10 Modern Board Games That Don’t Suck

If you’ve spent any time on Kickstarter perusing successful projects, you may have realized we are in a sort of board game renaissance. We’re not talking Trouble, Mouse Trap, or Life, these games can get complex and reward your patience with a deeper gaming experience. Even if you didn’t hop onboard years ago, there’s never been a better time to add something new to your collection than right now. So gather up a few friends, crack a few beers, and spend a night tossing around some dice.



1. Euphoria

Euphoria is a worker placement game where you attempt to claim a dystopian city. You’re in control of your workers as you restrict the freedom of others and cash in on artifacts to fight your way to the top. But you’re no kind-hearted soul, you purposely make your workers dumb and pay them in drugs to keep them from getting wiser about their shitty lives. (2-6 players)
(Stonemaier Games)


2. Inceptor

Currently sailing to Kickstarter funding, Inceptor is the board game version of the movie Inception. The entirety of the game takes place inside a dream and the board is the dreamer’s mind. Grab your totem and dive in. (2-5 players)
(Pilot Study)


3. Amerigo

The best part of Amerigo, the part that will make you want to come back for more, is the unique cube tower at the center of the game. The tower is filled with different-colored cubes and players drop more in that will knock some of the stuck ones free. It’s partially luck and partially skill trying to remember which colors are in there since each corresponds to a different action. The gameplay is more involved as you sail around the board, but the tower is original and makes the game just that more entertaining. (2-4 players)
(Queen Games)


4. A Game Of Thrones

This isn’t some shoddy knock-off that just gets by because of its name, it’s an exciting way to spend some evenings between episodes. It’s your chance to lay claim to the Iron Throne. You play for 10 rounds and whoever conquers the most land shall get to rest upon that terribly uncomfortable-looking throne. (3-6 players)
(Fantasy Flight Games)


5. Ticket to Ride

Since its debut around a decade ago, Ticket to Ride has been collecting awards for its addictive gameplay. The idea is simple – get your train pieces down and get around to different cities – but the strategy of blocking other players’ routes makes it a bit more cutthroat than you’d imagine. Easy to learn with tons of replay value. (2-5 players)
(Days of Wonder)


6. Kemet

If you’re looking for a great-looking game with sharply designed pieces, Kemet is perfect. Luckily, it also happens to be a great little war game as well. It’s made by the same guys who made Cyclades (a very popular game in its own right) and takes a little bit of time to get down, but once you do, you’ll be battling all over either side of the two-sided board. (2-5 players)
(Asmodee)


7. Agricola

Many people will tell you that, after playing it a few times, Agricola will become your favorite board game. Honestly, it’s hard to argue after doing so. You control your little family and try to plan a successful future while leaving your little wooden shack behind. It’s a turn-based game that is complex yet not too difficult to grasp, and with so many different ways to attack it and strategies to plan, it will remain entertaining for a long time. (1-5 players)
(Z Man Games)


8. Trajan

Using ancient Rome as a backdrop for anything immediately gets our attention. In Trajan you try to gain power in a variety of areas of life – politics, military, trading – and your path to the most victory points is never a simple one. The mancala-style system adds an element that is rather unique and it makes you think many moves in advance to be successful. It also happens to be visually stunning. (2-4 players)
(Passport Game Studios)


9. Cards Against Humanity

It might not technically be a “board game,” but that doesn’t mean it won’t be the greatest thing to happen to your game night since beer and Doritos. It’s like Apples to Apples but for people with a messed-up sense of humor. Basically, don’t break it out with the grandma. (4+ players)
(Cards Against Humanity LLC.)


10. Small World

Small World puts a bit of a light-hearted twist on your standard war game. Each player looks to expand his/her empire while simultaneously pushing their opponents around the board. Kind of like Risk but in a more colorful and lively fashion. The artwork is top-notch and the four different boards add to its replay value. (2-5 players)
(Days of Wonder)

By Related Items: Features, Games, The Roundup.


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  • Deluxe

    Great list! Your description for Small World is the same as the one for Cards Against Humanity.

  • Jesse Armstrong

    Oops #10

  • Jesse Armstrong

    Oops #10

  • http://www.chubcreek.com/ Dave

    Number ten is number 9

  • Tim whelan

    The tower you describe in Amerigo sounds like the one in Shogun (also by Queen games)

  • madebyremedy

    Cards against humanity is great: surprisingly fun with a good group of friends

  • Nick Ackerson

    It’s a shame that Betrayal at the House on the Hill didn’t make this list. It’s my current favorite game. Anyone looking for good games should check out TableTop on YouTube.

