Best Adult Board Games

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

28 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
431 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best adult board games

Last Updated September 2019

It doesn't matter if it's only on the holidays or every Saturday night, it's important to get together with friends and family to have old-fashioned game nights. Sitting around a table, shouting out ridiculous answers and laughing till the tears flow is one of the most socially rewarding activities adults can do together. All you need to be successful is the right game.

Given that there are a few thousand new board games released each year, finding one that makes everybody happy can be quite a daunting task. However, there are certain qualities that the best games all share.

After you read through this guide, you'll understand what makes a game fun to play. Then it will be much easier to narrow down your options to find the game that's right for you. If you’re ready to buy, check out our top picks.

In real life, there are winners and losers. When we play games, it teaches us to better deal with those inevitable situations in life when there are no participation trophies.

Key considerations

What makes a good board game?

All board games aren't created equal. Have you ever been waiting so long for your turn to come back around that by the time it does you no longer care about winning? That's not you; that's a poorly designed game. There are certain broader elements that transcend the details of a game to make it fun to play no matter what kind of game it is. Following is a list of key features that you’ll find in the best games.

  • Easy to learn: A good game won't take more than a round or two before everyone understands how it works. Overly complicated rules favor the player who has the most experience. For a game to be fun, everyone needs to have an equal chance at winning – or losing.

  • Clear objective: Be the first to get to the Candy Castle. Make all your opponents file for bankruptcy. Checkmate the other king. The goal of the game should be easy to state in just a few words.

  • Good playing time: A game that drags on for too long will be one that you eventually put off playing. Conversely, a game that’s over in a minute doesn't allow sufficient time for the players to develop an emotional stake in the game. In other words, it will be over before it becomes fun. It's subjective, but about 15 to 20 minutes per round usually satisfies.

  • Good balance of luck and skill: If the best player always wins or there is a hack for gaining an unfair advantage over the other players, the game isn’t fun for everyone. In the best games, a novice has just as much chance of winning as a seasoned player because there is an element of luck involved.

  • Reversal of fortune: A game in which the lead player can experience a calamity that suddenly drops him to last place (or at least knocks him back a few steps) will help keep the competitive spirit thriving when things begin to look bleak for other players.

  • Minimal downtime for all players: If a game is an endless cycle of you just sitting there waiting to roll the dice again, it will get boring real fast, especially if there are a lot of players. The best games incorporate some way to keep all players fully engaged at all times.

  • Replay-ability: This can be a big problem with trivia games. Once you run through the cards, will it be any fun to play again? A great game has variables that make it exciting to play over and over again.

  • Conclusion: There should be some mechanism built into the game that progresses it to the finish. If you just keep cycling endlessly through a stack of cards, it doesn't take long to resent the game. A good game needs to be finite.

Outrageous adult fun

It's as if Match Game went horribly, horribly wrong. If you secretly harbor a profound distaste for all things politically correct, this is the game for you. One player plays a card with a partial statement while the rest choose the best way to complete the sentence using the cards in their hand. When playing Cards Against Humanity, it’s socially acceptable to laugh about atrocities. The more vile, the better your chances of winning. To appease everyone's inner condescending schoolmarm, during the game each player gets a chance to be the judge. A wickedly fun party game that annihilates inhibitions and can be played by almost any number of people.

Adult board game features

The inner workings listed above are necessary to make a game fun for everyone, however, the icing on the cake can often lie in the details. Here are a few things to consider that won't drastically change the gameplay, but they will heighten the individual experience for you.

Number of players: If you want a game that you can play with just another couple, two to four players is fine. If you want a game you can break out at a party, that's not going to cut it. Look for the game that can accommodate the anticipated number of players.

Theme: A game with a specific theme appeals to a narrower audience, but it appeals with greater intensity. If you're a diehard fan of The Office or Star Wars or The Big Bang Theory, games that incorporate those characters, trivia, and catch phrases will likely be more fun to play than something more generic.

