The 22 best board games to bring to game night, from beloved classics to new favorites

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An image of a family playing the board game, Clue
The classic Clue is one of our favorite board games to play in 2021. Amazon
  • Playing board games is a fun activity that brings family and friends together.
  • The best board games range from silly party tricks to brain crunchers that require strategy.
  • These 22 popular board games guarantee a great bonding experience with new friends and old.

Board games have evolved over the years, but the best usually all share the same attributes – bringing out your competitiveness and strategic side while creating memorable bonding experiences.

By no means is this list definitive, but through our research, crowdsourcing with colleagues, and personal experience, we’ve narrowed down the 22 best board games, from turn-based strategies to laugh-out-loud party games.

We took some liberty with the term “board game” since some of these are card games or don’t involve physical boards. Some can even be played virtually over the computer or by phone, so even those who can’t join at the dining room table can still partake.

Here are the 22 best board games to try with friends and family:

Monopoly
A photo of the Monopoly game board
Available at Amazon, $US20 ($AU27).99 ($AU29)

Players: 2- 8 

“One reason for Monopoly’s staying power is because it has the elements of what makes a great board game: It involves strategy, negotiation, secrecy, manipulation. 

My family loves to play the game a lot. In fact, our version at home is from my mom’s college days. It’s missing one card, which my mom had replaced with a piece of cardboard and wrote the information on by hand. It’s one part game, one part heirloom.

This game has also evolved into numerous modern remakes, like the Disney edition, Cheaters edition, and Voice Banking Edition (currently sold out), which put a spin on the classic gameplay. My family also owns these, but it’s mom’s original that we still go to.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Former Story Production Fellow

Clue
An image of a family playing the board game, Clue
Available at Amazon, $US9.84 ($AU13)

Players: 3-6 

“Another classic alongside Monopoly, Clue uses your investigative and memory skills, as well as abilities to read other players’ expressions to figure out that Mrs. Peacock did it with the wrench. Or, was it Colonel Mustard and the candlestick? Like Monopoly, this game also has different editions, such as the Las Vegas version seen here with my dad and me.

Some of my have friends tried to use a mathematical formula to solve the mystery, but it never works. I find just looking at people’s expressions can give certain things away. To make it more personal, you can create your own version of the gameplay with your friends as the suspects.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Story Production Fellow

Pictionary
Image of the Pictionary board game laid out with cards, a dice, a timer, and pens to the side, best board games 2021
Available on Amazon, $US19.99 ($AU27)

Players: 2 or more

“Pictionary is another classic game that can get wildly competitive. 

If you’re good at drawing under a time crunch, then this is the game for you. And if you can’t draw very well, that makes this game all the more fun.” — Anna Popp, Home and Kitchen Fellow

Sorry!
Image of Sorry! laid out on a table with the figurines and cards on it, best board games 2021
Available at Amazon, $US9.84 ($AU13)

Players: 2-4

“I never knew how competitive Sorry! could be until I played with several of my friends. An oldie but a goodie, Sorry! is a game everyone should have in their home.” — Anna Popp, Home and Kitchen Fellow 

Catch Phrase
Image of the black handheld game Catch Phrase with word “shamrock” on the screen, best board games 2021
Players: 2- 8 

“One reason for Monopoly’s staying power is because it has the elements of what makes a great board game: It involves strategy, negotiation, secrecy, manipulation. 

My family loves to play the game a lot. In fact, our version at home is from my mom’s college days. It’s missing one card, which my mom had replaced with a piece of cardboard and wrote the information on by hand. It’s one part game, one part heirloom.

This game has also evolved into numerous modern remakes, like the Disney edition, Cheaters edition, and Voice Banking Edition, which put a spin on the classic gameplay. My family also owns these, but it’s mom’s original that we still go to.” — Ariel Ti layoff, Story Production Fellow

 

Codenames
Woman at table playing Codenames board game
Available at Amazon, $US11.41 ($AU16)

Players:  4-8 

“If you haven’t guessed, my friends and I love game nights, preferably played alongside some wine and cheese. Codenames is a guessing game that revolves around two teams, and the goal is to guess all the words they were given based on word association clues given by each team’s “spymaster.”

