Great board games for every group

October 18 | the_kellbot
The Settlers of Catan in action.
The Settlers of Catan in action.

Tabletop gaming is huge right now. Once relegated to children and uber-nerds, board games have gone mainstream. If you're looking to add some tabletop fun to your next get-together, here are 11 games that will appeal to a wide range of interests.

Settlers of Catan

If you love competitive strategy games like RISK but don't have the attention span for an all-day game, Settlers of Catan may be up your alley. The randomized board makes each game a new challenge.

Best with 3 – 4 players, Ages 8+
Also check out: Ticket to Ride, Carcassone

Castle panic

If you're in the mood for cooperative instead of competitive, check out Castle Panic. Up to 6 players work together to protect the castle from monsters. Accolades are given to the "Master Slayer," but you'll win (or lose) as a group.

1 – 6 players, Ages 10+
Also check out: Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft

Munchkin

Munchkin has many of the game mechanics and fantasy of a roleplaying game like Dungeons and Dragons, but without the actual role playing. It's super silly and easy to learn.

3 – 6 players, Ages 10+
Also check out: Zombies!!!

Pandemic

In Pandemic you save a world overrun by disease by working together. Playing cooperatively, the game ends when you either find the cure or all die from it. Each game takes about an hour.

2-4 Players, Ages 10+
Also check out: Arkham Horror

Bananagrams

This word game is a little like a fast-paced version of Scrabble. A big vocabulary is not necessary to play, making it a great game that kids can adults can enjoy together. Bananagrams is stored in an adorable banana shaped zipper pouch.

Best with 2 – 7 players, Ages 7+
Also check out: Boggle

Fluxx

Fluxx is a card came where the rules, including how to win, change as you play. It arguably involves more luck than strategy, but it's a fun game you can learn almost instantly making it perfect for mid-sized groups. Multiple expansion packs are available to tweak the gameplay.

2 – 6 people, Ages 8+
Also check out: Chrononauts

Hoopla

Hoopla is a cooperative take on the original Cranium, and can be easily played on teams if you have a larger group. It's part Pictionary, part charades, and part wordplay. The group works together to beat the clock, which can be a great way to side-step any groups with uber competitors or sore losers.

2 – 8 players or teams, 13+
Also check out: Cranium

Trivial Pursuit: Bet You Know It

Bet you Know It is a twist on Trivial Pursuit which invites everyone to bet points on whether a player will answer a question correctly or not. Points can be traded for pie wedges, making it possible win the game even if they've got some gaps in their trivia knowledge. The game supports up to 6 players, but larger groups can be split into teams.

4 – 6 players or teams, Ages 16+
Also check out: Wits & Wagers

Zombie Dice

Roll dice. Eat brains. Win! Zombie Dice is a fast paced game that can be played with almost an unlimited number of people. Like Bananagrams, it's another compact game that can be kept in your bag for anytime gaming.

2 – 100 players, Ages 6+
Also check out: Cthulhu dice

Cards Against Humanity

This Kickstarter-spawned game is the formalization of something we were already doing with Apples to Apples: combining nouns and adjectives in ways that show we're really horrible people. Cards Against Humanity kicks it up a notch with words and phrases that are decidedly adult-only with cards like "German dungeon porn."

3 or more players, ages 18+
Also check out: Apples to Apples

Ultimate Werewolf

Ultimate Werewolf is a polished and expanded version of the game Mafia. The population tries to suss out which players are werewolves – and kill them first. Debate can get heated, which can either be a source of entertainment or stress depending on your friends, but it's a great game to break the ice when you're mixing social circles.

5 – 70 players, Ages 8+
Also check out: Are You the Traitor

What are some of your favorite tabletop games?

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  1. My friends and I are obsessed with Cards Against Humanity. This game is a good way to weed out people who are too sensitive to appreciate how horrible we all really are…

    13 agree
    • If you like Cards Against Humanity, you might like Snake Oil. It requires a little more imagination & a sales pitch, but it's really good.

    • After playing Apples to Apples for years where the most sarcastic or terrible card would win, it was an easy transition to Cards Against Humanity.

      6 agree
      • Apples to Apples is also really fun and interesting to play if you are teaching English and have semi-advanced or intermediate learners (or if you want to educate your non-native English speaking friends!). A great way to work with language and culture.

        • My mother uses Apples to Apples in her English as a Second Language classes!

          3 agree
    • Just attended a conference a few weeks ago and someone had brought Cards Against Humanity. Really great way to break the ice in the hospitality suit! Great for large or fluctuating groups, as you can hop in or out of the game every round. Confirmed that zoo keepers across the country are all horrible, horrible people.

      2 agree
  2. Tons of these have been played on Geek & Sundry's Tabletop, but there are some other fun ones not featured here that they've played too. Zombie Dice is one of my favorites (good short attention span game), and was played with Get Bit and Tsuro (another favorite!) on one episode.

