The best board games should be fun and help to encourage bonds between friends and family. To create our guide for the best board games, we considered age appropriateness, game length, playing style, concept, and the maximum number of players allowed. You’ll always want to make sure that you pick a game that is right for the age of the players and isn’t so long that people get bored and quit before someone wins. And if you’re planning a game night with a large group of people, you’ll want games that can accommodate your party size so no one is left out.
After considering all of the above, we nominated Catan The Board Game as our Top Pick. This popular game has been consistently voted as one of the best board games of the decade by game players from around the world. The strategy game is better for older children and adults but teaches you how to create and grow a civilization too. We liked that this game allowed you to create alliances to further your goals while still maintaining a competitive edge. Keep reading to learn more about the rest of our top picks.
If you grew up playing games like Oregon Trail, you’re familiar with strategy games where the decisions you make at the beginning of your journey, as well as the behaviors of others (like robbers stealing your rations), can seriously impact your outcome. We’ve nominated Catan as our Top Pick because it’s considered one of the best board games of the decade for civilization-building. This popular strategy game can accommodate three to four players, is recommended for ages 10 and up, and is fairly speedy with rounds averaging 60 minutes.
While everyone is competing against each other, you can still negotiate trade agreements and alliances to help build your resources or block others from expanding their settlements or road networks. To win this turn-based game, one player must reach 10 victory points. But you’ll like that learning to play Catan is fairly easy and outcomes can change from round to round. So, we doubt you’ll get bored with Catan any time soon!
Sometimes you just want a game that’s straightforward and easy to play and doesn’t require spending an hour reading the rule book. Azul is a great option for family game night and one of the best board games for families — especially if you have younger children. This simple tile game is played by collecting tiles at each turn and creating a mosaic that matches the pattern on your board. But the tricky aspect is that the tiles you need to complete your masterpiece might not be available, forcing you to take pieces that can lower your score.
We think this is a great way to introduce strategy games to younger children without complex rules as seen on some of the more adult-oriented games in our guide. While this has a limited number of game players (two to four people), if you’re a smaller family this is a great option that will keep everyone engaged. And with rounds that average 30 to 45 minutes, we’re confident that little ones won’t have the chance to get bored.
Even though it’s important, geography lessons can be complicated and let’s face it…a little boring. But Ticket to Ride makes learning U.S. geography fun. In this turn-based game, your goal is to collect matching train cards to claim train routes that connect cities across the country. Earn points by claiming those intra-city routes and work to create the longest path across the map.
We like that Ticket to Ride’s rules are simple and easy to follow. But the colorfully designed board game is a map of the U.S. We like that this game is a well-hidden geography lesson that children as young as eight can enjoy while they learn where major U.S. cities are located. It can be played by two to six players, making it perfect for your children to play together, or as a family game night option. And with games averaging between 30 to 60 minutes, the quick pace will prevent young children from growing bored.
Epidemics are no laughing matter, but they happen. In what feels like something ripped from the headlines, Pandemic is a game that requires players to work together to stop a deadly epidemic from spreading across the globe. You’ll have to coordinate with your teammates to break the curve of outbreak cases. In this turn-based game, you’ll need to collect cards to either move around the globe or to gather resources and find a cure. We think it’s one of the best board games for adults.
While Pandemic is designed to be played from ages eight and up, we think this subject matter might be too intense for younger players. However, there’s a lot to love about this game. Notably, we love that there’s no single winner. The world’s survival hinges on the cooperation of you and the other players. So you either win together and save the world or lose together and let a deadly disease ravage humanity. And the fact that scenarios can always change — even from one round to the next — means that every time you play, the outcomes can be completely different.
There’s something about a classic board game that brings back memories of us playing it with our parents that is very alluring. Clue is one of the best board games because, for the most part, the game hasn’t changed much from when you were a kid and it’s a straightforward and easy to learn game. We like that they’ve added new characters to keep it fresh, but the concept has remained unchanged for decades.
While people who played older versions might find the newer version of Clue a little too fast, we think it’s a good thing. A common complaint about Clue in the past was that it was far too long, leading to boredom in younger players. But the rules have since been simplified, leading to slightly faster rounds. We also like that Clue can be played by two to six players, and by ages as young as eight. This makes it another great option for family game night.
