Best 1990s Board Games

Let’s travel back to the 90s; Nickelodeon shows were at their best, everyone started wearing overalls and flannel shirts, Furbies had just begun their conquest for world domination, and geek culture had slipped through the cracks of mainstream entertainment.

Many people were slowly getting into board games during this era. While the 80s cultivated an onslaught of satanic panic, which hindered nerd culture’s inevitable takeover, the 90s introduced fun and iconic board games that have stayed on everyone’s radar.

You might even be surprised that some of the board games you are playing now came from that time. If you want to relive this era of board games, here are the best 1990s board games that would still be enjoyable today.

board game

My Top Picks at a Glance

All the 90s board games in this list are fantastic and will still be fun if you play them today. I have my biases on which works well in my friend groups, and I want to share my love for these games with other people. In no particular order, here are my top 90s board game picks.

My Top Pick for Trendy and Popular 90s Board Game

  • Settlers of Catan (1995): There are better board games than Catan. Yet, in our group, it is incredibly fun, and that is what matters most. I am a fan of resource management games, and Catan scratches that itch for me among the entries in this list. You need to carefully assess the board and your surroundings and optimize your resources to your advantage. If you are not having fun while playing Catan, I suggest you trade more; trading lets you talk and socialize with your friends instead of having a silent and dead atmosphere.

My Top Pick for 90s Board Game for Children

  • Bohnanza (1997): Among the entries within the list, Bohnanza entertains children while simultaneously developing their critical thinking skills. It is a very easy game to learn, and the themes are incredibly common and familiar. Bohnanza forces players to plan ahead, but the things you plan for are simple. It can even enhance their math skills by adding their points or coins. If my younger nephews or nieces want to play something from my collection, I would definitely choose Bohnanza.

My Top Pick for 90s Auction Board Game

  • Modern Art (1992): Auction games are one of my favorite genres because of how much you need to rely on quick wits and rational thinking. You also need to be careful with the resources you have. Modern Art is the most fun auction game we had the pleasure of playing. Aside from the game’s beautiful artwork, the mechanics are not too complex but not too simple for our taste. Plus, the different kinds of auctions make the game less stale.

My Top Pick for 90s Strategy Board Game

  • Tigris and Euphrates (1997): I am a huge fan of strategy games, and among the list, “Tigris and Euphrates” satiates my logical mind. Learning how to play it can be intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, Tigris and Euphrates will stay in your mind for a very long time. Besides, you and your friends do not have to be good at it during your first test run. I love how you can grow your empire and start wars with others; it lets you be directly involved with your opponents in stopping their progress, unlike other games like Catan. Plus, the chaotic ancient Mesopotamia theme fits the game’s mechanics perfectly.

My Top Pick for 90s Board Game for Parties

  • Cranium (1997): Board games tend to have a maximum limit of players before it becomes too messy. However, I guarantee you will have fun playing Cranium even if there are 16 players. It is a fun party game because it challenges everyone and forces them to cooperate with the team. A good party game does not rely on deep strategic planning too much, and Cranium fulfills that objective.

cranium board game

Selection Criteria

Finding board games made in the 90s is easy, but the hard part is filtering out the best. Not all games survived to become an icon, but not all games that died are boring or disinteresting. Below are the top reasons why I chose the 90s board games in this list.

  • Fun and engaging: a good board game knows how to keep players hooked, and it is crucial, especially for board games made in the 90s. Some of the entries in this list survived through the years because of how fun they are! It is what keeps a game alive.
  • Replayable: after finishing a board game, the players should have a reason to return. It is like an endless adventure; would you still be in the loop if the same events happened every time? Many 90s games survived because players played them again and again.
  • Timeless: despite being made in the 90s, a good board game should be relatable and timeless in terms of mechanics or themes. If a mechanic in a board game does not make sense in the modern age, it might not be as fun to play.

These criteria are subjective, but this list is also subjective in the first place. We all have different opinions, and some of you, dear readers, might disagree. Still, if you are new to the board game scene or want something new to explore, you can trust this list to deliver what you need.

I segmented this list into similar gameplay mechanics, elements, and the like. For example, if you want a 90s game that many people can get into, I made a section for it. Enjoy!

The Best Trendy and Popular 90s Board Games

The Settlers of Catan

Best 1990s Board Games the settlers of catan

  • Release date: 1995
  • of players: 3 to 4 players
  • Average play duration: 1 to 2 hours
  • Age recommendation: 10 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 2/5

Catan is one of the gateway board games for many geeks out there, including me. Released in 1995, it became popular; they eventually added expansion packs to make it even more fun.