    I guess what I'm saying is: all these games are super fun, and check out Tabletop to get more gaming ideas?

    4 agree
    • I agree! Watching Tabletop has really exposed me to a lot of great games, including many of the ones on this list.

      Based just on watching Tabletop, I recently bought Tsuro as a gift for someone I was visiting. It was so much fun to play and worked out so well as a gift.

      I am aching to try Zombie Dice and Ticket to Ride, based also on Tabletop and now this post too!

      2 agree
  3. Settlers of Cattan took my family by storm – when it came out, it became a regular fixture after all family (holiday) meals, and any other time we were together, including those evenings we got together just for that very purpose (okay and some beer). It faded off in the last year or two, but my sister has just introduced us to Carcassonne which is similar, but certainly not the same.
    It seemed slightly complicated to learn at first, but I almost won my first game, and it was VERY late and I was rather drunk, so I'm sure it would be more straight-forward for most. I proceded to dream vividly about it that night, and wanted to play again so badly that we tried to play it the next day in the back of a moving camper van… This did not go well, but we had all sorts of brainstorms about metallic table tops and magnets…
    Edited to add: One other nice thing about Carcassone is that it can be played with only 2 people!

    2 agree
  4. My two favorite games are Agricola and Dominion. Both are a fair bit nerdier than these (i.e., I wouldn't play them with a gaming newbie for fear of scaring them off).

    In Agricola, each player independently works to build and support a farm. Each turn, you choose which resources you want to collect and which actions (expand your house so you can house more workers, purchase animals, plant new fields, etc.) to take. The basic question of the game is how to balance expansion with enough production to support your expansion. There's no interaction between players, which I like; it's not dependent on making good trades.

    Dominion is a deck-building game. Each turn, you use the cards in your hand to purchase more cards. Cards give you victory points, money (that you use to buy more cards) or special abilities. The basic question of the game is when to shift from purchasing cards that give you the ability to get more cards (either through money or special abilities) to purchasing cards that give you points. There can be a LOT of special ability cards, so it can be slow and confusing for new players, but because it is essentially a solitaire game (you're just executing your own plan, not interacting with other players – unless you're using an expansion deck that involves interactions) it can be player with people of varying experience.

    And then there's Race for the Galaxy, which is needlessly confusing but really, really fun when you (finally) understand how it works. But I'm not going to lie: I cried during the first three or four games I played because I just could not figure out how it worked.

    fuuuuuuuun.

    7 agree
    • I LOVE Dominion!!!! I can't stand Pandemic, don't get the point of collective games.

      Lost Cities is a fun two person game.

      2 agree
    • Maybe it's just because I haven't played Dominion enough, or because I keep playing with people who play often (so they know all the cards and have a better strategy than I do), but the solitary nature of the game is a turn-off for me. I love board games and card games of all sorts; however, I usually want to play for social reasons, and Dominion seems to be the kind of game where we don't talk much and everyone just kinda keeps to themselves and does their thing. I enjoy Settlers of Catan so much more because of the trading – it keeps us interacting (even if we don't trade with each other much for fear of making a bad trade!). I think I also got into Settlers faster because the rules seemed easier to me – there are lots of different cards to learn and understand in Dominion, especially with all the awesome expansion packs! That being said, I think it's totally dependent on whom you're playing with. If trading/interacting games like Settlers aren't a good idea with certain friends, then Dominion is a great game!

    • Huge fan of Dominion here! We have a group of 3 that consistently play, and between us we have all the expansions. We've taught a few people to play, and while it's not very fun for them to play with people who've played the game so much, they always end up enjoying it.

      The most common thing I've heard while teaching new people to play is apologizing for taking so long. We always express that it's good to take your time on a turn to ensure you read the cards right. Each game brings a new perspective to a card, and that's really fun!

      1 agrees
  5. Oh, and I'm probably the only board game nerd to say this: I really hate Settlers. It swept the gaming world before I got into games, so I'm not worn out by it in the same way that some older gamers are; I just never liked it. I just really hate trading games.

    8 agree
    • No, I got really burned out on it, and I didn't even play that much (compared to how I've heard other friend groups played it). That game just makes me angry like no other, what with all the ways to directly screw people over, and I've decided I can no longer play it, especially with my boyfriend. I'm also still bitter about this one time when I would have won by 3 or 4 points (which is a lot) unless I rolled a 7 that turn.

      Guess what I rolled.

      Yeah, you're not the only one.

      3 agree
    • I'm with you. My husband and I were introduced to Settlers, by sheer luck really, before it became popular. It has caused many fights between all sorts of people. It's purely dice dependent and that can drive one nuts!

