There are many reasons why board games are as popular as ever, and new ones keep popping up to suit various interests. Taking a family of six to the movies costs more than a board game, and the latter has huge replay value and includes hours of interactive and often skill-building entertainment for parents and kids.
The best board games help groups of all ages make memories, laugh together, and look forward to next time. So whether you're firing up your imagination with classics like Clue, busting out favorites like Chutes and Ladders and UNO, or exploring viral sensations like Wavelength, we've got ideas to amp up the excitement at your next family board game night.
Number of players: 2 to 6
Age range: 8+
Let's start with a game that people still obsess over. The idea of amassing a real estate empire has appeal, especially when many millennial parents are struggling to save enough for a home. It feels good to own fake hotels in coveted areas and crush the competition with Trump-high rentals. Let's go, capitalism!
Number of players: 2 to 4
Age range: 8+
At first glance, Scrabble doesn't exactly scream "Boredom Banishment!" The letter tiles are kind of meh and uninspiring, and the board looks about as old as your great-grandma. But this oldie is a goodie, especially if you're okay with throwing the rule book out and inserting themes or agreeing that any word the entire group understands is fair game.
This often quiet, sedate game can become uproariously funny. Go on, try it.
Number of players: 2 to 4 Age range: 13+ Pandemic, the game, predates COVID-19, and going through 2020's coronavirus nightmare gives players a real sense of the high stakes involved. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 is a compelling iteration with a plot to save humanity from deadly diseases.
If you're ready to buckle down for multiple hours, you'll be in for a nail-biting and cooperative diversion.
Number of players: 1 to 5 Age range: 10+ Wingspan was one of the best-selling games on Amazon in 2022. It's about birdwatching and is as soothing as it sounds. You can play this award-winning game in 40 to 70 minutes. The card illustrations are stunning, as are the pastel egg pieces, and you'll learn a lot about the world's feathered beauties.
Number of players: 2 to 7 Age range: 10+
If you're looking for a quick but thoroughly engaging role-playing game, Mysterium is the one for you. You're a ghost-hunting psychic at a 20th-century Scottish séance trying to solve a murder, or you're the ghost presenting the group with visions. Spooky!
Number of players: 3 to 6 Age range: 10+
One of the more affordable games on this list, Anomia is a hit with the budget and time-conscious. You can complete a game in under half an hour, and it's a noisy hoot. This is not the kind of game that makes you scrunch up your face in deep thought. It's a high-energy race to spit out words before your opponent does, and we love it.
Number of players: 2 to 12 Age range: 5+
TikTok had to come up at some point, so if you're wondering what the app's got people playing, look no further than the opinion game, Wavelength. This one is a real party-starter. All ages adore it, and it takes only half an hour to complete a round. Plus, who doesn't love a dial?
Number of players: 2 to 5 Age range: 7+
Another relatively inexpensive and swift game, Exploding Kittens seems straightforward, but it's a strategy game complex enough to reel in any board game connoisseur. Avoid Exploding Kitten cards and use the cats with special powers to best your opponents.
The card art is cute and kooky, and expansions prevent any stale gameplay.
Number of players: 2 to 6 Age range: 7+
The makers of Exploding Kittens also brought the public this rough diamond. Poetry for Neanderthals involves getting a card with one word on it. You must try to get your team to guess the word before time runs out by using only words with single syllables.
Break the rule, and you get hit with an inflatable "no!" stick and similar vocal protests.
Number of players: 2 to 6 Age range: 8+
Hedbanz never fails to get the giggles going. Other players select a card and stick it on your headband, where you can't see it. You now have to guess what or who you are by asking questions. It's a wholesome version of a well-known informal game and cheap compared to some of the other stuff on the market.
Number of players: 2 to 4 Age range: 8+
Enjoy games with calming patterns? Check out Azul, which uses Moorish tiles as a mood board and is an awesome, underrated game. Adorn the royal citadel with tiles and try to strategically maximize your points in the process—certain patterns score more points.
Number of players: 2 to 6 Age range: 7+
A big outdoor space works well for this frantic game unsuitable for carefully curated interiors. Kids have a blast with the burrito attacks, and there's no reason why adults can't unleash some pent-up frustration on the squishy toys either. We recommend playing with at least three people, and you can play with up to eight participants too.
Number of players: 4 to 20 Age range: 10+
Want something to entertain a large group at a party? You can play Herd Mentality with a herd of 20 folks, and the concept can be applied to even bigger crowds if cruise ships are anything to go by. The aim is to write down the same answer as everyone else. For example, the question posed may be, "What's the best pizza topping?" Guess correctly to amass cows.
Number of players: 4 to 20 Age range: 12+
This glee-inducing game makes you describe words from six different categories without saying them, by rhyming or using the first letter. There's a kids' version, and if you mix the two, you'll have the perfect combo for a family board game night. Big teams add to the raucousness.
Number of players: 3 to 8 Age range: 14+
Consider yourself a world-class liar or Oscar-worthy actor? The Chameleon is all about bluffing to avoid detection. This easy party game is hilarious and rapid. For more fun, play with more players, and include pre-teens, by creating your own topic cards.