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As Squid Game recently reminded us, games aren’t just for the kids out there — they’re also for the kids at heart. The great news is you don’t need to place high stakes (like your life) on a game in order to make it interesting either, although we wouldn’t judge you if you and your friends did up the ante on your next game night with a little friendly wager.
These days there are all kinds of board games targeted at adults, because sometimes, as much as we all love to Netflix and chill, you’ve just got to switch it up a bit.
Board Games for Adults
Adult board games are great in a variety of situations. You can bust them out during a quiet evening at home with a loved one when you’re done bingeing your latest show, or you can bring them along to a party to break the ice or lighten the mood. Of course, if you’re a true board game lover you can also always host a games night and invite everyone to bring over their favorite game to play, as well a snack of their choice. (What? You’re going to need some sustenance to get through all of that gaming.)
Board Games for Kids and Adults
If it’s been a while and the only games you can think of are Monopoly and Scrabble, we’ve got some good news: games have definitely evolved since you were a kid. And while there’s still something to be said for the originals out there, planning a family game night that goes beyond Gold Fish or Candyland is as essential for your state of mind as it is for the kids. Invest in a few family-friendly options and see what sticks, and remember: any time together is still considered family bonding time (win or lose).
Strategy Board Games for Adults
These days board games cater to everyone from the wannabe social media influencers, to those who can’t help but have a dirty mind. But if you have a soft spot for strategic games, there’s a whole world of board games out there for you to get into. And we mean really get into. From online conventions to Zoom game nights, people have found creative ways to get their games on the past couple of years. It’s no wonder board game sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic; sometimes you just need to detox from technology and start using your brain at home, too.
Here are some of the best board games for adults that we’ve come across, that are currently available to purchase.
If you have a few minutes to learn this classic game of civilization and an hour to sit down and enjoy building, trading and settling your fictional space, now is as good a time as any to get into this immensely popular game. It can be played with the family or friends alike, plus there’s an entire world of Catan tournaments out there just ready to explore. Heck, you can even play it on Zoom. The best part is that no two games are alike since strategy really is the key to winning this thing. It’s best for three or four players, but with expansion packs, you can increase that to five or six people at a time.
2. Exploding Kittens
BEST CARD GAME
This strategic card game says that it appeals to people who like, “kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats” but it’s actually even less random than that. A strategy game that earned more than 43,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, Exploding Kittens began as a Kickstarter and has since expanded into an expansion pack and a spin-off game, among others. We still love the original for a random night in or when you’re on the road traveling. It’s simple to learn and even simpler to pack (it’s really just a deck of cards), and the basic kit comes with enough cards for two to five players.
3. What Do You Meme? TikTok Edition
BEST FOR SOCIAL MEDIA LOVERS
If you spend all day scrolling through TikTok, you’ll probably kill at this game … or at least you will if your friends think you’re funny. This updated take on the original fan-favorite game features all-new photo cards inspired by some of the best TikTok takes around. It’s easy to learn and play, but if you play your cards right, it leads to a whole bunch of laughs and is great for getting to know new people at a party.
4. Cards Against Humanity
BEST FOR DIRTY MINDS
Chances are you’ve probably played this NSFW game once or twice at a party, but it still holds up today — especially when you’re hanging out with a group of adults and feeling like switching up the vibe. Invest in the base pack to start, but then feel free to venture on to some of the expansion packs, which include everything from the Nasty Bundle to the Everything Box. Just make sure that there are no kids around when you bust it out since some of these cards are definitely meant for adults only.
5. Adult Loaded Questions
BEST ICE BREAKER
If you really want to break the ice at your next dinner party or small soiree, put this game on the table and see what happens next. The boxed set comes with more than 300 loaded questions (what’s an instant mood killer, what show would you watch if there was full nudity?) and is designed for four to six players. But what we really love about this is that you could use it as a regular old conversation starter too, getting the party chatter going or even getting to know someone special on a more intimate level.