      You could imagine our surprise when we received Settlers of Catan: Star Trek as a "family present" 😉

    • I used to really hate Settlers, which was bad for me because all my relatives LOVED IT.

      I'll play now, especially since my husband and I got the Star Trek version, but it's never even an option when it's my turn to choose the game.

  6. Wait, what are my favorite tabletop games? Or what are the games that appeal to a wide range of people? Because if I'm having people over who don't play a lot of board games:

    Smallworld-groups of fantasy races attempt to take over the world/board, to keep it balanced races get randomly assigned special powers, like "dragonmaster" or "commando".

    Red November- you play gnomes on a submarine, and things keep going wrong, your
    engines overheat, rooms flood,the more time you spend fixing thing, the more likely things will go wrong. If you last long enough a kraken attacks, all you have to do is survive an hour while rescue comes (I should mention that your gnome has the option of using alcohol to do things like run into a room that's on fire).

    or Tokaido– a beautiful, gentle game about going on the best walk from Kyoto to Tokyo, appreciating views, visiting temples, getting souvenirs, eating delicious food.

    But once I've convinced you that board games are awesome, we'll break out the games with the large rule books and a million small pieces (Hello Mansions of Madness and Election: 1960).

    Oh! Also, Arkham Horror is a great game, but it does have A LOT of rules and components (off the top of my head I can think of maybe ten individual decks of cards, for example). It's totally neat (does provide the opportunity to punch Cthulhu in the face), but maybe not for everyone.

    5 agree
      • We own Arkham Horror (with King in Yellow expansion also Innsmouth expansion), Elder Sign AND Mansions of Madness. We're doing our part to keep Fantasy Flight in business.

        I like Elder Sign because it's all fight mechanic (yay dice rolling!), but I like Mansions of Madness because it's all story (a TON of set up, but then it's so narrative, which is pretty awesome). All of these games are set in the same world (Lovecraft) with the same characters.

        …We own a lot of board games (like a bookshelf worth, a tall bookshelf).

        1 agrees
    • I love arkham horror so much. Some friends have it and it is always my choice for board game night at their house. You have to love the cooperative game where the odds are hopeless thing, but I really do.

      1 agrees
    • Actually, I prefer Mansions of Madness over both Arkham Horror and Elder Sign. It is in depth without being crazy like Arkham Horror, and almost always tells a good, thrilling story of close calls and going insane… Maybe check it out if you like the Lovecraftian theme.

  7. Pandemic is my favorite board game ever! I love that we are all playing together against the board.

    4 agree
    • A fun variation we've come up with at my house is to play open-hand, but not tell each other what we're planning to do. You have to do things like arrive in a city and hope someone realizes you want their city card and go there too. Makes it tougher if you tend to win too often. 🙂

    • I was just looking at Pandemic and wondering if it would be possible to play with a larger group (5-8 people) of slightly drunk adults (26-34). Do you have any insight you could offer?

      • I would say not really, sorry. If you want a cool co-op game for that many, try Arkham Horror, but you can't get too drunk for that. Otherwise any social game for large groups is better when slightly drunk.

      • Personally I found Arkham Horror too complicated to learn when slightly drunk. Maybe if I already knew the rules… but with more than four players I found it to really slow down a lot. But if you want a fun co-op game (with a secret traitor!) for 3-7 players, you could play Shadows Over Camelot. Of course, the Resistance is fun for parties, but it's not everyone against a board. Oh, oh! And Mascarade (yes, spelled that way) is lots of fun in general, and can be played with up to 12 people, I think. And then Galaxy Trucker (with the expansions) everyone plays separately to really quickly build a spaceship and then you all fly through space and bad things happen to everyone, and it's generally hilarious and fun.

        So many good games for a group of people! I wish I had more friends….

  8. most of our board gaming is as a couple, so we're always on the lookout for games that are still fun with two people. right now our favorite is "ticket to ride." though we also just got "smallworld" which has been a bit harder to learn, but lots of fun. we also play a lot of…this block game i can't remember the name of where you have to build the picture on the cards within a time limit (we store all our games in lunchboxes, and call them things like "blocks" and "trains" and "bananas" so it's hard to remember their real names =).

    but most of our friends aren't as big of game nerds as us, so our go-to party game is "apples to apples," followed closely by "balderdash." apples to apples is nice because it's so simple and it's really a card game, which for some reason is less intimidating to people who don't play games much.

    2 agree
      • We LOVE Ticket to Ride! At first it seemed complicated because there are a lot of pieces and cards, but we caught on really quickly. Pandemic stresses me out.

    • Guillotine is an awesome game for couples or groups. I love it, despite not usually being much of a card game person. Check it out! It's super easy to learn.

      5 agree
    • Yes to Balderdash! We have Slangteasers (essentially the exact same game) and it has worked so well when playing with family friends of a many ages. Everyone from the 11 year old kids to the parents could play together and enjoy it.

