Entertainment

18 Unique Board Games For Any & Every Occasion

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Group of creative friends sitting at wooden table. People having fun while playing board game.
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You’ve made it all the way through The Game of Life, shouted “Sorry!” as you bumped players back to start, and climbed every ladder without sliding down a single chute. Now that you’ve beat the classics (more times than you can count), it’s time for something new. These unique board games will keep you on your toes with out-of-the-box rules, new characters, intriguing goals, and more.

Just because these picks are unique doesn’t mean they’re hard to learn, though. Some only need a few minutes to get up and running, but they can take up to an hour to finish playing — like Chickapig, a fun game that's comparable to chess. Others are familiar, like this cat-inspired Monopoly game that you've probably heard of. A few of these are also challenging, such as Detective, where players can either work together to solve crimes or compete as lone wolves.

No matter what you're looking for, there’s probably an awesome board game in here to suit your wants and needs. And if you still remain unconvinced, get this: All the games selected for this list have received at least 4.5 stars or more from Amazon shoppers.

So, what are you waiting for? Family game night isn’t going to throw itself, you know?

1

Chickapig: A Family Game That's Kind Of Like Chess

Most board games geared towards kids don't have much strategy involved — but not Chickapig. Winner of the 2019 National Parenting Product Award, it introduces chess-like thinking to children, but in a fun, accessible way. Players move their chicken-pig hybrids across the board while dodging opponents, hay bales, and a pooping cow. Each round takes anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes, and it's made for up to four players — though if you have more, you can easily break into teams.

According to reviewers: "We bring this game with us everywhere we go and literally everyone always stops to ask what we're playing because we're always laughing and having so much fun. This is our 2nd purchase of the game, we decided we needed to have one at home and one always in the car.”

  • Number of players: 2 - 4
  • Ages: 8+

2

Conspiracy Theory: A Trivia Board Game That'll Stump Your Friends

Are your friends just too good when it comes to trivia? Then Conspiracy Theory is sure to stump them. Unlike regular Trivial Pursuit, Conspiracy Theory has four categories of questions: tech, schemes, mythos, random, and aliens. Each card also features a QR code on the back in case you want to learn more afterwards, with questions ranging from "The Ghost of JFK" to the idea that all dolphins are aliens. And since each box contains more than 200 conspiracy cards, you won't have to worry about repeating the same question two games in a row.

According to reviewers: "I bought this as a Christmas gift for my husband who is a conspiracy theory junkie. He loves it! We have a great time picking it up and playing a few rounds whenever we are sitting around. It's a great conversation starter; we often find ourselves using the QR codes on each card to find out more about theories we had never heard of before.”

  • Number of players: 2 - 6
  • Ages: 14+

3

Above And Below: The Board Game That Tells A Story

If you're looking for a game that has a little bit of everything — role playing, resource collection, strategy, adventure — Above and Below is it. Players compete by using villagers to harvest materials from the caverns below in order to build the best village above ground. Each villager has an identity that's unique to them, and the book of playable encounters brings back memories of "choose your own adventure" stories, while ensuring that no two games are the same.

According to reviewers: "The artwork is beautiful, the pieces are well made, and the ‘Choose your own adventure’ aspect makes for a very interesting twist to a resource management/worker placement style game. The scenarios during exploring are fun and varied, and perfectly complement the game.”

  • Number of players: 2 - 4
  • Ages: 13+

4

Concept: The Board Game That Uses Creativity To Solve Riddles

While some board games can take a while to learn, Concept is simple enough that it has everybody up and playing within minutes. Using icons on the board, players try to silently convey concepts like "Sigmund Freud" or "dinosaur." One game generally takes about 40 minutes, and you don't need to worry about the puzzles being too hard — the icons come in three difficulty levels so that the whole family can play together.

According to reviewers: "It is such a fun game! What I love about it is that it really gets the family talking as it’s kind of like Pictionary without having to draw so it makes all of the players work together to figure out the word/phrase. Game design is simple but effective.”

  • Number of players: 4 - 12
  • Ages: 10+

5

Dice Forge: An Adventure Game That's Half Strategy, Half Luck

Your dice roll determines how you get to manage your resources in Dice Forge, but don't worry — it's not all based on luck. The dice in this game have removable faces that you can customize to suit your plans, and whoever gathers the most points by the end wins. Unlike other strategic games, there are multiple different routes you can take to victory depending on how you configure your dice, and each round only takes about 20 minutes.

According to reviewers: "I heard a lot about this one and got it for my 8-year-old. What do you know, I like this game too! The dice manipulation is unique, the game components are VERY impressive, high quality production value with the best organizer I've seen so far (they even have illustrations on how to place everything back in the box for shorter setup time. They have great instructions too, was easy to dive in even though it is a slightly complicated game to learn).”