Read Full Review: Monopoly E8760000 Unicorns Vs Llamas
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that Monopoly is one of those classic board games that take forever to play and can even lead to fights and hurt feelings — especially if you manage to not just buy Boardwalk but put a hotel on it. Most people don’t play Monopoly by the rules (because the rules are impossible), and it’s certainly not ideal for younger children. But Monopoly Unicorns vs. Llamas is a great “Monopoly-Lite” option for parents of younger children that wanted to play the original version but weren’t quite ready for it.
We think it’s one of the best board games for kids because it avoids buying and selling properties and changes the strategy from “you against the world” to one of collaboration. Instead of acquiring property, your children will be working to see who is cuter, unicorns or llamas. Kids choose to be either team unicorn or team llama and then each team must work together to acquire titles like “most huggable” or “cutest babies”. While the game board, playing cards, tokens, and even money are reminiscent of traditional Monopoly, parents will appreciate that this version isn’t nearly as competitive as the classic board game.
Read Full Review: Inspiration Play Double Ditto Family
Most board games aren’t ideal for very large groups of people like at a family party or friendly get together. So, that means that you either need to take turns playing or provide multiple board games to keep everyone occupied. Double Ditto is our Best Quality recommendation because we think it’s the perfect solution for large groups. While you only need four players, it can accommodate more than 10 players since it’s technically not a board game and is a card game making it a great party game option.
We think it’s one of the best board games for families because it features simple instructions and gets everyone involved in the action. To play, you’ll draw a card, read it out loud and have everyone write down two answers that come to mind within 15 seconds. Everyone reads their answers out loud and if there are matches, you get a ditto. If you manage to match both answers you’ll get a double ditto. While some people did find the scoring system a little confusing, we still think this is one of the simplest games that anyone can play. And even though Double Ditto is rated for ages as young as 10, more mature eight and nine-year-olds may also have fun playing this game.
Board games are a great way to pass the time and to bond with friends and family. With so many options, there’s no one simple board game that’s going to appeal to everyone. But we created our guide to help give you an idea of age ranges, ease of play, and game speed. To create our guide, we prioritized the following features — age appropriateness, game length, playing style, concept, and the maximum number of players allowed.
Age appropriateness is about more than if a product is rated for a specific minimum age. You’ll note that the youngest ages included in the board games in our guide is eight. However, there are still plenty of other board games on the market that are designed for even younger children. On the other hand, while some games claimed they were suitable for younger ages (such as our #4 pick), the subject matter made it unsuitable in our opinion.
Game length is also another big issue that impacts children and adults. Where available, we’ve outlined the recommended time it takes to play a full round of a game from start to completion where someone wins the game. If you’re either playing with a lot of people or younger children, faster games are better. Our Best Quality recommendation offers the shortest gameplay at just 25 minutes per round. If you’re playing with older children or adults, then options like our Top Pick (Catan) with an average gameplay of 60 minutes is appropriate.
But our Best Quality is also a great option as it’s the only board game that can accommodate large groups. Most of the games in our guide allow for a maximum of six players. But the Best Quality board game (Double Ditto) can support more than 10 players — making it perfect for parties and large game night gatherings.
Playing style is another important feature. All of the games in our guide are turn-based, but how they’re played varies. Most games are designed to be solely competitive with each player pitted against everyone else to win. However, some maintain this concept while also allowing players to create temporary alliances (Top Pick). And others require full collaboration (#4) or teamwork (#6) to successfully play the game.
There are a lot of options on the market and by no means is our buying guide designed to be an exhaustive list. You should look for board games that are age-appropriate, inclusive especially for younger ages, and offer quicker gameplay so younger children won’t get bored easily. In our guide, we recommend Azul (Honorable Mention), Ticket to Ride (#3), Clue (#5), Monopoly Unicorns vs. Llamas (Best Budget), and Double Ditto (Best Quality).
There are a lot of options here and it might depend on whether you’re hosting a themed game night or are just creating a friendly game after Thanksgiving dinner. However, from our reviews, we recommend Catan (Top Pick), Pandemic (#4), Clue (#5), and Double Ditto (Best Quality) as the best board games for adults.
If you’re focused on board games that are travel friendly, look for options that are designed to fit in compact packaging. Large board game boxes aren’t practical for travel — especially if you’re flying. And some board games have even created travel editions, which makes them easier to slip into a duffel bag or carry on luggage.
Board games are a very special part of our family experience. While many people read about the best RPG games for iPhone or the best PC game, there's nothing like a good board game that is physically in front of you. I mean, you don't even need to read the best gaming accessory reviews for a board game. Unlike the best gaming console there aren't many best gaming accessories as it is all in the game box.
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