  • Courtney Wood

    Settlers of Catan is missing!

  • Westin Lee

    Inceptor did not look tremendously interesting, aside from its unofficial Inception connection. Replace that biz with Pandemic!

  • stfudonny

    Zombicide!

  • http://www.appfreakblog.com appfreak

    Glad to see Trajan here. I like the strategic slow pace behind it. Definitely one to check out

  • James

    To those who are complaining about games that didn’t make the list .. I really don’t think this was meant to be an exhaustive list of modern games that “don’t suck”; Merely 10 of them that the author choose out of quite an extensive list!

    That said, GREAT list. Games these days are pretty awesome for the most part.

  • Nick Griffiths

    To be fair, Settlers is a pretty old game lol. Still awesome though! :D

  • Gamer

    Should also consider The Agents

  • smokinghotbabesixtynine

    Amen.

  • Gene Warren

    The cube tower is indeed similar, and Wallenstein->Shogun->Wallenstein is generally considered to do it better.

  • martryn

    I discredit any board game list that doesn’t include something based on Lovecraft.

  • ajboryca

    If you’re hoping that Settlers would be included in this list, you’ve probably not played any of these other games. Not trying to offend you or anything, Settlers is a very important game, but it’s a game based purely on dice rolls, while these other games allow for players to actually make decisions to influence the game in a meaningful way.

  • frank

    Galaxy Truckers is the best game in the game

  • youreallwrong

    Settlers is based purely on dice rolls? LOL. Settlers and most good games have aspects of luck – to prevent analysis paralysis, people who read online strategy guides to “solve” a game, and to give new players a chance to succeed. Someone who knows how to play Settlers will beat a new player MOST of the time which is a big improvement over ALL of the time, and far from “based purely on dice rolls.” Do you think Magic: the Gathering is based “purely on card draws” ? How is Euphoria not “based purely on dice rolls” if a player rolling doubles/triples/quads every turn while never rolling above their intelligence limit would decimate someone who never rolled doubles and kept rolling high?

    I can understand why that this list is subjective and based on the writer’s questionable taste, including meh games, dry games, a few to make him feel good about his kickstarter habits, and CaH which immediately invalidates the entire list. But let’s not get crazy.

  • JT

    Bang! The Game. It’s a Spaghetti Western version Magic the Gathering.

  • ajboryca

    I’m just going out on a limb and assuming you’re either trolling or you don’t actually play board games. MTG is completely different and I shouldn’t have to explain why that doesn’t support your argument. The only decision you can make that has a significant impact in Settlers is choosing your starting location, it’s a very boring game for most experienced gamers.

  • youreallwrong

    Yes, anyone who knows about Euphoria is definitely someone who doesn’t play board games. Good call.

    Starting locations are a huge decision in Settlers (and some would argue its too important) but there are other meaningful decisions too. Which direction to expand (not always the best numbers, you have to consider further expansion, ports, and other players movements) , who to place the robber on (not always the person with the most points if someone else has better placement) , when and what to trade, when to risk having over 7 cards (keeping 7+ cards and risking the robber is often a better play than trading cards away to help your opponent), what to buy (people often go dev card happy for no good reason), when to play your dev cards, knowing when to get involved for longest road or largest army and knowing when to escape. Settlers is not a brain-burner but its got more meaningful choices than Ticket to Ride. I bought Settlers in the 90s and its still awesome as an under an hour play (or about 15-20 minutes online) when I don’t have the time or partners to break out something more complex.

    We’re not all board game hipster elitists. Some of just like to have fun with good games and Settlers is still one of the most well-constructed games around.

  • Pj

    Great list! I’m a big fan of the FLUXX series. But I’m not serious enough about board games to know if that would make the ranks.

  • http://www.checklistmag.com/ Smart Checklist e-Mag

    Cool collections. Thanks for showing me this.

  • matt

    Card Against Humanity….the ultimate party game

  • jeff

    Would have loved to see Pandemic

  • QuinnDexter

    I really like Mage Wars, there’s just something cool about flipping through your own physical spell-book to find the best way to screw your opponent over in the next turn :)

  • Jeremy Akers

    Sounds to me like you’re the one who doesn’t actually play board games if you think Settlers is purely luck of the dice roll…