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The 12 Best Board Games for Adults in 2020

happy friends playing cross and section game in a cafe  500174914 5a6f551b8023b9003725cf8c The 12 Best Board Games for Adults in 2020

  • This card-based game is perfect after-dinner entertainment: it’s simple to set up, easy to learn, and delivers challenging, engaging gameplay around a “secret agents” theme. In this game, two teams are pitted against each other, giving and receiving clues to try to guess the identities of a group of spies based on their codenames. But you have to choose your words carefully — a bad clue can unintentionally help the opposing team. Codenames can be played with as few as two players, but only gets more fun — and competitive — as you add more people. This game is best suited for ages 14 and up and takes about 15 minutes per game.

    Perfect for parties and family game nights alike, the gameplay is so player-driven that the fun is really in the group dynamics. And because the premise of the game is straightforward, there’s no painful learning curve for new players. If you want a social and highly entertaining game that’s perfect for a spontaneous game night, Codenames is a game worth checking out.

    There is also a two-player variation called Codenames: Duet if you’d rather play with a partner than a party.

  • Spontuneous is a must-have adult board game for your next party. This game is simple to pick up, yet it will provide hours of fun as you belt out songs based on the given trigger words.

    Spontuneous can be played by 4 to 10 participants (teams are recommended), and it’s best for players ages 8 and up. The premise is simple: One player says a trigger word, and everyone else has to come up with a song that contains it. The first person to sing a verse containing the trigger word gets to advance along the board.

    This board game has hundreds of 5-star reviews from players of all ages. Many people note this is a great party game, no matter the crowd, and it will surely keep everyone laughing. It can even be turned into a drinking game for your adult parties!

  • Why compete against your friends when you can all work together instead? For a cooperative board game, you have to try Betrayal At House On The Hill, a suspenseful game where players work together to explore a creepy haunted house.

    Betrayal At House On The Hill is designed for three to six players ages 12 and up, and each game typically lasts around an hour. During gameplay, players get to explore “that creepy old place on the hill,” triggering different scenarios as they go and working together to complete a mission. While the game starts out collaborative, there’s also a betrayal phase at the end — you never know who’s going to turn on you!

    Reviewers love that this game is constantly new and exciting thanks to the various scenarios and haunts. However, several note the rules can be tricky to pick up, which is why this game is best for adults and older kids.

    Take a peek at some of the other best cooperative games you can buy.

  • Courtesy of Walmart.

    Ready to put your strategy skills to the test? Pick up the highly rated Sequence game, which combines a board game and card game in its uniquely challenging gameplay.

    This board game for adults comes with a folding game board, Sequence playing cards, 135 playing chips, and game instructions. You can play Sequence with 2 or more people, and it’s recommended for children 7 and up.

    The game board has spaces for every playing card, and on each turn, players put down cards from their hand, trying ​to create rows, columns or diagonals of five connected checkers. However, pay careful attention, as you may need to block other players to win the game for yourself!

    Reviewers love Sequence, writing that it’s easy enough for kids to learn yet still challenging for adults. This strategy-based game is ideal if you want to hone your critical thinking skills as you compete with friends.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.

  • Decidedly NOT for kiddos, the What Do You Meme? Party Game will have you and your friends or family members cracking up and shrieking with delight—you’ll undoubtedly want to play for hours. Created by Instagram personality F*ckJerry, the game comes with 435 cards (75 photo cards and 360 caption cards), which are printed on thick, premium paper, along with an easel and bonus rules.

    Each player gets seven caption cards to match to a chosen meme, and the best (or funniest, or most ridiculous) meme wins the round, chosen by a rotating judge in the circle. What Do You Meme? is a new game, but it’s already amassed over 500 five-star reviews online.

  • Some board games can drag on as you wait for other players to take their turn, but that’s not the case with Smart Ass. This fast-paced game will keep everyone on their toes, as you’re allowed to yell out answers even when it’s not your turn.

    Smart Ass comes with a game board, six playing pieces and stands, 411 question cards, two jumbo dice and instructions. You can play with two to six people, and it’s best for players ages 12 and up.

    The objective of Smart Ass is to advance around the game board by answering questions, but it’s not as straightforward as you might think. When a clue is read, it’s a race to figure out the answer and yell it — no need to wait your turn. Your whole group will be in hysterics as you yell over each other, trying to prove you’re the ultimate “Smart Ass.”

    This fast-paced game gets top marks from reviewers thanks to its laugh-inducing gameplay and fun trivia questions. There’s never a dull moment when you’re playing Smart Ass!

  • This is the two-player version of the popular 7 Wonders board game, designed for head-to-head competition against your favorite board game buddy. The original is a group strategy game, and this Duel edition includes the same civilization-building, world-dominating fun, without feeling like you’re missing players.

