best board games

by | Apr 17, 2024 | reviews

Board games are experiencing a renaissance, drawing people together for meaningful interaction and fun. From complex strategic games to simple, joyful party games, there’s something in board games to suit everyone’s taste.

Today, we will review the best board games, highlighting those that stand out for their innovative mechanics, compelling themes, and ability to unite people in laughter and challenge. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or a newcomer searching for the perfect game night addition, we`ve got you covered.

1. Chess, Checkers & Tic-Tac-Toe Wooden Board

This all-in-one game set from Regal Games offers an excellent blend of strategy and fun, perfect for family gatherings and social events. The set includes a reversible wooden board that serves three classic games: Chess, Checkers, and Tic-Tac-Toe. The timeless appeal and wooden aesthetic make it a suitable addition to any game collection.

checkers & tic-tac-toe wooden board

Number of Players: 2
Duration: Chess and Checkers: 30 minutes to 1 hour. Tic-Tac-Toe: 5 to 10 minutes
Age: Recommended age is 8+
How to Play:

  • Chess: Set up the board with each player’s 16 pieces. Players alternate moves, aiming to put the opponent’s king in a position to be captured (“checkmate”).
  • Checkers: Players move their pieces diagonally to “jump” and capture opponent pieces. The goal is to eliminate all opposing pieces or block them.
  • Tic-Tac-Toe: Players take turns marking spaces in a 3×3 grid, aiming to be the first to align three of their marks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

Why We Love It: We love these popular board games for their versatility and the classic entertainment they provide. They’re easy to transport and set up, making them ideal for indoor and outdoor gatherings, where guests can enjoy various games, including beach games. The durable construction ensures they can be part of your event essentials for years; they are immortal classics.

2. Monopoly

Monopoly is an iconic fast-dealing property trading board game for adults and a staple in family game collections worldwide. This edition features a classic gameplay experience where players can buy, sell, and scheme their way to riches.

Monopoly

Number of Players: 2 to 6
Duration: Typically, a game lasts between 60 to 180 minutes.
Age: Suitable for kids ages 8 and up.
How to Play:

  1. Players choose a token and start with a set amount of money. The board includes property spaces, utilities, railroads, taxes, and special spaces like Chance, Community Chest, and the four corner squares: GO, Jail, Free Parking, and Go to Jail.
  2. Roll two dice to move around the board. Depending on where you land, you may buy properties, pay rent, draw cards, pay taxes, or go to jail.
  3. Unowned properties can be bought or auctioned. Rent is due when landing on owned properties, with rates increasing with more developments or complete color groups.
  4. Build houses and hotels on complete color groups to increase rents.
  5. The game continues until all but one player is bankrupt. The last player standing wins.

Why We Love It: Monopoly enhances our event experiences by promoting engaging and strategic gameplay perfect for family and friends gatherings. Its ability to blend skill with luck makes every game session exciting and unpredictable. Whether part of a cozy indoor night or a lively outdoor picnic, Monopoly remains a favorite for guests of all ages, perfectly pairing with drinking card games for an adult game night.

3. Scrabble

Scrabble is in a list of classic crossword popular board games, too; it challenges players to create words on a game board with letter tiles. Each player strategically uses their tiles to score the highest points based on letter value and board placement.

Scrabble

Number of Players: 2-4
Duration: Games typically last 45-90 minutes.
Age: Recommended for ages 8 and up.
How to Play:

  • Setup: Each player draws seven tiles from the tile bag to form their rack.
  • Gameplay: Players place words on the board, connecting them to words already played or branching off existing letters. Words can be formed horizontally or vertically but must appear in a standard dictionary.
  • Scoring: Each letter has a point value, and premium squares on the board multiply a letter’s or word’s score. The goal is to use high-value letters on premium squares and make the most of the seven tiles in hand.
  • Ending: The game ends when all tiles have been drawn, and one player uses their last tile or when no more plays are possible. Scores are tallied, with points deducted for unplayed tiles.

