Game night! With all of the board games being published daily, which of the thousands do we choose from? Here, we list seven of the best board games according to ten expert sites. Whether you’re looking for something that offers high-level strategy, narrative cooperation, or simply something that looks and feels beautiful, these are the games to put in heavy rotation during your game nights.
Many board games provide some intricate skills and problem-solving. It’s like a double whammy of having fun and getting smart! Board games like Monopoly and Othello can enhance young children’s mathematical abilities, according to a new study. They aid in improving counting, addition, and the ability to distinguish whether a number is greater or lesser than another. It’s the perfect way for parents to sneak in a little off-the-clock learning.
As fun as game night is, be aware that people tend to take them too seriously. One recent study finds that one of the best board games of all time may wind up causing more problems than fun. Yep, a survey shows that Monopoly leads to so much arguing and aggravation, that many people have banned it from their game night selection! Typical antics include someone quitting because they’re losing (46%), someone accusing another player of cheating (44%), and two or more players getting into an argument (44%).
All that said, which games go down in history as the most fun? StudyFinds visited 10 expert websites to see which games were most recommended. Here are the seven best board games that are must-haves to bring out in your lineup of game night classics. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
The List: Best Board Games, According to Experts
Even if you don’t win a Ticket to Ride, it is still a blast. “What you need to know: Ticket to Ride is one of the most laid-back entries on this list, and that makes it the perfect choice if you want board games for families that aren’t going to start a civil war around the table. Thoughtful and relaxing, it’s a delight for all ages,” says Games Radar.
Ticket to Ride is a combination of familiar concepts with players collecting cards, like a Rummy game, in order to try and claim matching routes on a map of the U.S. “One of the few hobby board games to cross over into full mainstream sales, Ticket to Ride is a steaming success story. But beware: it’s a tight board with relatively few potential connections between the cities that you’ll need in order to complete your allotted routes. And if another player gets there first, you’ll lose potential points instead of gaining them. Easy to learn and exciting to play and with a wide variety of versions and expansion maps, Ticket to Ride is great fun for all ages. It also works well as a two-player board game, or with a group,” explains IGN.
If you haven’t caught on, “Ticket to Ride is an adventure-style game in which players attempt to cross the country and connect cities by building train routes. It is easy to pick up, but also offers a level of strategy and tactics just deep enough for competitive gamers to return to time and again,” states NY Mag.
This strategy game encourages families to take on the role of their favorite Disney villains. “Each villain has their own goals they’re trying to accomplish to win the game, but a shared fate deck affects them all. The game is balanced, so it can be mixed with any of the other expansion sets in the Disney Villainous line. Ravensburger has also started a Marvel Villainous line (you can play as Loki!) and a Star Wars Villainous line, though those skew a little older,” says Good Housekeeping.
For two to six players ages 10+, it is suggested that you’ll probably need to be a big Disney fan to make the most of this game. “Such Villains include Captain Hook, Maleficent, Jafar, Ursula, Queen of Hearts, and Prince John,” offers Wargamer.
Villainous allows you to harness your inner fictional villain and stir up some evil. “You’re encouraged to scupper a foe’s plans in search of your character’s happy ending. You see, this isn’t a cash-in for kids; it’s ruthless, surprisingly tactical, and deliciously wicked. If you ask us, that intricacy makes Villainous better when played head-to-head,” explains Games Radar.
What’s great about Codenames is that it can accommodate any number of players, making it a great option for parties. “The players are broken down into two teams and each team has a spymaster. The goal of the game is for the spymaster to get their teammates to guess which cards on the table conceal their own agents. As players guess, they must avoid the other team’s agents, innocent bystanders, or the dreaded assassin (an automatic loss). The first team to figure out which cards belong to their agents, win,” says NBC News.
In Codenames, cards are arranged in a grid, and each is labeled with a single codeword. “Spymasters know under which cards lie their field agents, which are neutral civilians, and which covers the deadly assassin, that, if revealed, would cause an instant loss,” states Wargamer.
Bursting onto the scene in 2015, Codenames changed the face of party games forever. “In place of trivia quizzes or trivial tasks, it challenged players to come up with clues to interlink a series of apparently unconnected words. So you might link ‘Trip,’ ‘Rome’ and possibly even ‘Embassy’ with the clue ‘Holiday.’ The concept proved so accessible and addictive that it launched an entirely new genre of synonym-based word games, each giving different spins on a similar formula,” offers IGN.
Monikers occur over three rounds. In the first round, players give as many clues as possible to get their teammates to guess the correct answer. “In the second round, players can only offer a one-word hint. Round three, where things usually go haywire, has players use charades or gesturing as a clue. Birnbaum says it ‘always brings out people’s competitive sides and is guaranteed to end in everyone in the room laughing,” explains NBC News.
