There's nothing like gathering with loved ones for game night to enjoy a little friendly competition. While there are tons of gaming options out there to keep everyone entertained, board games have exploded in popularity as a form of old-fashioned, screen-free entertainment.
“Board games have never been better, covering such a wide variety of topics, in such a variety of ways, for all kinds of people—small children, older children, adults who like complicated games that last for hours, adults who like games that are easy to learn and fast to play,” says Maurice Suckling, an assistant professor of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences program.
From classic staples to newer options, there's a variety of types out there to suit all different groups. Not sure where to start? Consider how many players you typically have, their ages, and each game's length of play to decide which is best for your next game night.
Here, the best board games for families.
Type: Strategy | Number of Players: 3 to 6 | Age Range: 8 and up | Playing Time: Not listed
Clue is a classic game that's certainly worth adding to your collection. The board game, which originated in 1943, is a murder mystery game in which six suspects are accused of murdering one Mr. Boddy. Players, each of whom takes a role as one of the suspects, attempt to determine the murderer, the murder weapon, and the murder location as they travel around the English Manor-inspired board.
The game is ideal for players aged 8 and up and doesn't have a determined playing time—players just continue until the murder is solved. Plus, since the details of the murder are drawn at random at the start of each game, Clue can be played any number of times without getting boring.
What Editors Say
"Clue is a classic for a reason. It's fast-paced, fun, and never gets old (even after years and years of playing it). Plus, the detective work means I get to live out my true crime obsession in real life. Dressing up as the characters as you play isn't required, but it is more fun—take it from a seasoned Miss Scarlet." —Bridget Mallon, Associate Editorial Director
Best for Young Children
Hasbro Gaming Trouble
Type: Strategy | Number of Players: 2 to 4 | Age Range: 5 and up | Playing Time: Not listed
While Trouble is a racing game, it’s a little more complicated than some of its kin. Players race to get all five of their game pieces around the board— if a player’s piece lands on top of another player’s piece, the bottom piece must return back to the start, hence the game's name.
What really makes this game revolutionary is the Pop-O-Matic die container. A plastic bubble in the center of the board contains the dice—when players press down on the bobble, its base pops and causes the dice to roll. Besides serving as a fun tactile piece of the game for players, it also ensures you'll never lose the dice.
Best for Teens
Avalon Hill Betrayal At House On The Hill
Type: Cooperative | Number of Players: 3 to 6 | Age Range: 12 and up | Playing Time: 60 minutes
If you're a fan of horror films and haunted houses, you'll appreciate Betrayal at House on the Hill's chilling vibe. Players play as one of six different characters, initially all on the same team, who explore the haunted house on the board. When monsters, ghosts, or some other paranormal spook enter the game during the "haunt” phase, one of the players will betray the others by forming an alliance with enemies, and it’s up to the other players to defeat them.
The game is recommended for ages 12 and up, an age range definitely worth sticking to—some of the scary elements may be too intense for young ones. The game is geared towards 3-6 players and will keep them entertained for at least an hour.
What Editors Say
"The first time I played this game, I kept the rule book close at hand through the entire round, since reading it beforehand was too confusing. But once you get into the groove of the game, it's fun to play up the spookier elements and watch the story unfold as the game progresses." — Kate Geraghty, Editorial Director
Best for Adults
Czech Games Codenames
Type: Cooperative | Number of Players: 2 to 8 | Age Range: 14 and up | Playing Time: 15 minutes
Codenames is one of those games that's secretly pretty brainy but still tons of fun. The game is all about word associations and can accommodate 2-8 players, so it's great to have on hand for a gathering of any size.
In a nutshell, two teams compete to crack the secret codenames of spies. The board starts as a 25 x 25 grid of cards with words on them, each of which represents an innocent bystander, a spy, or an assassin. A designated spymaster offers their team one-word clues to help them figure out which words are hiding their spies. The game, which takes about 15 minutes to complete, ends when a team successfully identifies all of their spies or when a team accidentally names the assassin.
Best for Large Families
Mattel Games Pictionary
Type: Drawing | Number of Players: 4 or more | Age Range: 8 and up | Playing Time: Not listed
For a game that'll test how well you paid attention in art class, consider Pictionary. It's similar to charades, but instead of acting, you need to draw your words for your teammates. Players are split into two teams of any size, each of which starts with their game piece at the beginning of the board.