  9. Oh, dear. Just in the past week or two I've been finally admitting to myself that I just don't like a lot of board games that much, even though it's just about the only damn social activity people my age do around here (Silicon Valley). I can certainly appreciate that you've chosen a wide variety of good games, though. For me most of the trouble is games where people can directly target and attack each other, as opposed to everyone working towards outdoing other people in some task or working towards a common goal.

    For people like me who get frustrated with things like Settlers, or even don't want to strategize too hard when you're surrounded by people who do, here are some games I enjoy playing some of the time.

    -Galaxy Trucker: For each of three rounds, you have limited time to build a piecemeal space ship, and then you must weather things like meteor storms, smugglers, and deep space drag races while delivering as much cargo as possible without your ship totally falling apart. Silly enough that I don't take it too seriously.

    -Seven Wonders: A drafting game with a lot of different facets to focus on while building up your civilization. You can try to calculate points along the way, but that takes too much energy for me and I just do my best along the way until everything is tallied at the end. There are ways to bury cards, so there is opportunity to screw people over, but it's not terrible. I like that there are many different winning strategies.

    -Tales of the Arabian Nights: It's pretty pricey, but it's pretty much choose-your-own adventure in board game form, with an enormous storybook to go along with it. The points are kind of arbitrary and don't really matter anyway (to me); I think the wackiest story wins.

    -Saboteur: A fun party game where you're dwarves hunting for treasure but there are traitors that try to mess you up by destroying your paths or laying bad ones (I've only ever played it in huge groups where there are 3 traitors). So, cooperative, but also involves acting and bluffing, plus the ability to wreck each other's equipment.

    There's also The Resistance, which is apparently now an actual board game, though we play with a deck of cards (use black vs. red to vote, determine roles, and so on). I've heard Avalon is similar, though I've never tried it. Maybe I should look into Ultimate Werewolf, because I tend to like games like that a lot.

    My roommates are always playing board games, and many of them follow http://www.shutupandsitdown.com/ which gives board game reviews. So I'm pretty inundated. Anyone have any other tips on how to play board games with your friends without getting totally frustrated or burned out?

    ETA: Ha, that probably could have been its own post. Thanks for reading if you made it down here!

    3 agree
    • Demetri Martin summed this up pretty well: "There's so many board games with so many different titles, but I feel like they could all have the same title: Which One Of My Friends Is A Competitive Prick? … Looks like tonight we played 'Steve'!"

      I've played with people who turn into vindictive monsters when playing board games (also rules lawyers, ugh those guys), so I feel you. It's hard when people go into board games with different objectives (" I'd like to have fun with my friends", "I'd like to kill some time" and "I'd like to have fun KILLING ALL MY FRIENDS!"). My suggestions are vary the games you play, keep them short, and keep them structured (none of this we'll just play 'one more round' until everyone is exhausted and crabby).

      Cooperative games are good (Pandemic is pretty simple and it goes fairly quickly, other ones like Ghost Stories might be fun) and games that have a light tone are good (Dixit, Tokaido, I already mentioned). You might like Bang! It's like a spaghetti western, only with cards, you don't know who the other players are except the sheriff (she gets a badge), so the person next to you could be a renegade or a deputy and there are different objectives for winning depending on what your role is).

      Also, and this is hard: be willing to speak up if you're not having fun. Continuing to play a game when you're hating it is just awful for everyone. I say this as a lady who comes to board games with the idea that having fun with my friends is the goal, so if it's gotten late and we're still not done, or someone has clearly won but just not killed us completely yet, I call it. Of course I'm also willing to fudge rules if they suck fun out things.

      1 agrees
      • That's a great quote! Pretty appropriate, I think. There are people I can play with just fine because it feels like we're just hanging out, and some people where it has to be a certain type of game, or nothing at all, because I'll just end up feeling mad at them for silly reasons.

        I really like your point about different objectives while playing–my goal is usually having fun and getting to spend time with people, and almost never about a burning desire to play a particular game. To that end, I have to be in the right mindset to start, which is upbeat, sociable, and a bit detached from the game's actual outcome. If any of those are missing? Nope, it won't be fun and I'm not playing, unless it's a cooperative game or something. For Dixit, another prerequisite is that you can't be sober, at least in our house. I'll check out Bang! too.

        I am also with you about calling it, though it's sometimes considered bad form in my house. It's definitely the long games (more than an hour) that will get to me, especially if we start after 8pm. In the past I have abandoned a game to go to bed, though, and they've carried on without me just fine. These days I usually just don't play and will work on my Zelda game by the couch or heckle. 😛

      • I feel similarly, which is why I like games like Apples to Apples (or Cards Against Humanity, which is on my wish list) sooooooooo much!

