It’s easy to lose yourself in complete solitude while playing an addictive smartphone game or to spend hours admiring the realistic graphics of a latest-generation video game. Even the old arcades where many of us spent our childhood birthday parties have been abandoned for virtual multiplayer sessions full of webcam-fueled excitement.
Perhaps that is why board games have made such a huge comeback; spending an evening together with close friends is now a deliberate choice, and as such, it deserves to be spent doing something that is equally fun, competitive, and intellectually demanding.
Over the past five years, many die-hard board gamers have rediscovered the unique pleasure of opening a brand new set of cards or of reading their opponent’s strategy on their faces.
Board games can fill up any winter evening with laughter or competitive goodwill, whether you want to summon your inner Napoleon and outsmart your crew or simply need an alternative to beer pong. After hundreds of hours spent at board game cafes and packed living rooms, we have selected the top Fun Boxes available for delivery right now.
Approximately six years ago, Settlers of Catan became the frontline combatant in the nostalgia-fueled Euro board game scene. The premise of the game is simple: occupy and develop an island full of random resources, building villages, roads, towns, or even an army. However, thanks to its unique ever-changing board, some deceptively-deep winning conditions, and great fun potential, this became the go-to option for storm parties and first dates alike.
Depending on who you are playing with, a match of Catan can become an impromptu lesson on probability, a riveting battle of wills, or an alcohol-fueled bartering market. The basic rules are easy to learn, especially if you use the creator’s own quick videos, and few groups can resist the temptation of a rematch.
For more fun options, check out our guide to the best solo board games.
Sometimes, what you need is a good excuse to let your darker, meaner side show – or test your limits with a group of old drinking buddies. Cards Against Humanity, also known as “the party game for horrible people” is a great chance to indulge your inner Dr. House.
This card-based game fits up to 10 people, who will take turns filling in the blanks, answering questions, or creating twisted, yet hilarious stories based off the hundreds of R-rated prompts given. Toilet humor, political satire, kinky jokes, and memes all come together to let you see what your friends are really made of. Do not play this one when grandma is around.
History nerds and gamblers both tend to love Seven Wonders. In this game, you can choose and develop a civilization that will wipe the floor with its neighbors, drive them to bankruptcy, or condemn them to an eternity of obscurantism and ignorance.
Does that sound incredibly long and complicated? Thanks to its quick draft phases and basic rule set, a match of Seven Wonders can be set up in five minutes and won in less than one very intensive hour. As a bonus, the cards have beautiful art and will trigger all your wanderlust buttons.
Ticket to Ride starts on a promising note by the simple fact of being named after a song by The Beatles. However, it is also a very simple and fast-paced game that provides a good excuse to impress your date with tales of your backpacking years.
In Ticket to Ride, your goal will be to build railways across an American or European map. Collect color-coded cards to claim routes or sections before your opponents and get extra bonuses for super-long sections, continuous routes, monopolies, or by taking side missions.
What often starts as a friendly conversation starter will quickly prompt everyone to dust off their treacherous competitive edge as the final turns prompt risky gambles and aggressive betrayals.
This endearing short game was surreptitiously launched on Kickstarter during the 2008 elections with several modern-day allegories in mind.
This game is set in 1930s Germany and combines hidden factions, tongue-in-cheek instructions, and a traitor mechanic. Up to 10 people will be divided into two random secret factions – fascists and liberals – and made to compete in mock-elections.
The fascists want to bring Hitler to power while the liberals want to prevent this – all while Hitler himself doesn’t know who he is or who his allies are. Naturally, intrigue, lies, and several rematches will ensue.
Game designer Vlaada Chvátil is definitely one of the pioneers of Euro-style board games, and Codenames was his first international success. In this game, each team is supposed to identify and locate the opposing team’s secret agents using unmentionable clues. Part-charade and part-Mad Libs, this is a great game for larger groups who aren’t afraid to frighten the neighbors with occasional excited screaming.
In addition to the original Codenames: Pictures base game – which was once dubbed “the Perfect Pictionary for anyone who can’t draw” – there have been several expansions to this game that add sexual innuendos, two-player mechanics, and additional cards.
Chronologically, Risk belongs to the original generation of childhood board games that many of us abandoned in favor of our Game Boys. However, the game’s complexity never stops enthralling adults and secretly-evil-children alike.
Risk is a military game where your goal is world domination. That by itself means that it can be a great tool to gauge the quality of your new in-laws or prospective employees. However, if you like to take things a little bit further, Risk cracks the door open for role play. Get in the shoes of a historical leader with classic Risk or immerse yourself in your favorite fantasy universe by opting for one of the themed special editions instead.
Any time can be Halloween by simply adding Betrayal at the House on the Hill to your party. This narrative-focused game starts as a friendly co-operative outing, taking you and a group of up to 6 people to explore an empty manor.
Once inside, dice-fueled randomness will prompt one out of over 30 “haunts” or creepy scenarios that will reveal a secret traitor, an evil plot, or the prospect of inescapable doom. Chances of repeat Haunts are scarce, and even if you’ve heard the story before, each scenario plays differently and will have you fighting for your life against your fellow players or the House itself.
