For over 7,000 years and counting, people worldwide have found time on quiet, snowy evenings to play board games.
While games in ancient times were not made of cardboard, but rather stone or wood, the central appeal of board games — finding fun indoors when going outdoors isn’t an option — has not changed. Many of the games that are popular today are ancient. Chess is more than 1,500 years old, while backgammon dates back over four millenia.
What has changed in recent years is the sheer volume of choices available on board game night. While a couple of decades ago, most families were presented with a dozen or so games among the usual suspects — Monopoly, Clue, Battleship, etc. — the options are now virtually limitless. In 2017, more than 5,000 new board games were introduced in the U.S. The growth in choice has coincided with interest in board games unlike anything that has been seen before. The industry has seen double digit sales growth for years.
On the whole, experts and gamers alike consider the last decade or so to be kind of a renaissance for tabletop gaming. Publishers are shipping games every month that push the boundaries of what a board game can be. Large and independent developers alike have come up with games that allow the players to remix music. Several “legacy” versions of classic games have been introduced, taking classic games and tweaking them to allow for multiple playthroughs.
One of the most well-reviewed games of the past few years, Pandemic: Legacy, takes the classic game Pandemic and tasks players with playing through the game many times, with the decisions they made in previous playthroughs affecting each subsequent session.
There are games set in space, the Wild West, medieval Europe, in the ocean, or a combination of those scenarios. There are board games for the whole family and adult games for when the kids are at the sitter. There are adventure game, logic game, strategic games, and money games — in short, there is something for everyone. Some board game enthusiasts are looking for a new, challenging experience. Others want a trip down memory lane with a classic game like Monopoly.
24/7 Wall St. considered user reviews on sites like Amazon and best of lists user reviews on sites like BoardGameGeek to identify the best board games of all time. These games either have earned near-universal accolades, or have had a widespread impact on gaming and culture as a whole.
As the scope of available board games has expanded, there are now truly dozens of games suited to every taste and age group. There are games for those with less than an hour to spare, and games for those who are willing to have a day-long, immersive experience.
In this list of the 25 best board games ever, there is something for a fan of every genre, every age group, two players to an entire party, and from easy to brutally challenging. There are plenty of traditional games as well as new ones that many of our readers will not have heard of, but won’t be able to put away once they take the game out of the box.
What exactly constitutes a board game has been the subject of debate. Is Dungeons and Dragons, which can be played almost entirely in the imagination but requires some notes and information cards, a board game? What about the card game cribbage, which traditionally uses a board and pegs to keep score. 24/7 Wall St. editors decided not to consider board games in which the game is frequently played without a board, or for which the board is often replaced with paper (as is the case with cribbage).