The 10 Best Simple Board Games, According To Reviewers

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.

Originally Published: 

Board games are a timeless way to pass a quiet afternoon or even a raucous night with friends, but sometimes overly complicated games can slow down the fun. That's why the best simple board games have simple objectives, clear instructions, and fairly quick gameplay.

Obviously, “simple” is a subjective term when it comes to board games. But reading online reviews can be a great tool to get the gist of what a game is like. When doing my research, I scoured Amazon, searching through tons of games and reading hundreds of reviews. For the final selections, I looked for options that met the following criteria:

  • Fun: A large majority of reviewers said they had a blast playing my game picks. They also noted that the games offer just the right level of challenge.
  • Basic: Generally speaking, shoppers agreed that the games were easy to learn and didn't require lots of time studying instruction booklets.
  • Quick: Some of the games below can be played in as few as 15 minutes to ensure that they hold everyone’s attention (and you don't need to set aside a six-hour window in your schedule).

To accommodate a wide variety of ages and interests, I included a combination of classics and modern creations. With that in mind, read on for my list of the best simple board games.


The Best Overall: Scrabble Game

Ages: 8 and up

Number of players: 2 to 4

What's great about it: Scrabble is a classic for a reason. The long-running board game is simple to play, requiring almost no directions, yet there's still plenty of strategy involved. It can be enjoyed by a wide range of age groups, and it's affordable, too. If you don't already know the rules, you basically draw letters out of a bag and then attempt to make words out of them on the board, with each letter scoring you a certain number of points. Reviewers attested that the pieces in this set are durable and the board is solid, so it's sure to last for many years.

Editor’s take: “I have a reputation of cheating at board games on family game night, but I’m happy to report it is impossible for anyone to accuse me of cheating on Scrabble. I start the game creating 40-point words and, one Prosecco later, will spend 20 minutes crafting the word ‘jar.’ Still, this is my favorite game ever and never requires glancing at the rules.” —Lisa Fogarty


The Runner-Up: Bananagrams

Ages: 7 and up

Number of players: 1 to 8

What's great about it: This hugely popular board game is amazing because it's one of the few options you can have just as much fun playing with your reserved uncle as with your closest friends (and you can even play it solo). Similar to Scrabble but with the addition of speed, you play by racing your competitors to build crossword-style grids, hoping to be the one to get rid of your letters first. Perhaps best of all is that the whole game packs up into a little zip-up banana pouch, making it easy to take on the go.

One reviewer wrote: “Love the fast, easy game for a group to play. Not hard to learn. Fast paced game...doesn't take hours and hours to play!!”


The Best Drinking Game: Beer Run Drinking Strategy Board Game

Ages: 21 and up

Number of players: Up to 8

What's great about it: For those who like to add grown-up beverages to your gameplay, this is one of the best board games for adults. Essentially a drinking game about drinking, Beer Run has players competing to collect beer tokens and bring them back to the "party" before anyone else. You can play with just one friend or a group of up to eight people. It's painfully simple to learn and guaranteed to produce laughs. Just remember to drink responsibly.

One reviewer wrote: “[...] I absolutely LOVE this game! It definitely is more fun if you’re with a crowd that’s drinking, but it’s fun and competitive but incredible easy/fast to learn. I would definitely [recommend] this game! It’s also incredibly sturdy and well made, which is a nice plus.”


The Best For Kids: Candy Land Board Game

Ages: 3 and up

Number of players: 2 to 4

What's great about it: With a lovable premise that has players wandering through peppermint forests and lollipop palaces, it's no wonder why this game has remained one of the best board games for kids for decades. It's easy to learn and designed for children up to age six (but several reviewers wrote that their older kids like it, too). The game is wildly popular on Amazon, with more than 20,000 fans — many of which noted that the pieces are fairly durable, which is especially important when you're playing with kids.

One reviewer wrote: “There's a reason this game has been around for decades. Easy to learn and easy to play. My 4-year-old and I have played this game a thousand times. It's a family game night win when you're playing with little ones who can't yet read! This version is also quite sturdy and will hold up to some toddler/preschooler abuse.”


The Best Family Game: Imhotep Builder of Egypt Board Game

Ages: 10 and up

Number of players: 2 to 4

What's great about it: There are some games that are fun for kids to play on their own but boring for adults; others are either too hard or not appropriate for kids. This one, however, is a fun family board game that all parties will enjoy. Meant for anyone age 10 and older, this Egyptian-themed board game is exceptionally fun given how simple it is, according to reviewers. Although you're essentially just moving blocks around a board, trying to build a civilization, there's a degree of strategy involved. On top of that, the board and the pieces are beautifully designed.