        No one seems to care about winning when it comes to Apples to Apples. It's all about being who can bring someone else to helpless tears with the most evil combination possible.

        In my circles, "Hiroshima 1945" wins ANY HAND in which it is played.

    • I was just about to recommend Shut Up and Sit Down, but you beat me to it! Even if you don't like board games, those two are pretty darn funny so it's fun to watch.

      I understand how you feel. My friends and partner all REALLY enjoy playing tabletop games (board and pen-and-paper), but me not so much. I love my friends dearly, but half take them SUPER seriously and half get bored after the first hour of play and start goofing off so it causes friction, and then that One Person starts cheating…

      One, find games that YOU like. If you like playing long games like Twilight Imperium and Arkham Asylum, then awesome. If you like puzzle games, suggest those. But if you have a short attention span like I do, play only short games, or games that you can walk away from the board if you need to. Or try games that aren't board games — murder mysteries are super fun and there's not a board in sight.

      Two, limit how much you play. Their feelings will not be hurt if you turn them down every now and then so you CAN get excited about playing later in the week. My group of friends ended up having a conversation and we limit games to once or twice a month now. It's a Big Deal and we make a day or weekend out of it and cook and catch up.

      I'm a recent SoCal transplant myself, and was surprised at how much people really love to play board games out here in California. My social circle consists of a lot of gamers and devs, but some people that you wouldn't expect to love board games are in our group too. We balance out my burnout of games with movie nights, cooking big ridiculous dinners, day trips, or Rock Band nights. You might not be the only one feeling burned out in your group!

      1 agrees
      • YES to everything you said. Three of the roommates and a couple friends just started doing D&D, which, meh. It sounds they're all the goof-off types from the get-go, the way they play it. I took the chance to practice taking nice pictures of people during one of their campaigns, since they're all sitting in roughly the same spot the whole time but getting pretty animated. So it was an interesting way to observe but still be hanging out.

        There are particular games I will agree to play and enjoy, but they've gotten used to me turning them down a lot since they really like the hard core lengthy strategy games. If I suggested a different game they probably wouldn't say no, and I'll also take your advice and try to plan more non-board game events!

    • I hear you on this one. I played Dominion with awesome laid-back friends and had a ton of fun. And then I played it with a bunch of Microsofties (in Seattle) and got completely burned out because they logicked it so hard that I wasn't even playing the same game as them, and I didn't stand a chance.

      Ascension has now filled the Dominion slot for me, and I don't play with the Microsoft group anymore. (Also, I highly recommend Ascension! Lots of fun, really pretty easy to pick up, and has great replay value, and is 2-5 players, with an expansion.)

      I think the most important part is making sure that everyone playing the game has the same goal or reason for playing, like Jackie said.

      PS. I just picked up Galaxy Truckers and I'm really excited to learn it!

      • Haha, Dominion! That one is good in that it's not too mean and attack-y, except when certain cards are out. But I was eventually at a severe disadvantage with my friends for not point-counting and learning all the best combos. A couple of them got scary-good because they were playing ALL THE TIME on some unofficial server online, until it got shut down. So for me, losing all the time eventually lost its luster.

  10. We love Ticket to Ride, Snake Oil and Dixit. Snake Oil and Dixit are especially good if you need a game that's fun for a wide range of ages to play together.

    In Ticket to Ride, you collect cards in order to complete train routes between cities. It sounds boring, but there are a lot of small, incremental successes that go into winning the game, which makes it really satisfying to play a good game, even if you don't win.

    In Snake Oil, everyone has cards with random words on them. You combine those words into a product that you try to sell to a specific buyer (as an English teacher, I love that this game is all about identifying and appealing to an audience). You sell a coffin lock differently to a mortician than to a zombie, believe me. 🙂 It's been known to get raunchy when it's just adults playing, but it's really funny with the kids too. My 10-year-old daughter and five-year-old niece kill at this game!

    Dixit is sort of like Apples to Apples with pictures. The artwork in the game is gorgeous, and it's fun to play with a mixed group that's likely to understand different references. Again, it's equally fun for the kids and the grown ups to play together.

    4 agree
    • I <3 Snake Oil! I didn't think I would, because I'm a fairly shy introvert, but it's a super fun game.

      Aye, Dark Overlord is similar, but it's a story building game that uses cards. One player is the Dark Overlord — who has sent his/her minions on a mission… but they failed. Now, the minions (all other players) are dealt cards that they can use to make up reasons why it's the other minion's fault and definitely not their own. Everyone is throwing everyone else under the bus, and the stories get a little crazy as you try to tie in your cards. The round/game is over when someone gets too many "withering glares" from the Dark Overlord.

