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The 24 best board games to have at home

Here it is, the list to end all lists. These are the best board games of all time. Let the arguments begin...

Anna Rahmanan

For evenings in, nothing beats takeout and a titillating round of competitive fun. Turn off Netflix for just one night, and enjoy wholesome classics like Monopoly and Charades! Stimulate the mind with strategic abstract or word puzzles, or enjoy armchair travels via pioneering adventure games! Why not laugh-out-loud at each other’s silly drawings or shake things up with more novel options that range from getting a little rowdy and risque to forming deep, meaningful connections? The options are endless.

Whether it’s a sweet date, fun time with the family, or a good old-fashioned party, here’s a range of the very best games every American household should own. While there are a plethora of old-time, tried-and-true games, we’ve plucked out some of the more stimulating options and mixed them in with a fresh batch of topical picks that are bound to be crowd-pleasers. There’s a wide selection here from nostalgic to culture-defining, games guaranteed to make a night of raucous laughter or sweet, bonding tears, and everything in between. Pour the drinks (or brew some tea); it is time to play!

Best board games

1. Charades

For a guaranteed round of laughter, Charades offers the perfect amount of competitive nature and feel-good fun. Bring on the drama and act out a word or phrase for others to guess. Play with a group or the “solitary” version where each participant competes to earn a point every time a correct guess is made. Be bold, be fierce, and show off your best moves.

2. Jenga

No matter your age, the anticipation of drawing a piece followed by the thrill of the tower collapsing will never get old. This game can go on to nerve-wracking levels of crisscrossed blocks precariously balancing or just topple over again and again in a more careless, playful manner. Practice spotting the perfect piece, perhaps get frustrated over another’s selection and prepare for some screeching and laughter before doing it all over.


3. Telestrations

Like “Operator” with a sketchpad, players illustrate a word dictated by the roll of a die. Each drawing is passed to the next player who guesses what the depiction is; the pads are all passed around until you’ve gone through all the players.  Everyone then reviews how the original word has been either accurately depicted all the way through, or hilariously morphed into something else altogether.

4. Othello

A game of strategy, Othello, often confused with Reversi, is played between two players on an 8x8 uncheckered board where each person tries to turn the board their color. The game alternates until one player is out of moves, and then the discs are counted. The player with the majority in their color—black or white—wins, though a tie is entirely possible. If that happens, another round takes place. There are many ways to win, and doing so requires considering the other player’s moves, much like chess. 


5. Bananagrams

In a compact and fun banana-shaped pouch, this little game is great for small spaces or to play on the go. It is fast and frantic, as players scramble to use all of their letters to create a word grid before everyone else. The first person to use all their tiles is crowned “Top Banana!”, a most honorable title. There is also a WildTiles upgrade, which includes the classic word game along with six special tiles. 

6. Cards Against Humanity

This game achieved cult status as soon as it was released. It’s hilarious, dirty (well, it can be), and nobody ever gets tired of playing. Essentially a fill-in-the-blank party game, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their most amusing white cards. Bonus points: you can purchase expansion packs when you tire of the original cards that the classic game provides. It can get pretty wacky.


7. We're Not Really Strangers

Seeking something with a little deeper meaning? We're Not Really Strangers is all about strengthening existing relationships or developing new ones through three levels of questions. There are wild cards with prompts such as “Maintain eye contact for thirty seconds. What did you notice?” There are also less heavy cards, such as “What reality TV show do you think I am most likely to binge-watch? Explain.” Be ready to get vulnerable and maybe even shed a tear and a hug. Or just get annoyed at how little your friends know about you, of course.

8. Chairs and Ladders

A fun stacking game, this is an excellent option for players of all ages. While it may seem simple, stacking the chairs and ladders without them slipping out can be tougher than it looks. Much like Jenga, this requires a steady hand and a good eye. Players take turns adding a chair to the stack to create a tall or wide tower to use all of your pieces first.


9. Pylos

On a truncated board with 16 hollows and two sets of spheres (light and dark), players take turns building a pyramid by placing their pieces. The goal is to keep as many spheres as possible in the hope of placing the final piece on top. An abstract strategy game for two players, Pylos can be as simple or difficult as you want. Plus, it’s a pretty game that you can leave on the table. Decorative and fun? Win-win! 

10. Potion Explosion

Revisit the excitement of science class in this game. In this puzzle board game, two to four players attempt to collect ingredients by matching them by color in the dispenser. These are then used to create potions for points which translate to different advantages—connecting marbles of the same color makes them explode, drink the potions to unleash their powers, gain skill cards, and win Student of the Year.