  • Number of players: 2 - 6
  • Ages: 7+

6

Terraforming Mars: The Game Where You Colonize The Red Planet

It's the year 2400, and humans have finally begun to colonize other planets in Terraform Mars. Players work together in order to make Mars hospitable for human life, and earn points by advancing human infrastructure throughout the solar system. As you compete to become the most successful settlement on the planet, humans will immigrate from Earth to join your city — and with more than 200 game cards representing different terraforming projects, it's unlikely that two games will be the same.

According to reviewers: "I have dedicated my life to table top gaming (RPGs, Board games, card games, etc.) and I find that from the board game side of things this is the best of the board games I have ever played. I personally prefer cooperative games where the players work together but for a game that pits you against other players, this game is great.”

  • Number of players: 1 - 5
  • Ages: 12+

7

Suspicion: A Simple Game That Reminds Reviewers Of Clue

Most board games cost upwards of $20, whereas Suspicion is only $15 — but for such an affordable price, you aren't skimping on replay value. Players are assigned a secret identity as one of 10 world-class jewel thieves. Then, they use their detective skills to unmask who the other players are before their own identity is revealed. The instructions are easy to follow, and it only takes a few minutes to learn. However, if you're looking for a deductive game with a lot of strategy involved, some reviewers found this one a little too simple. Others compared it to Clue.

According to reviewers: "Such a fun game for a variety of ages. We received it as a gift and have since gifted it to two other people!”

  • Number of players: 2 - 6
  • Ages: 10+

8

Don't Get Drunk: The Game That Combines Pong, Flip Cup, And More

Tired of playing flip cup and beer pong at your parties? Then it's time to whip out Don't Get Drunk. Players take turns drawing trial, dare, quiz, or luck cards — and then they follow the instructions printed on each. Cards range from daring you to post silly messages on your social media, to challenging you to compete in a game of quarters or kings. And just like with all drinking games, you can play it with or without alcohol — it's just as fun both ways. (But if alcohol is involved, make sure everyone is at least 21 years old — and drink responsibly.)

According to reviewers: "This was so much fun to play with friends! Don't get drunk will now be a staple in our house for parties. It is a lot of fun and can be played with non-alcoholic drinks if needed. Definitely recommend this game to anyone with a close group of friends.”

  • Number of players: 2 — 8+
  • Ages: 21+

9

Betrayal At House On The Hill: A Spooky Game That Turns One Player Against The Rest

With more than 50 spooky scenarios, you can easily play Betrayal At House On The Hill dozens of times without repeating a game. Players work together to survive their trip through the haunted house, and the house's configuration changes every game for even more variety. As you make your way through, the house will eventually turn one player against the rest of the team — but who will it be?

According to reviewers: "Betrayal is one of my top favorite board games that I'm constantly trying to get my friends to play. It's a fun, challenging game that's really enjoyable with the right group of people. It's an exploration/board building game with an eerie theme about it and a really unique mechanic.”

  • Number of players: 3 - 6
  • Ages: 12+

10

Tsuro Of The Seas: The Game Where You Explore Treacherous Waters

Fun for the whole family, Tsuro of the Seas has players defend their ships against powerful sea monsters as they sail across open waters. Gameplay is easy to learn — roll the dice, move the sea monster, then sail your ship onwards. The entire game only takes about 40 minutes, though it can take as little as 20 minutes if you're already familiar with it.

According to reviewers: "This is a fantastic game, and the variations allowed in this second edition/version make it possible to increase the challenge as we get better at it, or keep it simple for different age groups. As another review or two mentioned (and I am grateful for those people), this is a GREAT choice for couples looking for games that can be played in a group of 2 with as much fun as a group of 4.”

  • Number of players: 2 - 8
  • Ages: 8+

11

Detective: The Game That Lasts All Through The Afternoon

If you're looking for a game that can consume the whole afternoon, Detective is a good choice; the game lasts anywhere from two to over three hours. While the cases are fictional, the stories are set in the real world so that you can use the internet to help solve clues. The game is intentionally light on rules so that you're encouraged to rely on your powers of deduction and imagination to solve the crime. Each box comes with five cases to solve.

According to reviewers: "My daughter and I love playing this game. We are avid watchers of detective-type shows, (Criminal Minds, NCIS, Bones, Investigation Discovery shows, etc.). A lot of the other games of this sort, only come with one scenario and then you have to purchase another pack. I like that this one has several scenarios and it takes a while to go through. It's great for game night.”

  • Number of players: 1 - 5
  • Ages: 16+

12

Shadows: The Board Game You Play In The Dark

There's a reason this game is called Shadows, and it's not just because you're meant to play it in the dark. Players work together to move each Shadowling away from the light of the lantern in the center of the board, however one player (the Seeker) is on a mission to catch them in the light. The Seeker is the only player able to move the lantern according to their glow-in-the-dark dice roll — but if the Shadowlings are all able to gather in the same shadow before the Seeker freezes them, they win.