  11. I used to be a serious D&D addict. When the long term gaming started to be too much of a commitment our group switched it up to some more relaxed table top games. Firstly I would definitely second Taine's suggestion of Geek and Sundry's Tabletop for ideas. Some of our favorites are,

    Mystery Express: Basically Clue on a train. http://www.daysofwonder.com/mystery-express/en/

    Ticket to Ride: More train goodness. http://www.daysofwonder.com/tickettoride/en/

    Legitimacy: The old king has died, leaving no legitimate heir… He has, however, left several illegitimate ones. http://boardgamegeek.com/board…legitimacy

    And My Favorite
    Elder Sign: A card and dice mash up in which you get to fight Monsters. Based in the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos. http://www.fantasyflightgames.…p?eidm=168

    1 agrees
    • Lords of Waterdeep is a new game set in the D&D world that's super fun, and has one of the nicest box organizers I've ever seen.

      1 agrees
  12. I'm going to go on the record as saying that Munchkin is a fine gateway game, but there are way better games out there for groups.
    Red Dragon Inn fits the empty space nicely. You can play with up to twelve people (with expansions) and it's a fun player-elimination type game. You play characters after the raid, in the inn. You drink drinks, buy drinks for your friends, and gamble. It's really fun, super well-written (the cards and rules are very clear) and has fantastic art and humour.

    2 agree
  13. Bananagrams is great, because the games are fast fast fast and it is super easy to learn.

    also, Apples to Apples, which is like the earlier, cleaner, version of Cards Against Humanity is hilarious. Highly recommend.

    1 agrees
  14. Mice & Mystics is an awesome game that's good for adults & kids. It's a cooperative adventure game that follows along a story and requires a little role playing. I never really got into D&D (although my husband loves it), and this is kind of like D&D light; if you will. I loved it, and it gets bonus points for being pretty adorable.

    Quarriors! works like a card building game, except with dice. Each kind of die adds a new power or creature that you can use against your opponents in order to earn glory & win the game. There are so many different ways to set up & play the game, that the replay value on this feels limitless to me.

    Smash Up is a card game that I was recently introduced to, but can't wait to play again. It also works as a deck building game, but to start the game, each player picks two decks to draw from. Each deck is a "faction" like: zombies, robots, dinosaurs, aliens, pirates, ninjas, etc… so you pick a smash up, and you might choose to be Alien-Dinosaurs, Robot-Bears, or Ghost-Ninjas. Each faction has different powers and abilities, so it's a good idea to do a casual play through and familiarize yourself with a bunch of different combos. Some combos are admittedly better than others. I think in our first game, I chose ghost-robots, and my husband played zombie-bears (or maybe alien-bears?) and he stomped me! But we still had a blast. The artwork on these cards is a lot of fun, too.

    • Oh man, RoboRally! I can't play that game, not because there is anything wrong with it, but because I totally fail at Left and Right (I…walked my robot off the board TWICE in a game).

    • We love Robo Rally as well! Although we always, always,always take a lot longer to finish a round than the booklet suggests. So most of the time we just use the "duration: short" boards…

  15. I love Cards Against Humanity but need more opportunities to play it. I also love Fluxx, especially Monty Python Fluxx's new rule car that says you get an extra card for singing a few lines of a Monty Python song, or two extra cards if it's one nobody has used yet that game. But I know more Python songs than most of my friends so usually they try to get that off the table before I get too many turns with it.

  16. I can't believe no one has brought up Cheapass Games (http://www.cheapass.com/) yet!
    It is a cheap & easy way to get started, since they send you the basic game pieces, and you provide your own dice, etc (which, if you borrow from your existing games, easy-peasy).
    Devil Bunny Needs a Ham, Give Me the Brain and Ben Hurt are all quick to learn, easy and lots of silly fun.

  17. Our house has been playing a ton of Acquire recently. I'm addicted!! I like to call it "strategy-lite". At game nights, we often set up two tables…one for Dominion and one for Acquire. Players place tiles on a shared board to build corporations, and throughout the game players earn money based on how much stock they own in the corporations on the board. It sounds boring, but it's actually really fun!

  18. We changed our Apples to Apples into Assholes to Asshole by altering every lame card we come across into something dirty and profane. The best part is being able to alter the card subject, but keep the description and have it fit. For example, the card that read "chug, chug, chug" on bottom became 2 Girls, 1 Cup. The Eiffel Tower became The Awful Penis, and so on. Getting drunk while playing and always keeping a stash of sharpies on hand for last minute alterations makes for the best family game nights…once all the kids are asleep of course.

  19. Dixit! Dixit Odyssey is my favourite, and I like to pull it out when I'm about to murder our MTG playing friend for getting overly competitive in strategy games.

    1 agrees
  20. Lots of games mentioned above we love. Not yet mentioned:

    Killer Bunnies-You try to aquire bunnies and kill other people's bunnies while keeping your bunnies safe. It's definitely competitive, and fun.

