Entertainment

18 Unique Board Games

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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?

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.

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: "This is a super fun game! My kids enjoy it as well. They are 6 and 8. They caught on quickly. Sometimes I help them strategize a little bit, but they can usually figure out moves they can do. Such a unique concept."

  • 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: "If you are a conspiracy theorist, you have to own this game. If you laugh at people who are conspiracy theorists, you have to own this game. If you really don't pay attention, either way, you have to own this game. Get ready to laugh your booty off and go down a few rabbit holes. The game is fast-paced and fun. Our crew played once - then sat for hours discussing the cards and scanning the QR codes and researching theories and watching youtube videos."

  • 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: "Such a cool game! The artwork is unbeatable and the characters are impossibly easy to fall in love with. Great game mechanics and relatively easy to learn. Love the encounter book that adds choices and colorful story line."

  • 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: "We are a family of four, that has an eight year old and a twelve year old. Everyone can get into the game with enthusiasm. Each card has nine words or phrases on the back. The ones at the top are easier, and they progressively get harder. We just sort of pick what we want to try for. Sometimes it is go big or go home. In fact now that I think about it, I'm not really sure we play by the rules. It doesn't matter, and the reason it doesn't matter is because we're having fun. Some games need rules to be fun, and some games are just fun. What a concept."

  • 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: "There are visual cues built into many elements of the game that serve as simple reminders of what cards do. As others have mentioned, everybody rolls their own dice before each players turn, so there is constant action to keep everyone engaged. The storage built into the box is awesome, allowing for quick set up and easy breakdown. A terrific game I have played with ages 10 and up, although I'm sure game savvy kids from age 8 could play too."

  • 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 would highly recommend this game to fans of strategy games that play well with two people. Additionally, by playing this game you learn some fun facts about Mars, which has been entertaining. Go science!"

  • 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: "A lot of folks like to compare it to Clue, while it has a similar element (trying to eliminate things to figure out which combination is the correct one) it's not as complicated, all you're doing is stealing gems (worth 1 point each or more points if you have a set) and trying to figure out which character belongs to which player (7 points for each correct answer) The most points wins!"

  • 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: "I gotta say, this game is 100% worth it! We’ve had so much fun playing the game and would recommend this (and have) to pretty much everyone. It’s one of the games me and my roommates play quite often!"

  • 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: "We love this game. We've played it so many times, and every time is different. There are still so many haunts that we haven't experienced yet. the replay value of this game is outstanding. Very fun to get spooked out with friends on game night."

  • 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: "The folks who made this game went way out of their way to make sure everything was top-notch. There's an extreme attention to detail, and it shows. The artwork is amazing, and the package design, even down to the instructions, is incredible."

  • 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: "The only thing I want to say, it is the best detective game we have ever met! It's absolutely immersive as promised. We spend 6-10 hours per scenario with donuts, coffee, tea, and the dog. It was the incredible story with twists and funny moments. We enjoyed every second of being detectives! Drawing a mind map, gathering clues, and matching suspects and their motives are incredible!"

  • 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: "This is a near perfect board game for any age and any temperament. As a life long obsessed board gamer this is not something I say lightly."

  • 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: "Fun, light and very easy to learn. The game starts a little slow as everyone tries to collect items for the spies. After going around the board a few times (similar to Monopoly) it soon starts to pick up becomes more intense. You are always wondering if your opponent is trying to fool you by collecting items from another spy. The game allows for funny banter between family members which is why I like it."

  • 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: "I want to start off by saying my husband and I have a collection of 100+ board games... I can not speak highly enough about this game! I bought it as an impulse buy for my husband for Christmas. I was a little nervous about whether it would be good or not. It turned out to be my favorite game of the year! It is such a simple game, yet there is so much strategy involved. My husband and I have played it through about 8 times now and the game goes differently every time because there are so many different strategies to use."

  • Number of players: 2 - 4
  • Ages: 8+
15
JAWS: The Board Game Where You Can Play As The Shark

Ever wonder what it's like to be a shark? You can get the tiniest taste of it by playing JAWS: The Board Game, as one person each game gets to play as the shark, while the rest have to escape their wrath. The best part? No two games are alike, as the events that happen in the first half of the game influence the second half. The game ends when the shark either completely destroys the boat, or the crew defeats the shark.

According to reviewers: "I've played this about a dozen times so far. It is really well designed, has fun game art and is good quality. It isn't an extremely heavy game to learn and is a lot of fun with friends (or 2 player). High replay value. Definitely a keeper in the board game collection."

  • Number of players: 2 - 4
  • Ages: 12+
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: "I brought this for a cat loving friend as a Christmas present. She howled when she opened package because she didn't expect to find this kind of gift. She waited til' her family members got together and she said they've been playing it nonstop. The best part to her was learning about the many different breed of cats. Great gift."

  • 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: "Very different strategy compare to Scrabble. Much easier to play for kids as words tend to be simpler and shorter. 7 year old mastered very quickly and loves it. I wish some letters like Z and N looked a bit more distinct from each other as hard to tell them apart. Otherwise, fantastic game."

  • Number of players: 1 - 4
  • Ages: 8+
18
Nyctophobia: The Game You Play Completely Blindfolded

Unlike Shadows, you don't have to turn off the lights to play Nyctophobia (definition: fear of the night or darkness). Players work together to make their way through a pitch-black forest as they try to escape the predator chasing them. The only catch? You have to wear blackout glasses so you can't see the board, forcing you to rely on your sense of touch (and the other players) to work your way to safety.

According to reviewers: "I got this game because my girlfriend is legally blind and wanted to get a game that wouldn't leave her at any disadvantage...we had a lot of laughs and my girlfriend was highly entertained by how disoriented we all were wearing the black-out glasses."

  • Number of players: 3 - 5
  • Ages: 9+