Our description is a bit simplistic but it’s far more challenging when played. It’s a game for wordsmiths — besides that other game.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Story Production Fellow

Exploding Kittens Party
Image of the red, purple, and orange board game box for Exploding Kittens, best board games 2021
Available on Amazon, $US24.99 ($AU34)

Players: 2-10

“The most important rule of the game Exploding Kittens is that you want to be prepared for getting an Exploding Kitten card which can terminate your part in the game if you are prepared. This game can get pretty competitive, especially when you can sabotage other players with Exploding Kitten cards.” — Anna Popp, Home and Kitchen Fellow

Hearing Things
A photo of a group of friends sitting on a gray couch, one is wearing headphones, and a deck of cards is on the table
Available at Amazon, $US11.48 ($AU16)

Players: 2-4 

“This game is about reading lips. Each player puts on a pair of noise-isolation headphones and tries to guess what someone is saying. As you would expect, there’s a lot of wrong answers while hilarity ensues. 

My friends and I would forego the included headphones — we could still hear each other with them — and, instead, use Beats wireless headphones while playing some music to drown out the noise. 

The person or team that guesses the most phrases within a certain time frame wins. This game is good to play with family or a small group of friends but it can’t be pushed beyond four people due to its setup.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Story Production Fellow

Goat on a Boat
Image of the blue box to the game Goat on a Boat with cards and a dice next to it, best board games 2021
Available at Amazon, $US18.36 ($AU25)

Players: 2-20

“A game of rhyming, charades, and decoding phrases, Goat on a Boat is a hilarious team card game where you have to guess the rhyme or clues to a full phrase before the time runs out.” — Anna Popp, Home and Kitchen Fellow 

Anomia Party Edition
Image of five people playing the board game Amonia with green cards on the table, best board games 2021
Available at Amazon, $US21.93 ($AU30)

Players: 3-6

“If you enjoy word games, I’d recommend trying Anomia. Cards have symbols and words on them, and you have to race an opponent to name things that fall into the card’s category — for example, categories could be rodent, dinosaur, male tennis player, etc.” — Mara Leighton, Senior Education and Personal Development Reporter

Heads Up!
Heads Up!
Available at Amazon, $US18.18 ($AU25)

Players: 2- 6 

“Also known as the “Ellen Degeneres game,” Heads Up! originally started as a popular smartphone app. The board game version follows the same tactics: The player has to guess what’s on the card hidden from their view (it’s on their head), based on clues given by other players. There is a time limit and it moves fast.

Watching people attempt to act out some of the clues is hilarious and what makes it enjoyable. The game also has different expansion packs to keep things fresh.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Story Production Fellow

Midnight Taboo:
A man playing a board game called Midnight Taboo.
Available at Amazon, $US19.99 ($AU27)

Players: 4-8 

“This is the after-dark version of the classic game Taboo. Like the original, one player is the clue giver and the others have to guess the word. The person giving clues is only given a minute to explain the words — like “booze,” “lick,” and “suck” — while someone hovers over with a buzzer in case they say the forbidden word. 

In this adults-only version, the descriptions are hilarious and risque. If you want to play with family or kids, stick with the regular Taboo game.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Story Production Fellow

Pandemic
Image of the Pandemic board game and box with person holding a card, best board games 2021
Available at Amazon, $US43.58 ($AU60)

Players: 2-4

“For groups with stellar teamwork, Pandemic is for you. It can be played with two to four players, all of whom must collaborate to quash the spread of a virus. 

My friends and I have never beaten this game, but it’s so fun, we will not stop trying.” — Sarah Saril, Tech Deals and Streaming Reporter

Ticket to Ride
A photo of the Ticket to Ride game board
Available at Amazon, $US43.99 ($AU60)

Players: Up to 5 

“Ticket to Ride is an award-winning European-style board game that requires you to think ahead before you make a move. The point of the game is to run trains and decide routes between iconic cities — the longer the route, the more points you gain, but it is more complex when played. 