BEST FOR ASPIRING SLEUTHS
It only takes a few minutes to get the hang of this social word game, and once you do more than 17,000 people on Amazon think you’re really going to love it. The game is recommended for ages 14-plus and is good for two to eight players, although technically you could have more if you play it in teams. The premise? Contact all of your agents and avoid the assassin by guessing the right words on the board. “Codenames really is genius in its simplicity,” writes one reviewer. “It’s a fantastic party game because it can be taught in under five minutes and provides a lot of fun.”
BEST FOR WANNABE ARTISTS
You definitely don’t have to be Picasso in order to enjoy this “sketchy” game — in fact, a lack of artistic skills may make it even better. The game, which is designed for up to eight players and for those aged 12 and older, is based on the game Telephone, but in visual form. The point is to draw what you see and then have everyone else guess what you’ve drawn, leading to some pretty hilarious results.
BEST FOR MOVIE LOVERS
The stores may be gone, but the memory lives on in this fun movie game designed for movie buffs who want to brag about all of their cinematic knowledge. The game features several components, including a Shout it Out category, in which you need to name as many movies in a category as possible, and a Charades category, in which you’ll act out the film in question. The fun comes wrapped up in a nostalgic box, making it the perfect addition to your next game night with film lovers … or really, with anyone who has ever seen a movie.
FOR CURRENT TIMES
It might seem a little on-the-nose to get into this board game given the current real-life pandemic, but if you’re having a night in with your significant other or another couple, this could be the thing to liven up your hang out. The strategy game asks players aged 8 and older to work together to eradicate diseases before they overwhelm the world, ultimately saving humanity. It’s one part problem solving, one part teamwork and all parts strategy, with an average playtime of about 45 minutes. Because hey, even if we’re still working to solve this pandemic, at least you can brag about solving a fictional one.
FOR NATURE LOVERS
It’s hard to believe a game based on birds could take flight the way Wingspan has, but the award-winning game is raking in the accolades. The game is designed for one to five players (aged 14 and up) and is all about attracting the best birds to your wildlife preserves. In order to do that, you’ll need to gain food tokens, lay eggs and learn about hundreds of unique birds, but in the end nearly 6,000 players guarantee you’ll fall in love with this game too. Because in case you haven’t heard, the bird is the word.
11. Joking Hazard
FOR COMIC LOVERS
Have you ever wanted to create your own comic? Or maybe you just love getting some insight into your friends’ twisted minds. Either way, this game from the webcomic Cyanide & Happiness is all about making adults laugh at some pretty absurd situations. In each game, three or more (adult) players compete to complete comic scenes of friendship, violence, sex and more, kind of like a spin on Cards Against Humanity but in comic form, and with three cards in each round instead of two.
BEST FOR ASMR
Strategy and pretty mosaic tiles come together in this unique placement game, which is great for adults and families alike. In order to get the highest score, you need to claim tiles and then arrange them on your board, potentially interrupting your opponent’s strategy in the process. Not only is it fun to play but the tiles and corresponding board are gorgeous to look at, potentially calming you at the same time that you’re getting your game face on.
BEST FOR WORLD BUILDERS
If you’re feeling a game that’s a little more intense and good for a smaller crowd (one to five players, aged 14 and up), this alternative history board game featuring art by Jakub Różalski is definitely a mood. It takes place in 1920s Europa in a capitalistic state known as The Factory. There, players need to work the land, build up their factions and protect their territories in order to win. Each game takes about 90 to 120 minutes to complete, so it’s definitely designed for the true board game lovers out there.
14. Ticket to Ride
FOR TRAIN LOVERS
If you’ve ever dreamed about creating your own cross-country train trek, this game is all about making dreams come true. The award-winning game tasks players with collecting train cards and claiming railway routes connecting cities through North America. The longer your route, the more points you earn. Not only is it a fun strategy game designed with the family in mind (the two-to-five-player game is for those aged 8 and up), but it’s also a great excuse to learn a bit of geography while you’re having fun.
15. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
This addictive, 10-minute party game is good for groups of three to 10 (aged 14 years and up) and is super simple to learn. Players get to use a special power to help either the Village or Werewolf team depending on what card they draw, with the ultimate goal of deducing who among them is the werewolf. It’s fast-paced and designed so that you can jump in and out of play, but the best part is the accompanying app, which walks you through each game with the push of a button.