The best board games are perfect no matter whether you want a quiet evening in or a games night with friends. The industry seems to be healthier now than ever, and that means you'll find everything from family-friendly classics to modern strategy epics weighing down shelves. To point you in the right direction, we've listed our favorite board games here.
There's certainly enough to choose from. While our list includes older staples that continue to impress years after launch, you'll also find more recent additions that have blown us away over the last 12 months. Even if you already have many of the best board games weighing down your shelf, there should be something new to delight you in this guide.
7 Wonders Architects (available at Amazon) (opens in new tab) - A quick and easy version of the classic game, Architects is a must-have if you want something to play with family.
Zillionaires Road Trip USA (available at Amazon) (opens in new tab) - This straightforward but silly game of buying up America's weirdest attractions is lots of fun.
To make things easier, we've broken these recommendations down into manageable chunks that will allow you to zero in on exactly the kind of experience you want from the best board games. Want something to play at a party, with family, or as a couple? No problem - simply click the jump links and head straight to the section you want.
We've roused our bargain-hunting software from its slumber to find you the best offers, too. It scours the internet for reductions every 30 minutes or so and is updated around the clock with discounts from trusted retailers. That means you can take advantage of the lowest available prices on board games no matter where you are in the world - simply click the links below each entry to see how much you can save.
Wondering how we choose which products to feature? It's simple - we only include options that our writers and freelancers have had extensive hands-on time with. The GamesRadar+ team spends a lot of time testing the best board games, so we'll never recommend something we don't believe in.
Best board games for adults
Move over, Monopoly; the industry has grown way beyond those humble beginnings, and these board games for adults will have you hooked. With intricate gameplay and mature themes, they're the perfect choice for games night.
Have you ever wondered how long you'd last as a horror movie character? This board game lets you find out. Setting players loose in a mansion that's revealed room by room, something is waiting inside - and as you can probably tell, it's not pleasant.
Betrayal's gameplay is drenched in tension as a result (there's a reason our review called it "innovative, memorable, and unsettling"). You never know what's lurking beyond the next door, so everyone will need to work as a team if they want to get out of this house alive. Especially because one of you might be a traitor in disguise...
That deadly twist on guess-who keeps you coming back for more, so this one's a masterpiece worthy of any best board games list. Indeed, it's why we always find ourselves returning to Betrayal over more complicated equivalents such as Mansions of Madness.
Especially now that the game's been updated with a snazzy new edition. While the older Betrayal at House on the Hill 2nd edition is still fantastic, its successor ups the ante in every way that counts. To be precise, it has superior artwork, 50 all-new scenarios, improved miniatures, and streamlined mechanics that make gameplay smoother all-round. You'll be in for a treat no matter which one you pick up, but if you have the choice, we'd suggest opting for 3rd edition to get the ultimate experience.
- Read more: Betrayal at House on the Hill review (opens in new tab)
The odds are against you from the start in the Pandemic board game, but that's the beauty of it. This co-op epic is never less than thrilling, and it doesn't feel hopeless either. Despite being tasked with curing a clutch of super-diseases, good communication (not to mention the ability to think on your feet) will see you through.
That injection of risk and reward keeps Pandemic at the top spot as one of the best board games overall. In fact, its emphasis on teamwork makes it much more engaging than you might expect; we've rarely seen our group more invested at the table. As we mentioned in our full review, this modern classic "shows off everything tabletop gaming is capable of".
Sure, its theme hits closer to home nowadays. But there's something cathartic about giving a pandemic the boot - even if it's only in this tabletop world of tokens and cards. That's why we'd recommend it over spin-offs such as Pandemic World of Warcraft.
- Read more: Pandemic board game review
As you may have guessed from its name, Wingspan puts birds front and center; you've got to attract as many as possible to your preserve. It isn't as dry as it might sound, though. Clever mechanics form a moreish, satisfying loop that'll keep you returning to increase your score.
A lot of this is due to the lack of direct competition - players don't need to worry about opponents undoing their hard work with sabotage or last-minute treachery. Everyone focuses on their own separate board, and others benefit if you use a special ability. This turns Wingspan into a relaxing, zen-like experience you'll enjoy regardless of whether you win or lose.
