25 Awesome Board Games That You Should Actually Play!

In recent years, board games have made a comeback. This might be for several reasons. Perhaps people are craving more of an interactive gaming experience. Also, there is something unique about being able to touch and feel the pieces of the game we are playing.

What is worth noting about the new generation of games is how they balance complexity with playability. We believe many popular modern-day games might eventually turn into classics.

Here is a list of board games – old and new, quirky and normal – that you should actually play!

Note: For this list, we have listed a game’s manufacturer as the company most identified with the product. Also, many of the older games are still in production today. As so many were produced (sometimes in the millions), there is a good chance you can get it off eBay for a reasonable price.

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25

1. Shogi by various companies

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Year Introduced: 15th Century

Players: 2

Average Playing Time: Hours, days, months!!!!!

There are several versions of three-dimensional chess, using two or more boards. But if you want true madness, there is an ancient Japanese chess-like game called Shogi that uses a staggering nine boards!

To complicate matters further, there are numerous versions of this game, with different numbers of boards, board sizes, rules, moves, and pieces (including one called the Drunken Elephant).

This game is so weird that it’s enough to drive you to the edge of insanity! But if mastered, it is said to offer a profound experience and a sense of achievement like no other game.

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2. Gloomhaven by Cephalofair Games

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Year Introduced: 2017

Player: 1 to 4

Average Playing Time: 1 to 2 hours

This style of tile-and-card game is a fairly recent innovation, where the traditional game board is replaced by a more adaptable and flexible playing surface consisting of interlocking pieces.

It is set in a world of swords and sorcery, and is a stunningly designed game with the basic set containing 95 scenarios, 17 playable classes, and more than 1,500 cards, in a box that weighs a staggering 22 pounds!

Not surprisingly, this game is not cheap, normally retailing for over $100.00. It is also one of the highest-rated games of all time!

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3. Terraforming Mars by FryxGames

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Year Introduced: 2016

Players: 1 to 5

Average Playing Time: 2 hours

Rated a respectful 8.4 out of 10 on a leading games review site, this game allows you to do what NASA can only dream of and colonize the planet Mars by terraforming its surface.

The game looks stunning and has a medium complexity rating. The main aim of the game is to raise the oxygen, temperature, and water levels of the planet, for which the players earn victory points.

If terraforming Mars is not enough for you, a recent expansion kit allows you to try and colonize Venus as well!

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4. Power Grid by 2F-Spiele

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Year Introduced: 2004

Player: 2 to 6

Average Playing Time: 2 to 3 hours

I bet you never considered running a power-generating company and competing against other companies to supply electricity to various cities. Well, this game allows you to rectify this oversight in a surprisingly interesting and challenging way.

During the game, the challenge is to make your power stations as efficient as possible, while not overspending as you do so. The game is highly rated with many expansion packs covering a wide variety of countries.

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5. Pandemic by Z-man Games

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Year Introduced: 2008

Players: 2 to 4

Average Playing Time: Less than 1 hour

This game is unusual as it’s a cooperative game where the players work together and not against each other. The game begins with four potentially deadly diseases breaking out in different regions of the world. Each player can choose to be one of seven possible specialists: dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher, operations expert, contingency planner, or quarantine specialist.

Then, by the players working together, they try to avert a global pandemic. Given the recent outbreak of Coronavirus, it feels chillingly relevant.

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6. Blood Bowl by Games Workshop

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Year Introduced: 1986

Players: 2

Average Playing Time: Under 2 hours

Blood Bowl is a fantasy American football board game and is not a game for the faint-hearted! It features teams made up of mythical races like elves, dwarves, and orcs, as well as the undead and humans.

The teams battle it out violently in order to try and score goals against each other. The game has been updated several times over the years, with minor tweaks and add-ons. It is an exciting, brutal, and attractive-looking game, but is not suitable for young children.

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7. Mouse Trap by Ideal

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Year Introduced: 1963

Players: 2 to 4

Average Playing Time: 30 minutes

Only if you see it in person do you really appreciate how utterly mad this game truly is! All players go around the board as mice, working together to build an eighty-piece giant mousetrap. You then try to avoid being captured by it.

The whole game is totally crazy. It is hilarious that, once built, the mousetrap itself is highly temperamental as it often malfunctions when it is set off, due to its many tricky and awkward parts.

A lot of the fun of it is trying to work out where you went wrong in assembling your complex and highly eccentric mouse trap!

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8. Blokus by Sekkoïa

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Year Introduced: 2000

Players: 2 to 4

Average Playing Time: 20 to 30 minutes

Blokus can be learned quickly, as it is quite simple! It is also thought-provoking and considered educational. In fact, this game won the Mensa Select and Teacher’s Choice Awards.

Each player is assigned a color and gets twenty-one Tetris-style shapes in that color. The object of the game is to get rid of as many pieces as possible until you cannot go anymore. One catch is that each time you lay down a shape, it must touch at least one other of the same color, but only at the corner. This makes the game much more tricky and at times delightfully frustrating!