Each player takes the role of a small civilization that finds a large, unexplored land mass known as Catan. The players must expand their settlements across the map and make themselves the largest. Settlements, cities, and special cards are worth points, and the first to ten points wins.

On a player’s turn, they roll two six-sided dice; the resulting sum dictates which hexagon produces a resource. For example, if a player rolls six and two, hexagons numbered eight will produce a resource. Players with settlements or cities on the edges of these hexagons harvest them.

It is a resource management game. If you are good at handling money, you might be good at it. I recommend playing with expansions if you already have your hand on the base game.

Magic: The Gathering

Best 1990s Board Games magic the gathering

  • Release date: 1993
  • of players: 2 players
  • Average play duration: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Age recommendation: 12 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 3/5

If you are familiar with trading card games like Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokémon TGC, you have probably heard of Magic: The Gathering before. Made in 1993, it lets you play as a wizard who fights others by casting spells and summoning creatures.

The cards in one’s hand represent their magical arsenal. You need to have powerful cards with you or be defeated by someone stronger.

If you are into trading card games and want a challenge, Magic: The Gathering is a good one. You can try your luck and collect uncommon or rare cards. Perhaps your collection might even be worth a lot of money someday!

Pokémon Trading Card Game

Best 1990s Board Games pokémon trading card game

  • Release date: 1996
  • of players: 2 players
  • Average play duration: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Age recommendation: 7 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 2/5

Everyone knows Pokémon. If you ask your grandma what a Pokémon is, she will probably say Pikachu. One of the famous aspects of the franchise is the Pokémon Trading Card Game, released in 1996.

Many people prefer to collect them for monetary reasons. After all, someone sold Logan Paul a Pokémon card for $5.27 million. However, if you prefer to play it, it is quite fun.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game is a great entry point for people who love collections yet find others too complicated. It is a simple game because it was made for everyone to enjoy, and that includes kids.

The Best 90s Board Games for Children

6 nimmt!

Best 1990s Board Games 6 nimmt

  • Release date: 1994
  • of players: 2 to 10 players
  • Average play duration: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Age recommendation: 8 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 1/5

Board and card games do not have to be complicated to be fun. A 1994 game called “6 nimmt!” also known as Take 5, might just be what you need to cleanse your palate.

It has cards numbered 1 to 104. To start the game, you need to deal ten cards to each player. Then, take four cards from the pile and place them facing up and separate from each other.

These four cards are the starting cards for a row. Each player must place their card in a row where the previous card’s value is lower.

If not, you will instead take all the cards in the row and compile them as your score pile. You also collect a row if you are the sixth card in it. The last card before you collect the row is the new starting card.

The game ends when everyone is out of cards. Each card has several bullheads at the top; sum up the ones in your score pile. The player with the lowest score wins! It is straightforward and speedy and would be an excellent game for kids due to its simplicity.


Best 1990s Board Games bohnanza

  • Release date: 1997
  • of players: 2 to 7 players
  • Average play duration: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Age recommendation: 10 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 1/5

Beans are versatile food you can eat in many different ways. Therefore, it is no surprise that someone out there made a card game all about beans. Enter: Bohnanza, a 1997 card game.

You can play Bohnanza with two to seven players. In Bohnanza, you play as a bean farmer who does the job for the coin. There are five different kinds of beans: cocoa, blue, soy, chili, and stink.

If you are looking for a game you can enjoy with children, Bohnanza is a good pick. The card illustrations are funny, and the mechanics are straightforward.


Best 1990s Board Games guillotine

  • Release date: 1998
  • of players: 2 to 5 players
  • Average play duration: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Age recommendation: 10 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 1/5

From what you have learned in your elementary history classes, the French Revolution had a lot of heads flying in all directions. But what if I told you that someone turned the morbid event into a fun and simple card game for the family?

In Guillotine, the players must behead the least popular French aristocrats (represented by cards). They line up to the head-chopping contraption, but the players can manipulate the order of who gets their head cut off first through gameplay.

It is a card game of simple strategy and quick thinking. It is not too complicated; children can easily learn how to play it. However, perhaps try to explain the concept of life and death first.

The Best 90s Auction Board Games

Modern Art

Best 1990s Board Games modern art

  • Release date: 1992
  • of players: 3 to 5 players
  • Average play duration: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Age recommendation: 10 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 2/5

Not everyone has the luxury of buying and selling art. Paintings and drawings can cost millions of dollars, and only Scrooge McDuck and his friends can afford them. Thankfully, a board game made in 1992 granted us the opportunity to experience it: Modern Art.

