35 Best Board Games for Adults (and the Young at Heart)

If the best board games for adults prove one thing, it’s that certain titles simply never lose their entertaining edge. As such, you can grab popular board games (a term we’re using quite loosely in this context) such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue, and Battleship off the shelf and have as much fun with them now as you did when you were just a kid.

On the flip side of that G-rated coin is something like Cards Against Humanity, which might be described as NSFW. Hovering somewhere in the middle are strategic games and world-building games such as Risk, Settlers of Catan, Axis & Allies, Close Encounter, Gloomhaven, and more.

If you know anything about playing board games, it’s that everyone wants to skip straight to the action. Let’s do just that! In no particular order, here are the best board games for adults.

1. Scrabble

A timeless title if there ever was one, Scrabble has been challenging both your regular word skills and your proverbial crossword skills for decades. While enjoyable as a kid, it’s far more fun to play when you have a wider vocabulary at your disposal. That alone makes it one of the best board games for adults.

Players: 2 – 4
Playtime: 60 – 90 minutes
Good for ages
: 8 and up
Object of the game: Use random letter tiles to form words on the board while stacking up as many points as possible

Buy it here

2. Monopoly

More than a popular board game, Monopoly is practically built into the modern lexicon. Like Scrabble, this classic title only gets better as you get older. Maybe it’s because the concepts of buying real estate, making money, and going directly to jail become all the more palpable (for better or worse, naturally). That’s not to mention the fact that each game can take hours at a time, which is why most kids never finish.

Players: 2 – 8
Playtime: 60 – 180 minutes
Good for ages
: 8 and up
Object of the game: Use play money to amass a fake real estate portfolio and thereby build a pretend empire, driving all the other players out of business

Buy it here

3. Catan

Before the video game adaptations and spin-offs, there was the original Euro-style tabletop game. First published in 1995, Catan (aka Settlers of Catan) takes place on a fictional island, where players must use resources to build cities and settlements out of uncultivated land. Strategising is essential and fun is guaranteed, no matter what your age.

Players: 3 – 4
Playtime: 60 – 120 minutes
Good for ages
: 10 and up
Object of the game: Use resources to settle a fictional island, gaining ownership over the settlements and earning victory points along the way

Buy it here

4. Clue

Bring out your inner detective by way of classic Clue (Cluedo in most regions), which remains one of the best board games for adults and young adults alike. Was it Professor Plum in the library with a wrench? Or did Mrs. Peacock do the deed in the kitchen using a candlestick? Play this fun board game to find out and then go watch the movie (which is actually kind of good).

Players: 3 – 6
Playtime: 45 minutes
Good for ages
: 8 and up
Object of the game: Gather clues to figure out which character is actually a sadistic murderer

Buy it here

5. Battleship

“You sunk my battleship!” Ahhhh, there’s a line that simply never gets old. To prove as much, pull this endlessly fun board game from the shelf, wipe off the dust, and go to war against the nearest friend or loved one. Or you can just download the app. Whatever you decide, prepare for some serious entertainment.

Players: 2
Playtime: 30 minutes
Good for ages
: 7 and up
Object of the game: Guess the location of your opponent’s battleships in order to sink them

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6. Articulate!

With 30 seconds on the clock, can you get someone else to guess a specific word without saying the word itself, the length, the starting letter, any derivative, or any other words that it might rhyme with or sound like? Pick up this best-selling board game to find out.

Players: 4 – 8
Playtime: 60 minutes
Good for ages
: 12 and up
Object of the game: Get other players to guess a specific word in 30 seconds or less without breaking the rules

Buy it here

7. Connect 4

Expanding upon the concept of Tic-Tac-Toe in all sorts of glorious ways, Connect 4 is yet another childhood classic that continues to deliver a great time for adults. After all, you’re never too old to experience the thrill of shouting out “Connect 4” and then hearing all those chips hit the surface. Maybe it’s not a “board game” in the technical sense, but it’s close enough to qualify. In fact, it might just be the best board game without an actual board that you ever play.

Players: 2
Playtime: 15 minutes
Good for ages
: 6 and up
Object of the game: Try to stack four chips in a row before the other player

Buy it here

8. Chess

People take Chess so seriously that we might get in trouble for putting it on the same list as board games like Monopoly and Battleship…not that it’s going to stop us. A true original, its origins can be traced as far back as the 6th century (if not earlier). You might play it more and more as an adult, but don’t take that to mean some young Bobby Fischer-like prodigy won’t come along and whoop your butt.

