No matter how old you are or where you are in the world, most people can agree that board games are fantastic. They’re a great way to enjoy an evening with friends and family, but they’re also helpful at breaking the ice when meeting new people.
As a child and an adult, some of my best memories revolve around playing Monopoly, Risk, or any other number of games.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the best board games of all time. I will not make this list from most popular to least popular or highest-selling to lowest-selling, but I’ll be sure to include those notes while mentioning the games.
Whether you’re searching for a new board game or want to revisit the classics, this article can give you fresh ideas or reignite an old passion.
How I Chose the Games on This List
The criteria to be considered one of the best board games of all time includes longevity, playability, versatility, and overall sales. It takes more than just being a fun game to be one of the best of all time. For a board game to be on this list, it has to be a game that tons of people love to play over and over again.
There are specific and unique board games for everyone out there, but the best board games are the ones that are the most popular and best selling overall.
The Best Strategy Games of All Time
This one takes the crown as one of my personal favorites and is also one of the top 15 best-selling games of all time. The game’s goal is simple: take over the world at any cost necessary.
Because of its popularity, many different versions of the game have emerged (Risk: Europe and Risk: Game of Thrones), but there’s nothing like the original version.
The world is divided into six different continents and 42 different territories. Up to 5 or 6 players can play depending on which version you choose, but the goal is always total domination. You win the game by accumulating as many armies and countries as possible.
You must defeat opposing armies with your troops in a head-to-head matchup of rolling the dies to eliminate other players. The attacking player can roll up to three dice, and the defending player can roll up to two. The last man or woman left in the game is the winner.
- An all-time classic.
- Truly unique game, and there is nothing quite like it.
- Games can be lengthy, and players sit for long periods once eliminated.
It’s nearly impossible to compile any board games list without including Catan on it. Also known as Settlers of Catan, this is one of the most popular and best-selling games of all time. It falls directly behind Risk on the all-time best-selling list of board games.
The game is set on the fictional island of Catan, where players compete over resources and battle to have the best city or settlement in the game. I say battle, but no actual fighting occurs other than the occasional spat during trading and bartering for goods.
One of the reasons that Catan has achieved so much success is because players of all ages and skill levels can enjoy it. Because of how the game is laid out, everyone has an equal chance at winning, even if it’s their first time playing.
- It is another timeless classic renowned for its complexity and uniqueness.
- There are few other games with as many loyal followers.
- It’s a fairly complicated game that takes some time to learn.
Stratego is similar to an older, less popular game known as Generals. However, unlike Generals, Stratego is beautifully designed and set in the Napolean era. It’s a one-on-one match between two players, each having 40 game pieces.
The ultimate goal is to capture your opponent’s flag, but you’ll have to fight your way through a wave of bombs, traps, and fighters to do it.
Stratego is unique in the fact that it has several different gameplay styles. The different styles make it an excellent game for kids or adults, depending on how you want to play.
While the game is similar to chess in many respects, it differs because you can set your game pieces up in any manner you wish. Stratego is the perfect game for a good match of one-on-one strategizing.
- Games are relatively quick.
- Rules are easy to learn.
- There are a limited number of outcomes, and the game could lose its novelty with time.
Chess is the oldest, most popular, and best-selling board game of all time. People have been playing one version or another of chess since the 1200s. It’s a game that’s been played by kings, queens, presidents, peasants, and paupers alike.
Chess is a game of one-on-one strategy where each player has 16 pieces, many of which have unique moves and abilities.
The game’s goal is to capture your opponent’s King piece and trap him in so that he has nowhere to go. It’s also one of the few games on this list that can end in a stalemate where neither player can capture the other King.
Chess is often used as a test to determine an individual’s intellect and strategic abilities.
- It’s the oldest and best-selling game of all time.
- It’s a true game of one on one strategy.
- Games can be lengthy and might end in a stalemate.
Checkers is often associated with the game of chess but is quite different. It’s also one of the best-selling games of all time and is played on the same type of game board that chess is played on.
Each player has 12 game pieces that can only move diagonally on an 8×8 board. The goal is to capture all of your opponents’ pieces, and this is done by trapping them and “jumping” over top of them.
While it sounds simple, it’s pretty difficult to capture every one of your opponents’ pieces, and a decent amount of strategy is required.
- Games are usually short and quick.
- It’s one of the cheapest games on this list.
- While it’s a strategy game, it’s not as strategic as chess.
