The 14 Best Board Games for Your Next Game Night

Monopoly is our best overall pick

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The Spruce / Amelia Manley

There are few better ways to end an evening than with a board game—after all, a little friendly competition among friends is always bound to be interesting.

We researched the best classic and modern board games on the market, considering play duration, player number, and variety of each pick. Monopoly is our best overall pick, because the beloved board game is suitable for various, has multiple expansions and themed editions, and teaches money basics to young ones.

Here are the 14 best board games on the market.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Monopoly Board Game

4.8
Monopoly

Target

What We Like
  • Suitable for various ages

  • Teaches money basics

  • Classic gameplay

What We Don't Like
  • Games may be too long for young players

Who else recommends it? Gear Patrol and Refinery29 both picked Monopoly.

What do buyers say? 87% of 29,900+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.

It’s hard to beat the most classic board game of them all: Monopoly. The 85-year old game has been translated into 47 languages and Braille and more than 250 million copies have been sold. Why does it have such staying power? Monopoly lets you buy, trade, and sell property with fake money as you become a real estate mogul.

Younger players can learn the basics of money and property, while more seasoned professionals can test how their skills have developed over time. Every game will be different with the chance to try new strategies, making for a high replay value. Games definitely take some time, but if younger players begin to get restless, break longer competitions up over a few days.

The game has stayed relevant with licensed versions ranging from a kid-friendly Monopoly Jr. Trolls World Tour, a Voice Banking edition, and even a Cheaters edition, not to mention versions for just about every professional sports team out there and many colleges and universities. To win requires good sense and luck, making it an irresistible combo. Pass the "Go" square and collect $200!

Price at time of publish: $19.92

Number of Players: 2-6 | Duration: 60-180 minutes | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

Best for Groups: Czech Games Codenames

4
codenames-board-game

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • High energy

  • Accommodates large amount of players

  • Quick gameplay

What We Don't Like
  • May be difficult for young players

Fans of Elizabeth Jennings, Jason Bourne, and other fictional spies will get behind this cloak and dagger game. While you don’t need to know how to speak Russian, spymasters (one per team) do need to use their smarts to clue in their teammates to the secret code names in as few turns as possible.

How it works: Divide into two teams, then 25 cards are placed into the grid in random order. Some are spies, some are innocent bystanders, and one is an assassin. The spymaster will give a clue to his or her teammates, who then guess who the spies are. For example, say the two codenames are “cat” and “dog:", “animal” would be an okay clue, but runs the risk of teammates guessing all the animals on the board, say a lion; in this instance, “pet” would be a clearer clue. The game ends when one team identifies all the other team’s spies or if a team accidentally uncovers the assassin.

Our tester noted that the game became more fun the longer they played. "The more we played, the more fun the rounds became as everyone starts to get the hang of the word associations, particularly ones that will provide clues to locate more than one spy at the same time," they shared.

Price at time of publish: $15.89

Number of Players: 2-8 or groups | Duration: 15 minutes | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

Codenames

The Spruce 

Best for Art: Plan B Azul Board Game

Azul Board Game

 Amazon

What We Like
  • Beautiful board design

  • Strategy elements involved

  • Video instructions available

What We Don't Like
  • Not all of the designs on the box are available in the game

Pour yourself a glass of port before you break out Azul, a game inspired by the vivid beauty of Moorish art tiles. In the game, your goal as an artisan is to decorate the walls of the royal Palace of Dvora. You score points for completing sets and designing specific patterns, while if you waste supplies, your tally is docked.

While it may not sound like life or death, the game can get pretty cutthroat as you try to force your opponents to take less desirable tiles. The tile pieces themselves are colorful and beautiful to look at and feel substantial in your hand.

Price at time of publish: $34.86

Number of Players: 2-4 | Duration: 30-45 minutes | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

Best for Two Players: Jax Sequence

4.5
sequence-board-game

Walmart

What We Like
  • Suitable for various ages

  • Card/ board game hybrid

  • Easy-to-follow instructions

What We Don't Like
  • Quality of the cards and chips can be lacking

Combine Connect Four with poker and you get Sequence, a strategy game where the object is to place five of your chips in a row, column, or diagonal. The catch is you can only place your chip on the card that corresponds to one you have in your hand, so strategy and forward-thinking are necessary—but a little bit of luck never hurt either.