Players: 2
Playtime: 60 minutes
Good for ages
: 6 and up
Object of the game: Use military-style game pieces to strategically take down the opponent’s king

Buy it here

9. Villainous

Ripped straight out of a world only Disney could create, this popular board game allows you to take on the role of your favourite villain. Choose from the likes of Captain Hook, Maleficent, and others, and then strategise accordingly. Fun for adults perhaps, but you might want to play this one with the family.

Players 2 – 6
Playtime: 50 minutes
Good for ages
: 10 and up
Object of the game: Assume the identity of a Disney villain and fulfil designated objectives

Buy it here

10. Axis & Allies

You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy Axis & Allies, which takes place during WWII and pits various world powers against one another in a battle for supremacy. That said, being a history buff certainly doesn’t hurt. Now, who wants to be Hitler?!

Players: 2 – 6
Playtime: 180 minutes
Good for ages
: 12 and up
Object of the game: Represent a global superpower as you team up with allies, fulfill objectives, and engage in combat

Buy it here

11. Betrayal at House on the Hill

Do you like scary movies? Yeah? How about scary board games? If so, then you’ll love this modern-day board game for adults (and young adults), which takes place inside a haunted house. Boo!

Players: 3 – 6
Playtime: 60 minutes
Good for ages
: 12 and up
Object of the game: Build your own haunted house and then try to escape it

Buy it here

12. Pandemic

Here’s another modern-day classic board game with some downright scary overtones (especially given recent headlines). Four deadly diseases have broken out across the world and it’s up to you and the other players to stop them. Teamwork! Teamwork!

Players: 2 – 4
Playtime: 45 minutes
Good for ages
: 13 and up
Object of the game: Cooperate with other players to stop a number of deadly outbreaks

Buy it here

13. Guess Who?

Veering back into classic game territory, allow us to reintroduce Guess Who? Through a series of questions, you must determine which character card your opponent is holding. While this one doesn’t exactly scream “best board games for adults,” you might enjoy it far more than you think.

Players: 2
Playtime: 15 minutes
Good for ages
: 6 and up
Object of the game: Ask yes or no questions to eliminate candidates as you try to determine which character card your opponent has selected

Buy it here

14. Candy Land

Like Guess Who?, Candy Land isn’t exactly the best board game for adults (it is for ages 3 and up, after all). On the other hand, iconic board games of this magnitude can potentially bring out your inner child and there’s no harm in that. When all else fails, you can always Google “adult Candy Land” to see where it takes you.

Players: 2 – 4
Playtime: 30 minutes
Good for ages
: 3 and up
Object of the game: Choose candy-themed cards and race others to the finish on a candy-themed board

Buy it here

15. Risk

The stakes can’t get any higher than they do in Risk, in which various players pursue world domination. Pairing careful strategy with a little luck, this fun board game will have you clenching your teeth for hours on end. Let’s also give a shout-out to modern spin-offs like the Games of Thrones, Star Wars, The Walking Dead and Metal Gear Solid Editions.

Players: 2 – 6
Playtime: 120 minutes
Good for ages
: 10 and up
Object of the game: Build an army and battle against others for world domination

Buy it here

16. Trouble

If you have kids, then surely you have this classic board game lying around somewhere. Gather some friends, take it out, and get popping on that Pop-O-Matic bubble. We dare you!

Players: 2 – 4
Playtime: 30 minutes
Good for ages
: 5 and up
Object of the game: Use the Pop-O-Matic bubble to roll die and race opponents to the finish, occasionally getting bumped back along the way

Buy it here

17. Carcassonne

If world-building is your thing, then make Carcassonne your new board game. Inspired by a fortified French town of the same name, players build a medieval landscape one tile at a time. Take that, Minecraft!

Players: 2 – 5
Playtime: 45 minutes
Good for ages
: 8 and up
Object of the game: Use tiles to create a medieval landscape and then tally points after the last tile is placed

Buy it here

18. Telestrations

In the vein of classic board games such as Pictionary, Telestrations cranks that drawing and guessing dial all the way up to the max. Easily one of the best board games for adults, it’s particularly fun to play at parties.

Players: 4 – 8
Playtime: 30 minutes
Good for ages
: 12 and up
Object of the game: Draw sketches, pass sketches, guess sketches, vote on favourites, and award points

Buy it here

19. Jenga

What can we say about Jenga that you don’t already know? It was fun when you were a kid and just as fun when you’re an adult, especially when alcohol is involved. Jenga!