Why We Love It: Scrabble is beloved for its blend of fun and intellect. It’s perfect for sharpening vocabulary and strategy skills during our events. It is ideal for family gatherings, educational activities at birthday parties, or a thoughtful leisure option at backyard luxurious pop-up picnics. Its academic value and engaging nature make it a staple in our event planning toolkit.

4. Clue

The Clue is a captivating mystery fun board game that engages players in a murder mystery inside the Tudor Mansion. Players assume the roles of various characters and attempt to solve the mystery of who murdered the game’s victim, Mr. Boddy, by discovering the murderer, the murder weapon, and the room in which the crime took place.

Clue

Number of Players: 2-6
Duration: Typically 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Age: Suitable for ages 8 and up.
How to Play:

  1. Each player selects a character token and takes the corresponding character card. All players start from the designated starting squares on the board.
  2. Players roll the dice and move their tokens across different mansion rooms. When in a room, a player can suggest the murder details, naming a suspect, a weapon, and the current room. The suggested suspect and weapon are moved to the mentioned room.
  3. Other players must then prove the suggestion false by showing one card named in the suggestion if they have it.
  4. When players feel confident they have solved the mystery, they make an accusation and secretly check the confidential file envelope. They win the game if their accusation matches the cards in the envelope.

This version of Clue includes a card-revealing mirror, which adds an innovative way to reveal the answers at the game’s conclusion secretly.

Why We Love It: Fun board games like Clue are ideal for game nights, whether they’re outdoor or indoor. They offer a dynamic social experience that encourages problem-solving and interaction among guests. Their mysterious theme perfectly suits our meticulously planned events’ sophisticated yet fun atmosphere, ensuring guests of all ages are engaged and entertained.

5. Azul: Summer Pavilion

Enter a world of noble artisans and elaborate construction in “Azul: Summer Pavilion,” where players vie to build the grandest summer retreat for King Manuel I of Portugal. This strategic tile-placement game captivates with its beautiful aesthetics and complex decision-making, making it an engaging challenge for families and gamers alike.

Number of Players: 2 to 4
Duration: 30-45 minutes
Age: Suitable for ages 8 and up.
How to Play:

  1. Each player receives a player board and a set of tiles from a shared draft pool.
  2. Players take turns selecting tiles from factory displays to gather the colors needed to complete specific sections on their boards.
  3. Players place their tiles on their boards to complete stars and score points. They must follow specific rules regarding the colors and locations of the tiles on their boards.
  4. Points are scored based on how you place your tiles to decorate the pavilion. Completing certain patterns and sets can yield higher scores.
  5. The game concludes after six rounds, and bonus points are scored for specific achievements, such as completing sets or particular areas.

Why it`s great: If you are looking for family board games, It’s a perfect choice for enhancing cozy family nights. It offers a visual treat and a cerebral challenge that keeps players engaged and interacting.

6. Codenames

“Codenames” is a captivating social word game where two teams compete to uncover the secret identities of their agents first. Teams are guided by their spymasters, who provide one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board.

Codenames

Number of Players: The game is designed for 2 to 8 players divided into two teams.
Duration: A typical game takes about 15 minutes to play.
Age Recommendation: This game is recommended for ages 10 and up.
How to Play:

  1. Lay out 25 codename cards in a 5×5 grid. Each team chooses a spymaster. The spymasters sit on one side of the table, and the other players sit on the opposite.
  2. The spymasters take turns giving one-word clues followed by a number indicating how many cards on the table are related to that clue.
  3. The teammates then discussed and guessed which codenames (words) their spymaster meant. They can make as many guesses as the number given by their spymaster plus one extra guess. The turn ends if they guess a card belonging to the opposing team, a bystander, or the assassin.
  4. The game ends when one team successfully identifies all their agents or if a team guesses the assassin card, resulting in an instant loss for that team.