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9. Catan by various companies

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Year Introduced: 1995

Players: 2 to 4

Average Playing Time: 1 to 2 hours

This hugely popular game from Germany has sold well over 20 million copies. Players set up competing colonies on an island, on a game board comprising of hexes (6 sides) locked together.

It is very much a game about skill and strategy, rather than luck. So why not simply play one of the countless similar games that are online? Well, the game is a quality product that is beautifully designed and a joy to play.

There are a number of expansion kits and special editions, so there is plenty to keep you coming back and playing this game again and again.

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10. Twister by Winning Moves

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Year Introduced: 1966

Players: 2 to 4

Average Playing Time: 15 minutes

In 2015, this wacky and fun game was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. It has probably the largest game board (67 inches by 55 inches) of any standard board game, as well as the largest playing pieces too (you and your friends!).

This is a game requiring great physical skill and flexibility. A large plastic mat is laid on the floor and has six rows of large different colored circles on it, consisting of red, blue, green, and yellow. Then a referee will use a spinner board to tell each player which color circle to put their arm or leg on, and whether its the left or right one.

This continues while players get eliminated if their elbow touches the ground or they fall over. The last person remaining on the mat is the winner. People will end up in the oddest positions in order to try and stay in the game.

Note: This fun-packed game has been included on this list as most toy shops and online retailers place it in the board game category.

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11. Ticket to Ride by Days of Wonder

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Year Introduced: 2004

Players: 2 to 5

Average Playing Time: 120 minutes

What could sound more boring than a game about trains? If this is what you think, you would be so very wrong! Though you have probably never heard of this award-winning game, it has a hardcore, almost cult-like following.

The game is all about setting up railway networks across America. It uses no dice, relying on Destination cards instead. As of the time of this writing, the game has added seven additional expansion maps of various parts of the world (Japan, for example).

If you are not careful you will become totally addicted to this geekiest of games!

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12. Backgammon by various companies

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Year Introduced: 3rd Century B.C.

Players: 2

Average Playing Time: less than an hour

It is a game most people have heard of but many have never played. This classic game of counters and dice has been around since 3,000 BC and is all about getting your pieces off the board while making it difficult for your opponent to do the same.

The art is to create strategies at various times, which work along with the element of luck that the dice bring to the game. It is easy to learn and can normally be played in under half an hour. This makes it an engrossing but relatively quick game to play.

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13. Risk - The Game of Global Domination by Hasbro

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Year Introduced: 1959

Players: 2 to 6

Average Playing Time: 2 to 4 hours

Risk is a true classic and also a popular strategy game where players fight to conquer the world by defeating their enemies. What is weird about this one is how addictive the game truly is!

It was first launched over 60 years ago and, since then, there has been a whole array of interesting and challenging special editions. What is nice about the later editions is that the basic game mechanics remain unchanged, but each new version has something unique about it that keeps the experience fresh and challenging.

Some versions include Star Wars, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Assassin’s Creed just to name a few.

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14. Batman: Gotham City Chronicles by Monolith Board Games

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Year Introduced: 2020? (Hopefully)

Players: Not Known

Average Playing Time: Not Known

What could be weirder than purchasing a huge and expensive game, knowing it has not yet been released and no one has ever played it yet? Well, this Kickstarter game looks, feels, and seems awesome.

The board, cards, and figures are breathtaking, as is the price! The basic game costs a pledge of around $140.00, with the premium pack going for $320.00!

Definitely a leap of faith, but it has all the signs of being a classic, though admittedly an expensive one at that!

11

15. Atmosfear by J. W. Spear & Sons

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Year Introduced: 1991

Players: 2 to 6

Average Playing Time: 60 minutes

When this game came out 30 years ago, its idea of using a pre-recorded VHS cassette to guide the gameplay was seen as truly revolutionary! The object of the game was for the players to collect six keys within 60 minutes. Meanwhile, at random intervals, a sinister gatekeeper on the video cassette interrupts in order to punish or reward the players.

It is spooky and chilling at times. The game became very popular and sold two million copies in its first two years, but by 1995 its sales had plummeted and the production of the game ceased.

Nevertheless, it’s a guilty pleasure and deserves to be played … presuming that you still have a VHS player!

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16. Chess by various companies

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Year Introduced: 1500s

Players: 2

Average Playing Time:  From 10 minutes to 6 hours!

If you never learned chess, it can seem very daunting. There are six very different types of pieces on each side with various quirky abilities. For instance, Bishops can move diagonally while Knights can do a funny kind of shuffle (moving two squares forward and one to the side).

There are also special moves like “Castling” (a swapping of certain pieces) and “Check-mate,” which is how you trap the opponent’s King in order to win the game.

Chess is complicated, intimidating, and hard to master. But ultimately if you stick with this highly popular game, you will find it a rewarding experience.

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17. The Game of Life by Winning Moves

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Year Introduced: 1960

Players: 2 to 6

Average Playing Time: 1 hour

This charming board game mirrors real life and all the challenges that lay ahead of you, like going to college, getting married, and having children. Basically, in approximately 60 minutes, you can live a whole lifetime!

The object of the game is to be the first to achieve six life goals in order to win the game. The game is unusual as it uses a number-spinning dial rather than a dice.