The Farming Game
The Farming Game is one of the lesser well-known games on this list but is similar to the game of Agricola. Up to four players can play the Farming Game simultaneously, and the goal is to store up as much wealth and resources as possible.
You gain wealth by accumulating things like wheat, corn, cherries, and land in an attempt to be the best farmer in the game.
However, much like farming in real life, there are obstacles to overcome, such as price inflation, mechanical failures, and crop damage. This game involves all the fun and thought of farming without work and sweat!
- A unique game that’s easy to learn and play.
- It’s not an overly popular game and could be difficult to locate.
This is one of the most classic one-on-one strategy board games ever. As with most other head-to-head games, the game’s goal is to defeat your opponent by “sinking” all of their battleships.
The game is set up with the players facing each other but with boards that simultaneously act as game boards and dividers. While you can look your opponent in the eye, you can’t see where their ships are set up.
Each player has five different ships of different sizes, and the game doesn’t end until one player loses them all. To sink your opponents’ ships, you call out a series of letters and numbers such as F-1 or B-4 in the hopes that part of their ship is sitting on that space. Battleship is a great game for players of all ages and skill levels.
- It’s an easy and cheap game to learn and play.
- There are a limited number of outcomes to the game.
Mastermind isn’t quite as complicated as it sounds, but it is strategic nonetheless. It’s a two-person game where one person makes a code, and the other person has to break it using a guess and check method. There are six different colors that the “mastermind” can put in any combination, making it as difficult as possible to decipher.
Mastermind is an old game that has stood the test of time but has recently decreased in popularity. If you have a knack for the classics, though, then this is a game that you should try.
- The games are quick.
- It’s a tournament-style game where numerous players can compete against one another.
- It’s an older game that might not appeal to younger crowds.
Axis and Allies
Running in the vein of Risk, Stratego, and other excellent military strategy games, Axis and Allies is one of the best. As the name connotates, it’s set in 1941 at the start of World War II, making it a favorite of history buffs.
The game can feature 2-5 players, and they represent either the Axis powers or the Allied powers of WWII. While the Allied forces were victorious in real life, this game offers the opportunity for history to be rewritten.
The game consists of combat and non-combat moves and involves warfare and research-related strategy. If you’re into history or like the idea of rewriting it, then Axis and Allies is one of the best games on the market.
- Excellent game for history buffs.
- A very strategic game that features many different outcomes.
- A complicated game that takes time to learn.
7 Wonders is as renowned for its beautiful game board as it is for being a fantastic game. While it’s an aesthetic masterpiece, 7 Wonders is also a complex strategy, power, and domination game. The game takes place in three rounds or “ages,” and the game’s goal is to have the most “victory points” in the end.
This game is great for groups or families as up to 7 players can play at a time. It involves military moves, science moves, and resource moves such as building up your cities and settlements. All in all, 7 Wonders is one of the best games made since 2010 and has garnered numerous awards and honors.
- It’s one of the most artistic games on the market.
- Strategy, skill, and planning are all key in this game.
- Games are long and can be difficult to learn.
Blokus is a quick, one on one game of strategy and confusion. Similar in many ways to Tetris, Blokus involves navigating a board of different shapes, colors, and styles in an attempt to play all 21 of your game pieces before your opponent can play theirs.
It might sound simple, but the more pieces that get played, the harder it is to continue. There are a series of rules where your pieces can’t be played on particular shapes or colors, meaning that you need to strategize a path to victory as you play the game.
- A fun, competitive game that usually features laughs and good times.
- Only two people can play at a time.
The Best Family Board Games of All Time
If you’re in the mood for a game for the whole family that’s bound to have everyone laughing, then Quelf is the game for you. It’s a game of clean, family fun that can serve as an ice breaker with strangers or for a night of entertainment with loved ones.
Quelf is the perfect game to get people out of their boxes and involves everything from singing to drawing to acting to simple trivia questions. The game is played by everyone racing around a board, attempting to be the first one to make it all the way around.
You win by rolling a die and moving your game piece. Whenever you land on a square, you draw a card that lists a challenge and a penalty if you can’t complete it. The winner is the first person around the board to complete the final challenge.
- A hilarious game that’s fun for the whole family.
- Games are unique and often feature different outcomes.
- A good game to take you outside of your comfort zone.
- Not a game for everyone, as certain challenges, are uncomfortable for shy people.
