Gone are the days when board games were only meant for children or the times when there were only limited options like Chess, Scrabble, Cluedo, and Battleship in the market. It’s been quite a game changer since then (pun intended!). Not only are there new board games in the market, but there are also a zillion versions of the existing games, and what more? There is now a separate category of games that are designed specifically for 18+, some of which are mentioned at the end.
Board games are an excellent way to spend time with your family. It promotes healthy competition, builds strategy, vocabulary; improves cognitive skills, communication skills, increases general knowledge, and much more. In the wake of Covid-19, families are looking for a way to connect without any screens and technology, and board games are the easiest way to have some off-screen quality time and a great deal of fun together.
Must-Try Family Board Games
Yes, Monopoly is a classic, and at one time we would get excited to play the game that had a different city or country. But today, there are literally over 1,000 variations of the game. There is an electronic banking version, along with Harry Potter, Game Of Thrones, Avengers, Disney, Friends, Stranger Things, Star Wars, Star Trek, and countless more editions. Take your pick. Monodeal, on the other hand, is a card version of the same game and is pocket and travel friendly. A value-adding benefit of Monodeal is that the game ends (seriously!). It doesn’t last too long and it won’t break friendships, unlike Monopoly.
This is a game of world domination where the aim is to control all the territories by making and breaking alliances. Strategy, the ability to make quick, bold decisions, and planning skills are your friend. A game of Risk can take a few hours but the victory feels sweeter than sugar.
3. The Game Of Life
This is a simple roll and move kind of game, with no strategies involved, an ideal board game for kids, especially families with younger children. As the name suggests it’s the game of life, you get a job, get a payday, get married, have children, and adulthood never felt easier.
Another classic, this game feels so underrated sometimes. People avoid this game because they feel they aren’t artistically inclined but that’s the point of this game. You are supposed to (mind the language) suck at drawing! And it gets more interesting when you have to draw with closed eyes or with your non-dominant hand. No matter what you do, hysterical laughter is guaranteed in this game and that’s what makes it so special.
Disclaimer: Don’t forget to duck when the ‘Monica’ of your group starts to play!
This game has gained so much popularity in the last few years, it’s a brilliant game that can be played between 2-12 players where two teams are supposed to make a sequence of five coins with the cards they have. There are two kinds of wild cards, which allow players to make [your] or break [their] game. Strategy, luck, and team player skills are a must to win. This would be one of the best board games for all ages. From seniors to children, everyone can enjoy this game. They also have a jumbo version with a bigger mat for easy viewing and playing.
Jenga has 54 blocks vertically aligned; the goal is to be the person who does not drop the tower whilst making it higher. One of the most beloved board games for kids, even after the tower falls, children love building other things with the blocks, which is great for their super-hyper creative minds. There are a few variations to the game like Truth And Dare (family-friendly), 2-ft tall Jenga, 4-ft tall Jenga, and more. If you have a terrace, backyard or garden and often host get-togethers, then the 4-ft Jenga could be a really good investment. You can turn this game into a drinking game too for those adults-only nights.
Taboo is one of the best board games and a personal favourite. It would be the exact opposite of charades. You need to make your team guess a particular word, by only talking, without any actions, and without using the mentioned taboo words. It’s a real challenge sometimes, but it will surely make you think out of the box. Taboo can be a great vocabulary-building lesson for children and adults likewise.
Codenames is a fun board game, which is played by two teams. There are words (codenames) that need to be set in a 5×5 grid, 2 players (spymasters) from each team sit on one side and get to view the key that reveals the secret identities of the cards on the table. The spymasters take turns giving one-word clues that should connect multiple words on the table and the teammates (field operatives) try to guess those words. The first team to contact all their agents wins the game. This game will test friendship like no other; it requires you to be on the same wavelength as your team so they can connect those dots (words) that can often get so bizarre! There are several versions of this game, including a picture one, but the original should be tried first.
