You don't have to shell out the price of a steak dinner just to bring a new board game home for your family and friends to enjoy. The best cheap board games suit the number of players that are ready for a game, are age-appropriate, and align with players' interests. All of the games on this list cost less than $25 and will provide hours of fun, regardless of your game type preferences. Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping.
If you are shopping for family-friendly games, be sure to check the recommended age. Games that move at a slower speed and are typically games of chance, rather than skill, are ideal for younger players. To make your search easier, I included the minimum age for each game below. I didn't forget about the adults — there are a number of fun adults-only games that you'll want to break out after the kids go to sleep.
You may already know that your ideal game needs to be played with four people, or perhaps a much larger group of friends. Each of the games below lists a player range. I've included two-player games that are perfect for date night, as well as games that all your roommates will love.
There are games on this list to satisfy every type of board game enthusiast — from family members who love the classics to friends who appreciate a great modern reboot of an old standard. Whether your idea of a good time involves getting to the bottom of whether Colonel Mustard did it with a lead pipe in the library or you prefer word-building games or games of chance, there's no shortage of fun to be found here — and none of these games will break the bank.
Grab the snacks and get ready for the most epic, budget-friendly game night.
1. The Secret Spy Game You Can Learn In 5 Minutes
Gamers love Codenames in particular because of how easy it is to learn and teach to others. The word-association game pins two teams against each other as they try to identify all of their team's secret agents. Teams work together to uncover all of their own agents without stumbling over the opposing team or the "assassin." Play Codenames with at least two people, but this team game has no limit to the number of players who can join in. This game is so popular that it has more than 8,700 reviews and an impressive 4.8-star rating.
Helpful Review: "Codenames really is genius in its simplicity. It's a fantastic party game because it can be taught in under 5 minutes and provides a ton of fun. It has definitely been a hit in my gaming group and with my family over the holidays. The game is surprising simple, but provides hours of entertainment, especially as everyone laughs over the connections that everyone makes. I cannot recommend it enough!"
- Age: 14 and up
2. The Card Game With A Cult Following
This quick game is a little bit strategy, a little bit luck. This game can be played with up to 5 people (ages 7 and up), and similarly to Uno, it's more fun with more people. The premise is simple: draw cards to try to collect the ones you need without drawing an exploding kitten card — which means you lose. This game is easy to teach and one round takes about 15 minutes, making it perfect for a quick play. People love this simple game — it's sold more than 9 million copies and boasts more than 27,000 reviews.
Helpful Review: "Holy macaroni, was it easy to learn and did we ever laugh? The answers are Yes and Yes! We enjoyed it so much, we played again. Then opened the expansion pack and played a third time. [...] now that we were experts. Anxiously awaiting the next expansion pack!"
- Age: 7 and up
3. A Hilarious Game To Learn About Your Friends
This adult card game is a fun party game that helps you get to really know your friends. Each card poses a question and it's up to the group to anonymously select the player for which it most applies. The game includes questions like, "Who would survive the longest in a zombie apocalypse?" or "Whose Google search history would you most like to see?" Once the votes are in, players guess who voted for whom. Guess correctly and get points. This game is not meant for kids, as some of the questions are a little PG-13. Reviewers say who you play with completely impacts how much fun you have. This game requires five to 10 players and one of its unique benefits is that, unlike bulkier board games, it comes in a compact package — so it's simple to store.
Helpful Review: "I love this game, it's really fun. I do encourage the use of discretion when selecting people to play it with as some questions can cause certain people to be uncomfortable. That being said the thing that most impressed me about this game is just the range of questions, everything from "Who is secretly a superhero " to "whose standards lower after the fewest number of drinks" — the results are hilarious. One of the added perks is that this game takes up almost no space on my already overflowing game shelves."
- Age: 17 and up
4. A Classic Mystery Board Game That Never Gets Old
More than likely, you've played this classic mystery game a time or two. But don't sleep on this crowd-favorite! This ages 8 and up game is full of pointing fingers and bluffing. There's been a murder inside the mansion and it's your job to figure out whodunit. While the game still works with two players (it has a two to six player range), it's really more fun with all six players.
Helpful Review: "Same old Clue game that I always loved. Done in the Library with a Candlestick by Colonel Mustard. Oh how I remember those wonderful daysThe board and everything else is just the same and brings back fond memories. This is truly a classic. The price is an excellent value for the quality of this set."
- Ages: 8 and up
5. This Monster-Slaying Game That Will Quite Literally Never Get Old
This adventure game is simple: grab the treasure, level up, and beat the monsters. The roleplaying card game is ideal for three to six players, however, the more players, the longer the game will last. It's a fun parody of the beloved Dungeons and Dragons game. This deluxe version is a steal and includes a game board, while other versions of the game contain expansion cards that, literally, expand upon the game's themes so that there's always an exciting new twist and you never, ever get bored. There are a number of expansion card add-ons, so you'll really get your money's worth with this pick. The suggested age is over 10 and considering how there are a lot of rules to remember, it may not be the best for younger kids. Reviewers say this game is one you'll keep coming back to time and again.