One reviewer wrote: “I like this game because it's simple to learn but difficult to master. Gameplay is really elegant with only one main game mechanic.”


The Most Unique: Exit: The Game - A Family-Friendly Home Escape Room Experience

Ages: 12 and up

Number of players: 1 to 4

What's great about it: One of the most unique board games out there, this innovative pick allows you to convert your home into a live “escape room,” using cards and a secret decoder disc. You must solve riddles and break codes to escape, trying to get out before the clock is up. There are several different experiences to choose from, including “Forbidden Castle,” “Abandoned Cabin,” and “Polar Station.” The one drawback is that you can only play each game once because you tear the pieces up as you go. That said, for under $15, it's not a bad way to spend a Friday night. (One word of caution: Be careful reading the Amazon reviews because some include spoilers.)

One reviewer wrote: “The instructions were easy to follow. The game was very challenging and entertaining. The clues were pretty helpful. The game content was very similar to an actual escape room. We’ll likely buy another Exit game soon.”


The Best For Big Groups: Speed Charades Party Game

Ages: 13 and up

Number of players: 6 and up

What's great about it: If you have a large group of people to amuse, this twist on classic charades is an incredibly fun board game to play with friends. It's simple and straightforward — like with the original, you just act out words and phrases. However, this one moves faster and both teams go at the same time. Also, you have a deck of cards to guide you. All ages can play (there aren't any dirty words in the decks), and it's hilarious to watch as a spectator, too.

One reviewer wrote: “If you’re looking for a great game for a group, a party, or a game night - this is it! It’s perfect for people who like charades and even those that don’t. Since teams are competing at the same time, it eliminates any fear of being thrust into the unwanted spotlight [...] It was simple to learn and worked great for our group. This game will definitely be a game night favorite from now on.”


The Best Quick Game: Eight-Minute Empire

Ages: 12 and up

Number of players: 2 to 5

What's great about it: Perfect for when you don't have a lot of time on your hands, this quick board game can be played in under 20 minutes. It's simple to learn and play, yet it still requires a good amount of strategy. With a deck of cards that each player takes turns drawing, it's an area-control game where the goal is to build and expand your empire. Just note that, contrary to the name, not every game will be completed in eight minutes. Still, it moves fast and is lots of fun, according to fans.

One reviewer wrote: “Bought this game because I had seen it on YouTube. Liked the reviews and gameplay is not difficult at all. Just found out that there's also new expansions for this board game which I will definitely be looking into and adding it to my collection! Great little game!!”


The Most Creative: Happy Little Accidents Game

Ages: 10 and up

Number of players: 3 to 6

What's great about it: You don’t need to be a Bob Ross fan to enjoy this Happy Little Accidents game. You don’t need to be a gifted artist, either (in fact, it’s probably better if you aren’t). Quick-paced and easy to learn, the game requires players to take pre-drawn “squiggles” and turn them into a portrait of something recognizable. At the end of each round, players vote for their favorite drawings by awarding the artist a colorful Bob Ross chip.

“I played this with a group of friends during a New Year’s Eve game night, and we couldn’t stop laughing,” says Bustle editor Danielle Kraese. “It’s a relaxed, silly game that feels like a perfect tribute to Bob Ross. And best of all, it can be played in under 20 minutes.”

One reviewer wrote: “Very easy to play. Each player draws a doodle... they’re shuffled and handed out. You make the doodle into something. We were laughing our heads off! The worse you are at drawing, the funnier it is!”


The Best For Nature Lovers: Trekking The National Parks Board Game

Ages: 8 and up

Number of players: 2 to 5

What's great about it: Created by two park lovers with the help of their son, Trekking The National Parks is a simple and outdoorsy board game that’s won the Parent’s Choice Gold Award and the Mensa Select. It’s also won over thousands of fans on Amazon, with many agreeing that it’s simple to learn and play. The object of the game is to travel around the sprawling map of U.S. National Parks, collecting park cards and colorful stones, which can earn you victory points. The player with the most victory points by the end of the game is the deemed the winner, and play time ranges from 30 to 60 minutes.

One reviewer wrote: “I bought this game while visiting a national park and love it! It is easy to learn and can be enjoyed by the whole family. There is some strategy involved. The game board and pieces are high quality. Would recommend this game!”

This article was originally published on