Game Night!: 10 Best Board Games for Adults You Must Play

Do you hate Monopoly and find Clue to be elementary? Are you bored by the very mention of board games? Then it’s time you looked into any of the amazing board games developed over the past 20 years.

Gone are simple pieces and for children only. Welcome to now and the best board games for adults. You won’t find simple or boring games here, but experiences that change each time you play.

Novelty and play are highly important to both continuing development and psychological health. A sense of play and the challenge of a new set of rules restores a sense of autonomy and control often missing in adult life.

Read on to find out just what you’ve been missing the world of board game fun. 

Best Board Games for Adults

As a quick note, this list contains only board games. You won’t find perennial favorites such as trivia games or Cards Against Humanity here. Those games, while fun and great for adults, aren’t board games.

Most of these can be played in a three or four-hour chunk, basically the same time frame as a dinner and movie outing. You might not be up for everything on this list, but you are certain to find something you’ll love.

1. Small World

The basic objective of this colorful, quirky game is to conquer lands and build up your civilization. Helping you along the way is a mishmash of 14 races that can be combined with 20 powers. 

You will enjoy the easy to learn rules and get involved with the depths of strategy as you learn how to sacrifice in the short term for long term victory.

Small World also has several expansions on the market, giving you more depth and more races too.

2. Tales of the Arabian Nights

Take the role of a hero and adventure across the land collecting stories and making decisions. The winner is the first to complete a story in each land and return with the spoils of their tales.

Choices matter as much as skills. Each player reads from an accompanying storybook as they encounter obstacles. Even the most memory-gifted gamers will be hard-pressed to recall every twist in each tale.

The game allows for some wonderful roleplaying and some dramatic ups and downs as players race to the end. 

3. Settlers of Catan

This game has been described as a friendship/marriage ender. The quest for the right resources to win coveted points to be crowned the victor includes a fair amount of trading, promises made and maybe not kept, and all of the wood for sheep jokes a person requires.

Settlers board building mechanic keeps games randomized from one play to the next and its host of themed versions and expansions keeps the experience growing for the heavily invested. 

4. D&D Adventure System

This one is a bit of a cheat, technically this is the overarching title of 5 and counting games made by Wizards fo the Coast as an introductory D&D tie-in. 

Pick up the one you like the theme of and get started. Players assume a character complete with different tactics and powers. Stroll through a procedurally generated dungeons that unfold with tile placement. 

Get treasure, slay monsters, and if you have the time, paint the dozens of miniatures that come with each game. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to play Dungeons and Dragons or get someone else involved, these games make a solid hook and lead-in.

5. Arkham Horror

The longest single game to play on this list. Team up or go solo to fight a town filled with horrors leaking in from dimensional portals. Seal the portals before the Great Old One awakens to win.

Or, if you can’t quite manage that, face the horror and put it back down. Cooperate with your fellow players to the best of your ability, or, pull the rug out from under them and team up with the horror for an individual victory.

6. Pandemic: Legacy

The regular Pandemic game returns in this campaign mode variant. Work with your team of players to isolate, eradicate, and out-research a spreading plague. Come back week after week to face a threat that grows with each iteration.

Like Arkham, this game relies on a team of cooperating players to outplay the game itself. Strategy buffs will love coming up with new ways to defeat complicated problems. 

7. Villainous

This Disney product may seem child-friendly but is more aimed at adults. Take on the role of a famous villain and duke it out with others to prove you are the most villainous villain ever.

The artwork is classic and you will enjoy the fast-paced action and thrilling, but a tad silly, competitive play.

Rumors of future expansions will add some of the newer characters to the classic roster.

8. Dark Souls: The Board Game

The perfect game for a friend that prefers to spend the leisure time solo. A clever set of behavior cards simulates the video game AI creating a true-to-form experience.

Play as a team of 1-4 characters and see if you can’t survive room after room of cunning enemies. If one player runs out of a combination of stamina/health, everyone fails. 

Plan and work as a team to fight your way through to the spectacular bosses at the end. 

9. Zombicide

Tired of games where you gather as a team and battle waves of monsters with ever-increasing difficulty? No?

Then you will enjoy the mission-based cooperative play of Zombicide. Loot areas to gather resources and attempt to defeat the objectives before the zombies and ghouls winnow down your forces.

10. Ticket to Ride

From the same studio that crafted Small World, Ticket to Ride puts you in the shoes of a tycoon building a railroad. 

Chose your map from American or European origins and get to building. Gather resources, plan routes, and what other players to build the longest and most complete routes.

Themed variations to popular franchises bring in some extra visuals for those of refined tastes.

Make a Night of It

There are so many options from so many genres that it’s almost impossible not to find a game to get obsessed with. These may be the best board games for adults, but they are not the only. 

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