11. Forbidden Island

Those looking for an adrenaline rush without the actual danger aspect can embark on a do-or-die mission. Work with your team to ascertain four treasures before the island sinks—as it does with every step. Simulating a trek through the ancient mystical empire of the Archaeans, Forbidden Island is an island adventure collaborative card game with thematic movement through the voyage. Emerge from the game as those who have survived a perilous journey together. 

12. Heads Up

A great house party activity, Head Ups is a word guessing game with charades. Put on a headband and place a card in with the words facing out (without looking at them). Your teammates will give you clues for you to guess. The game comes with six headbands and 200 cards spanning four categories. Embark on singing, mimicking accents, and naming celebrities when acting out a word on a card before the timer runs out. 


13. Blokus

Those who love Tetris or have strong spatial awareness will enjoy this game. In the box are 84 geometrically-shaped pieces in four colors with 21 in each color (each player takes a color). Blokus is a game of strategy, where each piece must touch another of the same color but can only do so at the corners. The goal is to get all 21 of your pieces on the board. 

14. Ticket to Ride

The railway-themed Germany board game has a range of monikers, including Zug um Zug, Les Aventuriers du Rail, Aventureros al Tren, Wsiąść do pociągu, and Menolippu. Select from multiple cities and countries from New York to Amsterdam, France to India and hop aboard an adventure of claiming railway routes to connect between destinations. Earn more points for longer routes and fulfilling Destination Tickets by connecting two distant cities in a country-wide session. 


15. Catan

Previously known as The Settlers of Catan, this game was first released in Germany by Franckh-Kosmos Verlag as Die Siedler von Catan in 1995. The multiplayer board game challenges players to—you guessed it—settle the uncharted island of Catan. There are multiple ways to earn victory points, including building roads and establishing a settlement or city. Barter for resources and expand strategically. The objective is to be the first one to collect ten victory points.

16. Fluxxx

Fluxxx is one you’ll never tire of as the rules are ever-changing, therefore making it a different experience every time you play. Players collect Keeper Cards to get a winning combination that matches the Goal Card (which again, is changing throughout the game). Players can also play new Rule Cards that dictate how the game unfolds. Sound confusing? You’ll just have to try it.


17. Pandemic

Ever timely, players work together in this game to keep the world safe from outbreaks and epidemics. Four diseases threaten the world, and your team has to discover a cure. Together, you’ll work on stemming the tide of infection to save humanity—no pressure. Hone in on character strengths and devise a plan as a group. You’ll either win or lose together. For some, this may be a little too close to home, while for others, it can be a fun way to strategize with friends. 

18. Monopoly

Appealing to all ages, Monopoly keeps players occupied for a solid amount of time and requires the perfect amount of luck and brains to be successful. As such, it’s much like life; you roll the dice and take it as it comes while dually planning strategically to dominate the world. And now and then, you might find yourself on a winning streak or in a bit of trouble—jail.


19. Twister

Have you ever played a game of Twister that didn’t end in uncontrollable laughter? One of the few physical board games around, Twister is a classic, and it isn't hard to understand why; seeing your friends contort in any way possible to place a left hand on green and a right foot on yellow will never not be funny. There is nothing better than collapsing in a giggle-induced pile with some of your favorite people. 

20. UNO

The card game par excellence, UNO is a timeless classic. It’s fun, easy to play, compact, and great for all ages. Beloved by adults and children alike, this deck is a staple in any collection. It’s quick and easy but can be played over and over without tiring. Who doesn’t love the thrill of when you’re down to a single card and scream, “Uno!” or catch another player before they’re able to do so?


21. Apples to Apples

Find and create surprising and ridiculous comparisons between places, people, objects, and events. This game is fun and easy to play—pick a card from your hand that you think is best described by the card played by the judge. With core principles similar to Cards Against Humanity, the game has a single Black Card that all players try to match. The final decision comes down to the judge. 

22. Codenames

Codenames is an interesting one as it requires players to think through word associations, which could be tricky for younger children, though it does make for a solid team bonding (think with coworkers) exercise. Some words represent red or blue agents (team colors), an assassin, and innocent bystanders. The goal, essentially, is to crack the secret code names of designated spies as related to a hint before the other team does.


23. Scrabble

Wordsmith or not, Scrabble is a game to appreciate because it makes a vocabulary lesson fun. Letters can only be placed horizontally or vertically (or in both directions in a single turn). Anytime two or more letters touch, they must form complete words. While it requires a bit more brainpower,  it dually activates the mind while offering a great, albeit competitive time; and you’re bound to learn a new word or two!

24. Pictionary

The beauty of this game is that the worse you are at drawing, the more fun it is. One person attempts to illustrate a word while their team guesses what it is. This can be wildly hilarious or insanely competitive. There could even be feelings of surprise and marvel at someone who turns out to be a fantastic doodler, or perhaps resentment if they wind up on the other team. 

In the mood to catch come classics?

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