Players: 1 – 8
Playtime: 20 minutes
Good for ages
: 6 and up
Object of the game: Pull block pieces from a tower until the tower topples over

Buy it here

20. Fallout

Inspired by the iconic video game series, this popular board game takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Featuring modular arrangements and character customisations, it draws upon scenarios from “Fallout 3” and “Fallout 4.” How can it not be one of the best board games?

Players: 1 – 4
Playtime: 120 – 180 minutes
Good for ages
: 14 and up
Object of the game: Explore a post-apocalyptic wasteland, fight enemies, complete quests, and survive

Buy it here

21. Mysterium

Combining your favourite mystery games with your favourite guessing games, Mysterium represents the best of all worlds. One player takes on the role of a ghost while the other players become psychics. Relying heavily on illustrative clues, you and the others must track down a murderer.

Players: 2 – 7
Playtime: 40 – 60 minutes
Good for ages
: 10 and up
Object of the game: Adopt the role of either victim or psychic to figure out who committed a murder, as well as where and how the murder took place

Buy it here

22. Scythe

What began as a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign became this wildly popular engine-building game, which recently landed at #9 on BoardGameGeek’s list of the best board games. Like something out of a dystopian film, it takes place in a retro-futuristic alternate 1920s Europe. Using your wits, your resources, and your dieselpunk war machines, you must amass the most coins before the game ends.

Players: 1 – 5
Playtime: 90 – 120 minutes
Good for ages
: 14 and up
Object of the game: Build an economic engine, trade goods, engage in battle, create structures, and amass the biggest fortune

23. Cosmic Encounter

First published in 1977, Close Encounter makes Risk look almost tame by comparison. Not only do you take on the role of an alien race, but you’re allowed to break one of the game’s fixed rules during play. Meanwhile, you must interact and make deals with the other players (ahem, aliens) on your path to universal supremacy. Among fantasy lovers, in particular, this is one of the best board games of all time.

Players: 3 – 5
Playtime: 60 – 120 minutes
Good for ages
: 14 and up
Object of the game: Assume the role of an alien race and strategise your way toward universal domination

Buy it here

24. Root

If Cosmic Encounter is a little too cosmic for your taste, consider Root instead. A woodland game of might and right, it finds 2 to 4 players (or more if you bring in expansion packs) battling for control over a vast wilderness. Personal creativity is encouraged by way of role-playing or narrative-building.

Players: 2 – 4
Playtime: 60 – 90 minutes
Good for ages
: 14 and up
Object of the game: Square off against other players over control of a forest kingdom

Buy it here

25. Gloomhaven

While we’re still on a fantasy kick, let’s take a trip to Gloomhaven. To wander beyond these walls is to enter a medieval world of adventure, fortune, wealth, and fame. Taking on the role of a mercenary, you must work with others to navigate a Dungeons & Dragons-like terrain.

Players: 1 – 4
Playtime: 60 – 120 minutes
Good for ages
: 12 and up
Object of the game: Team up with others to take down monsters, clear dungeons, and conquer in an epic fantasy world

Buy it here

26. Cranium

Take the best aspects of games like Pictionary, charades, and Trivial Pursuit, and put them all in one place. Voila! You’re now playing Cranium, i.e. one of the best board games ever. Leave the kids at home and play this one strictly with adults—you’ll be glad you did.

Players: 4 – 16
Playtime: 60 minutes
Good for ages
: 16 and up
Object of the game: Pick a partner and engage in various mini-games as you advance on the board

Buy it here

27. Cards Against Humanity

It’s not a board game per se, but this list would feel naked without it. Described as a “party game for horrible people,” Cards Against Humanity isn’t exactly that, though you might feel guilty after playing it.

Players: 4 – 20
Playtime: 30 – 60 minutes
Good for ages
: 17 and up
Object of the game: One player asks a pre-ordained question, others give pre-ordained answers, and everyone votes on the best response (which is usually the funniest)

Buy it here

best board games

28. Backgammon

One of the oldest known board games in the world, players roll dice and move checkers around the board in a clockwise motion, looking to beat their opponent to the finish. Sounds simple right? That’s because it is until your opponent forces checkers back to the start turning the tides just like the blue shell in Mario Kart can turn the tides in a race. Like chess, backgammon is available in a wide range of versions from cheap as chips to expensive cases with beautiful felt and brass fittings. Take your pick.