Helpful Review: "If you're going to be playing the game regularly, you'll probably want to buy one (or more) of the several available expansions. With three players, we went through half of the cards in a single game. Since part of the fun of the game is wondering what cards are going to show up next, more is definitely better. Fortunately, there are currently about 7 major expansions (of about 100 cards each) and about a dozen minor expansions (of about 15 cards each), in addition to the different variants. So it will be easy to spice things up a bit if the game starts feeling a bit repetitive."
- Ages: 10 and up
6. The Word-Building Game For Adults And Kids
This word-building game takes creativity to new heights — literally. Similar to Scrabble, players get seven tiles to build words, only in this game you can stack them on top of each other to build upwards. The higher the stack, the more points you get. This game says it's for two to four players, but can also be played solo. The lazy-Susan-style board makes it easy to play as a family. This game is for ages eight and up and makes for a heated game between adults or a spelling exercise for the kiddos. Reviewers admit the price is reflected in the quality of the pieces, but that it doesn't affect the game.
Helpful Review: "I was hesitant to get a newer version vs. jumping on eBay and getting an old one from the 80s/90s (whenever it was). This is actually a great build of the product and it's a fun alternative when you are used to playing Scrabble. We like word games and this helps break things up in a logical, familiar and fun way."
- Age: 8 and up
7. The Speedy Spelling Game You Can Play Anywhere
Bananagrams is a popular game, in part, because if its portability. All you need are the tiles! Spell words off each other with the tiles you have, in a race to use up all your tiles before your opponents. It's all about speed rather than points. You can play Bananagrams with up to eight people — just check how many tiles you get based on how many players you have. The manufacturer suggests ages seven and up will enjoy this game, but be sure any kiddos playing have a pretty good grasp on spelling.
Helpful Review: "It’s like scrabble but you don’t have to be especially smart. It’s challenging but there’s no triple word scores or anything like that. It’s a fairly quick game. You just play as many rounds as you want to. And just 2 people can play it. Also, if you’re bored, you can just sit and challenge yourself (though that’s not in the rules). Cute little banana bag to hold them. So convenient."
- Age: 7 and up
8. The No-Frills Game That's All Fun
This game is no-frills fun for two to 10 players. It takes less than 5 minutes to play, but you'll want to keep playing again and again. Players are dealt cards. When it's their turn to play a card they simply have to follow the rules on the card to try and win the round. But there's a twist: the rules are often random and nonsensical and there are lots of silly obstacles in your way, like a "kitten ambush" or rock, paper, scissors battle. Chaos will ensue — it's part of the fun. The box suggests players be over 13, but reviewers say it's appropriate for younger kids and easy for them to catch on. The true humor of this game lies in its randomness and pandemonium.
Helpful Review: "This game is for those that have a sense of humor and want to play a game that makes no sense. Each game will only take about a minute or two. There is no luck to the game, just random cards, which makes it great game that anyone can win. We have since taken it to family holidays. [...] Everyone laughs at the crazy cards, and no one gets upset when they lose, since everyone pretty much will end up winning. If you want a quick game that several people can play, that is fun and crazy, then this game is it."
- Age: 13 and up
9. A Two-Person Game With Beautiful Illustrations
This game is fun, but it's also really beautiful. The cards are all illustrated like you're in a woodland fairy's dream. The fairytale-like game continues with characters like the Queen, swan, fox, and monarch. Whoever can defeat the monsters will be rewarded with half of the kingdom. Collect treasures and win tricks to earn points. It can be tricky to find a quality two-person game, but this is it — and it's a deal.
Helpful Review: "My husband and I have been searching for a good, fun, aesthetically pleasing game and we hit the jackpot with this one. It’s a super simple game play concept — but complex enough to be competitive and fun. There are tons of different types of variation with gameplay which makes it exciting. We sat down and played three whole games. The art is gorgeous and there are only 30 cards. It’s competitive with enough strategy to make it fun. I loved it and I’m super picky with games."
- Ages: 10 and up
10. A Risky Dice Game For The Whole Family
This risk-taking game is simple and fun for the whole family. Roll the dice and add up your points, but don't go over the limit or you "Farkle" and lose them all. Weigh the risk and gather points to beat your opponents. This game comes with six dice, a scoreboard, and a cup to shake up the dice. Take on one other opponent in a two-person game or invite all of your friends over to play — there's no limit to how many people can play.
Helpful Review: "What a fun game for the whole family! It's a stress-free game, without any timers or buzzers going off. No pressure, no artistic ability required, no knowledge of world events or trivia, and a relatively quick game for the children with short attention spans — the perfect game for our family! It's easy enough for the younger kids to learn and it keeps the older kids and parents entertained, too."
