Tuesday, 24 September 2019

The Board Game Family by Ellie Dix - Book Review (sent by Crown house Publishing).

The Board Game Family: Reclaim Your Children From The Screen is a fantastic 'how-to' for parents wanting to bring their kids back into the living room, away from their phones and back into family life together. Anyone who reads my blog will know that board games are a huge thing here, we play most weekends year round and usually everyone in the house joins in...

The Board Game Family by Ellie Dix - Book cover with bold title and small meeple playing tokens

As soon as I opened The Board Game Family I knew we were on the same wavelength. The writing style is chatty and full of sarcasm and witty quips. It's friendly, accessible and perfect for parents of today's teenagers.

The Board Game Family book chapters contents page

Ellie Dix starts by explaining why you need board games as part of your family life. The benefits of board gaming are massive. Playing games develops confidence, memory, co-ordination, logic skills, problem-solving and decision-making. It teaches you patience, tolerance and an understanding that everyone thinks differently. Ellie also explains how a healthy culture of competition and good gamesmanship can strengthen relationships.

Gaming helps us reconnect with our children. It is quality relaxation time where you aren't all doing the same thing separately or silently, you are working together as a unit, chatting, laughing and socialising. I personally see it as very important time spent, and I know my 10 year old likes absolutely nothing better than playing a game together with his family.

The Board Game Family by Ellie Dix example page layout regarding managing downtime

The examples of games included in the book really caught my excitement. Ellie rates a good few of the games which we really like to play. Carcasonne is my 9 year old's favourite game and a lot of the really good independent games we've reviewed for Asmodee are mentioned in this book. 


There is a great toolkit for getting started, even if you haven't been a game player yourself. Ellie suggests ways to bring games into your family's life, and which games will be a good starting point.

The book covers ideas for setting the scene, fitting the mood and making games night a bit special without huge effort. We often have popcorn or tortilla chips and salsa when we play and will be in the mood for completely different games from one week to the next. It's rarely wise to have your heart set on playing something a week on Saturday because it may not suit once you get there.

Family playing Blue Lagoon board game together

There are tips for when you have situations such as cheating or fights, and how to manage games night. If you realise your game will go on far longer than someone's tolerance for it, sort that out. There's no point playing on until you all hate it. Ellie even has suggestions for how to play a game with the wrong number of players, missing pieces or entire gaps in gameplay to guess.

We're with Ellie on this too. We often adapt a game to play with the wrong number or have slightly different conditions for those aged 18+ v's the younger boys. If a rule is too complex or discriminates against a single player, we make a clearer rule or even different rules for different players - for us this often happens when colour is involved. Overall we have one really important gaming rule in our house "As long as all of the players agree, it's probably fine".

Boy cheering after winning a board game Ticket To Ride

At the back of the book is an extensive list of over 100 games, with number of players, expected time it'll take to play and a good description of style of game and gameplay. I've reviewed many, many of the games listed on this blog, and played several more. It's a great list which includes almost all of our family favourites. The first game listed is possibly my personal all-time favourite - 221b Baker Street.

If that wasn't enough, included is a press out Dark Imp Dice and a scorecard for you to record your own family gaming victories. Ellie also suggests a couple of ways to acquire free games, and some games of her own.

The Board Game Family by Ellie Dix dark imp dice printout flat on cardboard

My family love board games and it has kept us together and strong through all our children have had to face in the last 6 years. It is a light-hearted, fun way to involve everyone, build relationships and check up on how everyone is doing. We still have our 25 year old over to play games and I've even used photos of my daughter's boyfriend playing in blog review posts. Getting conversation out of my 21 year old can be like pulling teeth, but he'll play just about any game with you all evening long.


The Board Game Family is a great book and reading it I just wanted to play games! It really gives any reader the confidence to go for it, and adapt rules, winning conditions or set time limits whenever it suits the players. It's a brilliant springboard for parents wanting to reclaim their relationship with their pre-teen, teenage and young adult children.

The Board Game Family (Reclaim Your Children From The Screen) is written by Ellie Dix and published by Crown House Publishing. Glossy paperback, 208 pages, available now from all good book shops priced £12.99rrp. Affiliate Amazon link below:


We have literally hundreds of Game Reviews on The Brick Castle, including games from Hasbro, Tactic, University Games, Ginger Fox, Megableu and lots of others. You can find them by using the search box at the top right of the screen (laptop view) or follow the links below:




We were sent our copy of The Board Game Family by Ellie Dix for review. Amazon links are affiliate, which, as a thank you, earns me a few pennies if you buy through my link, but you never pay any more.

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