One of the most appealing aspects of a board game is its aesthetic. I know design and mechanics are important, but nothing gets me into a new game quite like a good art style and quality components. I’m also a sucker for any and all things cute, so today’s article is all about the best cute board games on the market!
For this list, we’ve put together the top 5 cute board games for you and your friends to try at your next game night. Our criteria range from sweet and wholesome concepts to truly adorable art, so there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy.
Let’s get into it!
Top 5 Cute Board Games, Ranked by Complexity
Before we begin, a quick disclaimer — “cute” doesn’t necessarily mean “beginner-friendly.” Some of the games on this list aren’t suitable for new players, so we’ve ranked our picks in order of complexity, starting with the easiest and working our way up. Check out the full list for a variety of ways to satisfy your cute but competitive spirit!
Designer: Manny Vega | Publisher: Cardboard Alchemy | Players: 1–5 | Play Time: 60 minutes | Complexity: 2.19 out of 5 | Purchase Link: Amazon
Flamecraft is a game that I was personally obsessed with before it even launched. It’s all about tiny dragons doing helpful jobs around town, and doing such a good job that everyone eventually wants to hire more tiny dragons. The gameplay is simple enough that it’s a quick learn and a quick play, so it’s the perfect game for a small group looking for a good-natured competition.
You play as a Flamekeeper, and it’s your job to assign the dragons to various shops around town. Dragons come in six special categories — bread, meat, iron, crystal, plant, and potion — and each shop requires different kinds of dragons to function. On your turn, you’ll place dragons at the appropriate shops, collecting resources based on the type of dragon(s) you’re placing and the shop(s) you’re visiting. You can then use these resources to buy enchantments that improve the shops, increasing your rewards and reputation. At the end of the game, the Flamekeeper with the highest reputation wins!
If the idea of dragons being helpful little guys alone doesn’t win you over, the game’s design certainly will. Flamecraft boasts an adorable art style that’s present in every aspect of the game, from the illustrations on the dragon and shop cards to the resource tokens and wooden meeples. Each of the dragons also has their own unique art and a name based on their category, so it’s easy to get excited when you see your favorite enter the rotation (I love you, Hot Dog). This game became an instant favorite of mine, and it’s sure to charm you, too.
Designer: Stevo Torres | Publisher: Pandasaurus Games | Players: 2–4 | Play Time: 45–90 minutes | Complexity: 2.32 out of 5 | Purchase Link: Amazon
Next up on our list of cute board games is Brew, a game about restoring order with the help of fantastical potions and magical animals. The game is set in a forest that’s been shattered in time — the seasons blend into one another erratically, leaving some parts of the forest stuck halfway between summer sun and winter snow. Your job is to regain control of the seasons by taming and releasing animals and brewing powerful potions to help you on your way.
Brew combines worker placement and area control mechanics, as the only way to “claim” a forest card is by having the majority of its slots filled by your dice. Each slot corresponds to a certain action, whether that’s foraging resources for potions, taming animals, or triggering other special abilities like moving/reclaiming die or scorching empty slots so your opponents can’t fill them. On your turn, you can also spend resources brew potions, which enhance your turns with various special effects. Each of the forests cards you claim, animals you tame, and potions you brew grants you a certain number of victory points, and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Brew makes our list by merit of both its premise and its art style. The illustrations on the forest, animal, and potion cards are quite pretty, and each player gets their own unique, stylized character and color-coded dice. Gameplay can get a little competitive at times, but the fact that there are multiple paths to victory (and that it’s all supposedly done in service of saving a magical forest) means that it doesn’t get quite as cutthroat as other area control games. Player order is also determined by which player has most recently brewed coffee or tea, which is a small but sweet added touch.
Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave | Publisher: Stonemaier Games | Genre: Engine building | Players: 1–5 | Play Time: 40–70 minutes | Complexity: 2.46 out of 5 | Purchase Link: Amazon
Wingspan is a beautiful game for all the bird lovers out there. If you like simple, streamlined engine-building and want all the “collect ‘em all!” fun of birdwatching without having to stand out in the cold, this is the game for you.
