The 6 Best Storytelling Games to Buy in 2018

Playing will leave you with a tale to tell

Mother telling stories to children on picnic blanket
Westend61 / Getty Images

Spinning a story is a surefire way to keep yourself or a group entertained, and there are a number of great storytelling games to help you get the adventure started. Some of the best storytelling games are competitive by design — encouraging you to get creative to earn points or win the round. Other storytelling games are just for fun, and everyone wins by participating in the tall tales or being entertained as a listener. Whether you follow the rules or make up your own is up to you; the...MORE important thing is to have fun and let your imagination run wild.

Some storytelling board games feature beautiful artwork, such as Above & Below — a popular adventure storytelling game. Another game, Tall Tales, comes with dozens of game pieces that include animals and objects that give visual inspiration to storytellers. Several of the most popular storytelling games don’t require a board and are ready for camping and travel — like Rory’s Story Cubes, Loquato Story Slam or Once Upon a Time. Pick up one of these storytelling games, then invite your friends and family for a game night that will leave you with a tale to tell.

  • Best Overall: Once Upon a Time

    One of the most well-loved storytelling games is Once Upon a Time by Atlas Games. Thanks to simple but imaginative gameplay, it has earned the spot of best overall storytelling game.

    Once Upon a Time is a card-based storytelling game that allows the imagination of players to shine while random card selection tests creative thinking skills. Various cards with plot points and endings are dealt to each player and then one player begins telling a story with their cards. Other players can take over...MORE storytelling by playing a matching plot point card. Each player attempts to steer the story according to their plot cards and ultimately toward their ending card. The first player to play all cards in their hand wins.

    What people love about the game is the fact that it has clear direction and rules of play without being overly competitive. It’s perfect for players of all ages and entertains both kids and adults. Choose Once Upon a Time for your next game night and be entertained by the unusual, memorable, and funny tales that result.

  • Best Budget: Rory’s Story Cubes

    For storytelling fun on a shoestring budget, pick up a set of Rory’s Story Cubes.

    This game revolves around rolling a set of six-sided dice that together are imprinted with 54 images and thousands of combinations. While there are no specific rules on how to use the dice, one suggested mode of gameplay is for each player to roll all nine dice and incorporate the images into a cohesive story that earns points for delivery, humor or creativity. For more collaborative storytelling, each player can...MORE roll a cube and add a piece of the story based on the image displayed on their turn. Another suggested game is to place the nine cubes in a square, then for each row of three turn the dice to have a common theme. Let other players guess the theme you had in mind for each row.

    This game can be played by everyone age 8 and up and is a good option for a storytelling game for travel. For even more fun and expanded storylines, you can also buy add-on cubes that feature actions, voyages, and other subjects. Even with a small budget, you can have big storytelling game fun with Rory’s Story Cubes.

  • Best for the Family: Tall Tales Storytelling Board Game

    If you’re looking for a storytelling game to capture the minds of family members old and young, then the Tall Tales Storytelling Board Game is a great choice.

    This game features multiple modes of play, an array of fun game pieces and story cards to get the ball rolling. The set includes 50 game pieces, and many families have expanded the storytelling opportunities by incorporating small objects or toys from around the house. A simple version of the game involves drawing eight story pieces from...MORE the bag, choosing one story card, and then weaving a tall tale that uses all eight pieces in the setting depicted on the story card.

    As with many other storytelling games, there is not a clear path toward winning the game. Instead, the tale itself is the prize for all participants. Of course, you can always craft your own point system to award each story for creativity and humor. One thing to note about this game is the fact that no reading is required, which makes it a good option for families with children too young to read. It's appropriate for everyone age 4 and up.

  • Best Card Game: Loquato Story Slam

    For a storytelling card game to get the creative juices flowing, check out Loquato Story Slam.

    This deck of 350 cards includes some that set the scene of the story and others that provide interesting and challenging plot twists. Gather a group and let the tale unfold as you each take turns incorporating plot twists or use the deck for some solo storytelling fun. Either way, the Story Slam card game is guaranteed to get your wheels turning and the stories flowing.

    Reviewers say they have used the...MORE cards as a game at home or in the classroom, and the subject matter is suitable for all ages; it's recommended for pre-teenagers and older. Given that this storytelling card game is ultra-portable, we recommend it for road-trips, camping or other places where a board game would be tough to play. You'll enjoy laughter and creativity with the Loquato Story Slam card game.

    Check out our guide to the best card games you can buy today. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • Above and Below Board Game

    Best Adventure: Above & Below Board Game

    For a storytelling game that immerses players in a make-believe world of adventure filled with decisions, the Above & Below board game is a top choice.

    Above & Below allows each player to embark on a mission to build a village and explore caves while managing resources and assigning tasks in a way that earns rewards and points. Each player manages their own game board and is presented with different story scenarios that require decisions to further the adventure. At the end of the game,...MORE the winner is the player with the most points.

    This game has been described as a “choose your own adventure” type of game, and each time you play you’ll experience a different story. The game can be played with up to four people and usually lasts about 90 minutes. Because of some of the more intricate gameplay, it’s recommended for older children and adults. Players comment on the fact that the artwork is beautiful and the stories are interesting. If you like a storytelling game that immerses you in a world of make-believe, you’ll like Above & Below.

  • Best Educational: Mad Libs the Game

    Mad Libs has long been popular for teaching grammar while spinning silly stories. This popular learning tool now has an educational storytelling game that is both fun for children and easy to learn.

    The game of Mad Libs includes 200 cards with words and 42 sentence cards. Players are dealt seven word cards and then a sentence card is turned face up in the middle. Each player selects word cards from their hand to complete the sentence with the various parts of speech needed. Players then take...MORE turns reading the sentence and everyone votes for the funniest sentence. The first person to have their sentence chosen three times wins the game.

    The game gets mixed reviews for the level of fun it provides. Some people say they thought the sentences weren’t as funny as the stories created in the original form of Mad Libs. But most younger children seem to especially enjoy the game, and parents comment on how it helps to teach the parts of speech. The mix of words seems to be reasonably challenging as well, with words like "gibberish" and "haste" that will expand your child’s vocabulary. For an educational storytelling game, Mad Libs brings the classic experience to a deck of cards that will teach your children while making them giggle.

At The Spruce, our Expert writers are committed to researching and writing thoughtful and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your life and your family. If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission. Learn more about our review process.