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Six Great Board Games for Grown-Ups

great board games for grown-ups!With summer almost here, we thought we’d revisit a subject readers have talked about through the years: great board games for grown-ups! They’re the perfect antidote to too much screentime (both for kids AND adults), a great stress reliever (well, unless Monopoly ends up getting too heated!), and a way to distract your mind from, say, what’s in the news… Today we’re rounding up six reader recommendations for board games for grownups. Readers have suggested many board games in the comments over the years, but these six have earned multiple mentions (and have hundreds or even thousands of Amazon reviews, too):

(Psst: we’ve also talked about Kat’s favorite board games to play with the littles, over on CorporetteMoms (as well as the best first board game for your kiddo). Looking to pick up a solo hobby during your time outside work? We’ve also talked about coloring books for adults and how to learn a language.)

This post contains affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!

Pandemic
What’s it all about? 
“Can you save humanity in this cooperative game where deadly viruses are spreading across the globe? Together, you will treat diseases, share knowledge, and fly all over the world to prevent outbreaks and slow down the epidemic.”
Number of players: 2 to 4
Length of game: 45 mins.
Price: $24.80 at Amazon

Catan (formerly Settlers of Catan)
The basic idea: “The women and men of your expedition build the first two settlements [on Catan]. Fortunately, the land is rich in natural resources. You build roads and new settlements that eventually become cities. Will you succeed in gaining supremacy on Catan?”
Number of players: 3 to 4 (5 to 6 with the extension)
Length of game: 1 hour
Price: $29.77 at Amazon

Codenames
The basic idea: “The two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their code names. The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first.” 
Number of players:
2 to 8+
Length of game: 15 mins.
Price:
$14.99 at Amazon

Ticket to Ride
The basic idea: “Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure where players collect cards of various types of train cars that enable them to claim railway routes connecting cities in various countries around the world.”
Number of players: 2 to 5
Length of game: 30 to 60 mins.
Price: $33.99 at Amazon 

Dixit
The basic idea: “Players take turns playing the storyteller, telling a brief story based on a picture card. As the storyteller, you select a card from your hand, play it facedown, and speak a word, phrase, or sentence represented by the picture. The others play facedown the picture card from their own hand which best represents, to them, what you’ve said. The cards are shuffled and revealed, and each player votes for the image that they think inspired the storyteller’s brief tale.”
Number of players: 3 to 6
Length of game: 30 mins.
Price: $23.99 at Target

Set
The basic idea: “SET is a speed game. The first to see a SET, calls out ‘SET’ and picks up the three cards that make the SET. There are no turns and no luck. Race to find as many SETs as fast as you can. Be the one who has the most SETs when the cards are gone, and you win! SET is a game of fast-thinking fun!”
Number of players: 1+
Length of game: 20 mins.
Price: $9.89 at Amazon

Interestingly, Corporette readers (and maybe game-players in general?) seem to either love or hate the popular games Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity (which happens to be Amazon’s #1 bestseller in board games), but I am a big fan of both and usually end up laughing hysterically while playing them with friends.

Which do you think are great board games for grown-ups? Do you have any favorites from childhood that you still enjoy today? Any that you’ve tried and just couldn’t get into? Is there a game that everyone seems to love that you don’t like at all (see: Apples to Apples)? (Also, just wondering: Does anyone else hate the process of learning a new board game and just wish you could reach expert level instantly?) 

Image: Pixabaygreat board-games for grown-ups

Whether it's a rainy day at the beach, a dinner party, or some other lazy weekend activity, there's ALWAYS time for a great board game. We rounded up some of the best board games for grown-ups, including the six top recommendations from the Corporette® readers (young women lawyers and other professionals!) through the years.

Comments

  1. Senior Attorney :

    This is so timely! We are going on a multi-day train trip in a couple of weeks and I thought some board games might be fun! So I just snapped up Ticket to Ride — perfect!!

    Another super fun game for anybody who has any interest at all in wine is Wine Wars: https://www.amazon.com/Wine-Wars-Trivia-Geeks-Wannabes/dp/0811868346

    • Cookbooks :

      Ticket to Ride is so much fun! I love that game.

    • My boyfriend has Ticket to Ride Europe and we tried to play it after we had a couple of cocktails . . . he couldn’t explain the rules (so many) and I couldn’t focus on the rules enough to figure out how it worked, so we gave up.

      We brought it out another night when we were both able to better focus and I kicked his butt my first time out of the gate. Now that I get it, it’s fun!

      • Senior Attorney :

        Sounds like we’ll have to practice while we’re sober…

        • Haha, I would recommend at least figuring out the rules prior to imbibing! There are a lot of moving parts, but like I said, once you know them and figure out your strategy, it’s a lot of fun.

    • Anonymous :

      There’s an app version for your phone/tablet too. Almost more fun than the board game, since there’s no clean up :)

  2. Anyone play Pandemic? We bought one (the Legacy edition, I think) a year ago, opened it, and it’s been sitting in a drawer ever since after I realized it had like 50 pages of instructions. Is it actually easy to learn? Is the big instruction book not as bad as it seems?