As previously mentioned, Wingspan is an engine-building game, so your ultimate goal is to make sure the birds you’re collecting fit into an ever-growing system that’s guaranteed to earn you points. On your turn, you’ll choose from one of the four available action tracks on your player board — you can collect food tokens, lay eggs, draw bird cards, or play a bird card from your hand. The actions get more powerful as you add more birds to your engine, since you can also trigger special effects on any bird cards you’ve placed in a particular track when you choose that action. This is a great way to quickly accumulate food tokens, eggs, and even free bird cards through the game’s flock and predator mechanics.
At the end of each round, players check their engine against special point criteria outlined at the beginning of the game (number of eggs in certain nest types, number of birds in certain habitats, etc.). At the end of the game, players add these points alongside any points earned from their engine and bonus cards, and the player with the most points wins!
All in all, Wingspan is a charming game that makes our list through its art style (reminiscent of traditional field guides) and cute components. Chunky, wooden dice are rolled in a dice tower designed to look like a bird feeder, and the multicolored, pastel eggs look sweet when all lined up on your player board. Expansions for the game also introduce new food tokens and speckled eggs, adding to the adorable variety.
(Also consider checking out Mariposas, a butterfly game by the same designer!)
Designer: James A. Wilson | Publisher: Starling Games | Players: 1–4 | Play Time: 40–80 minutes | Complexity: 2.81 out of 5 | Purchase Link: Amazon
Everdell is a charming game about preparing your forest community for the upcoming winter. Though it’s near the higher complexity end of our list, it’s still a relatively simple and beginner-friendly game.
During the game, players take turns collecting resources by placing workers at various slots on the game board. These resources can then be exchanged for Construction and Critter cards that are added to the player’s city. Once a card has been added to your city, you gain any special effects it may have for the remainder of the game, which vary from passive resource generation to additional worker slots to occupy during your turn. Building out your city also helps you fulfill certain criteria (like adding a specific Construction and Critter combo) that earn you additional points. The game progresses through three seasons, with players gaining more workers and triggering effects at the start of each season. When winter hits, the player with the most points wins!
Everdell makes our list because of how much it dedicates itself to its adorable, anthropomorphic woodland theme. Your worker meeples are shaped like little forest creatures, and the collectible resources include shiny river rocks and squishy berries that look temptingly chewable. It even includes a pop-up cardboard tree to hold cards and seasonal worker pieces!
If you like this game and want even more cozy storybook cuteness, check out Creature Comforts as well.
Designer: Cole Wehrle | Publisher: Leder Games | Players: 1–4 (up to 6 with expansions) | Play Time: 60–90 minutes | Complexity: 3.71 out of 5 | Purchase Link: Amazon
Root is the most complex game on our list, and it’s also arguably the least cute. Sure, it’s chock-full of adorable animals, but those animals are ready to fight to the death using a combination of guerrilla strategies and outright warfare for the sake of ruling the forest.
Root is an asymmetrical game, meaning that gameplay looks a bit different depending on the faction you choose to play. The base game comes with four options — the capitalistic Marquise de Cat, the deeply traditional Eyrie Dynasty, the grassroots Woodland Alliance, and the self-serving Vagabond — each with its own strategy for controlling clearings and earning victory points. While you work to build a strong supply line to construct buildings and recruit soldiers to help keep your territories firmly under your thumb, your opponent may be steadily building an engine that gives them increasingly complex turns as the game progresses. Later expansions add even more factions and cards, giving you even more ways to play the game.
So why is something so violent on our list of cute board games? Simply put, it’s the art style. The forest on the game board looks like it was lifted straight out of a storybook, and even the most aggressive factions look more like mischievous pests than violent warmongers. I imagine battles to look a lot like the Ken fight from the Barbie movie — lots of toy weapons and showboating. If you don’t see it the same way, though, feel free to check out any of Leder Games’s other works. Fort has a similar concept, but you play as a group of neighborhood kids competing to build the best fort around. The art is still by Kyle Ferrin, so you get all the appeal of the cute style, just not as naughty little forest creatures.
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That’s it for our list of the best cute board games — thanks for reading! Drop us a comment with your favorite cute board game or a suggestion for our next tabletop roundup, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more content like this.