The goal of the game is to reach the end of the board first—you get to advance if your team guesses the word correctly. Words are assigned to the illustrators via a series of cards, and they range from something as simple as an object to as difficult as an action. Oh, and there’s a timer involved, so you need to draw quickly.
Mattel Games Blokus
Type: Strategy | Number of Players: 2 to 4 | Age Range: 7 and up | Playing Time: 30 minutes
Blokus is an abstract strategy game that'll make Tetris seem like a breeze. The board game challenges two to four players to compete to place as many tiles as possible on the board, adhering to a strict set of rules as they do so.
To begin the game, each player chooses a color and is given 21 tiles of different geometric shapes, each comprising one to five squares. Each player places a piece in a corner on their first turn. In subsequent turns, each piece placed must touch at least one square of the same color, but only via a corner, not via an edge—different color tiles, however, are allowed to touch in any configuration.
Gameplay ends when no players can place any more tiles. From there players tally up the total number of squares they have in their remaining tile pieces, and subtract that from their score. The player with the highest score is deemed the winner.
What Editors Say
"If you like puzzle games, Blokus is a great two to four-player game that will really make you think! It becomes especially challenging when all four colors are on the board. My young cousins, who are 7 and 10, enjoy this just as much as the adults and it's a great way to learn how to strategize and plan ahead. The goal is to use up all of your tiles and the person with the least amount left, wins!" — Emily Manchester, Editorial & Strategy Director
MoMA Design Store Colorful Backgammon Set
Type: Strategy | Number of Players: 2 | Age Range: Not listed | Playing Time: Not listed
For a strategic game that'll keep two players entertained, consider MoMa Design Store's Colorful Backgammon Set. The stylish game makes for a thoughtful gift but can even make for a vibrant piece of décor in your home.
The set includes a multicolor board, 30 game pieces, and five dice—all the essentials for a round of the classic game. Though you should be mindful of the small game pieces with young children, players of all ages are able to learn and enjoy the game.
North Star Games Wits & Wagers
Type: Trivia | Number of Players: 3 and up | Age Range: 6 and up | Playing Time: 25 minutes
Wits and Wagers is a family-friendly gambling board game that doubles as a trivia game. Players are asked a numbers-based trivia question to which they must write down a response on a provided card. Those responses are revealed and placed onto the game board in numerical order—players then use chips to place bets on which response is closest to the right answer.
Whoever ends up with the most chips at the end of seven rounds wins. The best part about the game is that you don’t actually have to know the answer to a trivia question to win. Instead, you rely on the collective knowledge of the group to inform your bets.
Overall, we recommend Hasbro's Clue (view on Walmart) for a universal game anyone can enjoy. The classic game is relatively straightforward, yet each round has enough variability that it never gets old. Plus, players can compete as individuals or teams to solve the mystery.
What to Look For in a Board Game
Number of Players
Start with the basics—how many people are playing the game? Some games require a specific number of players, and others might only work with even numbers instead of odd numbers of players. It's worth noting, however, that while some games may have a suggested number of players, you can always play in teams to accommodate your group.
Age of Players
Games range in difficulty, so recommended ages are important to keep in mind. “Games usually clearly indicate the age range they are suitable for. These are a guide, rather than being strictly accurate, but you definitely want to check that information before buying,” says Suckling. “If the games are suitable for older children, it's not just a question of complexity, it's also possible there will be small pieces that can be dangerous for younger children.”
Type of Game
While sorting through the options, consider which style of gameplay you prefer. Options like Clue, Trouble, Blokus, and Guess Who are great if you prefer more competitive types. Whether you host game nights often or you just prefer more collaborative picks, team-oriented picks like Pictionary and Codenames will make great additions to your collection.
Length of Play
Some board games are played in quick rounds, while others can last for hours at a time. Factor in playing time when picking a board game, and remember that things will also go slower if not everyone is familiar with a game.
Why Trust MyDomaine?
Stefanie Waldek is a freelance home writer for MyDomaine. To make this list, she considered dozens of board games, both classic and new, to determine the best options for groups of all types. Many of the games she played herself, and for others, she investigated gameplay videos, user reviews, and expert insight. To make this list, she also considered each game's recommended age, number of players needed, the type of game, and length of play.