9. The Settlers Of Catan
This is a classic that became popular in India quite recently. Traditionally a 4-player, and with the extension, up to 6 players can play. It’s a time-old game of creating settlements and roads with the resources available to you. You can trade, steal resources, build the largest armies, longest roads, and ban players from getting resources when you roll a 7. A player’s turn can be pretty exuberant with several actions to complete. The game can easily last upwards of two hours, especially if you play with the new expansions that are now available in the market. To get ahead in this game strategy and astounding negotiation skills is required.
Another personal favourite, this game is packed with all the action that you can think of. It is a combination of charades, Pictionary, quizzes, GK, reverse spelling bee, and more. Activities include acting, human puppetry, multiple-choice, jumbled words, humming and whistling to songs, drawing, sculpting, and so much more. Played with two teams, with the winner being the first to reach Cranium Central on the board. This game will guarantee fun, laughter, and you will end up learning at least one new thing.
This is a quick card game for children, but it’s equally fun for adults. The game is brilliantly designed. All Dobble cards have random symbols, but any two cards will have only one symbol in common. Player to be the fastest to catch most of these common symbols wins. Sherlock Holmes level observation skills are a must!
Remember the childhood game, Name Place Animal Thing? Scattergories is an extended version of just that. By using the 20-sided dice, teams need to complete the designated list with the letter that was rolled. There are extra points for answers with double words containing the same letter. And of course, backup words are required, as matching answers with another team, have no points. This is one of the best board games for kids as it helps them retain everything they learned in their Geography, History, and Science classes, and they’d be more than excited to do it!
13. Ticket To Ride
A wonderfully fun family board game where the maximum number of players is just 5, but you’d wish there were fewer because playing with all 5 can get very competitive. The board is a map of a country or continent and you have to complete your given destinations with the coloured trains you choose. Unlike Catan, you get to do only one action per turn. You can either collect coloured train cards or play; if you play, you can only claim one route, not less, not more. In case you delay claiming routes, you can lose them to another player and will have to travel a much longer way to get to your destination. If you don’t reach your destination when the game ends, you get negative points, yikes! The play is quite relaxed, as opposed to an intense cumbersome strategy.
Owned by Binca Games, this game is an impressive Indian-make #shopdesi. Similar to Travel Scrabble, you see a word, you shout it and snatch the cards away; remember you’ve got to think and act fast! There are minus points for players who shout words, when letters aren’t present or when you mix up the rounds. For instance, when a player makes a 5-letter word in a 3-letter word round. It’s a great game for families with children, especially for parents who are trying to squeeze in fun and learning at the same time.
Did You Know? Sunil Gavaskar is an investor in this company. A husband-wife venture, they have launched 5 games up till now, and word on the board-game street is they have something new cooking up, so stay tuned.
Yes, Twister can be counted as a workout. Instead of a yoga mat, lay down the Twister mat and get stretching! Being flexible can actually pay off. It is one of the most fun and popular board games that can be played with friends, family, and even children. Balancing is key to winning the game. Twister was launched over 50 years ago but it’s still enjoyed by all.
The game is exactly like the name suggests, senseless talk. It’s an ideal game for storytellers of the group. The game expects you to bluff like your life depends on it! You need to make your answers sound so convincing that other players fall for it. While also being smart enough to not fall for others’ bluffs and try to guess the right answer. There are several categories like Weird Words, Peculiar People, Laughable Laws, Incredible Initials, and Marvellous Movies. Fascinatingly, the right answers in the game are unbelievably true and non-fictional; some facts will blow your mind!
This game runs deep with nostalgia! To shout ‘Uno’ as loudly as you can when you have 1 final card remaining, and the frustration when you are dealt with a Draw-4. This game is still as fun as it was the first time we played it. And it is always a go-to game. You can play it anywhere and everywhere. Like all classics, Uno too has multiple variations such as Marvel/DC superheroes, Disney, Pixar, Tom & Jerry, Doctor Who, The Big Bang Theory, and countless more. The latest Uno variation is Uno Spin, with ‘Spin’ being the new card and it comes with a spinner, a new twist, which can make or break your game.