Later, there were several special themed editions, including one based on Star Wars and another on My Little Pony, but the game mechanics were pretty much the same.

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18. Dungeon by TSR

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Year Introduced: 1975

Players: 2 to 8 players

Average Playing Time: 1 to 2 hours

Ever fancied being a Warrior, Wizard, Holy Cleric, or Thief in a world of swords and sorcery? If so, setting off and competing with your friends as you explore a dungeon maze full of treasure while fending off terrible and gruesome monsters might be the game for you.

This game is simple and fun, each game being very much different from the last. Another nice thing is that it’s a relatively inexpensive game to purchase.

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19. Go by various companies

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Year Introduced: 5th Century B.C.

Players: 2

Average Playing Time: 90 minutes

Any game that has billions of combinations of possible moves and is 2,500 years old, is intriguing, to say the least! This game is highly popular in the Far East.

The basic concept of the game is very simple. You have a board made up of 19 by 19 squares, and with various strategies and tactics, you try to make your color (black or White) dominate on the board.

Some players of Go believe, rather philosophically, that the game is a spiritual journey that reflects a person’s deep-rooted desire for self-improvement. So, in essence, it is a battle of the individual versus the self, rather than another player!

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20. Axis & Allies 1942 by Avalon Hill

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Year Introduced: 1981

Players: 2 to 5

Average Playing Time: 3 to 5 hours

This highly rated board game that allows you to re-experience aspects of World War Two! At first glance, this may seem like a game only for die-hard wargamers, with its hefty 40-page rule book along with hundreds of counters and a huge game board of the entire world.

But, surprisingly, it is both interesting and engrossing. Once the game mechanics are mastered, it’s quite easy to play. Do not believe it when the manufacturers say that the game takes just 2 to 3 hours; you will be lucky to get the game board and pieces set up in under an hour. And that’s before you even start playing the actual game!

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21. Top Trump Card Game by Waddingtons

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Year Introduced: 1978

Players: 2 and above

Average Playing Time: 10 minutes

This game is very easy to learn and play. You start by dividing the pack of cards among the players. Each card has a unique set of values. You then compete against one another to try and win your opponent’s cards.

With so many special editions of the game such as Superheroes, Jet Fighters, Footballers, etc. you are bound to find one that appeals to you. Some of these editions, however, are downright weird. For instance, in 2018, Waddingtons brought out the “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Commemorative Wedding” pack. It featured members of the Royal Family and some of the more prominent wedding guests.

There is something very bizarre about having the late Princess Diana card competing against Prince William’s baby son, Prince Louis of Cambridge.

Note: Though this is not strictly a board game, we couldn’t resist putting this addictive game on a list of games you should play.

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22. Formula 1 Racing Game by Waddingtons

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Year Introduced: 1962

Players: 2 to 6

Average Playing Time: 30 minutes

In this era of high-definition and incredibly realistic video games, would anyone consider doing it old-school style on a physical playing board? Well, this car racing game, which is over half a century old, has stood the test of time. It still offers a lot of fun and excitement. One added bonus is that it takes just a few minutes to read and learn the rules.

This game allows you to play out all sorts of thrilling things in racing, including speeding, overtaking, cornering tightly, and even crashing. One of the nice things about the game is that it relies only on dice rolls at key moments. The rest of the time, your decisions and strategy dictate how well you play the race.

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23. Scrabble by Mattel & Hasbro

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Year Introduced: 1938

Players: 2 to 4

Average Playing Time: 1 hour

This spelling board game allows you to score points for words made up of letters you have randomly picked. It is so popular that over 150 million sets have been sold since it was first produced over 80 years ago.

It would actually be weird if you never played this game, as it is available in over 120 countries. It is reckoned that about half of British homes and one-third of American homes have a Scrabble set.

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24. Operation by Hasbro

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Year Introduced: 1965

Players: 1 or more

Average Playing Time: 10 to 15 minutes

What can be weirder than to give your kid a toy that encourages them to carry out surgical operations without any kind of formal training? Thankfully, kids do not seem to mimic this in real life by trying it out on their classmates!

The game is really quite simple, but ingenious. You earn cash in the game by carrying out operations on a patient, like removing fictitious items (made of plastic) such as a broken heart or a funny bone. You do this with a pair of metal tweezers through an opening that is not much bigger than the item.

If the tweezers touch the side of the opening, it closes an electric circuit and the patient’s nose lights up red. This means you lose your turn. Great family fun for all ages and guaranteed to make you chuckle!

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25. Trouble (US) / Frustration (UK) by Winning Moves

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Year Introduced: 1965

Players: 2 to 4

Average Playing Time: 30 minutes

This futuristic-looking game is actually rather repetitive, as you simply move around the board trying to get your colored pieces to your home base safely. It has one redeeming feature that means everyone should at least play this game once: it has the coolest dice-rolling device ever, the “Pop-O-Matic“!

In the center of the board is a see-through plastic dome containing two six-sided dice. As you press the dome, there is a popping sound as the dice jump and ricochet off the inside of the dome. This then creates a random number.

This dice-rolling gimmick is hypnotic and you just want to do it continually, even if you don’t care about the actual game!



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