It's also our top pick if loved ones are asking about the best board games. Everyone is able to get something out of it, and that's why we always suggest Wingspan as a gift for parents that love tabletop gaming or players who want strategy without the pressure that normally goes along with it.
Best 2-player board games
Short on willing victims to play with? These board games for 2 players are perfect no matter whether you're gearing up for date night or a competitive head-to-head. They aren't consolation prizes, either; we've been sure to include options that are actually better with fewer people around the table.
Never has a game been more on-brand than Disney Villainous. It delights in letting you be as mean as possible, and you're encouraged to scupper a foe's plans in search of your baddie's own happy ending. That's because this isn't light-hearted family-fare for kids; it's surprisingly tactical instead.
To be precise, there's a lot of unexpected complexity hidden beneath the surface. That's due to each character's unique objective and play-style, resulting in new challenges that come from the many available villain combinations (especially when Disney Villainous expansions get involved). You'll need skill to come out on top in this battle of backstabbing, and we've found that it only becomes more enjoyable as you uncover fresh tactics to capitalize on. As our review points out, it has "enough depth and spice to keep you playing for months".
That's particularly true when you compete one-on-one. It's less chaotic when there are fewer rivals to contend with, allowing you to really focus on the ins and outs of your character. Of all the games on this list, Disney Villainous might be the one we play the most in our spare time.
- Read more: Disney Villainous review
Unusual, accessible, and delightfully compelling, this deserves to be in everyone's collection. We first encountered Jaipur years ago at the suggestion of a board game cafe barista, and it impressed us so much that we've been recommending it to anyone who'll listen ever since.
Casting you as one of two traders in the eponymous city, your challenge is to earn an invite to the maharaja's court by being the best businessperson in all the land. How you do that is up to you, though; there's plenty of room to experiment. Is it better to buy and trade cheap items as fast as possible? Or should you collect expensive goods for a bigger payday? There's no 'right' answer, and that flexibility helps it stand out amongst the best card games.
It also provides an engaging tug of war between both players. Wares decrease in value as more are sold, so your opponent could beat you to the punch if you don't cash your cards in quickly enough. This delicate balancing act highlights why Jaipur is such an essential purchase.
Even though it whisks us back to an ancient world of pyramids and antiquity, this two-player board game doesn't feel old-fashioned. Rather, it's a nimble and laser-focused strategy that keeps hold of what made the original 7 Wonders (opens in new tab) so good whilst updating its gameplay for two players.
Much like its predecessor, Duel tasks you with building the most powerful civilization of its age. And as before, there are many ways to achieve that goal (including scientific discovery or military might). This gives players ownership over their game-plan in a way few competitors do. It also allows each match to play out differently depending on which cards are available during a round.
Its trading mechanics are rock-solid too. While the likes of Catan rely on your rivals feeling generous, 7 Wonders Duel uses a system where you have to pay the bank extra for a resource depending on how much of it your opponent has. If you play your cards right (in a very literal sense), this is just one more method of wearing your rival down.
Best family board games
Families have been arguing over the best board games for more than a century, and now there's enough choice to sink a (Battle)ship. Where should you start? These board games for families will hit the spot.
Ticket to Ride is one of the most laid-back entries on this list, and that makes it a great choice if you want something to play with your loved ones. Thoughtful and relaxing, it's a delight for all ages.
OK, so the railway theme may not light your world on fire. But there's an undercurrent of strategy holding everything together, allowing it to hit the perfect balance of being family-friendly without losing any tactical depth. That makes Ticket to Ride one of the best board games even if its players haven't ventured beyond Scrabble.
It's not overly competitive, either. Unlike so many entries here, there's less emphasis on screwing each other over. Although it's frustrating when a rival claims a route you were going for, there's usually an alternative to salvage all that time and effort. As such, Ticket to Ride is a game we're more than happy to break out if things usually get heated around the table.
- Read more: Ticket to Ride review
Are you trying to find the best board games without confusing rules? Herd Mentality says hello. It's easy to get the hang of and won't ever go out of date.
