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Best Cranium game

Which Cranium game is best?

Are you looking for a new game-night activity with universal appeal? Round up friends, family, and anyone else nearby for a thrilling game of Cranium, one of the top-selling board games of the past two decades.

Cranium is best known for its well-rounded collection of game card challenges. Since they’re so diverse, ranging from sketching to word play, each player has an opportunity to shine. For that reason, it’s important to choose your team members carefully to ensure you have all your bases covered.

Given the original game’s popularity, there are now several different Cranium games on the market with various themes or that are geared toward different age groups. To find the right one for your next game night, give this buying guide a read. We’re also sharing a few recommendations at the end, including our favorite, Cranium the Game. This original version remains a crowd favorite for its fun assortment of trivia challenges.

What to know before you buy Cranium game

Age level

Like any board game, each Cranium game lists intended ages of play on the box. The original version of the game is geared toward ages 16 and above, though the game can be played with younger kids provided adults assist them. There are some Cranium games geared toward younger players, which require less reading and contain fewer pop culture references.


Cranium games list the categories of their game cards on the box. Each typically includes a variety of sketching, acting, trivia, or problem-solving challenges. This makes it easy to choose a version based on the challenges that appeal to your group the most.

No matter what a player’s skill level is or where their knowledge base lies, they’ll have an opportunity to shine during the game. If you’re a talented artist, you’ll lead the team in sketching challenges, and if you’re a trivia buff, you’ll find success in pop culture questions.


Cranium has several spin-offs and game variations on the market, and many of the most appealing ones have a specific theme or focus. Some of the most popular Cranium games for kids feature Disney or Nickelodeon themes. Adults that are Cranium loyalists often gravitate toward newer editions or versions of the game with more pop culture questions.

What to look for in a quality Cranium game

Expansion packs

If you already have a Cranium game and have played it ad nauseum, consider upgrading with an expansion or booster pack. These sets come with a few hundred new game cards that help refresh gameplay. Expansion packs are also a cost-effective way to grow your Cranium collection, since they’re typically cheaper than a deluxe game.

Travel editions

Travel editions of Cranium are smaller, shorter versions of the game. These are often card-based and forgo game pieces and sketch pads. Travel Cranium games usually include between 200 and 400 game cards.

How much you can expect to spend on a Cranium game

Cranium games in the $10-$15 range include the original version as well as a variety of travel games and expansion packs. Deluxe games and some licensed (co-branded) Cranium games cost between $25-$40.

Cranium games FAQ

Q. Are the rules in Cranium games complicated?

A. Cranium games are easy to dive into if you’re a new player in an experienced group. If the game is new to everyone, take the time to thoroughly read the directions to ensure smooth gameplay. It’s also important to read the directions for different versions or expansion packs, as gameplay could be slightly different from what you’re used to.

Q. Is Cranium considered an educational board game?

A. It’s not specifically classified as an educational board game, especially since most versions are geared toward adults. Cranium games for kids may have some educational value, though it’s in no way the game’s primary focus.

What are the best Cranium games to buy?

Top Cranium game

Cranium the Game

What you should know: Original version featuring 600 game cards that is well suited for players of all skill levels.

What you'll love: Includes four fun categories of game cards. Board and pieces are durable enough to hold up through years of play.

What you should consider: Better for ages 16 and above, given the pop culture questions.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Cranium game for money

Cranium Dark

What you should know: This zombie-themed version is card-based, making it a solid choice for a travel game.

What you'll love: Fast-paced gameplay with a comical spin on charades-inspired challenges. Funny, but still family-friendly.

What you should consider: Unique gameplay is hit or miss with Cranium loyalists.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Cranium Brain Breaks Game

What you should know: Tons of short mini games enjoyed by ages 8 and above.

What you'll love: Play as individuals or as teams. All pieces pack into a whimsical, brain-themed box.

What you should consider: Better for mixed-ages play, as it’s a bit simple for adults without kids.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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