Invented in 1934, Monopoly is one of the oldest and most successful games on this list. It’s number four on the all-time best-selling list behind chess, checkers, and backgammon. If you’ve never played Monopoly, then you’re missing out on a time of fun, buying, trading, and competition. This game is capitalism at its finest.
The goal of Monopoly is to be the richest and final player of the game. You roll the dice to move your game piece forward, and every spot on the board represents a property or card draw.
If you land on a property that any other players don’t own, you have the option of buying it yourself. Be careful, however, because if you land on a property that someone else owns, you’ll be subject to paying them a rental fee for landing on it.
Eventually, all the properties are bought up, and the rent increases throughout the game until all players go broke, save for the winner.
- A timeless classic and one of the top-selling games of all time.
- Competitive game full of lively interaction.
- Games can be lengthy, and once a player is eliminated, there’s a lot of sitting around.
The Game of Life
The Game of Life is a classic, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a journey through life. This game involves choices about education, raising kids, employment options, insurance, and anything that you might encounter in real life.
The game’s goal is similar to those most people have in real life – to retire as young as possible and with the most money. Be advised, though, being good at The Game of Life doesn’t always transition to the game of life.
- Full of life lessons.
- Anyone can win the game at any time.
- It’s not everyone’s style of game.
Ticket to Ride
Another classic family game that has stood the test of time is Ticket to Ride. The game’s goal is similar to the premise of the classic movie “Around the World in 80 Days.” Instead of 80 days, however, you have seven days to see who can visit the most cities in North America.
Ticket to Ride is a game of strategy where you purchase connecting railroads in the United States and Canada in the hopes of having the longest train connected to the most cities.
You gain points by connecting cities and having the longest train when the game ends. Ticket to Ride is a game of adventure and strategy fun for the whole family.
- A game that offers a chance to chat and interact during gameplay.
- The game has a sense of adventure and excitement.
- The game could lose its novelty with time.
The Sequence is kind of like a grown-up, more intense version of Connect 4. Up to 6 players can play, and there are two teams.
Each team works together to connect five chips or pieces in a row, based on playing cards that they are dealt and pickup throughout the game. The board is set up in a confusing array, making it difficult to keep track of the action and adding to the strategy involved.
- Games are quick, and it’s an easy game to learn to play.
- Multiple players make the game more interesting.
- It can seem simplistic at times.
In the game of Trouble, each player has four pieces, and the goal is to get each piece around the board and safely Home. However, as you might have guessed, you encounter trouble along the way, making it challenging to complete your task. There are only 28 spaces on the board and up to 16 pieces in play, making for a lot of colliding.
If another player lands on the spot occupied by one of your pieces, your piece gets the boot back to your home base, and you start over. A series of cards get drawn, which adds to the confusion and excitement. Trouble is an excellent game for young and old alike, and beginners have just as much chance at winning as season pros do.
- A game that usually offers laughs and lively chatter
- It can be a bit childish at times.
If you like medical games where you’re faced with tough decisions, then Pandemic is the game for you. It was released in 2008, and it’s been taking the world by storm ever since. You can decide to team up with other players or blaze your own trail, but the goal is to keep a variety of illnesses and diseases from turning into – drum roll please – a Pandemic!
Pandemic is a game that forces you to make tough decisions about choosing between the greater good or saving a loved one. You’ll find out where your family’s true allegiances lie in this game of strategy and decision-making.
- A unique game that has no rival.
- Encourages teamwork and tough decision-making.
- Games could be a bit intense at times.
The Best Kids Games of All Time
My condolences on your lost childhood for anyone who didn’t grow up playing Candy Land. Candy Land is one of the most iconic and best-selling kids’ games of all time, and it’s still fun for the whole family. I mean, who doesn’t want to live in a world of candy and chaos?
The goal of the game is to navigate your way through the candy cane forest over gumdrop mountain and be the first one to find King Kandy at the end of the board. There are troubles and pitfalls all along this sweet landscape, so proceed with caution.
- Easy game to learn and understand.
- Fun for the whole family.
- The only con is that you feel weird playing it without having a kid as an excuse.
Sorry is similar to Trouble because there’s a small board with a lot of collisions that result in people having to start over with their game pieces. While the name of the game is Sorry, I have a sneaking suspicion that apologies aren’t actually a part of the game.
