Hunting down the best board games? You've come to the right place. No matter whether you need family-friendly classics or a new favorite to play during your next get-together with friends, you'll find something to suit you below.
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 blew 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.
Photosynthesis (Available at Amazon) (opens in new tab) - If you enjoy tactical but relaxing games like Wingspan, this thoughtful strategy should be on your radar.
Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar (Available at Kickstarter) (opens in new tab) - This co-op game was already on our most-anticipated list for 2022, and our preview suggests it lives up to the hype.
To make things easier, we've also 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.
Our deal-finding software is constantly on the lookout for discounts as well. It scours the internet for reductions from verified retailers around the clock, so the lowest prices on the best board games are available via the links in each entry.
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? Betrayal at House on the Hill 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 at House on the Hill over more complicated equivalents such as Mansions of Madness.
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.
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. More specifically, 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.
Powered by unique combat and a setting that's reminiscent of The Witcher, Gloomhaven is the fantasy adventure of your dreams. Stuffed with branching storylines, maps, and a kingdom that's influenced by your decisions, it's the sort of experience you can lose yourself in for months. No, really - it'll take dozens of hours to complete, and even then you won't have seen everything.
Crucially, Gloomhaven leans on 'Legacy' elements to great effect; it features alternate missions and secret mechanics that unlock over time, ensuring the game never becomes stale. Your choices permanently alter the world around you as well. Decisions can and will have consequences, so tread carefully.
If you're anything like us, the thought of this branching narrative will be enough to get you hyped by itself; there's a childlike sense of wonder in opening a box and finding it crammed from top to bottom with undiscovered worlds. And in our experience? The watercooler stories these lead to justify that excitement.
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 as a result, 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.
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.
Despite having almost 40 years under its belt, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is still as good now as it was when it first hit shelves in the early 1980s. Laced with intrigue, crammed with immersive props, and providing enough challenge to inflate your ego if you win, this is the perfect choice for anyone that fancies themselves as an armchair detective.
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.
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 as a result, 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 or Articulate.
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. 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.
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?
While games like Small World and 7 Wonders are broadly similar, Catan edges a win in our book because it combines with a sense of accessibility.
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 how good the best board games are when they have 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. And because all of them can be completed within 10 minutes or so, they're an essential purchase for families with young children.
Straightforward gameplay helps avoid frustration, too; 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. Indeed, spotting and yelling out a match before anyone else can is immensely satisfying at any age.
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 classics like 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. Truthfully, we'll never
Being able to control a 'Space Penguin' also makes it a winner in our books - as you've probably guessed, this isn't a game that takes itself seriously. When combined with gameplay that boils down to playing chicken with your monster's life, it's a captivating balancing act at the top of our best board games list.
A flock of furious penguins are slip-sliding around an iceberg to collect fish, and the clock is ticking. That's because the ice is breaking beneath their flippers, and part of it disappears every time they move (thanks, global warming).
One penguin's problem is another penguin's gain, though. This allows you to cut other players off from the best fish and keep it for yourself, so there's plenty of room to be devious. As such, Hey, That's My Fish is a clever board game of forward-thinking and cunning plans.
What do you get if you blend Jenga and superheroes together? Rhino Hero, that's what. A charming challenge of steady hands, it tasks you with building a tower before the whole thing tumbles to the ground. It's instantly understandable and doesn't require lots of setup, so this is a frontrunner if you want straightforward board games for children.
Even though there are powerup cards to keep your task interesting, Rhino Hero is also light on text. In other words, there's no need for your little one to wade through reams of writing each turn. That makes it a hit with kids who struggle to read.
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-man-for-himself scramble. Funnily enough, games night is much more fun when you're not trying to screw each other over...
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.
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.
If you're hunting down the ultimate co-op experience, Pandemic is a front-runner. Season Zero takes that even further; your actions carry over from one session to the next. Better still, a 1960s Cold War theme reinvigorates what is already one of the best board games - this version challenges you to stop Soviet spies and their bio-weapon.
Redshirts are doomed in Star Trek, but they're your only hope when it comes to The Captain is Dead: Dangerous Planet. As the name would suggest, your team's commanding officer has bitten the dust, so you'll need to get your hands dirty with push-your-luck tower defence if you want to complete their mission. A horde of flesh-eating bugs is also on the way, so you'd better be ready by the time they arrive.
The Jaws board game turns you into a cold-blooded monster - a "perfect engine and eating machine", in fact. But you know what? When it's this fun, we're not complaining. Based on the classic 1975 movie, this adaptation casts you as the film's heroes or its peckish great white. The result is a tense and often brutal co-op experience that nails its inspiration's atmosphere.
It's the end of the world, and transdimensional horrors like Cthulhu are about to arrive. Basically, we're screwed - and you've only got an hour to stop the apocalypse. This sense of impending doom raises the stakes for Arkham Horror, leading to 60 minutes of hail Marys and thrilling last-ditch plans. When combined with the clever mechanics that set Final Hour apart, it's the perfect example of nail-biting co-op action.
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.
Want to be an armchair detective? It doesn't get much better than Clue (or Cluedo, if you're based in the UK). Allowing players to see if they have what it takes to rival the likes of Poirot or a certain Sherlock Holmes, it's still one of the best murder mystery board games even though it's been kicking about since 1943.
Accessible, straightforward gameplay certainly helps. Even though you're trying to track down a killer, Clue's methodical process of elimination (no pun intended) is easy to pick up. It's rather satisfying too, especially if you can crack the case before anyone else does.
Risk knows a thing or two about the best board games. Having been taking us all to school in warfare since 1957, it's one of the most beloved tabletop experiences available right now thanks to easy-to-understand yet weighty tactics. Restricting battles to dice rolls helps keep things moving, too. This isn't a plodding exercise in tedium.
There are plenty of alternate versions to try out as well if the original theme doesn't suit you; you can pick up everything from Game of Thrones to Lord of the Rings alternatives.
It's impossible to discuss the best board games without Monopoly coming up at some point or another. Frequently seen as the most influential one of all time, it's often the first thing people think of when the medium is dropped into conversation. There's a good reason for that; this has been a quintessential family pastime since the early 1900s.
Anyone can get involved, too. Brilliantly straightforward yet oddly satisfying, this property-wrangling game (where you buy spaces on the board and charge rent whenever someone else lands there) never loses its thrill of earning a big payout. While it has its problems, you've got to respect the hustle.
If friends and family are descending upon you en-masse, Articulate! is the best board game to break out. Having appeared on shelves since 1992, this is a trivia classic that almost anyone can get involved with. Its long life isn't a mystery, either; the rules are straightforward and easy to get your head around. Plus, its broad range of subjects mean you don't need to be a font of obscure knowledge to win.
Want more recommendations for games night? Don't forget to check out the best party board games or the best card games. As for something a little more adventurous, be sure to drop in our our guides to the best tabletop RPGs and the best Dungeons and Dragons books.