In Modern Art, you play as a wealthy aristocrat who is in the business of buying and selling paintings. However, you need to choose your purchases carefully. After four rounds, the richest player wins.

You earn money by selling the paintings you get during the start of rounds one to three. During your turn, you must choose a painting from your hand to auction.

It is a fun game that lets you practice your bargaining skills. It is all about auctions, so you must analyze the landscape and bid your money on what you think is worthy.

High Society

Best 1990s Board Games high society

  • Release date: 1995
  • of players: 3 to 5 players
  • Average play duration: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Age recommendation: 10 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 1/5

If you want to play a game of auctioning but want something quick, you can try out High Society instead, a card game made in 1995.

In High Society, you are an aristocrat, and your goal is to have the highest score by collecting luxury and prestige cards. However, you must also avoid being the poorest player by the end of the game because you will be immediately disqualified.

To start, each player has 11 money cards. Next, the starting player picks the top card from the draw pile and places it facing up. On a player’s turn, they can bid for the face-up card using their money cards or pass on the auction.

If they bid, the next player may also bid or pass, but their bid must be higher than the previous player’s. The process continues until only one player is bidding. The winner gets to keep the card.

The luxury cards have values from one to ten. Prestige cards act as positive modifiers, while disgrace cards are the opposite. The game ends when someone draws the fourth card with a dark green background from the pile.

It is a game of quick wits and long-term planning. You must carefully choose which cards you will spend your money on.


Best 1990s Board Games ra

  • Release date: 1999
  • of players: 2 to 5 players
  • Average play duration: 45 minutes to one hour
  • Age recommendation: 10 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 2/5

What do El Grande, Tigris and Euphrates, and Ra, a board game made in 1999, have in common? Their themes are set in a specific period. Yet, despite this similarity, they are still vastly different.

Ra is about auctioning and collecting tiles. The scoring system is reminiscent of the 2016 board game Sushi Go Party.

Ra runs through three rounds called epochs, and players take turns during each epoch. On your turn, you can withdraw a tile from the bag, use a God tile in your collection, or call Ra for an auction.

If you choose the first option, you place the withdrawn tile on the board’s auction track. However, if the withdrawn tile is a Ra tile, you place it on the Ra track instead.

An epoch ends if all player’s sun disks are faced down, or the Ra track is full. You then count scores after the epoch. It is a fun mind game where you constantly need to keep notes of your and other player’s tiles.

For Sale

Best 1990s Board Games for sale

  • Release date: 1997
  • of players: 3 to 6 players
  • Average play duration: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Age recommendation: 8 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 1/5

You have seen a lot of auction games in this list already, but maybe you want something else. Perhaps the ones I already mentioned do not scratch that itch for you. Thus, I present to you: For Sale, a 1997 board game.

In For Sale, your goal is to have the most money through clever and cunning auctions. Throughout the game, you need to buy cheap but valuable buildings and sell them for a profit.

The game ends when every building is sold. Like in real life, the richest player wins. It is another easy and fun game to play with your kids.

The Best 90s Strategy Board Games

El Grande

Best 1990s Board Games el grande

  • Release date: 1995
  • of players: 2 to 5 players
  • Average play duration: one to two hours
  • Age recommendation: 12 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 3/5

Spain in the 15th century was like a wild version of Game of Thrones. Many kingdoms vied for influence over the region, and the high aristocracy manipulated society from the shadows. It is pretty clever that such an interesting thought was put into El Grande, a board game made in 1995.

El Grande makes you compete against your friends to control the game’s map through your Caballeros. At the start of each round, you must choose a power card.

These cards indicate how many Caballeros you will earn during the round. Then, you choose an action card. You must place Caballeros on the board as indicated on the action card. These action cards have unique and special instructions on them that are relevant to the game.

After everyone has made their turn, the next round starts! Scores are based on the number of Caballeros a player has in each region.

It is quite a complex game that requires a fair bit of planning. I recommend El Grande if you and your friends have the brains for strategy.

Tigris and Euphrates

Best 1990s Board Games tigris and euphrates

  • Release date: 1997
  • of players: 2 to 4 players
  • Average play duration: one to two hours
  • Age recommendation: 12 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 4/5

If you are into games like El Grande but want a different theme or something more complex, Tigris and Euphrates may be up your alley. This 1997 board game is set in ancient Mesopotamia when the first civilizations emerged. You will experience hardships in creating kingdoms against other leaders.