Achieve extra nerd cred by writing out the resulting story and posting it online.
Originally funded through Kickstarter, Exploding Kittens is a quick and fun game that combines two of the internet’s highest passions: kittens and the chance to shame your best mate by having something (metaphorically) explode in their faces.
The basic gameplay structure owes a lot to UNO, an old-time classic that makes Exploding Kittens easy to learn and catch on to. However, a few key modifications add humor, surprises, and even the chance to cheat lawfully.
Plague Inc was originally launched as a casual, single-player smartphone game. However, unlike most basic time-management time sinks, Plague Inc quickly garnered attention for its hyper-realistic mechanics. The chance to design, evolve, and spread your own deadly plague was powered by real science and actual travel patterns.
In the board game version, you can continue fighting for the chance to exterminate humanity as one of several simultaneous pathogens that threaten to bring the Black Death back. Alternatively, play as one of the countries racing against time to combat the disease. The mechanics are intuitive and yet complex enough that even the CDC can’t predict all outcomes.
Colorful and seemingly kid-friendly, Small World brings Tolkienesque fantasy races together (think humans, orcs, elves, skeletons, amazons, and more) to a dog-eats-dog scenario. Each player can adopt an initial race, grow its civilization, fight for resources, and conquer new territories. However, Small World is small – and some will have to die to leave room for new minions.
Setting up the board and explaining the rule book to new players takes a bit more time than usual, but it’s well worth the effort. The combination of 14 different races and over 20 special powers, plus the unpredictability of your opponents’ whims mean that Small World is one of those games that can be replayed endlessly.
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Scythe is a complex game to set up and might be even harder to describe, but it’s a true addictive gem. Awarded Game of the Year in 2016, Scythe wordlessly takes you to an alternate history scenario, where the destruction and evolving tension of the Inter-War period is resolved through automated mechs, steampunk war machines, and the occasional totalitarian tactic.
The design is a jewel by itself due to the way the pieces are boxed into the painstakingly detailed card art. Scythe is also a masterpiece of both role play and strategy. It was not designed as a casual game, however, and requires a crowd that has some experience with board gaming. Nonetheless, it is fast-paced, tense, and exhilarating.
For a trivia game, Chronology requires knowing very little history and allows a varied crew to take their chances with some common sense and a few well-placed deceptive tactics. This is an ideal-card based option for long road trips and family gatherings as it manages to stay funny without being risqué and can be packed away in a rather small and neat box.
Game mechanics are wholesome and simple. Pick a card and test each one of your companions, placing bets on who can guess the approximate date of a quirky historical event. You might end up 50 years off, but it won’t matter if everybody else got the wrong century.
Roborally started as a side-project for legendary game house Wizards of the Coast, the creators of timeless classics, such as Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: the Gathering.
This game takes place in a robot factory, and each player will have to play a fighting robot trying to escape their assembly line. You’ll have a line of commands at your disposal and will have to traverse a terrain full of hidden traps, conveyor belts, and the occasional hit-and-run attempt by your fellow robots. Stop for repairs or accumulate new weapons at your own peril. Only the first one to hit all the checkpoints will make it out alive.
This is a board game about a fantasy drinking game – or a drinking game with added elves, spells, and feisty wenches, depending on how you are tackling the experience.
Red Dragon Inn is a favorite haunt of hotheaded adventurers and deadly warlocks, the perfect place to flex your muscles after the adventure is done and to scam your old partners out of their hard-earned money. Call for rounds of shots, gamble, avoid alcohol poisoning, and make sure they don’t stick you with the tab, just like in real life.
The government has fallen, and the last rebel cells are trying to sabotage the corrupt new regime to bring back freedom. However, one in your team is a secret collaborator – and it will take between 5 and 10 of your quickest-minded friends to figure out who is leaking your future plans to the Dictatorship.
In the meantime, you can see some of your comrades get caught, killed, or falsely accused. This would have been the premise of a great immersive video game, but turned into a board game, it scraps the special effects down to the basics and leaves you doubting your own shadow.
If you are looking for a short and dirty session with a group of under five people, why not try an old-school Mexican Standoff? Bang! the Dice Game uses a basic set of cards and a unique set of dice to try to bring law and order back to a Wild West town. Criminals, cowboys, and a sheriff will have to fight to the death – complete with the chance to mimic a shooting or an arrow in the knee. Only the last man standing will get to see the next day. In addition to its roleplaying potential, the game keeps the rules simple but the possibilities ample.
Before he came face-to-face with Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham had a long and illustrious career as a corrupt official and local tyrant. In Sheriff of Nottingham, you can get the golden opportunity to rob him of his takes, smuggle goods for the future revolution, or tattle on the other Merry Men to score a few extra points (or the chance to turn a profit).
This game includes well-known characters and a dynamic bluff-and-barter option, which can quickly turn into a commercial proxy war or a full-blown bribe, depending on how your friends choose to play.