Why We Love It: We cherish how these fun board games, like Codenames, enhance social gatherings and game nights, fostering teamwork and clever communication. It’s a fantastic game for players of all ages. It is a versatile choice for any event we plan, from casual get-togethers to more competitive game nights, including birthday games for adults.

7. Scythe

The “Scythe” is an intricate engine-building and area-control board game designed by Jamey Stegmaier and beautifully illustrated by Jakub Rozalski. Set in an alternate history of 1920s Europe, it combines strategy, aesthetic elegance, and intricate mechanics to immerse players in a diesel-punk world of rural economies and towering mechs.

Scythe

Number of Players: The game accommodates 1-5 players.
Duration: An average game lasts about 115 minutes.
Age: Scythe is recommended for players aged 14 and up.
How to Play:

  1. Players choose one of five factions, each with unique abilities and starting positions on the game board.
  2. The game proceeds with players taking turns choosing from four possible top-row actions (Move, Bolster, Trade, Produce) that may trigger bottom-row actions (Upgrade, Deploy, Build, Enlist) depending on their strategy.
  3. Players aim to earn coins through various means, such as controlling territories, achieving objectives, and building structures.
  4. Interaction with other players involves competition over resources, territories, and power, with occasional combat resolved through a unique power-dial system.
  5. The game ends when players place their sixth star on the achievement track, with victory points tallied based on resources, controlled territories, and popularity.

Why We Love It: Scythe is one of the best board games of all time. It encourages strategic thinking and player interaction. Its rich thematic elements and visually stunning components create an immersive experience suitable for a memorable evening of sophisticated fun.

8. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

The “Pandemic Legacy: Season 1” is a dynamic, narrative-driven board game where players work cooperatively to save the world from waves of infectious diseases. This immersive game is set in a tense, evolving universe where each session’s outcomes influence subsequent plays, creating a unique experience for every group.

Pandemic Legacy_ Season 1

Number of Players: Designed for 2 to 4 players.
Duration: Average playtime is 60 minutes per session.
Age: Suitable for ages 13 and up.
How to Play:

  1. Each player takes on a specific role with unique abilities to treat infections, build research stations, or find a cure.
  2. The game evolves based on players’ decisions and the outcome of each session, affecting future gameplay through a legacy mechanic.
  3. Players must manage outbreaks and infections while working towards curing four diseases that threaten the world.
  4. The game is divided into 12 “months,” with each session influencing the next through permanent changes, such as stickers on the board, torn-up cards, and opened secret packages.

Why We Love It: If you are looking for cooperative board games, it`s a standout choice for an engaging and memorable game night. The legacy aspect ensures that every choice has a lasting impact, offering a thrilling journey through a year of challenges and triumphs in game form.

9. Sherlock Holmes: The Thames Murders & Other Cases

Step into the fog-laden streets of Victorian London with “Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective,” a deeply immersive board game that brings the intrigue and intellect of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective to the gaming table. Crafted by Space Cowboys, this game offers a rich narrative experience that will challenge your deductive skills and strategic thinking.

sherlock holmes_ the thames murders & other cases

Number of Players: The game accommodates 1 to 8 players.
Duration: Solving each of the ten included mysteries takes about 90 minutes.
Age: This game is recommended for players aged 14 and up.
How to Play:

  1. Players begin each case by reading an introduction that sets the scene and outlines the mystery to be solved.
  2. Using a beautifully illustrated map of London, players choose locations to visit to gather clues. Each location offers narrative entries that might include witness testimonies, alibis, or cryptic observations.
  3. Additional resources, such as newspapers corresponding to the cases, provide historical context and can offer subtle hints that are essential to solving the case.
  4. Players discuss their findings, form theories, and use logical deduction to solve the mystery.

Why it`s great: It is an exemplary blend of narrative depth and puzzle-solving intrigue. The game is perfect for players who enjoy mystery, strategy, and a bit of historical flavor in their best board games of all time. Gather your fellow detectives and dive into the world of Sherlock Holmes, where every clue leads you deeper into the heart of Victorian London’s darkest corners.