    • BoardGameGeek :

      I have. We have played multiple times – both the regular version, as well as the Legacy version. Not going to lie – the first time through is rough and time consuming. Honestly, I would recommend instead of reading the instructions back to back, find a video online that goes through the basics. This is what I do for all of my games when there isn’t at least one person in the group that has played before. If there is a Tabletop version of this, I always default to that. Here’s the link:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytK1zDPPDhw

    • Meg March :

      I love Pandemic. I agree with BoardGameGeek that the first time can be a lot. I would actually recommend the regular game for most people rather than Legacy. The concept of the Legacy game is that the game changes and evolves every time based on the choices you make. So you’re always being challenged by new aspects. So by playing the regular version first, you get a grip on the actual mechanics.

      • Hmm…I might bite the bullet and get the original one too then. I am pretty sure I am going to love it once I get over the hump! Thanks!

      • Anonymous :

        I taught my parents and my sister this game at Christmas one year. My mom nearly died when she saw the instruction booklet, but it’s totally worth pushing through. That game is SO FUN and cooperative, so it’s a better family game for a family that tends to get competitive.

    • Anonymous :

      We had the same reaction, but once we played through with the instruction book in hand, we totally got it. Now, we just have to refer to it occasionally. But it is nice to have a cooperative game for a change.

      • Agree. Play it through once _without_ the legacy rules, so you understand the basics. That’s what they recommend you do and we found it useful. Then you can play with the legacy rules. This game is SO well done. I love, love, love it.

        • That said, SO and I realized about 9 rounds into the legacy version that we had been playing without a key rule that would’ve made it MUCH EASIER the entire time, and kicked ourselves quite a bit. But we still have an awesome time playing it so whatever.

  3. Secret Hitler (or their Trump version) and Space Team!

  4. Anonymous :

    Settlers of Catan. The best!

    • Anonymous :

      +1

    • Catan takes a while to learn, but it’s totally worth it. It’s a nice combination of strategy, cooperation, and luck. Being hyper-aggressive isn’t necessarily the best approach. We like to vary the board each time to keep it fresh. Best played with 4 people, although 3 also works.

  5. BoardGameGeek :

    Oh board games, how I love thee. I have so many suggestions depending on the type of game people want to play, but that’s because I have an entire wall of board games. Some friend groups go out and party – we play board games and eat popcorn. Or take the board games to the bar. Anyways, here are some of my favorite.

    Small, quick, portable games: Love Letter, Hanabi, Sushi Go, or Guillotine [this is my all time favorite bar game]
    Medium Games (quick): 7 Wonders, King of Tokyo, Lanterns
    Medium Games (longer): Elder Sign, Castles of Burgundy, Forbidden Island
    Super in depth, marathon games: Shadows Over Camelot, Dead of Winter, Arkham Horror

    • +1 to Seven Wonders. Surprisingly a lot of fun!

    • Our favorite small, quick, portable games are Spot It, Pairs and Over Under. Nice to have games you can literally carry in your purse and play for 10 minutes if that’s all you have or for awhile if you want to.

    • Sushi Go is fantastic!

  6. LondonLeisureYear :

    Another pro tip is to get these games on your ipad. Its easier to take on camping trips or for train trips. When we are traveling and just bringing a backpack – its great to throw in our iPad and we can play ticket to ride, carcassonne, pandemic etc

    • Agreed, and especially for Carcassonne. I really enjoy it on the iPad but the scoring of the tabletop version is so fiddly that it takes all the fun out for me.

  7. We had a great night with friends playing Cards of Humanity. When I was a kid (also in law school) we used to have “Risk night” parties. As long as there is good wine and munchies, even if you’re the first out it’s fun to watch the carnage of world domination. My mom just sent me “5 Second Rule” because she played it with her friends and had a blast.

    • By which I meant Cards Against Humanity. Pregnancy brain strikes again.

    • A warning about Cards Against Humanity, we played it at Friendsgiving and two people on opposite sides of the political spectrum got very offended and one of them left over it. Crazy, ridiculous fun, but super offensive.

      • We played it inauguration night with two other (very liberal) couples (the theme was politically incorrect) and my husband (an ardent Trump supporter) was a good sport, so all was well. Probably just necessary to warn folks – we knew what we were getting into.

  8. DCBoardGameNerd :

    Seven Wonders!! There are a lot of rules and the first play-through feels overwhelming, but it’s easy to improve and easy to play decently well, but it has a lot of replay value and is hard to truly master. We’ve been teaching this game to groups of friends for years and years, and many of them have taught their other friends, which we take as a mark of success!

    • Love Seven Wonders for the replay value! Also love that you don’t necessarily have to have a huge table to set everything up on.