Craftsmanship: The quality of the game's design can greatly enhance the user's experience. Cleverly crafted game pieces that are made from durable materials are much more fun than playing with thin, perforated, punch-out cards that might not hold up during rigorous play.

Player aides: Although not necessary, little reminders like, "Place in discard pile after use," are always appreciated because they make the game flow more smoothly.

DID YOU KNOW?

People who play games are often more successful in life because they develop a greater ability to analyze a situation, communicate, and resolve conflicts.

DID YOU KNOW?

Board games require no electricity or internet connection. In other words, you can play them absolutely anywhere.

DID YOU KNOW?

Playing board games is a safe, fun, and socially acceptable way to satisfy the human need for competition.

Adult board game prices

Adult board games range from a few dollars for a pack of cards to a few hundred dollars for something that falls into the realm of collector's item.

Inexpensive

In the $10 to $25 range, you can find card-based games that offer quick play with minimal accessories. This is also where you’ll likely find the bulk of the expansion packs, cards that expand the scope of the games you already own.

Mid-range

As you move into the $25 to $50 range, the games have more parts and pieces and the game board becomes more important to the play.

Expensive

At $50 and up, many of the games include intricate figurines or other 3D collectable items. At this level, you might even run into some electronic devices or games that integrate technology into the gameplay.

Shout it out now

If you’ve ever yelled an answer at the TV screen when watching Jeopardy!, then Smart Ass is perfect for you. You don't have to wait for the whole clue to be read. You don't even have to wait for it to be your turn. Just be the fastest and the loudest with the correct answer to the Who, What, or Where cards and that's all it takes to be crowned king Smart Ass. A fast-paced game for two to six players (or teams) that keeps everyone fully engaged at all times.

10 reasons why games are good

Besides giving families and friends something fun to do, did you know there are other benefits that come with regular gameplay?

  1. Playing games helps hone your social skills.

  2. Playing games lowers your blood pressure.

  3. Playing games speeds up your reflexes.

  4. Playing games helps develop cognitive skills.

  5. Playing games increases your attention span.

  6. Playing games reduces stress.

  7. Playing games can reduce the risk of developing mental diseases.

  8. Playing games can be used in therapy sessions.

  9. Playing games can help you get a better night's sleep.

  10. Playing games strengthens your immune system.

Other products we considered

There are so many games and variations of games out there that highlighting just a handful, isn't enough. Here are three more games that you should always have on hand. SJG's Zombie Dice is an easy to learn and play game that determines if you have what it takes to survive the zombie apocalypse. PlayMonster's 5 Second Rule is based on a simple concept: can you name three items in five seconds? It sounds easy, but wait until you get into heated play, and then the hilarious (and embarrassing) tongue-tied slips begin. Last but not least on our list is the game of lightning-fast visual recognition called Spot It!. Asmodee's party favorite will let you see just how fiercely competitive game night can get.

One of the most underrated superpowers a board game has is the ability to connect people from different generations.

FAQ

Q. Do board games have ratings like video games and movies?

A. Like video games, board games tend to be categorized by age-appropriate levels. Most often this designates a cognitive skill level that is needed to fully enjoy the game, but sometimes it’s tied to choking hazards of small pieces or maturity level. For instance, Cards Against Humanity has "Ages 17+" written on the box.

Q. My tastes are very particular. Is game playing for me?

A. Definitely! There is such a demand for games that niche games have become very popular. If you enjoy Downton Abbey, for instance, there's a board game for you. If you're a fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, there's a game for you. If you like the painting of Bob Ross, you can even find a game based on his techniques. No matter how wide or narrow your interests, there's a game for you.

Q. I really enjoy my alone time. Are there any games out there for solo play?

A. Believe it or not, there are many board games that are designed for one or more players. These range from logic games, where you have to solve puzzles of varying complexity, to board games that rely on strategy yet can be played by just one player. Just look at the recommended number of players on the game and you'll be surprised to learn how many start at one.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Moriah
    Moriah
    Writer
  • Vukan
    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

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