That's because it hinges on what everyone else thinks. Although quiz-style questions are posed, there's no 'right' answer - instead, your aim is to be in the majority by writing down what you think most people around the room will say. It's a superb icebreaker due to this, and family-members that don't like being put on the spot can take comfort from strength in numbers. Even our loved ones that dislike board games enjoy it.
To be honest, Herd Mentality isn't just good for families either. We always break it out when playing with a new group regardless of who they are. It's a nice way of getting everyone chatting and laughing together quickly, which is definitely not what would happen if you tried other quiz games like Trivial Pursuit (opens in new tab) or Articulate (opens in new tab).
This light-hearted little game is perfect if you want something quick; it's got the secret sauce of being fast-paced with easy-to-understand rules. More specifically, you can learn and complete it in under 15 minutes. That means you won't mind playing round after round, especially because Sushi Go's gameplay is so moreish.
It's different every time you pick it up, too - you never know which cards you'll be able to choose from. That's because it works in a very similar way to Exploding Kittens (opens in new tab). You take a card and pass the rest on, building points based on how many of a certain type you've collected. This allows smart players to sabotage their rivals by taking the cards they need.
Basically, Sushi Go is a quickfire must-have that won't get boring any time soon. It's light, breezy, and charming enough to turn you into an instant fan. Plus, the fact that it doesn't have a board makes it a great travel option for games on the go.
Best board games for children
Need board games for kids that'll delight your children but won't make you want to tear your hair out if you join in? You'll find the best board games for little ones and their grown-ups below.
You can usually tell that a board game is good when it has lots of special editions. Spot It (or 'Dobble', if you're based in the UK) passes that test with flying colors. As well as a classic version, alternatives featuring everything from Harry Potter to Star Wars are available these days. And because all of them can be completed within 10 minutes or so, they're an essential purchase for families with young children.
A lot of that comes down to straightforward gameplay - at its core, this is a more involved version of Snap. But don't assume it'll be easy. While you are matching symbols, these cards are littered with pictures of various sizes to make that job harder. Spotting and yelling out a match before anyone else can is immensely satisfying no matter your age.
For us, it also claims the top spot as one of the best board games for children due to its portable nature. Whereas Labyrinth (opens in new tab), Clue (opens in new tab), and other classics feature massive boards, Spot It is carried in a neat little tin that doesn't take up much space in use. In other words, the fun can come with you regardless of where you go.
King of Tokyo is a great choice for big and little monsters alike. Putting you in charge of tongue-in-cheek super-creatures that are based on the likes of Godzilla, it's about stomping all over the city and getting points in the process. Fast-paced and full of character, it'll delight players of any age. As an example, we'll never pass up an opportunity to play it ourselves - this is the perfect gateway into more complicated board games.
That's because its mechanics are mercifully straightforward. Players simply roll dice three times and choose which results they want to keep, be it attacks, bonus points, or extra health. However, the only way to win is by rampaging across the city... and there's no way to heal from your wounds there. Accordingly, you end up playing chicken with your monster's life. This leads to a captivating balancing act that more than deserves its spot on our best board games list.
Naturally, being able to control a 'Space Penguin' or 'Cyber Kitty' also makes it a winner in our books. As you've probably guessed, this isn't a game that takes itself seriously - and that should make kids love it all the more.
This quirky game sees penguins slip-sliding across an iceberg to collect fish, but the clock is ticking. You see, the ice is breaking beneath their flippers with every step. Because part of it disappears each time they move (thanks, global warming), the race is on to gather the tastiest seafood before it vanishes into the ocean.
One penguin's problem is another penguin's gain, though. This collapsing board allows you to cut other players off from the best fish and keep them for yourself, so there's plenty of room to be devious. Just be careful - one wrong move might leave you stranded too.
With that in mind, Hey, That's My Fish is a clever exercise in forward-thinking and cunning plans. OK, so setting it up can be a little fiddly. But we find the payoff more than worthwhile, especially if you want to play something quick yet tactical.
Best co-op board games
If competitiveness around the table is getting you down, the best cooperative board games should help. Providing challenges that can only be solved by working together, they emphasise teamwork over an every-person-for-themselves scramble.