Players: 2
Playtime: 30 minutes
Good for ages: 5 and up
Object of the game: Roll dice to move checkers around the board and beat your opponent to the finish

Buy it here

jaws board game

29. Jaws

One player takes on the role of the murderous shark while the others play as Brody, Hooper and Quint who hunt the man-eater. The gameplay is divided into two acts – Amity Island and The Orca fishing trawler – played on a double-sided board replicating the film’s story. The humans save swimmers and defend the boat, while the shark menaces swimmers and tries to sink the boat. The hardest part is deciding who gets to be the shark.

Players: 2 – 4
Playtime: 60 minutes
Good for ages: 12 and up
Object of the game: One player menaces the island as a three-ton great white while the other human players go on the hunt

Buy it here

best board games

30. Ticket to Ride

Known within my family simply as “the train game,” Ticket to Ride sees players collect cards featuring various coloured train cars and use them to claim railway routes across the country. The longer the routes, the more points you earn. The game is simple to learn, but tough to master as devious players will attempt to block you and halt your nationwide expansions. The original version of Ticket to Ride features a map of the USA, but subsequent versions focus on Europe, Germany, Switzerland, London, Japan and more.

Players: 2 – 5
Playtime: 30 – 60 minutes
Good for ages: 8 and up
Object of the game:  Collect cards to claim railway routes connecting cities and earning more points than opponents

Buy it here

cycling board game race

31. Flamme Rouge

What you have here is the ability to win the Tour De France without breaking a sweat. Flamme Rouge is a fast-paced, tactical bicycle racing game where each player controls a team of two riders: a Rouleur and a Sprinter. The goal is to be the first to cross the finish line with one rider. Players move by drawing and playing cards and using slipstreams to avoid exhaustion and position their team for a well-timed sprint for the win.

Players: 2 – 4
Playtime: 30 – 45 minutes
Good for ages: 8 and up
Object of the game: Play cards to strategically move your riders along the board and win the cycle race

Buy it here

bananagrams word game

32. Bananagrams

Bananagrams is like Scrabble on speed. There’s no game board. Instead, the tiles are divided up equally, and each player uses their own tiles to build a crossword puzzle independently of the other players. The first player to use all of their tiles wins. Why is the case a banana? Because marketing pulled no punches that day.

Players: 2 – 8
Playtime: 15 minutes
Good for ages: 8 and up
Object of the game: Be the first player to use all of the tiles to build a crossword puzzle

Buy it here

party board game

33. Codenames

Two teams of spies compete to be the first to make contact with their agents while avoiding the rival team and the assassin. Codenames is a little like Charades except the answers are presented on cards, and each description needs to suggest more than one card at a time. It’s tough, but fun when entertaining a few friends over drinks. There’s a stack of great versions including Marvel and The Simpsons-themed decks.

Players: 2 – 8
Playtime: 15 minutes
Good for ages: 14 and up
Object of the game: be the first to pick all of the corresponding cards revealed via one-word clues

Buy it here

horrified board game box

34. Horrified

Horrified, the cooperative game, has players working together against Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Dracula, The Mummy, The Invisible Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Each monster requires different strategies and tactics and each game is a unique experience.

Players: 1 – 5
Playtime: 60 minutes
Good for ages: 10 and up
Object of the game: Work with other players by rolling dice and drawing cards to eliminate the movie monsters

Buy it here

NSFW drawing game

35. Drawing Without Dignity

This hilarious card game combines the core principles of Pictionary but replaces the child-friendly content with the NSFW content of Cards Against Humanity. It’s dirty, it’s disgusting and brings new meaning to the term ‘dick pic.”

Players: 4 – 12
Playtime: 30 – 60 minutes
Good for ages: 18 and up
Object of the game: Be the first team to reach the score limit by correctly identifying teammates drawings

Buy it here

General FAQ

What are fun board games for adults?

The list of top board games for adults is long to the point of exhausting. Here some perennial favourites: Cranium, Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Risk, and Clue.

What are the Top 10 board games of all time?

A list of the best (or at least the most iconic) board games of all time might look like this: Chess, Monopoly, Scrabble, Risk, Stratego, Battleship, Settlers of Catan, Clue, Pictionary, and Sorry.

What is the oldest board game?

The oldest board game known to man is called Senet and it's been found in ancient Egyptian burials dating back to around 3100 BC.

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