Players draw a new card after each turn—but watch out because Jacks are wild. The first one to create the sequence or sequences needed (two when you’re playing with two players or one for three players or more) wins. When you’re playing with four players or more, you’ll need to break into two teams.

While the premise seems simple, the game changes with each round as new players take their turns. "I loved this game back when I first started playing it. I love it more now. After playing with five different kids in short succession, I’ve found that it feels like a unique game each time," our tester says.

Price at time of publish: $17.97

Number of Players: 2-12 | Duration: 30 minutes | Recommended Age: 7 years and up

Best Collaborative: Asmodee Mysterium

4.7
Asmodee Mysterium

Amazon

What We Like
  • Collaborative gameplay

  • Interesting storytelling and mystery content

  • High replay value

What We Don't Like
  • Instructions may be slightly difficult to follow

Similar to Clue, players are trying to guess the person-place-weapon of the ghastly murder committed at Warwick Manor, but unlike that classic game, this time everyone is working together to solve the crime. One player is the ghost, while the others are psychics; the ghost communicates through “vision” cards while the psychics huddle together to try to interpret them correctly before time runs out. You either all win—or lose—together. Dim the lights and cue up the spooky music to set the mood for this ghostly game.

Price at time of publish: $43.98

Number of Players: 2-7 | Duration: 45 minutes | Recommended Age: 10 years and up

Best for Teens: Not Parent Approved Card Game

Not Parent Approved Card Game

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Hilarious

  • Encourages reading for young players

  • Portable

What We Don't Like
  • Some content may be inappropriate for young kids

This card game for kids was inspired by Cards Against Humanity, but unlike that popular game, this is 100% family-friendly—as long as your family is the kind to make fart jokes, that is. Kids will want to play it for the name alone and they—and you—will crack up as you compete to answer the fill-in-the-blank question with the funniest response. One example: Dear substitute teacher, would you please stop ________?

Ironically, Not Parent Approved is a Scholastic Gold Star Toy Award Winner as it encourages kids to read, which sounds pretty parent-approvable to us. Another plus is that it’s totally portable, so you don't need a big table and lots of space to play it.

Price at time of publish: $29.99

Number of Players: 4-10 | Duration: 6-60 minutes | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

Best Strategy : Catan Studio Catan

4.8
Catan
What We Like
  • Strategy based

  • High replay value

  • Interesting game board design

What We Don't Like
  • There is a learning curve for first-time players

Fans of Minecraft will appreciate Catan, a board game where you build civilizations complete with settlements, cities, roads, and armies and need to stay on the lookout for the robber. On each turn, players roll the dice to get resources that enable them to build either a new settlement or upgrade their current ones. Each house counts as one point (you start with two houses), and the first person to get to ten points wins, though, of course, it’s not quite that simple.

Strategy is required to plan the best places to build and there are additional ways to pick up points, including buying development cards and being the first to build an army. One reviewer calls this the “Candyland of strategy games” noting that it’s easy to pick up and master. "The beautifully designed, intricate, adjustable board pieces and lovely cards, as well as the absorbing complexity of the game all warrant the higher price," they added.

Price at time of publish: $47.99

Number of Players: 3-4 | Duration: 60 minutes | Recommended Age: 10 years and up

Catan board game

The Spruce / Margot Cavin​

Best for Kids: Hasbro Guess Who Classic

Hasbro Guess Who Classic

The Toy Shop 

What We Like
  • Perfect for tow players

  • Easy to learn

  • Updated characters with diversity in mind

What We Don't Like
  • Some say there are many characters who look similar, making the game more difficult

Guess Who is a two-player game that’s a smart introduction for your children to the world of strategy games—and it’s so easy to pick up the rules, kids can play it by themselves, with no adult supervision required.

The object of the game is to figure out the other player’s selected character by asking yes or no questions—the first person to get it right wins. A question might be, for example, “Is your person wearing a hat?” If the answer is no, all the characters with hats get flipped over and so on until there’s only one person standing.