How do you make the best board games even better? Add some good old-fashioned backstabbing. Unfathomable nails this with hidden roles which introduce paranoia from start to finish, and although that may seem counter-intuitive in a co-op experience, it makes good teamwork even more essential.
Set in the Arkham Horror universe, Unfathomable traps you aboard a passenger ship under attack from Lovecraftian Deep Ones. In short, this is far from a pleasure cruise; as well as contending with monstrous creatures slithering aboard (portrayed by awesome miniatures that were very popular in our play-sessions), the crew has to root out 'hybrids' who are hell-bent on sabotaging the vessel from within. Constant communication's your only defence against their efforts, and this is balanced nicely by the lingering suspicion that you can't trust anyone. It's a spicy conundrum to wrestle with.
While there are many excellent deception games out there such as One Night Ultimate Werewolf and Secret Hitler, none can match Unfathomable's variety of mechanics. Rather than focusing exclusively on uncovering a villain within the group, it tasks you with saving civilians, keeping the ship in working order, and solving story-driven problems with real consequences on whether you win or lose. That's a lot to juggle, and it leaves us with one of the most satisfying co-op games we've played in recent years.
- Read more: Unfathomable review
The best board games normally have you battling it out with other players, but Horrified is different. It challenges you to team up against some of the most beloved monsters of all time instead, and the whole thing creaks beneath the weight of nostalgia as a result. It doesn't rest on its laurels, though; this is a unique, memorable adventure in its own right with co-op gameplay to die for.
That's because it loves the 'trolley problem' - situations where there isn't a right answer. As an example, the Creature from the Black Lagoon might have cornered a group of civilians as its next snack. Unfortunately, Dracula is also swooping in to feast on a villager at the opposite end of the board. You can only save one, and you've got to make time for completing objectives as well. What on earth should you do? This gives Horrified an edge, making victory all the sweeter.
While a newer version that spotlights Stateside creatures (Horrified: American Monsters (opens in new tab)) is available, our money's still on the original. There's something special about its line-up of classic villains, and everything from its artwork to mechanics exudes a compelling gothic vibe.
Want to level up from Clue? Mysterium fits the bill nicely. A murder mystery where you've got to solve the crime before dawn, it has all the trappings of a classic; the 1920s setting, a creaky old mansion, and some Sherlock Holmes-style deduction. It's anything but predictable, though. You see, one of the players is dead… and they're trying to solve their own murder.
Unfortunately for everyone else, this ghost isn't chatty enough to bust the case wide open by themselves. They're only able to communicate through impressionist 'vision' cards that are deliberately vague when taken out of context, so the rest of the team has to get sleuthing to figure out what they mean.
Because these wannabe ghostbusters will also be rooting through evidence in a bid to find the killer before dawn, working together and optimizing your actions is more important here than in most of the best board games. It's a novel setup that gives Mysterium no shortage of flair, so we'd highly recommend getting involved if you can round up enough players.
Best old-school board games
They don't make 'em how they used to, and although that's usually a good thing, you can't beat the all-time greats. The best classic board games have become a cultural phenomenon with countless editions under their belt, so revisiting those old favorites can do wonders. We've collected our top picks here.
Catan whisks us back to the age of explorers; faced with an uninhabited island, players have to settle it before their opponents do. And because everyone's fighting to civilize the same frontier, clever manoeuvring is the order of the day.
Actually, it's a crucial skill to master. The island's limited resources are handed out based on probability, so foresight and good positioning can mean the difference between victory or defeat. That puts Catan amongst the best board games for players wanting a challenge. Particularly because you'll need to trade with your rivals in order to progress. How's that silver tongue of yours?
HeroQuest was the final word in board game fantasy during the 1980s, and its sword-and-sorcery saga is held in high esteem because of that. Now the adventure is back for round two thanks to this 2021 revamp, and it bears the weight of that legacy like a champ. We opened the box and it was like we were kids again.
