The Best Board Games for Adults
New to board gaming? Always been curious about this fantastic hobby, but never knew where to jump in? It can be an admittedly intimidating thing to dive into, but don’t worry, we have put together a list of the absolute best board games for adults. Even if you’re a seasoned pro, you may find a game you’ve never tried. After many games, and many late nights, bleary eyed trying to defeat our friends, we feel confident that these are the absolute best board games for adults. Don’t agree? Let us know just how wrong we are!
Have you ever wanted to run a mega-corporation, vying for control of natural resources as you compete with other companies to terraform Mars? Admittedly, that’s a pretty specific thing to want to do. But let me assure you, this game does not play like “Monopoly in Space”. With great depth of strategy, Terraforming Mars is an excellent game, one you will want to revisit time and time again, seeing how many terraforming points you can squeeze, while preventing your opponents from doing the same. The game is clever, well designed, and is sure to keep you and your friends entertained.
One of our personal favorites (what can we say, we grew up as D&D playing nerds in the late 80’s, and consider the late Gary Gygax to be one of our patron saints), this game is one of the best worker placement games on the market. Not only that, but it’s a great way (perhaps the best way) to introduce your friends and family to this Euro-style of gameplay. Fast paced, fun, and filled with wonderful throwback references for those of us who have deep nostalgia (and perhaps shame) for our misspent youths crawling dungeons, this is a great game, and would make a fine addition to any collection.
For glory, and for honor. This viking themes game is incredibly fun, and the miniatures included in the game are some of the best on the market. There is something viscerally fun, battling it out with your friends, dropping a well timed attack, or garnering points through the glory of death in battle. That’s right, in this game, there is actually a winning strategy for losing fights. This game is incredibly fun, in particular of you enjoy tactical games, where a well placed unit or a well timed attack and really ruin your enemy’s plans. Which is why it made the cut for our list of the best board games for adults.
Terra Mystica is a fantastic game, and a pretty easy one to learn. But don’t let the relatively simple rules fool you into thinking this is an easy game to master. Far from it, Terra Mystica has a depth of strategy that few games can boast. If you are interested in a game where pouring over every decision and planning out your long term strategy, trying to see 4 or 5 turns down the road are rewarded, then this is your game. Each faction plays drastically differently, making each play through a unique experience. And even when you’re losing, Terra Mystica is a blast, not a slog to play while you wait impatiently for someone to finally win.
Imagine if you will, that World War One was fought not just with soldiers and guns, but with giant steampunk mechs. Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? Well Scythe imagines exactly that scenario, and now you find yourself the leader of one of the surviving factions, struggling to rebuild in the post war landscape. Build giant mechs, explore the countryside, have random encounters, and recruit workers to product resources for your budding empire. Scythe is a great game, beyond the amazing flavor and artwork (some of the best ever), the game mechanics are fantastic, and you will find yourself reaching for this game over and over. I know my gaming group does!
Through the Ages is the game my board game group probably plays the most. Not probably, most definitely it is. And admittedly, I am terrible at this game. TERRIBLE! I win probably one out of every fifteen plays. But I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if this game isn’t a pure joy to play each and every time. The depth of strategy, the replay-ability, the player on player conflict, are all masterfully done. This is a truly great game, about as near a perfect game as you’re going to find. If you’re up for a game that has a bit of a learning curve, and then takes many, many plays to master, then this is the game for you. This may very well be the absolute best board game for adults.
Most of the games on our list of best board games for adults, are for 3 or more players. So we felt it important to include at least two games for two players. If you’re as obsessed with Tolkien as you should be, then you’ll love this game. It’s a hard one to learn, there are a lot of moving parts, and two different ways to achieve victory, but after a few plays, everything sort of clicks and makes sense. And then you get to experience the true joy of playing out the Lord of the Rings stories in board game format, carefully balancing the war vs. the quest to destroy the one ring. Plus, it’s just fun to send a hoard of orcs to attack the poor defenseless Shire. It just is.
Our second game for two players on the list, Twilight Struggle is an intense, complicated, incredibly fun recreation of the Cold War. Have you ever wanted to play a game where the cards are carefully designed around actual historical events, with fun little details? Probably not. But don’t let the dry tone of the game fool you, this is an incredibly fun, incredibly challenging game. One of my absolute favorite aspects of the game, is that it challenges you not to make the best decision with the cards you have, but the least worst decision (this is going to hurt no matter what, how can I minimize the pain). It may be hard to learn, but this game is incredible!
Well, we covered two games that are best with two players on our list of the best board games for adults. So why not include a game best when played with only one player. You heard me right. Best. With. One. Player. Now before visions of a lonely nerd sitting in his parent’s basement playing a sad board game all alone, let me just clarify, this game plays very much like a video game, in that the map itself, and the random monsters it creates, are the challenge to overcome. This is an incredibly fun game, and can be played cooperatively if you’d like, but it is one of the few games out there that plays best all by yourself, when you’re too tired to schedule a board game night, or have a last minute itch to get your game on.
No list of the best board games for adults would be complete, without a game that could potentially destroy every single friendship you have. While we were close to including Diplomacy on this list (one of our favorites), we instead went with Battlestar Gallactica. This is a great game, where one (or more) players are secretly working against the group, sabatoging their efforts. Wild accusations will be thrown, lies told, the seeds of doubt sown, all while the incredible stress of trying to survive the constant Cylon attacks weighs down on you. If you want to tell bald faced lies to your friend’s face, then smile with pleasure when you stab them in the back, then this is the game for you!
Ever wanted to know what it feels like to be the ruler of an expansive galactic empire? Well look no further, Eclipse is an incredibly fun game of exploration, technological advancement, and space fighting. One of my absolute favorite aspects of this game, is the ability to customize each of your different ships, making each combat a unique affair, with different tactics and strategies. Or you can avoid war altogether, and opt to develop a powerful economy and conquer and colonize planets. And if you’re itching for a fight, but just can’t bring yourself to attack a friendly neighbor, there are plenty of ancient alien ships left in the galaxy to keep you busy. This is a great game, especially with larger groups.
We’ve included a great game to introduce new players to euro-style and worker placement games. But we also wanted to make sure to include our favorite “advanced” worker placement game. This is not a game for beginners, there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, or like you have no idea what you are doing. But with a few plays, and some experience under your belt, Ora Et Labora can be a joy to play (and replay, and replay again). With a depth to the gameplay, and a million ways to win, this is one of our absolute favorite worker placement games, and one we revisit often.
The last entry on our list of the best board games for adults, is one you will frequently see on the lists of best board games of all times. It is a great way to introduct new players to board games other than Candyland or Monopoly. This game has a great depth of strategy, incredible replayability, and the rules are simple enough that they can be taught quickly, unlike many games on this list, which require a couple of hours to learn, and a couple of plays to really grasp. It is a really well balanced game as well, where you don’t walk away feeling like you lost the game in the first turn, and had a miserable time slogging through the game.