    Mystery of the abbey is a little like clue, but more complex, with a medieval theme.

    Cooperative games:

    Betrayal at the House on the Hill is a mostly cooperative game in which you have to create/explore a haunted house together, until possibly someone turns evil. It's great for a decent sized group.

    Shadows over Camelot – You pick a knight of the round table, and team up to try to stop all the invasions and such happening in camelot, and if you can beat enough of the enemies (and not leave any gaps in your defense) and defend camelot, you win.

    We recently played Who Would Win, and it was one of my favorite games in a long time. Two people each pick a card representing a person, and one action card, and have twenty seconds each to make a case for who wins it. In our most recent game, I won that Stephen Hawking would beat Superman at bellydancing. Other competitions: Lassie vs. Marie Curie at Brain Surgery, King Kong vs. Jon Stewart at Standup Comedy, and more. (These are memorable cases where the non-logical person won, or a tie was reached. For instance, Lassie tied Marie Curie at brain surgery, King Kong nearly beat Jon Stewart at Standup Comedy. It's all about how well you can debate, and the other players vote on who made a stronger case.) It is my new favorite game. If you and your crowd are fast on your toes, witty, and argumentative, it's fabulous. We played with 4 people, which was good. You could probably do 3-6. More and you wouldn't get to debate often enough.

    • I was just coming here to mention Killer Bunnies! It's confusing and chaotic at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's GREAT. But yes, definitely competitive.

    • Set!! So much fun. It's a great fast game, so you can quickly play a round or two in hardly any time.

  21. Thank you, THANK YOU for this! My mother-in-law loves her board games and, admittedly, can be a bit… intense. But she's gracious in loses with new games. So, where the family is concerned, we are constantly seeking out something new. Bezzerwizzer was one we picked out (like Trivial Pursuit, but with a little bit of everything) – but it ended up poorly when my… step father-in-law(?) decided to try to change up the rules, and even more poorly when a friend involved in that game inadvertently offended my (Jewish) step father-in-law by guessing "Jew" when the word was "miser". She felt awful, she actually cried when he mentioned his offense, but the damage was done and we no longer play that game.

    So THANK YOU again for giving us ideas! We'll see where it goes, I know it's not possible to please everyone. But hope!

  22. I love how Fluxx is here. We have an orginal version before release when my husband helped beta test it at a gamer's convention. Yes we are those people. Several of these games we have and play love Zombies the game although I hate zombie movies and books (too scary for me).

    2 agree
    • I've played fluxx, zombie fluxx, pirate fluxx, and star fluxx. I think the themed versions are most fun, and I like star fluxx best of all.

  23. I always pick out a family game each Christmas to play with our adult children and their significant others. This past Christmas I bought Cards Against Humanity with only the faintest notion of the "inappropriateness". After a couple of instances of me saying, "I can't say that word!", I got over it and we had the most hilarious Christmas morning ever. We've since played it with several groups (carefully selected) and it is a hit every time. People keep begging to come play it again with us. I've bought extension packs and we are starting to make some of our own cards. This one is an absolute winner.

    1 agrees
  24. It's an oldie, but we recently redoscivered Cosmic Encounters and absolutely love it.

    We also love Cards against Humanity, but we end up always playing it with the same group of people. I feel a bit embarassed to suggest it to people I've only known as "nice", and I certainly wouldn't want to play it with anyone from work… 🙂

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  25. For non-board gamers I've found:

    DC Comics Deck Building Game by Cryptozoic rather fun because its easy and even if you are not an uber geek, you will know a lot of the characters from the movies. Its not a direct screw your friends over game (of course you can hate pick cards) but you do want to end up with the most victory points.

    Then once you play this, you can get a little geekier with the same style game with a little different twist (its only a smidge different) with

    Lord of the Rings Deck building game by Cryptozoic (again, why its only a smidge different) which will have ambush attacks on the turn player and has an "impossible mode" which is fun. Its fun to say the quotes from the movie as you play and they are coming out with 2 expax/games for each of the movies.

    THEN those deck building games gets you ready for ultimate nerdyness with one of my favs

    Ascension which I feel has more strategy then the previous 2. but some of the expaxs don't really mesh well with the core game. but you figure that out fast as you play with them.

  26. No one's mentioned King of Tokyo! It's like bad monster movies meets yahtzee, and somehow it works beautifully.

    We love Flying Frog Games- I think Last Night on Earth is our favorite, but they're all good.

    It's been mentioned, but Wil Wheaton's TableTop YouTube series is a great show to watch if you're interested in gaming.