10. The Quacks of Quedlinburg

Dive into the whimsical world of potion brewing with “The Quacks of Quedlinburg,” a captivating board game that combines strategy, luck, and explosive fun! Developed by CMYK, this game promises an engaging experience for players of all ages.

the quacks of quedlinburg

Number of Players: 2-4 players.
Duration: Each game session runs for about 45 minutes.
Age: Suitable for players aged 10 and up, this game is fantastic for young players and adults.
How to Play:

  1. Players take on the roles of quack doctors, each brewing their mysterious potion.
  2. The core mechanic revolves around drawing ingredients from a bag and deciding how far to push your luck. Each ingredient adds a special effect to your potion, but pulling too many of one type could cause your potion to explode.
  3. Strategic decisions influence each player’s success: when to stop drawing ingredients, which ingredients to buy to enhance your potion bag, and how to utilize the powers of the ingredients best.
  4. The game is played over several rounds, and the player with the most victory points at the end wins.

Why It Stands Out: It shines due to its unique risk management and strategy blend. The push-your-luck element keeps every round exciting and unpredictable. At the same time, the ability to purchase and use new ingredients adds a strategic layer that rewards thoughtful planning and risk assessment.

11. Sagrada

Delve into the colorful world of Sagrada, where artistry meets strategy in this stunningly beautiful dice-drafting game. Created by Floodgate Games, Sagrada challenges players to craft the most magnificent stained glass windows with skill, strategy, and a touch of luck.

The box includes 90 beautifully crafted dice, 4 player boards, 24 stained glass window patterns, 12 tool cards, 15 objective cards, a dice bag, a round track, score markers, and 24 glass favor tokens. The components are functional and aesthetically pleasing, contributing to the game’s visual appeal.

sagrada

Number of Players: 1 to 4
Age: Recommended for ages 10 and up
Playtime: 30 to 45 minutes

Gameplay Mechanics: Sagrada is a game of dice drafting and window crafting where players select colorful dice and place them on their window pattern boards. Each board represents a unique stained glass window with specific requirements for which color or shade (number) of dice can be placed in each spot.

Why we love it: Suitable for a wide range of players, Sagrada is one of those wonderful cooperative board games that provide entertainment and a piece of art on your table.


What do people like about board games?

From years of luxury pup-up picnic-making, we’ve noticed that people enjoy board games for the sense of community and shared adventure they foster. These games create an immersive environment where players can interact in ways other forms of entertainment don’t offer.

Engaging in a board game allows people to escape the digital world and enjoy the tactile pleasure of moving pieces on a board, rolling dice, and handling cards. This physical aspect and face-to-face interaction strengthen relationships and create lasting memories.

Furthermore, board games often provoke laughter and light-hearted competition, making them an excellent choice for lifting spirits and enhancing moods at gatherings.

With the vast array of games available, including Japanese board games, there’s something to suit every interest and age group, from adventure and fantasy to intricate strategic challenges. Grab a game and call your fellows.

FAQs

How do I choose the right board game for a mixed-age group?

When selecting fun board games for mixed ages, look for games that are easy to understand but offer layers of strategic depth. Cooperative games, where players work together against the game, can also be a great choice as they encourage teamwork.

What should I consider when selecting a game for a large group?

For large groups, choose games that support higher player counts without significantly increasing game time. Party or team-based games like “Codenames” or “Werewolf” can accommodate more players and keep everyone engaged.

How do I store and maintain my board games to ensure they last?

Store popular board games in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Organize components in zip-lock bags or dedicated game organizers to prevent damage and loss. Check and repair components regularly if necessary.

How can these games enhance social interactions?

Board games for adults create shared experiences that can break the ice and encourage conversation. They engage players in cooperative or competitive play, fostering camaraderie and providing a space to interact in a structured yet fun way.

Affiliate Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a commission if you purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you.

Olga and Vlad Picnic Makers

Vlad and Olga

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