Rank:15472]
Matthew Cordeiro
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Angry Birds remains his favorite app, and this game does a pretty good job at replicating the feel of the electronic version, but with a lot more time devoted to building the structure. He actually enjoys the building part of the game just as much as knocking it down.
 
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5. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:417] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Matthew Cordeiro
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He plays aggressively and loses a lot of pieces in the process, but he does a great job at reading the board and thinking a few turns ahead. He's just one year too young to join the chess club at our local library.
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6. Board Game: Forbidden Desert [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:264]
Matthew Cordeiro
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He really likes the different character abilities. Assembling the ship and flying it around the room seems to be half the fun.
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7. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:677]
Matthew Cordeiro
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He prefers to play 2-player so that he has all 4 penguins at his disposal. He also likes to cut off opponents, even at the expense of maximizing his score. So, he has that tactic down, for sure.
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8. Board Game: Richard Scarry's Busytown: Busy, Busy Airport Game [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:6098]
Matthew Cordeiro
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Not much skill here, but pretend flying the plane is half the fun. We shipped this one off to my dad's house, so getting to play it only a few times a year means the novelty hasn't worn off yet.
 
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9. Board Game: Richard Scarry's Busytown: Eye found it! Game [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:3552]
Matthew Cordeiro
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A co-op that's mostly spin and move, but he's a big fan of search and finds.
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10. Board Game: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:63] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
Matthew Cordeiro
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He still prefers to grab a bunch of minis and fly them around the room. This way of playing is more fun than sticking them on the stands and following the rules. Still, when we sit down to play a 2-on-2 game, I can give him a ship or two, and he's pretty much self-sufficient. He's not going to win any competitive games, mind you, but he's good enough to impress people who watch him play.
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11. Board Game: Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:2203]
Matthew Cordeiro
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He LOVES the movie stills and the character cards. He plays with all of the regular rules except the strategy cards.
 
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12. Board Game: Star Wars: Epic Duels [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:905]
Matthew Cordeiro
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Still one of his favorites after a few years of play. He can hang in there with adults. The minis are a big draw, like they're toys. I can't tell you how many times I've had to glue Dooku's lightsaber back on due to some "aggressive dueling".
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13. Board Game: The Game of Life: A Jedi's Path [Average Rating:5.30 Overall Rank:15096]
Matthew Cordeiro
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This is actually a pretty good version of Life. Replace careers and kids with Jedi masters and lightsabers. My son always tries to turn to the dark side.
 
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14. Board Game: Chutes and Ladders [Average Rating:2.79 Overall Rank:15574]
Matthew Cordeiro
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This kids classic still sees some playing time, but often with extra rules, like add 2 to your spin, or chutes go up and ladders go down, or start at the top and work your way down.
 
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15. Board Game: Little Italy [Average Rating:5.68 Overall Rank:9995]
Matthew Cordeiro
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Another game where the minis are half the fun. But still, he gets the strategy of putting his cars in position to score and sending opponents' cars to their demise.
 
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16. Board Game: Mermaid Island [Average Rating:5.54 Unranked]
Matthew Cordeiro
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Mermaids aren't just for girls. Maybe we should add a Derek Zoolander "mer-man" token?
 
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17. Board Game: Pachisi [Average Rating:4.46 Overall Rank:15557]
Matthew Cordeiro
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I played this one a lot with my father and grandfather, so I guess it's only fitting that my son plays it, too. He loves setting up blocks.
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18. Board Game: Sorry! [Average Rating:4.50 Overall Rank:15559]
Matthew Cordeiro
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Take Parchisi, replace the dice with cards, and add a few slides. Luckily, we've moved on to the expert variant of playing with a hand of cards.
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19. Board Game: Rockband Manager [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:4840]
Matthew Cordeiro
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I was surprised how quickly he picked up on the gameplay because it didn't strike me as terribly intuitive. His strategy is typically to outbid everyone and build a band as fast as possible. With only 3 players, that's actually a pretty good strategy, and we play with 3 players a lot.
 
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20. Board Game: Roller Coaster Tycoon [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:5087]
Matthew Cordeiro
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If you let a 5-year-old bid with fake money, they will always try to outbid you. Also, they're suckers for big, fancy theme park attractions.
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21. Board Game: Skip-Bo [Average Rating:5.37 Overall Rank:15391]
Matthew Cordeiro
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It's an easy game to play before bedtime.
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22. Board Game: UNO [Average Rating:5.35 Overall Rank:15463]
Matthew Cordeiro
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It's an easy game to play before bedtime. He's mastered the 2-player chaining of skips, reverses, and draws.
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23. Board Game: Tiki Topple [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:2006]
Matthew Cordeiro
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He's not a big fan of the Tiki Toast cards, but he'll Tiki Topple you in a heartbeat.
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24. Board Game: Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Who Shook Hook? [Average Rating:5.10 Overall Rank:13840]
Matthew Cordeiro
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It's his favorite dexterity game. He's still mastering some of the tools.
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25. Board Game: Say Anything [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:817]
Matthew Cordeiro
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I suppose it would be a good idea to get the family edition, but for now, we just pick or modify questions so that they're suitable for kids. He gets a lot of points thrown his way because he's only 5, and his answers are often comical/nonsensical.
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