A fun feature this game has is you can include your Amazon Alexa device. If you tell Alexa, “Play Ticket to Ride,” it will start up the game, teach you how to play, add fun sound effects, and keep track of your scores. It is extremely fun for all ages and does not take much time to learn.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Story Production Fellow

Catan
Catan
Available at Amazon, $US43.67 ($AU60)

Players: 3-4 

“Catan is a strategy game and the goal is to collect resources to expand your settlement. You’ll have to barter with other players, strategize the best way to gain points, and fight off thievery. The game is so popular that there are Catan tournaments around the world.

The classic version Catan is the favorite although there are also Seafarers, Junior, and even a Game of Thrones version. This game is suitable for players ages 10 or older, but plan to dedicate a few hours.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Story Production Fellow

 

Trivial Pursuit
An image of the Tirival Pursuit game board with a question card and sets of green, pink, yellow, and blue game pieces
Available at Amazon, $US17.76 ($AU24)

Players:  2- 6 

“If you like trivia, you’ll love this game. Another classic that remains popular, Trivial Pursuit tests your knowledge in a variety of categories, including sports, entertainment, and history. You have to answer a question right in each category to win; it’s simple if you know your obscure facts.

There are also special editions that focus on specific topics, like US history and “Star Wars” movies. Even if you lose, you’ll gain some new insights.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Story Production Fellow

 

Wingspan
Image of five cards with birds on them and the board game wingspan in the background, best board games 2021
Available at Amazon, $US50.50 ($AU69)

Players: 1-5

“Nature lovers and bird watchers will enjoy playing Wingspan. From the Mountain Chickadee to the Western Meadowlark, you collect unique bird cards and try to lay as many eggs as possible. 

Wingspan has a solo mode and can be played by up to five people.” — Reece Rogers, Streaming Fellow

Mastermind for Kids
An image of the board game Mastermind for Kids, which features colorful miniature hippos
Available at Macy’s, $US12.99 ($AU18)

Players: 2 

“My brother and I used to play this game on long family road trips. Taking turns, one player would set up a code while the other tries to solve it, and vice versa. This kids’ version teaches problem-solving skills, which they can then apply to the adult version of the game or their studies.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Story Production Fellow

All Bad Cards
All Bad Cards pick a winner
Available for free at All Bad Cards

Players: 1-12 

“Inspired by the popular Cards Against Humanity, All Bad Cards is the online card game not for prudes. Like CAH, ABC involves a deck of (virtual) cards and from those cards, players fill in the blanks to create hilarious, highly NSFW sentences. It’s Mad Libs for adults.

I recently played with friends from my study-abroad program — all you need is a computer or phone and then create a shareable link to send to your friends. We spent about two hours playing and laughing, and it was a great way for us to reconnect after not seeing each other for a while. 

There is also a family-friendly version called (Not) All Bad Cards that’s more appropriate to play with kids. Another fun game for the family is the classic Apples to Apples.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Former Story Production Fellow

Here’s how to play All Bad Cards

Sequence
Sequence
Available at Amazon, $US17.97 ($AU25)

Players: 2-12 

“This game is all about the luck of the draw. The point is to be the first to make a sequence — having five of the same color marker chip in a line, whether it be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal — and the number of sequences will depend on how many teams are playing.

This game requires strategy, speed, and teamwork to win. It’s a great game to play either with a friend or a large group of people.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Story Production Fellow

 

Disney Sketchy Tales
An image of a family playing Disney Sketchy Tales
Available at Walmart, $US20 ($AU27)

Players: 4-8 

“The one thing my friends and family will never outgrow is our love of all things Disney, which is why this drawing game is a perfect way to channel our fandom. Sadly, our attempts at drawing Disney characters won’t get us jobs as animators, but they are fine for a good laugh.” — Ariel Tilayoff, Story Production Fellow

  

Peppa Pig Chutes and Ladders
Image of the Peppa Pig themed chutes and ladders board game with the spinning wheel next to it, best board games 2021
Available at Amazon, $US10.99 ($AU15)

Players: 2-4

“Chutes and Ladders is always a fun game of chance and hoping to avoid the chutes. This Peppa Pig addition is not only adorable for kids, but adults can enjoy the board game as well.” — Anna Popp, Home and Kitchen Fellow