    7 Wonders: Duel is the perfect blend of strategy and chance set against the backdrop of the ancient world. You must decide how to build your civilization — Will you prioritize technological advancement? Pour your resources into military might? Rapidly expand, or fortify your cities? — but a random draw of a card can change your plans in an instant. There are all kinds of ways to win, and to lose.

    This game takes upwards of 30 minutes to play (as they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”). If you and your gaming partner are fans of civilization-building games and a little healthy competition, then 7 Wonders: Duel is hours of fun, diverse gameplay. It is recommended for ages 10 and up.

  • Just two of you on game night? Don’t worry! There are ample 2-player board games to keep you busy, including the Kahuna Board Game, where you’ll race to conquer a series of islands with a mixture of strategy and luck.

    Kahuna comes with the game board, 50 Kahuna bridges (25 black and 25 white), 20 Kahuna tokens (10 black and 10 white), 24 island cards and, of course, the rule booklet. It’s designed for two players ages 10 and up, and each game takes about 30 minutes.

    During gameplay, each player works to build bridges between the 12 islands on the board, aiming to capture as many as possible by having more bridges than your opponent. There’s strategy involved, but a lot is also the luck of which island cards you draw.

    Reviewers say the game is simple and straightforward, yet fun to play and extremely competitive! This 2-player board game is easy to pick up and sure to spur plenty of rematches.

    Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best two-player board games.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.

  • If you’re looking for a complex board game where you create exciting, memorable stories, the Above and Below Game fits the bill. This game is a mashup of town-building and storytelling, allowing you to build a settlement while exploring the world around you.

    Above and Below is designed for two to four players, ages 12 and up. Gameplay is on the longer side, lasting 90 minutes or more, so be sure you have ample time when you sit down to play.

    As you build your village in Above and Below, you will gain villagers, who you can then assign jobs, such as harvesting resources, building homes or exploring. There’s a lot of strategy involved as you decide how best to put your villagers’ talents to use and how to expand your settlement. You can also go out exploring, figuring out different ways to earn the Victory Points that will help you win the game.

    Reviewers love this game, saying it’s become a go-to for game night. Many enjoy the build-your-own-adventure aspect of Above and Below, and several note that it’s less competitive than many other board games, which makes for a more low-key atmosphere.

    Check out our other reviews of the best storytelling games​ available on the market today.

  • Certain board games never get old, and Scrabble is definitely on that list! This classic board game for adults is a must-have for every household, as it will provide hours of fun as you compete to create the best high-scoring words.

    In the Scrabble box, you’ll find the game board, 100 wooden letter tiles, four tile racks, a drawstring letter bag and the game guide. You can play with two to four players, and the game is recommended for anyone over 8.

    To play, every person randomly draws letter tiles, then you take turns building crossword-style words on the game board. You score points by playing long words, using difficult letters, and/or landing on special spaces for double/triple letter or word scores. This is the classic gameplay, but there are also several other ways to play outlined in the game guide.

    No two games of Scrabble are ever alike, which is why this board game is a classic for many families. It’s a great adult game that you’ll reach for again and again, so it’s well worth the investment.

    Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best word games.

  • For a game that’s fun for adults and children alike, look into Ravensburger Labyrinth, a strategy-based board game that will keep players of all ages entertained. In the fantasy maze, you’ll work to collect treasures as other players shift the walls and paths around you, trying to block your way.

    With this game, you get the playing board, 34 maze cards, 24 treasure cards and four playing pieces. Each game lasts around 30 minutes, and it’s best played with two to four players over age 8. However, reviewers note that Ravensburger Labyrinth is just as fun for the adults as it is for kids!

    During the game, you can make your own path (and block the paths of others) by inserting extra tiles on the board to move walls and open passages of the Labyrinth. The goal is to navigate through the maze to your character’s treasures, then make it back to the starting square. However, with the labyrinth constantly shifting, it’s easier said than done!

    Reviewers say Ravensburger Labyrinth is a favorite at their family game night, as it’s easy enough for kids to pick up, but challenging for players of all ages. This board game very well might become a new family favorite!

    Need some more help finding what you’re looking for? Read through our best family board games article.

  • Courtesy of Target.

    This board game from Hasbro is almost too accurate for those in their 20s and 30s, as this parody on The Game of Life takes you through the common pitfalls of being young (and growing up). From crippling debt to failed relationships, this game will have you laughing out loud at the hilarious and accurate situations that you have to endure—but it’s all part of life, right?

    The game starts you out with 500k worth of debt, and to win you have to be the first player to pay off your debt. This becomes increasingly difficult as you pick from Job, House, and Action cards and make your way across the board—and through life. Will you lose your job or your relationship along the way? Or will losing Wi-Fi be the worst thing to happen to you?