In spite of classy new miniatures and terrain, this version of HeroQuest holds on to what made the original special whilst updating everything else for the modern day. Its classic story of good and evil remains intact alongside identical gameplay (including Dungeon Master mechanics where one player controls the game's monsters), but now it features a fully-voiced app for solo play as well that we find streamlines things considerably. Its artwork has been given a facelift too, albeit one that doesn't stray too far from its inspiration.
Yes, we'll admit that it may have been superseded in the years since its heyday by Gloomhaven and Descent: Legends of the Dark. However, HeroQuest walked so they could run, and it's good to see the return of the king after all this time.
Want to be an armchair detective? It doesn't get much better than 221B Baker Street. Allowing players to see if they have what it takes to rival a certain Sherlock Holmes himself, it's still one of the best murder mystery board games despite having been kicking about since 1975.
Accessible, straightforward gameplay certainly helps. Even though you're trying to track down a killer, the game's methodical process of elimination (no pun intended) is easy to pick up. It's like a souped-up version of Clue; every location on the beautifully painted board could hide useful information, but they may ask you to solve a riddle or read between the lines in order to figure out what's going on. There's a real satisfaction in cracking the case before anyone else because of this.
The stories behind it all are what make 221B Baker Street so enduring, though. Each case is preceded by a narrative that may contain clues of its own, and they're well-written enough for us to feel like we're in the heart of a Conan Doyle adventure when we read them. It's magic.
Best board games - FAQ
What is the #1 board game in the world?
Before we can decide the number-one board game in the entire world, it's important to work out what your criteria is. Are we talking bestsellers? If that's the case, we suspect classic Monopoly (opens in new tab) (or the shorter and more portable Monopoly Deal (opens in new tab)) would claim the title. Deal frequently tops Amazon's bestsellers chart, for example. But if we're discussing ratings? Fantasy dungeon-crawler Gloomhaven (opens in new tab) might pip that old favorite to the post. It's got consistently great feedback across the internet - including in our own Gloomhaven review - and is swimming in awards.
That said, we'd be tempted to choose Pandemic (opens in new tab) as our king of the castle instead. It arguably strikes the most satisfying balance between accessibly, strategic depth, and replayability - as we mentioned in our Pandemic review, it's a must-have.
What is the most popular board game in 2022?
If you want to know what the bestselling board game of 2022 is, we have a suspicion that the honor would go to a cheap and cheerful game like Monopoly Deal (opens in new tab). That's because Amazon currently has it sitting right at the top of its bestsellers list (opens in new tab), and this spinoff has been dominating the charts for quite a while.
It doesn't take long to see why. As well as being a worldwide brand that's instantly recognisable, it's mega cheap. In fact, you'll probably be able to grab a copy for less than a takeaway cup of coffee. That makes it the very definition of an impulse buy.
However, if by 'popular' you mean 'something we think is really awesome', our vote goes to Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar. As we mentioned in our hands-on first impressions, it's a superb co-op experience with very promising gameplay. The art-design is also second to none, which isn't surprising considering the fact that the team behind it made the beautiful Disney Villainous. We'd definitely recommend keeping an eye on it as we approach launch toward the end of the year.
What is the most popular board game ever?
You're probably expecting something like Monopoly (opens in new tab) to walk away with the prize as the most popular board game ever, but that's actually not the case. Rather, chess (yes, chess) is one of the best-selling board games of all time.
It makes sense when you stop and think about it. Chess has been around for hundreds of years, and its timeless mechanics never go out of date. Plus, anyone can make and sell a chess set. As such, there more more on the market right now than any of us could ever hope to count.
How does GamesRadar+ test board games?
Our dedicated writers and freelancers have tried every game on this list, so the team only features recommendations that it really believes in. This is the result of multiple playtests with a variety of players, not to mention extensive hands-on time with the product in general. You can find out more in our guide on how we test board games and tabletop RPGs at GamesRadar+.
Eager for more recommendations? If you want something to play at your next game night, definitely check out the very best party board games - they'll go down a storm with newcomers and tabletop veterans alike. And if you'd prefer something more adventurous, don't forget about the best tabletop RPGs. Our guide is crammed with cool suggestions, including Dungeons and Dragons books.