If you played this when you were a kid, you’ll appreciate that the updated version includes more female characters and more people of color.

Price at time of publish: $11.97

Number of Players: 2 | Duration: 5-10 minutes | Recommended Age: 6 years and up

Best for Adults: Exploding Kittens NSFW Board Game

Exploding Kittens
Exploding Kittens.

 Target

What We Like
  • Hilarious expansion

  • Luck based

  • Easy-to-follow instructions

What We Don't Like
  • Content may be offensive to some players

The original version is the most funded game on Kickstarter ever, with more than 9 million copies sold and tens of thousands of five-star reviews to back up why it’s such a hit. Amp up the fun—and the giggles—even more with this adults-only version.

Like the original, the NSFW version features the distinctive artwork from The Oatmeal (only this time it’s in a distinctively not family-friendly way) and is played in the same way—you’re trying to avoid drawing the “Exploding Kittens” card while aiming to arm yourself with the diffuse cards. One reviewer called it “perfectly crass and absurd.”

Price at time of publish: $19.99

Number of Players: 2-5 | Duration: 15 minutes | Recommended Age: 17 years and up

Best for Families : Days of Wonder Ticket To Ride

4.5
ticket-to-ride

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy instructions

  • Competitive

  • Engaging for various ages

What We Don't Like
  • Not a quick game

It can be difficult finding a game the whole family will enjoy for game nights, but Days of Wonder's Ticket to Ride checks all of our boxes. It's strategic, competitive, easy to learn, and engaging for all different ages. Players compete for railroad routes through North America to connect major cities and resources. The real fun begins when paths get intercepted or blocked by other players, resulting in a little healthy family competition.

While the youngest family members can't get in on the fun just yet, everyone over 8 years old will love trying out new strategies with each game. Be warned, Ticket to Ride can last over an hour, so small attention spans beware. But, with intricate maps and engaging gameplay, you'll be reaching for this game again and again.

Price at time of publish: $48

Number of Players: 2-5 | Duration: 30-60 minutes | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

Best Solo : The City of Games The Isle of Cats

The City of Games Isle of Cats

The City of Games

What We Like
  • Simple instructions

  • Beautiful game design

  • Can be played solo or with others

What We Don't Like
  • Lots of small pieces may be hard to keep track of

Solo gamers and cat lovers alike will love this adorable game from City of Games. Isle of Cats challenges you to save as many cats as possible by fitting them into your boat Tetris-style. But, be sure to save room for resources and ancient treasures from the island to bring back home as well.

Players also fish, explore the island, and learn fun lessons along the way. While it can be played with up to four players, this game is perfect for solo play on rainy days. The board design is beautiful and the pieces are high-quality, making for a peaceful and versatile gaming experience.

Price at time of publish: $30

Number of Players: 1-4 | Duration: Not Listed | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

Best for Parties : Repos Production Concept

Repos Production Concept

Repos Production

What We Like
  • Accommodates many players

  • Three difficulty levels

  • Challenges problem-solving skills

What We Don't Like
  • Can be frustrating for young kids

Concept is the perfect game to play at your next party or gathering. Players combine images and symbols to try and guess people, places, and things. Teams and individual players receive points with each correct guess, and the player with the most points wins. While the game is technically for up to 12 players, the team-based style means even more people can easily get in on the fun with some light rule adjustments.

There are three difficulty levels, which ensures kids and adults can enjoy the game equally. Concept challenges your quick-thinking and problem-solving skills while being high-energy and tons of fun. There's also a kids-only version, perfect for birthday parties or playdates.

Price at time of publish: $36

Number of Players: 2-12 | Duration: 40 minutes | Recommended Age: 4 years and up

Best for Toddlers : Educational Insights The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

Educational Insights The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

Educational Insights

What We Like
  • Fosters fine motor skills

  • Fun artwork

  • No reading required

What We Don't Like
  • Involves small pieces

Board games are a great way to foster social, problem-solving, and memory skills in toddlers in a fun and entertaining way. Educational Insights' The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game challenges young ones to spin the spinner and match the right color acorn with their log. They'll practice taking turns, sharing, and winning and losing gracefully. Plus, it helps kids foster their fine motor skills

There's no reading required, but little ones will still need an adult leading the way. It's a great bonding game with easy-to-understand instructions and a quick playtime. Just be beware of the small pieces, especially with young children.

