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Best Cranium Games

Updated April 2023
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Best of the Best
Cranium Cranium
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Classic Game
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This game challenges teams to use a variety of skills to reach the end.


Great group game that gets every one involved. Uses art, trivia, and pop culture smarts to accomplish all the game tasks and develops skills related to word play, sketching, sleuthing and acting. You can choose between in original and new versions depending on your preferences.


The new version has a smaller board and not as many cards.

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Cranium Cranium Dark
Cranium Dark
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Bargain Choice
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The best version of charades available with some wild concepts.


You have 60 seconds to guess a concept while expressing it in a weird, silly, or hilarious way. Includes 340 Cranium cards and 40 action cards, clay, paper pads, and timer. Trying to convey the concept of “invisible” as a zombie is a prime example of how wild this game is. It's a suspenseful gameplay perfect for a night with friends.


Tame for an “after dark” game that's mainly aimed at adults.

Cranium Sculpt-It
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A collaborative way to exercise your manual skills to convey ideas.


It's a sculpting race that's competitive and collaborative at the same time. It encourages imagination and thinking outside of the box. Great for ages 5 and older and can be played in pairs or with more participants. The outer space theme is fun. A top choice for building teamwork skills.


Needs some assembly. Could be too simple for some players.

Cranium Cadoo
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For the Whole Family
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Can be played collaboratively or in competitive mode.


Comprises of lots of different activities such as sculpting in clay, solving a puzzle, acting out a clue, sketching words or answering trivia questions to get everyone thinking, creating and giggling as they play. Can be played in "combo" or "solo" styles and comes with two decks of specific challenge cards for each.


Pricey because it includes many different play elements.

Cranium Hoopla
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Fast Play
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A fun hybrid between a card game and a party game.


Good length of play at around 20 minutes making it a great choice for different events. A fun version of charades where players team up to perform actions prompted by drawn cards with a time limit. Hard to get bored or run out of prompts because it includes more than 280 Hoopla cards in the box. Great for teens and adults.


Not the cheapest option in the Cranium line of games.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About 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.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best cranium games

It’s hard to find a game that pleases everyone or, more importantly, offers everyone a chance to shine. This is precisely why Cranium was created. It’s a game that allows everyone to have fun whether you excel at artistic endeavors, performing, word puzzles, or trivia.

It's been over 20 years since the game was created, and there are numerous variations based on the original. Some games are focused more on pop culture references that only adults will catch; other games have children or families in mind. In addition, some Cranium games can be mixed with expansion packs to add variety and keep you playing for years.

No matter who’s playing and what their skills are, there’s likely a Cranium game for your group. To learn more about Cranium games, continue reading our buying guide.

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The guidelines that kept Cranium's staff on the same page were summed up in the acronym CHIFF, which stood for clever, high-quality, innovative, friendly, and fun.


Most Cranium games are board games designed for a crowd and can be played casually or competitively.

Purchasing the best Cranium game for you and your family means finding one that is age-appropriate, incorporates gameplay that everyone can enjoy, and features a focus that interests your group.

Age level

Unlike some adult board games, the age range of Cranium games doesn't indicate off-color, raunchy gameplay. Instead, it references the difficulty level and themes of the game.

Cranium games designed for younger children may not even require reading, so these games may quickly become boring for older players. However, they’re great for playing with your kids and teaching them about creativity and expression.

Conversely, Cranium games designed for adults may feature references that are unfamiliar to a smaller child, making it challenging for them to join in.

Before purchasing a Cranium game, always check the age range it was designed to engage so you know whether it will be a good fit for your friends or family.

"The privately held Cranium, Inc. was purchased by Hasbro for roughly $77.5 million in 2008."


Cranium was originally designed so that every player could experience a heroic moment, no matter what his or her particular strength was. However, not all Cranium games are perfect for every player.

As the games have diversified over the years, some Cranium games rely more heavily on luck while others test players’ knowledge in specific areas.

Before purchasing a Cranium game, make sure you know the type of gameplay that is involved to find a game that will appeal to you and your group.


Some Cranium editions have a specific theme or focus. For example, the Disney edition of Cranium focuses on players’ knowledge of Disney movies and shows. Other Cranium games focus on pop culture in general.

If your group has common interests and would enjoy playing a Cranium game with a more specific theme, these games are worth looking into.

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Did you know?
The artistic designer for Cranium is Gary Baseman, the creator of the Emmy-winning ABC/Disney cartoon series Teacher's Pet, which is about a dog who wants to be a boy.


Expansion packs

Expansion packs or booster boxes are for the person who already owns a Cranium game and wants to infuse new life into that game. These booster boxes may come with as many as 800 new cards, which dramatically increase the fun level by making the gameplay fresh and new again. If you hope to play your Cranium game for years to come, take note of whether expansion packs are available.

Travel editions

If you want to take along some fun on a family vacation or a weekend getaway, a travel edition is a great idea. Since these games are designed to be portable, they feature smaller components and reduced type size.

Cranium game prices

Most Cranium games are available for as low as $10 to $15 and offer plenty of content and high-quality components. However, deluxe editions cost between $25 and $40 and offer significantly more content.

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Although there are now Cranium games available for all ages, the original target audience was people between 25 and 35 who were active in the dating scene.


Q. Who created Cranium?

A. Reflecting on a Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument thinking styles assessment that they completed at Microsoft, Richard Tait and Whit Alexander decided to create a game that offered everyone a chance to be victorious, no matter what inherent skills or thinking style they had.

Q. Is any of the content in Cranium games dated?

A. There are some references to pop culture that may pose challenges for younger players, and as time goes by, it’s hard to say how the references in Cranium games will age. However, expansion packs can bring Cranium games u -to speed.

Q. What makes Cranium games different?

A.The original Cranium game didn't focus on one specific area. It wasn't solely about the luck of the draw, accumulated knowledge, creativity, or fast thinking. Instead, the original Cranium game combined all of these challenges into one fun competition that could give anyone a momentary advantage. Other Cranium games explore these skills in a variety of ways, though they are not all as diverse as the original Cranium in their gameplay.

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