In Tigris and Euphrates, you win by having the most points when the game ends. During setup, you pick a symbol and collect their leader tokens of different colors. You also take civilization, unification, and catastrophe tiles. Players take turns, and you can do two actions during your turn.

You can place a leader token on a space on the board, but it must be adjacent to a red tile. You can also put a civilization tile on a space. One or more civilization tiles without a connected token leader is a region, while the contrary is a kingdom.

Players earn points when someone expands a kingdom that they are connected to using a civilization tile. Wars and revolts may also occur; wars happen when a civilization tile connects two kingdoms during a turn. Meanwhile, revolts happen when two leaders of the same color are in the same kingdom.

There are other actions one can do, but I can’t write them all down. The game ends when there are no more civilization tiles in the bag or if only two treasures remain. It is indeed a complex game, yet fun once you learn how to play it. I recommend Tigris and Euphrates to players who want a challenge.

Lost Cities

Best 1990s Board Games lost cities

  • Release date: 1999
  • of players: 2 players
  • Average play duration: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Age recommendation: 8 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 2/5

In Lost Cities, you set out on expeditions to five mysterious places in the world. Each location corresponds to a color. The expedition cards have the same colors and numbers from one to ten.

You are to compete against another player, and your goal is to have more discovery points than them. To start, shuffle the expedition and wager cards together and distribute eight to each player.

On your turn, you need to place a card either on one of your columns or on the discard pile, and it must be the same color. Finally, you draw a new card either from the draw or discard piles. Players continue the process until they exhaust the draw pile.

You add up your columns and apply modifiers if you place any wager cards. Then, you subtract 20 from each column with a card. There is a lot more to it, but I hope you try Lost Cities out. It is a fun game to play with a close friend or partner since it is a two-player-only game.

The Best 90s Board Games for Parties

Apples to Apples

Best 1990s Board Games apples to apples

  • Release date: 1999
  • of players: 4 to 10 players
  • Average play duration: 20 to 30 minutes
  • Age recommendation: 8 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 1/5

Cards Against Humanity is a staple card game in the modern era. Ask someone who is not deep into the culture, and there is a large chance that they will recognize it. However, its true predecessor dates back to 1999 via a card game known as Apples to Apples.

In it, there are two distinct cards known as red and green apples. Each player (except for the judge) must choose a card from their hand of red apples that relates to the green one the most. The judge decides which green apple fits best, and whoever owns it gets a point.

The first player to reach four to eight victory points (depending on the number of players) wins. If you are looking for a quick and straightforward game, Apples to Apples is the right pick.


Best 1990s Board Games cranium

  • Release date: 1998
  • of players: 4 to 16 players
  • Average play duration: 30 to 90 minutes
  • Age recommendation: 10 and above
  • Difficulty rating: 1/5

If you want a fun party game that a lot of people can participate in, Cranium might be what you are looking for. Made in 1998, it borrows many elements from different board games and crams them into one fun-packed activity.

Cranium tests your knowledge, wits, talent, and more. The players divide themselves into two teams, and they must complete the instructions on the various cards before time runs out. Sometimes, the two teams must simultaneously compete!

The team that enters Cranium Central and succeeds in its activity wins. It is a fun party game for everyone. I especially recommend it to teenagers and large groups.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What board games were popular in the 90s?

Answer: Catan is one of the most popular board games during the 90s. Due to its popularity, the game makers rolled out expansions for the game after a year of release. They added a 5 to 6-player expansion in 1996, the Seafarers expansion in 1997, and the Cities & Knights expansion in 1998.
Auction games also became popular during these times, such as Modern Art, released in 1992; High Society, released in 1995; For Sale, released in 1997; and Ra, released in 1999.

Question: Which 90s board games have phone apps?

Answer: A few select 90s board games in this list have phone apps, particularly: Catan, 6 Nimmt, Lost Cities, Apples to Apples, and Tigris and Euphrates. However, note that the last two games are no longer on the Android or IOS app stores as of writing.
Lost Cities is only available in IOS, and it is no longer free as it used to be. Still, it is relatively cheap for a great game. Bohnanza has an app and game on mobile and PC called Bohnanza Duel, but it is unclear how different it is from Bohnanza.

Question: Which 90s board games are worth money?

Answer: I think every board game in this list is worth money, but if you are short on funds, the cheaper ones are mostly the card games like Bohnanza, 6 Nimmt, and High Society. If you are instead looking for a board game you want to spend your money on, I will go with Tigris and Euphrates.
It is the only game that is not available on Amazon at the moment because it has limited copies. If I see one in a garage sale, I would instantly grab it and bargain for it. Perhaps in the future, it will become even more valuable.

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