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
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 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.
My husband and I like to play games but we can't seem to find much to play together. He's into Magic the Gathering and Dungeons... Read more
3 – 6 players, Ages 10+
Also check out: Zombies!!!
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
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 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 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
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 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?
Comments on Great board games for every group
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).
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.
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.
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… 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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!!
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.
Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow. Kinda like an elaborate version of murder wink.
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 🙂
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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