- Ages: 8 and up
11. An Espionage Game That Hooks You In
The Resistance is a game of deception and secret identities. As the small group of resistance fighters try to take down the government, spies infiltrate their movement. The player's job is to find out which one of their "spy" friends is lying to them, call them out, and banish them for the good of the resistance. This party game is as much fun with five people (its minimum) as it is with 10, the maximum number of players. The game comes with cards and a small board, which is easy to transport.
Helpful Review: "The Resistance is the perfect gateway game for introducing to non-gamers at parties and such. You know those people that pull a face when you suggest you play a game over some drinks? I tell them 'try this out, it takes fifteen minutes and if you don't like it I'll never ask you to play a game again.' I never brought it to a table and not had everyone ask for another round. People sidle up to you days later 'what was that game we played? The one with the spies and that? Aye, that was really good, I'd like to play that again.... The Resistance has a great hook."
- Age: 13 and up
12. The Trivia Game That Requires Strategy
This isn't your typical trivia game! In addition to traditional trivia questions about sports, music, and technology, you also have to worry about your opponent stealing your questions. Play Smartish with one other person or up to 12 people (three to a team). Players have to bet which question categories they are most likely to answer correctly. You don't have to be a trivia buff to get these questions right — you just have to prove your wits against the other team. There is also an app to download that has more questions and categories for fun that never ends.
Helpful Review: "I can’t even deal with how fun this game is!!! The questions are challenging, but not so hard that you never get any right. As soon as we got home from vacation my husband and I immediately bought our own game so we can strengthen our brains and finally beat my dad! LOL."
- Age: 14 and up
13. This Iconic Game For All Ages
Connect 4 is a childhood classic that gets kids (and adults of all ages) excited about playing board games. The premise is the same: get four of your colored chips in a row, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. But this version has updated blocker discs that allow players to stop their opponent from placing another chip. This two-person game is easy and quick and perfect for keeping kids ages six and up entertained for hours.
Helpful Review: "Perfect for couples who can't afford a mediator. My man and I keep this game locked and loaded for any rapid rounds we need to engage in when we cannot agree on where to eat or who's turn it is to take out the trash. Add an element of fun to your life rather than responsibility and duke it out over some connect four! easy to use, fun to play [...]"
- Age: 6 and up
14. A Game Like Monopoly But Way Quicker
Payday is similar to Monopoly, but faster moving and ideal if you don't have all night to settle in with a game. Players buy property, pay bills, earn money, and take out loans. Two laps around the board only takes about 15 minutes, so it's a fun game for kids and adults. The goal is to have the most money at the end. While newer versions of the 1979 game have been released, reviewers say this classic version is still the best. This game comes with player tokens, cards, saving/loan pad, money, and dice. Play with two to four people.
Helpful Review: "Excellent game for the entire family! My 8-year-old absolutely loves board games. For the last several months we have played Monopoly Jr. multiple times a week and we were looking for something a little more complex but not as time consuming as regular Monopoly. My husband suggested Pay Day game because he had played it as child with his parents and had fond memories. We were very excited to see that it was still being manufactured."
- Age: 8 and up
15. A Silly Truth-Or Dare-Like Game
What ridiculous things will you do just because a card tells you to? That's what Quelf aims to find out. Play it with three to six players by obeying the cards. It's the perfect ice breaker game or family game night hit. While it's recommended for ages 16 and up reviewers say kids of all ages (adults too) love this game. From doing the chicken dance to speaking in foreign accents, Quelf is not for the shy, but will bring out the goofball in everyone.
Helpful Review: "The game was a hit for our family game night. We laughed until we cried. There’s so much going on! The game has a variety of activities taking you around the board until a winner reaches the end. You don’t want the game to end though because it is so much fun."
- Age: 16 and up
16. A Favorite Card Game For Travel
Love Letter is a game of risk and deduction — all in the name of love. Players have to compete to be the first to deliver a love letter to the princess, while keeping their competitors' letter away. Players draw cards, some of which can help you strategize to deliver the letter faster. This new version adds two new characters so you can now play with up to six people. It's easy to learn, quick to play, and perfect for traveling. Try to get ahead without getting noticed by any of the other players and win the princess' heart!
Helpful Review: "Great game that our entire family loves. Bought directly from the publisher as a Christmas stocking stuffer and it was a huge hit that got a lot of play among extended family over the holidays. We play it a fair amount because it's a quick and easy play."
- Age: 8 and up
17. A Controversial Monopoly Game Just For Adults
This hilarious parody of the classic Monopoly turns capitalism on its head and asks players to contribute to a community fund unless they need to deplete it. Players work together for the common good, but chance cards like rude neighbors, plumbing issues, or gross dinners inevitably shake things up. Funny changes to the original game like "just visiting" spots in jail or a community shuttle make this the perfect adult game night game. However, a fair warning that this game may spark some undesired political conversations. This one is designed for adults (the political themes may go over kids' heads) and can be played with two to eight people.
Helpful Review: "This is hilarious. The kids love it. And it does spark conversation. That is gets people lathered up with "hate" is ridiculous. We all had a ton of fun playing it. Laughed the entire time."
- Ages: 18 and up