While the goal of Sorry is to get all of your pieces home, you also have the additional goal of wanting to send your opponents’ pieces back to the starting point. You do this by landing on a space that they’re occupying. Don’t worry; you aren’t required to say Sorry every time you send someone back to the start.
- It’s a slightly simpler version of Trouble.
- Fun for kids and adults alike.
- Games can get slightly competitive for a kid’s game.
Chutes and Ladders
Chutes and Ladders is another great game for people of all ages. Everyone starts the game at the first space of the board and aims to make their way to the end. You do this by rolling a dice and following a numbered path to the top. You can take shortcuts by climbing ladders and shortening your path.
Take caution, however, as there are also chutes or slides that you land on and are forced to slide down. This will send you back several spaces towards the beginning of the game.
- Easy game to learn, and games go quickly.
- A simplistic game that even kids get tired of after a while.
Another classic that had to be included on this list is Connect 4. While this isn’t technically a board game, it’s often associated with the board game genre and therefore earns a spot on this list.
The game is played on a vertical plane where each player attempts to be the first one to have four connecting pieces. You can make connections vertically, sideways, or diagonally.
- Another easy and cheap game to learn and purchase.
- Gameplay is limited to two players at a time.
The Smartest Board Games of All Time
If you want to test your spelling and vocabulary, then Scrabble is the perfect game for it. It’s so popular, in fact, that it’s inspired several spin-offs such as Bananagrams and Words With Friends.
The game consists of individual tiles that have a single letter written on them and how many points the letter is worth. The goal is to spell words using the letters that you draw throughout the game and accumulate the most points by the time the tiles are used up.
You’d better have your dictionary handy for this one, as things can get complicated and heated when you play with the right group of people!
- A game that uses brain power and increases creativity and vocabulary.
- It has actually been shown to help people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
- Games can be a little lengthy.
Trivial Pursuit is a game that strictly involves trivia and how many questions you know the answer to. While dozens of other trivia games have popped up over the years, Trivial Pursuit is the one that started it all.
The goal is to navigate around the game board and make it to the end. However, you’ll be required to answer a variety of trivia questions, the category of which is determined by the type of space that you land on with the roll of your dice.
- The original trivia game and one of the most popular of all time.
- There are many expansion packs for when you use up the trivia questions in the original.
- Unless you want to buy the expansion packs, there are a limited number of questions in the game.
If you want a game to boggle the mind, then Boggle is what you’re looking for. The game concept is similar to Scrabble in that it involves spelling words based on a random assortment of letters. However, what makes Boggle unique is that there is a container of 16 spaces, each holding a six-sided dye with different letters on each side.
The container gets shaken up, and the dice are randomly scattered inside it until they all land with one side facing up. Essentially, a word jumble ensues, and the contestants race to find as many unique words as possible in the allotted time.
The winner is the person with the most words at the end of the game. It gets tricky because words can be formed in any direction possible, but you only get points if you find words that no one else has.
You can play as many rounds as your heart desires, and the winner is the player with the most unique words.
- Similar to Scrabble in that it encourages education and spelling.
- It promotes brain health and a quick wit.
- Any number of players can play at a time.
- Games can be intense for some players due to time constraints.
Codenames are one of the newer and less well-known games on this list. The game is played by two teams of two or four players who work together to score the most points.
The game consists of a series of cards with a single word naming a person, place, or thing. At the start of each game, one teammate is named the spymaster, and the other teammate or teammates are field operatives.
At the start of each round, the spymaster gives their teammates a single word clue, and the team attempts to guess as many of the cards on the board as possible. The goal is to eliminate all of the cards until only your opponent’s spymaster card remains.
- A fun and inventive game that’s unique in its style and outcome.
- One of the newer games on this list.
- Up to 8 people can play at a time.
- The game could lose its novelty over time.
Clue is a classic whodunit murder mystery game of strategy and detective work. At the start of the game, a murder takes place, and it’s up to you to figure out who did it, what weapon they used, and in what room of the house it occurred.
However, there are many combinations to each of these questions, so take your time and don’t rush your answer.
You move from room to room throughout the mansion to gain evidence and eliminate suspects. The winner is the person who successfully guesses the killer, the room of the murder, and the weapon of choice.
- A classic whodunit murder mystery.
- Games are reasonably quick, and anyone can win.
- A limited number of people can play at a time.