According to reviewers: "Such a fun game! I know it says ages 8 and up but got this to play with my 5 year old and she loves it. We like add some light spooky sound effects turned down in the background to add a little more atmosphere to the play.”

  • Number of players: 2 - 7
  • Ages: 8+

13

Spy Alley: The Game Where You Compete To Be "The World's Top Spy"

Awarded the Best Mind Game award by Mensa, Spy Alley has players bluff, deceive, and use deductive reason to expose other spies while simultaneously completing their secret mission. The game requires a lot of interaction between players which makes it great for family game night, though it does take some thinking. While the rules are easy to understand within a few minutes, it does require a fair amount of logic and reasoning out of players.

According to reviewers: "Spy Alley turned out to be the BIG HIT of our Christmas activities. Purchased with 8-yr-old grandchildren in mind, and it captivated not only the kids but parents and grandparents. Provides great variations for different levels of play from simple to more complex strategies. And game conversations can be delightful because of the roles and the intrigue.”

  • Number of players: 2 - 6
  • Ages: 8+

14

Photosynthesis: A Game That Teaches You About Trees

As far as educational board games go, Photosynthesis is able to blend fun with facts so that you'll barely even notice you're learning. Players compete to grow trees from seeds to adulthood, with points awarded after trees have reached full maturity. The leaves on the trees collect light points that let you grow and plant additional trees, but be careful — you can't just plant a tree anywhere on the board, as trees planted in shadow won't receive any sunlight.

According to reviewers: "Don't be fooled by the beautiful artwork, or the adorable little illustrated animals hidden within the components, Photosynthesis is a vicious abstract strategy game, and it's probably the best use of thematic gameplay for any tabletop game [in recent years], worthy of being equated with other top tier uses of theme in designing gameplay, such as Shadows Over Camelot, Blood Rage, and just about anything produced by Fantasy Flights.”

  • Number of players: 2 - 4
  • Ages: 8+

15

Horrified: The Board Game Where You Defend The Town Against Monsters

Ever wonder what it's like to be a monster hunter? You can get the tiniest taste of it by playing Ravensburger Horrified, during which players get to defend the town against famous monsters like Dracula, the Bride of Frankenstein, and the invisible man. While the strategy gameplay takes only an hour and the rules are very easy to understand, it can be played over and over again with its varying difficulty levels and thoughtful design.

According to reviewers: "The Universal Monsters theme is put to great use in this co-op board game. Replayability is high with each monster having unique abilities and players having to solve mini game-like challenges (i.e. smashing 4 coffins before taking on Dracula or guiding a boat along a path to find the Creature's lair, etc).”

  • Number of players: 1 - 5
  • Ages: 10+

16

Cat-opoly: Monopoly, But With Cats Instead Of Properties

If you have trouble getting into regular Monopoly, this cat-themed version makes the game much more accessible. Players travel around the board purchasing different cat breeds while trying to avoid flea-themed pay spaces. The back of each "deed" card contains fun facts about cats, but be careful not to wind up in jail — or in this game's version, a pool of water.

According to reviewers: "Cutest Monopoly-based game ever. I played a game with my 82 yr old mom, and we have never laughed so hard nor had such a great time playing a board game. Lovely way to spend 3 hours on a cold afternoon.”

  • Number of players: 2 - 6
  • Ages: 8+

17

Upwords: The Word Game For When You're Tired Of Scrabble

Whereas Scrabble has players build words off of each other, Upwords has you stack letters on top of each other to create new ones. For example, you could stack an A over the O in FOX, to create FAX — though you can't stack more than five tiles on top of each other. And unlike Scrabble, the Upwords board rotates so that it's easy to see all your moves without having to read upside-down.

According to reviewers: "This is much more fun than scrabble and easier to play for all the family. It is much more compact than the original Upwords game so much easier to store and take with you.”

  • Number of players: 1 - 4
  • Ages: 8+

18

Catan: The Cult-Favorite Adventure Board Game

Catan (the base game) has upwards of 20,000 reviews and an overall rating of 4.8 stars, so it’s not exactly a secret — but if you haven’t yet played it, past buyers have called it the “best family game out there” and the “most addiction board game ever.” It’s a strategy/adventure game in which players establish their own civilizations of roads and cities and build them out across the hexagon-shaped tiles. Even though it can be learned in minutes, the various strategies, player interactions, and development cards ensure that each round is different for years of entertainment.

According to reviewers: "I have been playing Settlers of Catan for over 15 years and while many other games have come and gone, I still think this is my favorite game of all time. This is a great strategy game that isn't hard to learn, but like an onion there are many levels to [peel] back.”

  • Number of players: 3 - 4
  • Ages: 10+

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