If you’ve spent any time on Kickstarter perusing successful projects, you may have realized we are in a sort of board game renaissance. Forget the classics, there’s a suite of complex, art-driven, engaging board games that have been developed by creative minds.
So before you reach for your battered copy of Monopoly or Trouble, we recommend tracking down a new board game that will offer a much more in-depth gaming experience. We’ve put together a list of our favorite modern board games below.
Where do I find new board games?
As mentioned above, Kickstarter is a great place to find new and unique games of all kinds whether that be roleplaying, video, or board games. You could spend hours scrolling through the crowdsourcing site so we’d recommend sorting by popularity or staff recommendations.
BoardGameGeek is another great resource for board game enthusiasts with forums, reviews, and recommendations for just about every possible board game.
Amazon tends to have a solid selection of new board games but we’d also suggest heading to your local board game shop for new finds.
Co-op? Deck builder? Asymmetric? What does it all mean?
If you’re new to the world of board games there are likely some terms you’ll want to brush up on. Co-operative (or co-op) board games mean that you’re playing with rather than against the other players. In many cooperative board games, you’re working together to accomplish a goal in a certain number of rounds or you might be playing against a system within the game. Pandemic is a good recent example of a co-op game.
Deck builder board games require players to construct a hand of cards during the game. The original version of this style of game is Dominion.
Another technical term that can pop up around board games is “asymmetric.” Asymmetric board games involve each of the players having different win conditions or scoring systems to win the game. A good modern example of a quality asymmetric game is Disney Villainous.
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)
Wingspan is a stunning, artful game that is widely regarded as one of the best 2 player board games. Developed by Stonemaier Games, the same group responsible for Euphoria, Wingspan is a competitive, engine-building game. Players aim to discover and attract birds to their wildlife preserves as they collect points based on the success of their efforts. With a gorgeous art style and charming concept, Wingspan is perfect for a quiet evening indoors. It’s a complex game but offers depth and whimsy for hours of entertainment. (1-5 players)
Betrayal at House on the Hill (2004)
Not to be confused with the similar-sounding Netflix television show, Betrayal at House on the Hill is a strategy game set in a haunted house. Players begin “exploring” the house, adding new tiles to create the board itself until at a certain point one of the players “betrays” the others. The concept makes the game extremely replayable as few games will play out the same way. Games can quickly turn tense so while it may be one of the best board games for adults, it’s not exactly family-friendly despite the Scooby-Doo style theme. It is perfect for a spooky game night, though. (3-6 players)
Secret Hitler (2016)
Yes, the name is jarring and you’re about ready to write this one off. Don’t. Despite the title and the fact that you’ll probably want to store this out of view, Secret Hitler is one hell of a fun game. While you do need a minimum of 5 players, the payoff is worth convincing your friends to come over. Most of the players are liberals and their goal is to stop the Secret Hitler. The problem is, some players are fascists and they will do whatever it takes to rise to power. Can the liberals work together and make that happen? Find out next game night. (5-10 players)
Sushi Go Party! (2016)
The expanded and upgraded version of 2013’s Sushi Go! brings in more players and more card options to this “pick and pass card game.” With its delightful art style and simple gameplay, Sushi Go Party! is one of the best family board games. And, on board game night, it’s a perfect starter game before moving on to a more complex option. (2-8 players)
A Game Of Thrones (2011)
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)
Ticket to Ride (2004)
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)
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)
Codenames pits two teams against each other in a true test of compatibility. Each pair of participants attempt to give single-word clues to help their teammate find the right words available on the board. Codenames is a simple game that is great for parties or casual board game nights. And, for long-distance board game sessions, there’s even a web-based version. (2-8+ players)
Terraforming Mars (2016)
In the expansive, complex Terraforming Mars, players compete as rival corporations working to make Mars inhabitable for the human race. (No comment on how soon we can expect this reality.) The game forces players to work together to terraform the planet but individual players will gain victory points based on their efforts. It’s a unique sci-fi game that is equally collaborative and competitive. (1-5 players)
Leder Games has created some of the most beloved board games in recent years. The independent board game company is one of many that has found success funding their games on Kickstarter. While Leder Games has several great games including the recently released Oath (which we’d highly recommend), we suggest starting with 2018’s Root. This asymmetric empire-building board game sees woodland creatures vying for power in a fantastical forest. Don’t be fooled by the cutesy design, this is easily one of the best board games for adults. It’s an excellent game with delightful art and a slightly complex system. It’s also one of the best 2 player games available. (2-4 players)
7 Wonders (2010)
7 Wonders is grand in scope but simple in execution. Players draft and play cards to build their ancient civilization and gain resources and victory points. This strategy game requires long-term planning and keeping a careful eye on your opponents. It’s a relatively quick board game that allows you to play multiple times in an evening without getting bored. (3-7 players)
Men at Work (2019)
Unlike most of the other games on this list, Men At Work develops vertically rather than horizontally. As sort of a reverse Jenga, players add wooden pieces building the structure and hoping to maintain balance. It’s sure to make for a raucous evening and the simple system makes it one of the best new board games for families. (2-5 players)
Exploding Kittens (2015)
Released in 2015, Exploding Kittens from Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal is a silly, colorful Russian roulette meets Uno card game that is perfect for parties. It doesn’t require too much strategy but there’s certainly some challenges in coming out on top. Exploding Kittens reached wild success as the most-backed Kickstarter ever and it’s since gone on to see several expansions and spin-offs from the game developers. Pick up Exploding Kittens for a family game night or use it as a quick, more involved drinking game. (2-5 players)
Take a trip through our National Parks without leaving your table. Parks, developed by Keymaster Games, features lush artwork and easy-to-learn instructions as players trek through parks accomplishing tasks and collecting memories. Competitive board game players might want to look elsewhere for more complex games, but Parks is a meditative, fun game for adults and families alike. (1-5 Players)