The 10 Best Board Games

Updated November 26, 2017 by Gregg Parker

10 Best Board Games
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether you're instigating a family competition over the holidays or just hoping to occupy bored kids when it's raining outside, there's a board game for any occasion. We've combed through the best options, from classic titles with a modern twist to addictive new strategy games. Whatever your interest, there's a choice here for you. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best board game on Amazon.

10. The Retro Series Scrabble 1949 Edition

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The Retro Series Scrabble 1949 Edition is the classic word-building game that you remember. It comes with 100 wooden letter tiles that look just a bit classier than plastic versions, so it'll make for a great gift.
  • velvet tile pouch
  • designed to look like 1949 edition
  • board is thin and flimsy
Brand Hasbro
Model B2850
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

9. Trademark Games Trio

The Trademark Games Trio gives you three games for the price of one, and includes all the pieces you need for checkers, chess, and backgammon. The entire set has a high-quality wooden construction, and it can fold in half for practical and convenient storage.
  • carved handle for easy carrying
  • strong magnets hold the case closed
  • pieces tend to slide on the board
Brand Trademark Games
Model 12-2157
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. Asmodee Concept

Asmodee Concept is an engaging game that is fun for the whole family. It prompts you to use your creativity and imagination to solve the riddles from the visual clues. The diverse and fun icons range wildly from ancient samurai to Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • easy to learn the rules
  • fun to play without keeping score
  • no real strategy involved
Brand Asmodee
Model CONCO1
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Monopoly Mega Edition

Monopoly Mega Edition is a modern spin on the time-tested classic that attempts to speed the game up. The game board is 50 percent larger than standard Monopoly boards, and this set features new skyscrapers and depots to match the new thousand dollar bills.
  • buildings and big rents come fast
  • helps to develop math skills
  • games still take a long time
Brand Winning Moves Games
Model 1104
Weight 3.2 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Ticket To Ride

Ticket To Ride can be played by as few as two people or as many as five, and it's always just as much fun and challenging. It has tons of replay value with no two games being the same. The goal is to see the most American cities on a 7-day, cross-country train ride.
  • requires shrewd planning
  • fast games take up half an hour
  • small pieces are easy to lose
Brand Days of Wonder
Model DOW 7201
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. 7 Wonders Duel

An update on the original game, 7 Wonders Duel is designed for two people to engage in head-to-head battles. Your goal is to build a powerful ancient civilization that can last for centuries and stay one step ahead of your opponent.
  • multiple ways to win
  • values player choice over randomness
  • takes a while to set up
Brand Asmodee
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Tokaido Board Game

From the designer of 7 Wonders, Tokaido Board Game is outfitted with gorgeous artwork. This strategy title revolves around journeying through Japan and working to become the most accomplished traveler by collecting experiences along the way.
  • good for children as young as 8
  • lots of replay value
  • available as an app for smartphones
Brand Passport Game Studios
Model FNF001
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Marc Andre's Splendor

If you're looking for a game that is just as much fun with two players as it is with a small group, you need Marc Andre's Splendor. A simple two-page rulebook allows you to get up and running quickly, while the advanced strategy and gameplay make it challenging.
  • core strategy is based on economics
  • good for players aged 10 and up
  • beautiful art and high quality cards
Brand Asmodee
Model SCSPL01
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. A Game of Thrones

One of the most popular shows on TV is now one of the most popular board games. A Game of Thrones allows 3-6 players to take command of the Great Houses of Westeros, and draws them into a war-torn world of sun-scorched sands and lush forests.
  • includes clear and detailed rules
  • attractive marbled plastic figures
  • takes a lot of strategy to win
Brand Fantasy Flight Games
Model VA65
Weight 4.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. The Settlers of Catan

When it came out, The Settlers of Catan created a sensation and became an instant classic. The 5th edition features a new board and new graphics and cards as well as an expanded rule book. It's a challenging, rewarding and fun game that takes about 60 minutes to complete.
  • can play it over and over
  • artistic and attractive
  • won the game of the century award
Brand Catan Studios
Model MFG 3071
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Bonding On the Board

Whenever the clouds roll in on a summer's day, when the power suddenly goes out and you have nothing but candlelight to entertain you, when there's a sleepy afternoon with nothing looming and a few friends or family members together in good spirits, we inevitably reach for a board game.

