12 Board Games for College Kids and Young Adults

Great Games From Quelf to Pandemic

A group of friends playing a board game

MATJAZ SLANIC / Getty Images

Parcheesi may have entertained our grandparents, but board games are enjoying an enormous resurgence, thanks to games such as the simple, but hilarious Apples to Apples and fabulously bizarre Quelf. Here's a list of favorite board games guaranteed to please young adults, college kids, and 20- somethings, and also wow the dorm crowd.

  • 01 of 12

    Quelf

    Quelf board game
    Quelf. Photo from Amazon

    This incredibly funny, fast-paced game is perfect for playing with friends and loved ones of all ages, teens to grandparents. There’s no learning curve. Just open the box, pick a character—Queen Spatula, perhaps, or Super Ninja Monkey—and prepare for a wild ride. Depending on your cards, you may find yourself wearing an impromptu snorkel while battling bees, singing operatic arias in a made-up language, or rapping about tomato soup. Needless to say, the game is wildly popular among teens and college kids.

  • 02 of 12

    Apples to Apples

    Apples to Apples game
    Photo from Amazon

    Apples to Apples is so beloved by the teen and 20-something crowd, many families use it as the gold standard by which they judge all other board games. In this dorm-pleaser, players are dealt seven nouns—places, faces or pop culture icons—and compete to pair them with an adjective card supplied by a highly subjective judge, who awards points based on entertainment value. The result is a hilarious, easy-to-learn game that quickly draws a crowd.

  • 03 of 12

    Cards Against Humanity

    Cards Against Humanity game.

    Jackie Burrell

    This rollicking, edgy and hilarious card game for college kids and 20-somethings is clearly inspired by the ever-popular Apples to Apples, at least in terms of game play: You match cards for comic effect and the most hilarious combination wins. But where Apples has you pairing nouns and adjectives, Humanity's cards offer questions and answers of the most outrageous sort. Best of all, you can download the cards and make the game yourself.

  • 04 of 12

    Forbidden Island

    Forbidden Island board game
    Photo from Amazon

    Cards Against Humanity may offer plenty of raucous amusement, but cooperative games like Forbidden Island wile away the hours with a different sort of fun. It takes teamwork to rescue the four sacred treasures—the Crystal of Fire, Ocean's Chalice, the Earth Stone, and the Statue of the Wind—hidden on the mystical Forbidden Island before it sinks beneath the waves. It's a breathless mad dash of a game and completely un-winnable unless all the players work together. Big. Fun.

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  • 05 of 12

    Settlers of Catan

    Settlers of Catan board game

    Jackie Burrell

    When it comes to board games, few have the fanatical teen and young adult following of Settlers of Catan. Would-be Settlers conquer territory on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities and roads across a variable playing field comprised of 19 hexagonal tiles. Big fun—and very addictive. In fact, the award-winning strategy game is so popular, game shops hold regular Settlers of Catan nights for teen and adult players. So do some dorms. And a Settlers of Catan party is a great theme for any board game night.

  • 06 of 12

    Pandemic

    Pandemic board game

    Photo from Amazon

    Players take on the role of CDC scientists in this highly addictive game for teens and grown-ups. Here, everyone works together, racing to quell plague breakouts before pandemics erupt on a global scale. Don't worry, it's only the entire fate of the human race in your hands. It takes the first round or two to grasp the rules, then it's game on.

  • 07 of 12

    Invasion from Outer Space

    Invasion from Outer Space board game

    Jackie Burrell

    Is there anything better than an evening spent with dorm buddies, immersed in a cheesy sci-fi horror flick? Well, yes: playing a great dorm board game inspired by cheesy sci-fi horror flicks. Because what could be more fun than saving humanity from Martian attack while wearing a tutu and dancing on a ball? Invasion from Outer Space's game board is a modular meadow of amusement park rides, a fun house and other carnival attractions—perfect for a do-or-die battle against plastic aliens. It's silly, addictive fun with plenty of room for collaborative strategizing, plot twists and scenario shifts.

  • 08 of 12

    Ticket to Ride

    Ticket to Ride board game
    Photo from Amazon

    Deceptively simple and highly addictive, Ticket to Ride is a perfect game for the college crowd—entertaining to play with just two people but fun with a crowd as well. According to the game's backstory, a group of friends has gathered in 1900 to celebrate the anniversary of Phileas Fogg's fictional, epic race around the world—and issue a new challenge involving railroads and a breathless, week-long race.

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  • 09 of 12

    Gloom

    Gloom board game

    Jackie Burrell

    This hilarious card game is tailor-made for grown-up Lemony Snicket fans. The idea? Players compete to make their characters—a dubious family of five—as miserable as possible by having them terrorized by topiaries and menaced by mice, while making their opponents' "families" as happy as possible. It's the perfect game for a pair of stressed-out roommates—or a quartet of them—to play. More players? There are expansion packs available too.

  • 10 of 12

    Last Night on Earth

    Last Night on Earth board game

    Jackie Burrell

    A zombie board game? Last Night on Earth is a particularly fun take on the battle between humans and flesh-eating, undead hordes. It offers enough mid-game twists, strategic challenges and fast-paced fun to keep any group of zombie fans delighted.

  • 11 of 12

    The Game of Things

    Game of Things game
    Photo from Amazon

    The zany Game of Things takes all the good things about the old Loaded Questions game and kicks it up so many notches, there's just no comparison. The topic cards are absolutely hilarious. And best of all, there's no pesky game board trying to direct you to some boring question category.

  • 12 of 12

    Tiki Topple

    Tiki Topple board game
    Courtesy Gamewright

    This fast-paced, tactical game features strategy, betrayal and the undeniable allure of little plastic tiki heads. Maneuver your tikis into a super secret combination, while sabotaging fellow players' efforts to do the same, and you might advance your own totem around the board. Fail and you'll just have to play this wildly addictive game again.