Is there anything better than a good old-fashioned board game? They’re the source of hours of fun, competitiveness and, more often than not, blazing family arguments on Christmas Day. We wouldn’t have it any other way – but what are the best board games?
Despite the rise of video games and online gaming, board games have remained stubborn. In fact, they might even be more popular than ever. It’s hard to find a town without a trendy board game café dominating the streets, while brand-new inventions fill the shelves every single year.
We all love trying something new but sometimes, you can’t beat a classic. So, we’ve put together a list of the best board games out there, highlighting some of the traditional titles that we all know and love.
It’s generally frowned upon to try to rid your friends and family of all their money, condemning them to bankruptcy. But that’s the aim of the game in Monopoly, which has been going strong for close to 90 years.
For those that have somehow avoided Monopoly up until now, you essentially have to work your way around the board, buying houses and hotels and charging the other players in-game cash when they land on your properties.
As well as from rent, cash can be gained or lost through the pesky Chance and Community Chest cards, while players are given money every time they complete a lap of the board. You can also end up in jail, which has spawned the well-known metaphor ‘Get Out Of Jail Free card’.
Monopoly is undoubtedly one of the most popular board games worldwide, with more than 100 different countries having their own version. There have also been countless spinoff games, as well as themed editions based on various films and TV shows.
Whodunnit?! That’s the question on everybody’s lips when the Cluedo board is out. In this classic murder mystery game, players channel their inner Sherlock Holmes as they decipher clues in a mission to uncover which character has been killed.
The game features three classic groups – suspects, rooms and weapons, with each individual one represented by a card. At the start of play, one card from each group is randomly selected and put into an envelope. The rest are then divided between all of the players.
With all the innocent suspects, rooms and weapons now known to the individual players, the aim of the game is to move around the board and use clues to deduce the killing combination hidden in the envelope.
Much like Monopoly, Cluedo has become a worldwide phenomenon since its conception in 1949. There have been countless different spinoffs and versions of the game, as well as books, musicals and an upcoming film.
Snakes and Ladders
Monopoly and Cluedo are fairly modern inventions compared to Snakes and Ladders, which dates back to Ancient India in the second century. And also, unlike its predecessors, there’s no real strategy to winning – it’s purely the luck of what you roll.
Snakes and Ladders is played on a grid board, with the objective being to get from the bottom left square to the top right square. Whatever number you roll represents how many squares you move on your turn – sounds easy, right?
Well, there are plenty of obstacles (and shortcuts) along the way. Whenever you land at the bottom of a ladder, you can climb to the top, often skipping several rows. But beware – if you land at the top of a snake, you’ll have to slither down to the bottom, further from your destination.
It’s thought that the phrase ‘Back to square one’ originated from the game – every day’s a school day, right?!
You sunk my battleship! A strategy guessing game that was originally played on sheets of paper, Battleships was developed into a board game back in the ‘60s. Its origins stretch back to World War I, with the objective being to sink your opponent’s ships.
The two-player game sees each player given two grids, with the individual squares identified by a letter and number. The players are given ships of varying lengths, which they position wherever they like on one grid.
They then take it in turns to ‘shoot’ at their opposite number’s ships by guessing a position on the grid. If they guess right, they take another turn. If they guess all of the squares that a ship takes up, that battleship is considered to be ‘sunk’.
Ultimately, the aim of the game is to sink all of the opposing ships. Much like the others in our list of best board games, Battleships has resulted in various iterations in popular culture, including video games and a film.
Fans of Harry Potter will know all about this game, although sadly the wizard’s version doesn’t exist (yet!). Chess takes just a few minutes to learn but many years to master and it’s a game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
The aim of the game is to attack your opponent’s pieces, backing their King into a corner until they have nowhere to run. In order to get to this point, you’ll generally have to take their other pieces and weaken their strategy.
Each piece has specific ways in which it can move, with the Queen being the most powerful. Girl power! And if you fancy some tips and tricks to improve your chess strategy, check out our handy guide.
Word nerds, assemble! If quirky words and spelling is your thing, you’ll absolutely love Scrabble. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to use your letter tiles to create words on the board.
Each letter is worth a different number of points so generally, longer words, or those containing ‘unfashionable’ letters such as q, x or z, will give you a better score.
And there are bonus squares on the board waiting to boost your points tally, including the holy grail – the triple word score!
Let’s face it, we’ve all spent a lot of time watching quiz shows on TV in the last year or so. Well, it’s time to put that knowledge to the test with a game of Trivial Pursuit!
This family friendly board game pits you against one another in a battle of the brains. Make your way around the board, answering questions on whatever subjects you land on.
The categories are traditionally Geography, Entertainment, History, Arts & Literature, Science & Nature and Sports & Leisure. However, there are now countless different versions, so you could always pick up a music edition, or one based on your favourite TV show.
Sorry to disappoint but we’re not ordering pizza, just waffling on about another of the best board games. Well, it’s not strictly a board game as it just consists of tiles, each one split in half and featuring a specific number of dots.
The aim of the game is to take it in turns to match your tiles to those of your opponents and empty your hand first.
But you can only match tiles to those with a corresponding number, so it becomes a tactical game in which you look to block your opponents from being able to take their turn.
Another family favourite, Pictionary is infinitely more difficult – but a lot more hilarious – if your drawing skills aren’t quite up to scratch.
Inspired by Charades, players are split into teams and take it in turns to select a word or phrase from the specific categories.
That player then has to draw whatever is on their card, with their teammates required to guess it. Art attack!
An oldie but a goodie, many of you will feel a pang of nostalgia at the thought of Connect 4. A childhood classic, the objective is pretty much given to you in the title – Connect 4!
Each player is given a set of counters – traditionally one red and one yellow – and they take it in turns to drop them into a grid.
The winner is the first person to get four of their counters connecting in a line, whether it is horizontally, vertically or diagonally. But, like most games, you can tactically block your opponent’s move and force them to rethink their strategy. Cruel!
Statistically, half of the doctors in the UK were inspired to study medicine after growing up playing Operation. Okay, we may have completely made that up, but it wouldn’t surprise us if it were true.
While a lot of the games on our list involve strategy and luck, Operation is purely based on skill. Players need to keep a steady hand as they use the tweezers to remove various organs from ‘Cavity Sam’.
One slip of the hand will set off the buzzer, ending your turn. Can you handle the pressure?
Time for another trip down memory lane! Mouse Trap was generally more fun to set up than actually play – although it is still a pretty enjoyable board game.
As always, the aim is to make your way around the board. However, the elaborate traps set up can get in your way, causing your playing piece to become trapped.
If you become trapped, you’re out of the game, meaning the last player standing is crowned the winner.
Like Mouse Trap, Jenga takes ages to set up and can be over in seconds, leaving you with a great big mess to tidy up.
The game is constructed of wooden blocks built into a tower, with three on each level. Players take it in turns to remove a block, hoping to avoid the tower toppling.
Naturally, the longer the game lasts, the more unstable the tower becomes. And obviously, if the tower falls on your turn, you’re out of the game.
A game that sort of fuses Trivial Pursuit with Charades, Articulate! again requires players to move around a board and land on different categories.
However, instead of answering questions, they have to describe whatever is on their card to their teammates without saying any of the words.
The more answers you get right within the time limit, the further forward you move on the board. Incredibly, back in 2017, one team set the Guinness World Record, answering a whopping 411 questions right in one game.
Best Board Games
So, you’ve heard about the board games, why not take on the slots? There are plenty of board game-themed slots available on our site. Which one will you try first?