The Best Technically Not Board Games of All Time
Apples to Apples
Apples to Apples is a game of fun and laughter that has inspired numerous spin-offs throughout the years. If you’re in the mood for a game that combines competition with a good sense of humor, then this is the game for you.
Each player has several cards in their hand and must match one of the cards with the green “thing” card drawn at the start of each round.
A judge determines the best match or description that the players come up with. You can play as many rounds as you want, and the winner is the player who holds the most green “thing” cards in the end.
- One of the funniest and most interactive games on this list.
- Any number of players can play, but the more, the merrier.
- Great for parties and large groups.
- There are a limited number of cards in the game.
Scattegories is an excellent game for laughs, smarts, and large groups of people. It requires sharp wit and quick thinking to be successful. The goal is to have as many unique answers to different questions on paper.
At the start of each round, a 20-sided dice with a different letter on each side is rolled. The letter on the dice determines what letter each of your answers must start with.
Questions range from names of presidents to TV shows to books, songs, fruits, or anything else you can imagine. The player who successfully lists the most unique things starting with the specified letter in each round is the winner.
You can play as many rounds as you like or until all the alphabet letters are used up. Keep in mind that you only have several minutes in each round to come up with your answers.
- Great party game.
- Any number of players can play.
- Once again, there are a limited number of possible answers to questions, and the game could get old.
Yahtzee is a simple game of luck that consists of 13 categories and five dice. You can have as many players as you want, or you can play by yourself. That’s the beauty of Yahtzee. You play the game by rolling all five dice at the start of your round.
Once you see the outcome, you decide which dice you want to keep and which ones you want to re-roll. You make this choice based on the 13 categories on the scoreboard.
However, keep in mind that you can only use each category one time throughout the game. Some of them are easier than others, so plan accordingly. If you land all five dice on the same number, you have scored a Yahtzee! which is equal to 50 points. At the end of the game with the highest total score, the player wins.
- It’s an easy game to learn.
- You can play by yourself or with a group.
- It’s not a game for everyone due to the simplicity and lack of challenge.
If you like to draw or just to laugh at people who can’t draw, then Pictionary is the best game ever. Each player is tasked with the job of drawing a random item, and their teammates have to guess what it is.
Keep in mind that the person drawing can’t use any words; they can simply acknowledge whether or not the correct answer has been guessed.
Pictionary is a great game for parties or large groups, and rules can be made to accommodate both kids and adults. The way you win is by your team navigating their piece around the game board as fast as possible.
Where you land on the board determines the difficulty and type of thing that your teammate needs to draw. Get your party hat on for this game because it’s bound to be a riot.
- Another great party game.
- Large amounts of people can play simultaneously.
- If art isn’t your thing, then be ready for people to laugh at your drawing attempts.
Question: What Does it Take to Be Considered One of the Best Games of All Time?
Answer: To be one of the best board games of all time, a game has to be popular among a wide variety of people. It also has to be one of the top-selling board games ever.
Question: Are the Games on This List Expensive?
Answer: All of the games on this list are under $100, and all of them are for sale for anywhere from $20 to $50.
Question: Where Can I Buy These Games?
Answer: You can buy most of the games on this list at retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Barnes, Noble, or Books-a-Million. If you don’t have any luck there, they can be bought on Amazon.
Well, there you have it, the best board games of all time. No matter what type of game you’re looking for or what kind of entertainment you want, there’s something on this list for everyone.
Board games are one of the best ways to form memories that will last a lifetime. They’re also a great way to bring people together and draw out their fun and competitive sides.
If you need ideas for your next party or small event, consider giving board games a try! If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few of my personal favorites.
Monopoly is probably in my top 2 all-time favorite games. It’s a game that I grew up playing with my family, and some of my best memories are associated with it. Another reason I love Monopoly is because there’s a ton of chatting, bartering, and trash talk that goes on. It’s a great game to give your wheeling and dealing skills a test!
I’m not sure if Risk or Monopoly is my favorite game of all time, but the debate is definitely between the two of them. We used to have a tradition growing up where we would play Risk every New Year’s Eve and wouldn’t stop until we finished the game.
Games would sometimes take 5-6 hours until we finally decided on a winner. If you want to try your hand at taking over the world, you should give Risk a try!
Apples to Apples
Apples to Apples was always a good group game to show everyone’s sense of humor and get the good times rolling. You can play it nice and clean or twist the game and include some PG-13 humor. No matter which way you want to play, this is one of the best group games I’ve ever had the chance to play.
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