Price at time of publish: $11

Number of Players: 2-4 | Duration: Not Listed | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

Best for Couples : Hush Hush Projects Fog of Love

Hush Hush Projects Fog of Love

Hush Hush Projects

What We Like
  • Endless outcomes and possibilities

  • Unique concept

  • Storytelling-based

What We Don't Like
  • Can't have more than two players

On your next date night, consider this game from Hush Hush Projects that puts a pretend relationship to the test in the form of a board game. Fog of Love tells the tale of two fictional characters (played by two real players), and challenges them to make a nonconventional relationship work through trials and tribulations.

With small decisions, the fate of your relationship changes, making for a fresh game every time. There are endless possibilities for choices and outcomes to discover. Couples will love becoming someone new for an hour or two to work out fake problems that hopefully put some real conflicts into perspective.

Price at time of publish: $50

Number of Players: 2 | Duration: 60-120 minutes | Recommended Age: 17 years and up

Final Verdict

For a universally beloved board game everyone should have on their shelves, we recommend Monopoly. It's suitable for various ages, requires skill and luck, and teaches money and real estate basics to young ones. For large groups, we love Codename. The social game proves high-energy and the quick rounds can be played over and over again.

What to Look For in Board Games

Run Time

While many board games have a reputation for being notoriously long, there are plenty that can be played in less than half an hour as well. When looking for a board game, consider how long you want it to be. If you're looking for an hours-long activity, consider a strategy game. But if you want something short and sweet, look for a fast-paced party or collaborative game.

Number of Players

Don't buy a board game if you'll rarely have enough people to play it. If you're hosting board game parties weekly, or you like to pull one out after dinner with friends, look for games that are best for 4-6. However, if you're looking for a fun game that you and your significant other can play on the regular, pick one that's best for 2 players.

Variety

If you're looking for a board game you'll be able to play regularly, make sure that the game has plenty of variety or potential for expansions down the road. If not, a board game with the same few outcomes can get old fast.

FAQ
  • How do you store board games?

    One or two board games can often be easily tucked away on a shelf or in an entertainment cabinet. But if you're looking to start a collection, it's time to upgrade from shoving them in the back of your spare closet. Consider purchasing a board game cabinet or designating a storage area near where you play them that's strictly for board games.

  • How do you organize board games?

    To keep your board games organized, you'll first need to make sure all the game pieces are in small bags or containers inside the game if they're not already. Next, make sure the game has all its pieces. Additionally, if the board game box is tearing at the seams, replace it with a labeled plastic shoe box. Finally, sort them A-Z or by color on your shelf.

  • Who invented board games?

    Board games have been around for millennia, and have been played by ancient civilizations the world over. The oldest known (and still-playable) board game was played in ancient Mesopotamia 4,500 years ago and is called the Royal Game of Ur. You can still buy replicas of it today.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Anne Fritz is a lifestyle writer for The Spruce. Her work has appeared in several media outlets such as Reader's Digest, Cosmopolitan, Patch, In Style, Insider, SELF Magazine, Everyday Health, Refinery29, Aol.com, and Men's Journal. Additional reporting was done by Rabekah Henderson, a freelance design and decor writer whose work has appeared on MyDomaine, Atomic Ranch, Cary Magazine, and American Farmhouse Style.

Updated by
Rabekah Henderson
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Rabekah Henderson is an NC-based contributing writer for The Spruce covering design, decor, and all things home.
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Julia Fields
Julia Fields The Spruce

Julia is the Assistant Commerce Editor at The Spruce, covering all things toys, gifts, and holiday. She studied English and minored in Journalism and Gender and Sexuality Studies at New York University. 

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  1. Put boredom to bed with any of these adult-friendly board games. Gear Patrol. https://www.gearpatrol.com/home/g38819433/best-board-games-for-adults/

  2. The 12 best board games for surviving the post-holiday quarantine. Refinery29. https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/best-board-games-for-adults#slide-8

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