18. Phase 10
This is a Rummy-type card game where you need to finish making a particular amount of sets and sequences. It has 10 specific phases that each player needs to complete; the person to finish it first wins. This is from the makers of Uno, so the game would be incomplete without a ‘Wild’ or ‘Skip’ card, which makes the game exciting. It’s ideal for all age groups and it comes in a travel size pack.
The following games are only for adults (18+)
19. Speak Out
This is a hilarious game where one has to wear a mouthpiece that doesn’t let you shut your mouth, and you’re supposed to make the others guess certain phrases. Since the game was launched in 2017, and we now live in a post-Covid world, ensure to clean the mouthpieces with soap. They are made of durable plastic and it would be like sharing a washed spoon. But you can never be too careful; so don’t discard the 10 individual packets of the mouthpieces and instead label them with the players’ names.
20. Cards Against Humanity
The tag line for this game is – ‘A party game for horrible people’; and it’s true. The phrases in the game are inappropriate, cruel, offensive, politically incorrect, and just wrong. But if you are someone who enjoys a little bit (or a lot, no judgements here) of dark humour, this game is for you! You have to match the wittiest answers to the given question. Over 20 people can play this game, and the funniest player, with the darkest humour, wins the game.
21. Never Have I Ever
This game consists of risqué content and is a game about disclosing your deepest, darkest secrets or rather “poor life decisions”, as the makers of the game call it. The more embarrassing a memory, the more points you win. It can be played as a drinking game too. There are 485 questions/scenarios in the game, and you have to be 100% truthful, no holding back. It’s a perfect bachelorette party game.
22. What Do You Meme
The gameplay is similar to Cards Against Humanity, but instead of questions, there are memes. The funniest, most apt answer matching the given meme, wins the round. This game is great for meme lovers and it doesn’t involve dark humour, just inappropriate. It’s another great party game, for 20+ people.
Another Binca Games creation, the game comes in a bottle shaped box. It’s a drinking game solely for close friends. It’s a more Indian and relatable version of Never Have I Ever. Every round has a different player in the centre; if the situation is something that the player has or hasn’t done you put either a thumbs-up or thumbs-down card. All players, including the central player, must put up their thumb cards at the same time and players whose answers don’t match, drink. All secrets get revealed in this game, including how well you know your friends. A bonus is that the cards are spill-proof, so enjoy this great drinking game and don’t worry about ruining the cards.
24. F**k The Game
This is a card game that will want to make you pull your hair off. There are names of colours on the card, with different background colours. The rule here is to say the font colour and if it is in black, you say the background colour. Mix that up with abusive words, the rule is to speak out all abusive words, except one – F**k. For cards that have f**k, the same rule as the colours apply. Confused? That’s the point.
Players with better cognitive skills may end up winning this game, but don’t hold your breath on that. The aim of the game is to get rid of your cards, and if you mess up, the discarded pile is yours; and you cannot take longer than 2 seconds to answer. Once you have mastered the game, there are advanced rules, so you can take it up a notch. Good luck!
25. After Dark & NSFW Editions
Any game that has an ‘After Dark’ or an ‘NSFW’ (Not Safe For Work) edition, it’s worth trying those out. Some of the tried and tested ones are – Cranium After Dark, Telestrations After Dark, Exploding Kittens NSFW, Unstoppable Unicorns NSFW, Taboo Adult, and Dirty Charades.
Make the most of WFH and online school, and spend quality family time playing board games and brushing up the brain with new skills. Instead of screen-time, a quick game of Uno, Dobble, Fletter or Jenga between classes and work can be great for children and adults. It’s refreshing and will keep the mind active, sharp and let’s face it, a little off-screen time is exactly what we all need. Moreover, on weekends and late nights, an adult party game is just the escape we need with our friends. And it will be worth it. It’s a much-required de-stressor and party games bring friends closer and make the bond unbreakable unless of course, there is a game of Monopoly involved!