The idea behind them is supremely simple. You have a surface on which representative talismans move, explore, battle, or befriend one another. Sometimes the talismans are neglected in favor of a pair of dice and a few strategically positioned tokens. Whatever the precise rules and the precise pieces, a board game elevates your presence with your friends and family.

If you look closely at board games ranging from the most mentally taxing (chess, Monopoly, Scrabble, etc.) to the simplest and least intellectually challenging (checkers, Settlers of Catan, etc.) all of them have lurking beneath the surface a structure that encourages community. There's no time limit to your turn in Monopoly, for example, so you can spend all day on a single game, chatting, cooking, and relaxing all the while with the people you love.

Catan, a much shorter game, actually encourages tremendous amounts of hilarious and, at times, cutthroat negotiations over the raw materials needed to build a farm, a town, or a city, and its gameplay times out to fit a brief escape from the day or to stretch on in a marathon session of games.

The most important thing about these games is that, unless you go and add a consequence for the loser more tragic than having to clean up once the game is done, there really aren't any stakes. You're free to compete at whatever level suits you, and those little moments when your competitive edge flourishes, or your preference to see your friends and family succeed even at a small cost to you will bring the lot of you closer together than you ever could have imagined.

Prepare For The Players

If you want to have a successful experience with a board game, one in which everyone at the table–winners and losers alike–is satisfied, you've got to know your audience. The worst thing you can do to kill a night of revelry is whip out the wrong board game and tax everyone's joy. Even if it's one that you love, you aren't going to play these things alone, so you'd better have a good collection of games at hand.

One of the best things about looking through our list is that the purchase of one board game here rated does not preclude you from the purchase of another. You could get your hands on all of them and use them with different friends or family members depending on their tastes and the mood of the room.

Odds are, however, that you're going to grab one or two off of this list to start, so we've got to narrow it down, and before you even think about evaluating the personality types coming into your game space, you have to know how many personalities you're dealing with.

For example, if you've invited five people over for a game night, chess and checkers (consummate two-player games) won't exactly fit the bill. Similarly, games like Monopoly or Settlers of Catan are decidedly less fun with fewer people. Get a bead on the average size of your playing crowd to figure out the scope of the games you should pick up.

After that, it's all a question of taste. I'm a huge fan of strategy games that allow for alliances between and among players, complete with the opportunity for timely betrayals and a little bit of playacting. These games tend to take a lot longer, though, so if you've got kids of friends with short attention spans, you might not get to finish what you started.

There's a good chance that you've played a game or two already with the people who are most likely to join you on this new board, so take a moment to think about who they are, how they act, and the environment in which you can best them.

The Board Goes Way Back

A lot of board games come with very poorly written instructions, no instructions at all, or instructions so complicated and convoluted as to make the preparations to play the game outlast the game itself. But board games are older than history, which means they're older than writing. So, really, not having written instructions on how to play a game is all part of the tradition.

One of the earliest prehistoric games is called Senet, and evidence of it dates back to Predynastic Egypt c. 3500 BCE. Other ancient games like Mehen (also Egyptian) or Go, from China, date back a similar number of years.

Millennia later, in the United States, games based on Christian morality hit the scene with titles like The Mansion of Happiness or The Siege of the Stronghold of Satan by the Christian Army. This was back in the middle of the 19th century, when advances in agricultural technologies and techniques allowed for an increase in leisure time among the fledgling middle class.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the middle class in America exploded for the first time, and, so, too, did the board game industry, with rags-to-riches titles like The Game of the District Messenger Boy and Monopoly. The popularity of these games remained a constant hum beneath the breadth of leisure activities in the country until rather recently. Since the 1990s, in particular, the board game industry has seen unprecedented growth from exciting new titles and crowdfunded hits, and the numbers continue to rise.

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Last updated on November 26, 2017 by Gregg Parker

Gregg Parker is an author, screenwriter, and comedian who divides his time between Los Angeles, California, and Osaka, Japan. When he’s not watching sports, he spends most of his free time on his artistic pursuits or collecting miles for his next international journey.

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