Why bother with Monikers when you could just as easily write some names on scraps of paper and toss them in a hat? Because this game formalizes the whole process for optimal fun. “Aside from handing you hundreds of ready-made cards with applicable figures, each comes with a handy description of the person, so no one’s forced to imitate a person they’ve never heard of,” offers Wargamer.
Players can be anything from a world-famous pop star to an obscure concept like sausage fingers. “Monikers is an excellent pick for pop-culture fans. Over three rounds that allow progressively fewer words — from unlimited, to one, to none (charades) — everyone will shout and laugh their way through an evening of making nonsense and new inside jokes,” promises NY Mag.
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a co-op exploration game with a twist. “Players spend the first half of Betrayal at House on the Hill collecting gear, uncovering rooms, and finding strange and spooky curios, which all lead up to ‘the Haunt’ – when a traitor is revealed, and the terrifying twist of tonight’s game is revealed. These events could be anything from a haunted amulet possessing a player to a cult ritual taking place within its walls,” offers Wargamer.
The third edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill was released in August 2022. It has the same fun, B-movie horror feel as past versions, and the same variety of scenarios. However, it improves on many elements of the game. “Your aim here is simple – make it out of the mansion alive after completing one of 50 missions. That isn’t to say it’s predictable, though. Betrayal isn’t set up like traditional board games, and that’s part of its appeal. Your character has been drawn to the house for mysterious reasons (they’re following a friend who’s gone missing or received an invitation from parties unknown, for example), and it’s revealed turn by turn as you try to solve that case,” says NY Times.
Ever wonder how long you’d last in a horror movie? Betrayal at House on the Hill lets you find out. “Setting players loose in a haunted mansion that’s quite literally out to get them, it’s drenched with tension. It’s also unpredictable enough that you’re never sure what’s going to happen next. Sure, not all of the scenarios are created equal. But if you’re hunting down something more mature in terms of both narrative and gameplay, this is one of the top board games for adults,” adds Games Radar.
You’re racing against the clock in Pandemic. You have to contain and cure four deadly diseases that are sweeping across the globe. Sound familiar? “Naturally, this is far from a walk in the park. For starters, new infections (represented by dinky, colored cubes) are placed on random cities each turn. If enough cases gather in one place, they’ll spill into neighboring areas in a devastating domino effect. To make matters worse, the number of infections deployed each turn increases over the course of the game. Spin your wheels and you’ll get overwhelmed,” explains Games Radar.
This game is an edge-of-your-seat tension-filled gameplay as they strategize to save humanity from global pandemics. “Pandemic is a thrilling and unique board game that puts players in a cooperative race against deadly viruses threatening the world. Unlike competitive games, this requires players to work together, combining their unique roles and abilities to contain outbreaks and find cures. Pandemic’s relevance in today’s world adds to its appeal, as it offers a challenging gaming experience and a sense of purpose and teamwork,” explains the National Post.
There are options with Pandemic. If combat-based narrative campaigns aren’t your thing, how about working together to purge the world of infectious diseases? IGN recommends a spin-off, Pandemic: Legacy. “Building on the success of the original Pandemic, this introduces ‘legacy’ concepts to the game, in which components are added or removed as you progress through the game, based on your decisions, successes, and failures. After a few plays, your copy will be a unique record of your group’s play. So in addition to offering a very personal tale to engage you, Pandemic: Legacy also individualizes your strategic experience. It’s a magical combination that has spawned two further seasons, creating an epic arc of story and strategy to enjoy with a gaming group or even as one of the best family board games,” says IGN.
This sci-fi favorite was first published in 1977 and has been through numerous editions since then, but all of them have something in common – they’re brilliant. “Few classic board games have aged as well as this; its blend of strategy and quick-talking was peerless at the time, not to mention now. In truth, we bet it’ll still be going strong in another 40 years,” boasts Games Radar.
Back in 1977, the designers of Cosmic Encounter had a brainwave: why not get rid of the territory and cut to the chase? “Lots of games that revolve around grabbing territory tend to involve the kind of tentative alliances and festering enmities that mimic real-world diplomacy. The result is this hilarious game of shifting alliances where every player has a game-breaking alien power to leverage in the race to win colonies on five of your opponent’s planets. Crammed with variety, tactical decisions, and more dramatic reversals than a prime-time soap opera, Cosmic Encounter may be the only negotiation game you need,” says IGN.
Cosmic Encounter is considered the best board game is a brilliant mix of genuine strategy and unpredictable hilarity. “With 50 alien powers in the base game (and dozens and dozens more available in expansions, along with other new optional ways to play that add even more craziness), the sheer scale of what can happen in Cosmic Encounter is why we love it so much. It’s impossible to get bored of, yet is surprisingly easy to learn. Our Cosmic Encounter review talks even more about why we love this game,” says T3.
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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.