In a world full of screens, stories, updates, news feeds, and videos – nothing beats dice in hands and cards in play. Board games have survived through the technological age due to their accessibility and communal feeling that can only be achieved through face-to-face contact. For centuries, friends and family have gathered to bond and compete in physical games.
Not all that glitters is gold – usually, the better the game (and stronger the friendship!) makes for more intense gameplay that highlights our worst traits. We all remember a game night that got too real. We highlight all the best board games you can play with your close circles. If you’re good enough, you might just ruin your friendships!
This murder-mystery board game (known as Cluedo in the UK) can be played by up to six people who all need to work out what was used to kill who and where. The game has been praised for its critical-thinking habits and notetaking methodology which can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It’s one thing to compete against your partner in the battle for property like in Monopoly – but banking on them committing murder? The game has spawned a franchise including TV shows, video games, and films – with a new one in the works starring Ryan Reynolds.
Checkers, also known a Draughts, looks similar to Chess in its layout but relies on different moves of equally-valued pieces to win a game against your opponent. History traces back at least some of the many versions of checkers back to 3000bc where people played it in their tribes and against friends. Using only the black squares on an 8×8 board (sometimes 10×10), each player takes it in turns to capture his/her opponent’s pieces until someone loses. It is generally used as a precursor to Chess.
This lighthearted game can be played by as many people as are in the room. It only takes a few minutes to set up a tower of blocks that need to be carefully extracted one by one. Upon removing each block, they are returned to the top making it taller but more delicate. This game doesn’t have a winner, but a loser is declared after causing the tower to fall. Its simple and entertaining elements make it fun for all ages and occasions.
This Canadian board game challenges the players’ general knowledge and pop culture references. Using different themes as a base (Geography, Entertainment, History, Literature, Science, and Sports), players move around the board and collect pieces of ‘cheese’ that symbolize process. At its peak in 1984, Trivial Pursuit found its place in 20 million homes in America. Every few years, questions are modernized and there are different versions available for children. Families and groups of friends can meet to play updated versions and learn new things along the way.
At 80 years old, Scrabble is the definitive word game that focusses on vocabulary, spelling, anagramming, with a touch of luck. It has survived today through multiple rule changes and updates – although the premise remains the same. Players tap into their inner dictionaries by composing and building on words placed on a 15×15 board with different values. To date, world championship tournaments take place and the game has spawned its own dictionaries. The game is also widely played online.
Pictionary was inspired by Charades and encourages players to guess answers to clues from each player’s drawing abilities. Relatively new to the board game family, Pictionary was created in 1985 and includes specific categories such as Person, Object, Action, Difficult, and All Play. This particular game appeals to graphic designers and artists whose talents shine brighter than in conventional strategy or general knowledge games. Due to its nature, it can be enjoyed by adults and children together – making it perfect for families.
This is one of the more creative games on the list and places an emphasis on thinking outside the box. After agreeing on categories and letters, teams must come up with items and words that other teams will fail to think up. The game encourages its players to be actively creative and to work together to list unique and imaginative words following the agreed rules. In 1993, Scattergories was turned into a TV show and is also available via an app to play alone.
Battle of the Sexes
You will never understand the opposite sex, so you might as well beat them in a board game. In what can be considered one of 2018’s most controversial topics, this game seeks to pin boys and girls against each other to find out who is the victorious sex. It includes trivia, physical challenges, and picture rounds for teams divided into their respective sexes to see who will be on top (of the game, that is). Don’t play with snowflakes!
The children’s guessing game has 24 characters all facing each player with opponents trying to decipher who the other player is holding. The game has been criticized for not holding a more diverse ‘cast’ in its pack since it was created in 1979, but they are working on improving this. By asking creative questions, players can defeat their opponents by discovering the other person’s character first. It is widely noted that the best part of the game is watching the terror in your opponent’s eyes when you knock down multiple characters at once.
Although not as popular as Chess or Checkers, Mancala is still recognized as one of the oldest games that are still being played today. It can be played with stones, beans, seeds, and dates back to the 7th century. There are many different ‘house rules’ depending on the culture, but the general idea is to collect and spread your ‘seeds’ to ultimately plant more of them in your bank than your opponent. Earliest signs of the game have appeared in the Earth in Israel dating to the 3rd century!
Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan, also known as ‘Settlers’ or ‘Catan’, is only 23 years old but has already earned cult status among young people today. The German game is the first of its kind to gain popularity outside of Europe and is now in 22 million homes. The strategy game involves building settlements on an island using purchased resources such as brick, wood, sheep, or wheat. The game has been praised for its simplicity and resource-management practices. It is considered ‘The Game of Our Time’ by young people today.
Articulate is Pictionary for the everyday wordsmith who enjoys describing Objects, Nature, People, Actions, or World Items. The game states that players, of which there can be up to 20, have 30 seconds to describe as many items as they can to their teammate. The team that makes their way around the board first wins. With 500 cards and 3000 words to choose from, players can spend days interacting with each other. At only 26 years years old, it has been consistently named one of the UK’s most popular games.
It is believed that Backgammon originated from the Middle East about 5,000 years ago – making it one of the world’s oldest games. It contains a mix of strategy and luck since players rely on dice. After rolling two dice, players must navigate their checkers to remove them from the board quicker than his or her opponent. The game contains many different strategies and has been studied by computers which can beat world champions in their critical-thinking and forward planning.
Like Chess, Checkers, and Backgammon, Go is the fourth horseman in the original board games that are still played thousands of years after their creation. Small black and white pieces must be placed strategically to surround more territory than your opponent – making for some intense and dramatic gameplay. It is estimated that 40 million people play Go around the world. In 2017, an AI machine called AlphaGo beat the world’s best player – marking a frightening start of man vs. machine.
Are there any greater stakes in a game than complete and utter world domination? Putting four or six friends in a room each with a goal to invade their loved ones head-on has resulted in screaming matches heard from houses on the other side of the street. The game relies on throwing dice and battling opponents while considering diplomacy, conquest, and the art of conflict. Some games can last up to eight hours, resulting in many arguments and breakups. You’ve been warned.
Rummikub is a tile-based game suitable for two-four players who like to organize things by color or number. It was invented by an Israeli who merged two existing games, rummy and mahjong, and can be enjoyed by families for hours at a time. Tiles can be organized by ‘runs’ – 9, 10, 11, 12 – or by groups – three 7s each a different color. Sets are arranged and placed by players and the winner is determined when someone uses all of his or her tiles.
The game to end all games. Monopoly can be traced all the way back to 1903 – even though it wasn’t licensed and distributed until 1935. Today, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a home that doesn’t have the property game in its cupboards. The strategic game teaches children the chilling effects of capitalism and sets them up for the harsh lessons in life. With a total gameplay that can last for days – Monopoly has been the primary cause for family arguments for 80 years. To date, it has dozens of variations and add-ons to remain current in today’s world.
This famous 2-player strategy game can be traced all the way back to the 6th century and is still played by millions of people every day around the world. Each player sets out to trap and capture his or her opponent’s King using players on an 8×8 board. Each game is extremely methodical: requiring complex strategies that are planned many moved in advance. Since the Age of Enlightenment, Chess has been praised for improving foresight, circumspection, and caution in human behavior.
Cards Against Humanity
The least politically-correct game on the list is often the most fun – entertaining players since 2011. The party game consists of ‘fill-in-the-blank’ style rounds where players are encouraged to complete often offensive and un-PC statements on pre-determined cards. Funded on Kickstarter, it is the definitive ‘for the people by the people’ game that has received media acclaim. Playing with sensitive people might induce triggered emotions and arguments – which in a game like this is half the fun.