The 5 Best Tabletop Games

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Hanging out with friends is always a good time, but adding in a fresh game can really kick it up a notch. Forget the old school board games —the best tabletop games out there now are fast-paced, innovative, and a total blast.

Before you buy, you'll want to consider who's in your game night crew. If you have a mixed bag of adults and younger players, consider a game with simple directions that moves at a quick pace. But if you have all adults, you can opt for something a bit heavier with longer rounds. The freshest games on the market even feature unique themes — everything from haunted houses to unicorns — so you can tailor your game to your group's interest.

Another thing to consider is the type of game your group will be most interested in. Groups with younger players may veer toward social games that involve movement to keep them interested (think a modern version of charades or something similar). Other groups may prefer strategy and logic-based games, and others may prefer to take a deep dive into a role-playing tabletop game.

Social or strategy? Themed or basic? No matter which way you go, the best tabletop game can make or break game night. Here's a round-up of some of the best options out there to help get you started.

1. A Strategy Game With Tons of Positive Reviews

Number of players: 2-8

Age: 14+

What's great about it: This strategic tabletop game isn't all unicorns and rainbows — although some of it is. The goal is to build an army of seven unicorns, but you can't do it too quickly or your fellow game players will catch on and make you their target. Each round, play one of the cards in your hand to add unicorns to your army, tip the odds in your favor, upgrade your unicorn stable, or mess with your friend's stable. Things may get a bit intense, especially as you get closer to finishing your army! And, as one of Kickstarter's 50 Most Backed Projects Of All Time, it's safe to say this game has tons of fans.

What reviewers say: "I had a blast playing this with my friends. The cards themselves are hilarious and you never know what is coming your way. I love the unpredictability during game play so it doesn't get boring, even after several rounds."

2. An Award-Winning Game That'll Give You The Creeps

Number of players: 3-6

Age: 12+

What's great about it: Sink deep into a haunted house experience in this strategic horror game. The goal is to get through the creepy house on the hill with the other game players, but one of you will end up turning on the others by the end. It's hours of fun, and each time you open the box, there are multiple scenarios and layouts to choose from to keep your heart pumping every time. Reviewers can't get enough of this game, although they do warn that it takes a bit longer to get through this one.

What reviewers say: "We all have a blast playing the game! Just when the exploring starts to become dull, the game switches to a survival game where anything can happen. The random unpredictability keeps all of us on our toes."

3. A Charade-Like Game That's Great For Younger Players

Number of players: 4-12

Age: 10+

What's great about it: This super fun party game has all the makings of a great time; it's fast-paced, easy to set up, and will have everyone in stitches. Players team up to put as many tokens on a game board covered in icons as possible. The icons can show anything from animals to tools to famous actors. To communicate with your partner, use hand signals and gestures to help them guess the icon for points. The team with the most points wins! Most game players love how flexible this one is, often tweaking the rules to fit their group and goals.

What reviewers say: "If you're looking for a party game that plays well with a variety of people, definitely recommend this one. It's fun even when you fail as you get to see what the persons thought process was. Play around with the rules to find what works best for you. The less you restrict yourself with them, the more fun you'll have with this one."

4. An Elimination Game Full Of Deception

Number of players: 3-6

Age: 14+

What's great about it: If you love twists and surprises, this social party game hits all the right marks. You start off by assigning a keyword or topic to your group. Everyone knows the secret word except for one person, the Chameleon. Each player goes around and describes the word — even the Chameleon. If you're the Chameleon, the goal is to blend in, and if you're not, the goal is to catch the imposter! Reviewers insist this is one of the most unique party games they've ever played.

What reviewers say: "This game is fantastic! Easily one of my most favorite games I've ever played! Very unique compared to other party games, but very easy to learn."

5. A Party Game That'll Have Everyone Guessing

Number of players: 2-6

Age: 7+

What's great about it: This fast-paced game is perfect for just about any gathering, especially with younger kids. Each player wears a headband with the image of a cartoon. You ask questions of the other players in your group to figure out if you're an animal, man-made object, or food. You can keep score if you'd like, but this game is mostly a non-competitive experience that's just for laughs. Even people who don't usually like games fell in love with this one.

What reviewers say: "I generally loathe board games, and when one of my in-laws drags them out I try to slip away or find an excuse not to play. But I watched a round of this, and jumped in and wanted to play! With a group of a dozen people aged 9-81 (those who didn't have headbands had to put their card face down and hold it up during their turn), we had a fantastic time playing this crazy game."

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