    This 2-4 player games includes the game board, spinner and base, 100 cards, 4 cars, money pack, 4 savings tokens, 24 pegs, and instructions.

Our Process

Our writers spent 11 hours researching and testing the most popular board games for adults on the market. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

What to Look for in a Board Game for Adults

Strategy Many board games for adults have more sophisticated rules, but that doesn’t mean they’re hard to understand — most of the options on our list are still easy to learn. To challenge your friends and family, look for a game that’ll test your logic and strategy skills.

Number of players While family-friendly games may be designed for more players so all the kids can get involved, many board games for adults are meant to be fun and competitive with as few as two players. Of course, there are party-style games that are great for a crowd, but if it’s just you and a friend playing, choose one of the options built to challenge groups of two.

Humor Since we all love to laugh and let loose, many adult board games include an aspect of humor and wit. Unlike games for kids that may play on silly humor or outrageous outcomes, the humor of a board game for adults is usually developed with a more mature audience in mind — one that can appreciate irony or agonize over embarrassment.

What We Like

  • Easy to learn

  • Quick to play

  • Very entertaining

What We Don’t Like

  • Can get repetitive

“Codenames makes a great addition to any game night,” raved one of our testers. “It’s an entertaining game that’s well designed and easy to play. I also love the fact that each round can be played relatively quickly, so you don’t get bored!” One reviewer also liked the way it incorporates group dynamics: “As the group grows or you introduce new people, the game strategy could completely change — it keeps things interesting!” On the other hand, one tester noted that because each round only took about 20 minutes, playing several rounds in a row can start to feel repetitive.

What We Like

  • Laugh-inducing

  • Very interactive

  • Fast pace

What We Don’t Like

  • Full rules are more complex

  • Games can be long

“This game encourages people to be silly and have fun,” said one of our testers. “It’s hard not to be yourself playing it.” Our reviewers also loved that it was fast-paced and very interactive. One tester, however, felt that the game took slightly too long: “Our first game took over an hour to finish,” she said. “Also, there’s a basic version, but the full rules are more complicated and would make the game even longer.”

What We Like

  • Engaging

  • Unique each time you play

  • Easy cleanup/storage

What We Don’t Like

  • Complicated rules

  • Lengthy

“This game is extremely fun,” raved one of our testers about Betrayal At House On The Hill. Our reviewers specifically liked how engaging the thematic and role-playing elements of the game were. “With many different scenarios, each gameplay is unique,” revealed one of our testers. Our testers did note that the instructions were complicated. “It takes at least one playthrough for players to understand the game,” one person said. Our testers also said games could last more than an hour.

Courtesy of Walmart.

What We Like

  • Straightforward instructions

  • Minimal setup

  • Fun to play

What We Don’t Like

  • Slightly harder for kids

  • Can get stagnant

According to our testers, this game was easy to set up and learn. One reviewer also said he enjoyed it more and more as time went on: “The game is very fun,” he declared, “especially once you have a thorough understanding of the rules and begin to develop your own strategy.” He also noticed that, since players aren’t allowed to discuss tactics with their teammates, the atmosphere could feel “stagnant.”

What We Like

  • Easy to play

  • Incredibly funny

  • Perfect for adult parties

What We Don’t Like

  • Not for mixed company

  • Limited replayability

  • Full of millennial slang

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“The crazy combination of cards makes the game hilarious,” reported our tester. “It’s extremely easy to learn and fun to play. The uproarious laughs were definitely worth the price.” On the other hand, she thought that it wasn’t ideal to play in mixed company “due to its raunchy content.” She also felt that its novelty wore off fairly quickly because of its “limited replayability” unless you buy expansion packs.

What We Like

  • Easy to learn and play

  • Fast-paced

  • Has an educational component

What We Don’t Like

  • Might be too advanced for younger players

  • Games can be short

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“Smart Ass is fun, fast-paced, and highly competitive,” raved our tester. She also said that the trivia questions were “challenging and kept everyone on their toes.” In terms of downsides, she said the games tended to be a little too short: “The first game we played only lasted about 15 minutes,” she said. Overall, though, she felt that the game was worth buying: “It’s reasonably priced and provides hours of entertainment,” she said.

What We Like

  • Perfect for two people

  • Challenging

  • Various strategies can be used to win

What We Don’t Like

  • Difficult to learn

  • Complicated rules

  • More time-consuming than expected

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Our tester thought this game was “perfect for two players” and that it was especially worth buying “if you’re a more serious gamer that loves a challenge.” She also noted that it “requires a lot of strategic thinking.” In terms of negatives, she thought that its instructions “could have been clearer and more concise.” She also thought that the game was difficult to learn: “Playing the first few rounds was tedious and time-consuming,” she said.


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