    1 agrees
  27. We play a LOT of board games. My husband is an Aspie and board games are a great way for him to comfortably socially interact with people. Once a month we host an openhouse potluck game day. We open the front door at 9am and provide lunch. Our friends are invited to stop whenever they can for as long as they like. We ask them to bring a snack to share (cause it seems like gamers are happy unless constantly eating). We game so much we got rid of the tv and sofa in the living room area. We now have a dining table and a beautiful custom built gaming table. We have gaming space for 12 comfortably, 18 if we squeeze. That pretty impressive for a 1200 sf townhome.

  28. Qwirkle! It's so fun, and easy to learn. The bright colors are awesome, it doesn't require reading so younger kids can play, and it's easily turned into a drinking game, if that's your thing. Just make each color have it's own rule. It's like a combination of Scrabble, Uno and Dominos. My husband and I play at least twice a week after dinner!

    1 agrees
  29. Carcassonne! It's one of my favorites to play with gamers and non-gamers alike. It's one of those rare games that's actually better with two people IMO (although it works with up to 4 or 5). Rules are fairly simple, and pretty much anyone will catch on after a game or two. I originally bought it to play with my boyfriend, who is not really a board game person, and we've had a lot of fun with it. Even his family, who are mostly Monopoly/Sorry/Yahtzee people, enjoy playing a few rounds at family gatherings.

  30. My library recently held its annual Mini Comic Con. One of the vendors was from a new comic book store in my town. My husband and I went to the Grand Opening and tested out Killer Bunnies. We didn't quite understand it, but we went home and Googled it, and then bought it the next day. It's just the two of us, so it was great to find something we could play together (or with friends and family.)

  31. We board game every week with a group of friends. It's a great way to stay connected as adults.

    We've played most of these.

    We also love 7 Wonders, Sentinels of the Multiverse, the new Firefly game, Galaxy Trucker and Space Alert. Oh, and Dominion is really cool and endlessly variable.

    Galaxy Trucker is hilarious and so much fun. Space Alert is a cooperative game set in the same universe.

    Sentinels is cooperative and is a deck of cards based game.

    7 Wonders is a good intro game.

  32. So awesome to see all this activity for table top games! A great way to pass the time with friends!

    Our favorites are Dominion, Seven Wonders, Ticket to Ride, Gloom, and these that I hadn't really seen mentioned, Puerto Rico and Power Grid. Oh, and can't forget to honorable mention, Scrabble!

    Puerto Rico is similar to Seven Wonders and is pretty social.

    Power Grid is similar to Ticket to Ride, also pretty social.

    One game we've played that has earned a "Never To Be Played Again" title is Atlantis Rising. It's far from easy to learn, and very delicate. Everyone playing it is forced to be on the same plan, and if someone branches out doing something unplanned it's potential for throwing the whole game is very high. Think of it as Jenga but everyone has to pull a piece at the same time.

  33. For all you comic-loving folks, try Marvel's Legendary. It's a deck-building game like Dominion, but there is more interaction between players, and the theme is fun. It's honestly a great game by itself though – the theme is just extra goodness. 🙂

    And as someone in the comments already said, Shut Up and Sit Down is great for recommending board games. For instance, they say Avalon (a kind of second, more complex edition of the Resistance) is more fun than the Resistance, but for very large groups Ultimate Werewolf is best.

    Then there's Curse of the Temple, where everybody is frantically rolling a bunch of dice all at the same time, and the entire game is about ten minutes, and it looks like loads of fun. So many different takes on fun activities. 🙂

  34. If you like cooperative games, definitely try Forbidden Island. You work together as a team to collect treasure items and get off the island before it sinks into oblivion and you all drown. Really stressful and so fun!!

  35. I am super excited to see the suggestion of Hoopla. My bestie loves board game night but she can be such a sore loser. She will even get cranky about losing too many rounds of apples-to-apples. No one else cares about winning that game. So a co-op Cranium sounds perfect.

    We played Guesstures for the first time at our last game night. It was pretty fun. Essentially charades but with much more structure.

  36. Chaos in the Old World is amazing if you're up for a pretty strategic game. Some of my favorite lighter games are Kill Doctor Lucky (a much more fun version of Clue), Smash Up, Ascension and of course Cards Against Humanity.

    For those looking for something a little more strategic Dominant Species, Eclipse and Lords of Waterdeep are a lot of fun.

    And for the epic-I.love.all.things.game.realted- challenge there is the 10-15 hour game of Twilight Imperium.

    We have a huge collection of games and a lot of the ones on this list and in the comments are already a part of it 🙂

  37. One thing I would mention to anyone interested in board games like these is in many communities there are gaming groups that have games in their inventory. Which can be great if you want to figure out what you actually like without having to purchase and then be less than happy with. Also great because sometimes you can randomly find people who have actually already played the games that would be willing to teach others how to play. In addition several game stores will sometimes have areas for gamers to come together and gather.

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