  9. For small groups (4 or less), I love Parcheesi, Scrabble or Upwords, and gin (card game not board game).

    For larger groups, I like Dixit, Aggravation, Pit (so much fun and has constant action), Clue, and SkipBo (can occasionally lag, but overall moves quickly).

  10. Not a board game, but Cards Against Humanity. But you have to be really, really good friends first. I love playing this with my college buddies, but would I with the neighbors I’ve known only a few years? Heck no.

    • gah its so boring by now. I actively groan when that game comes out. Its been so played out.

    • Anonymous :

      See, I go the other way. . . it’s fun when it’s just a leeeetttle uncomfortable because you don’t know everyone in the room!

      • yes yes! i loooove having new faces in the game! we always bust out Cards Against Humanity at new year’s, since it’s essentially the same group every year – but once in awhile someone brings a new SO or friend or sibling, and we all have a ridiculous time trying to figure out their sense of humor.

        also agreed that you should know your audience, though, or things can spiral pretty quickly. i happily play CAH with a strangers who are good friends with a fellow feminists, but would i invite one of my male republican (white) cousins that i’ve known practically since birth? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

  11. Maudie Atkinson :

    My husband and I love to play (Cuban) dominoes. In the city where we lived when we were first married, there was a local spot that had tournament-style games a couple nights a week, and we loved to go and play together once a month or so.
    It’s a four-player (2 teams of 2) game (though other games can accommodate different numbers), so it only works if you have the right numbers. We’ve taught several of our couple friends to play, and we’ll often break it out after dinner if we have them over for dinner. Bonus–a set of dominoes is cheap and travels well. We also play in the evenings on vacation.

  12. Kate, I think you meant antidote, not anecdote.

    I like good old fashioned Monopoly.

    • JuniorMinion :

      Ha. I loved Monopoly as a kid and don’t play it nearly enough as an adult. It makes for a funny allegory to real life commercial real estate – have to start on Atlantic and someday you might get that hotel on Boardwalk.

    • Wow, that’s embarrassing! :) That’s what 3 hours of sleep will do to your brain! Thanks for pointing out — will fix.

  13. Anonymous :

    When you’re invited to someone’s house for drinks, do you bring wine? Something else? It seems weird to show up empty-handed but bringing wine to a drinks gathering seems like bringing sand to the beach.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Wine is always good!

      Or flowers, but it’s best if they’re in a vase because it’s a buzz kill to have to stop the party to find one. Or a nice box of chocolates.

    • Anonymous :

      Sometimes I bring some flowers. Nothing fancy. Often from my yard.

    • I’ve accumulated so many vases, so please don’t bring me flowers in a vase! But I do love fresh flowers.

      I think wine is fine. It doesn’t have to opened that night and it is a gift for the host to open at his/her leisure.

      • Anonymama :

        I try to bring flowers in a glass jar…. looks okay if they don’t want to deal with it, and no big deal to just recycle, or easy to plop into a nice vase if they prefer.

    • pugsnbourbon :

      Maybe a mixer or an interesting liquer? But wine and flowers are always appreciated, I think!

    • Anonymous :

      If you’re going to bring wine, I think it’s nice to point out that they don’t need to use it that night. When we host, we’ve typically already picked something that pairs well with the food and it can be difficult to tell if the person bringing wine wants us to open it that night or not. Flowers are always nice. Otherwise, I’ve always heard that a hostess gift should be something that can be consumed. I like the fun/nice chocolate idea.

  14. weird re games :

    I only like games if they are like ice-breakers / activities with people I don’t know well or are a thing like pub quiz or poker (which is more of a sport to me).

    Otherwise, I have friend-time so rarely that I don’t want to interrupt it with a game.

    • #TeamLeisureTime :

      I really, really hate games. I think it’s that I have no down time and having to play a game invades that with rules and structure. I like to be able to talk and just hang out.

      I feel the same way about book clubs — if it’s not a cover for drinking and hanging out, I want no part of it.

      It’s almost like an aversion as I’ve run into game-players over the years.

    • Anony-mouse :

      I’m pretty socially anxious, so I like having an activity that the evening is scheduled around, even if we never end up getting to the activity. I’ve been to many gatherings where we planned to play board games and ended up just drinking and talking about halfway through the game, but that first half gave me the chance to get comfortable in the situation. It is annoying if someone gets too into the game though, because then that person spends the rest of the evening b*tching about “we never finished the game!”

      • Anonymous :

        Puzzles are actually really good for this (the social anxiety part, not centering a night around). I know someone who always has one out with the border partially done or finished when she has people over who don’t know each other or who are socially anxious/awkward. People just naturally migrate to it because you can interact without all the focus being on the conversation and there’s no need to finish it if conversation ends up going well.

  15. Anomnibus :

    I love board games! My boyfriend got me into them, we play a lot. That and card games. Some of my favorites include:

    – Billionaire Banshee – good party game where you draw a “perk” and a “quirk” that describe a potential partner (many of these are fantasy attributes, like being able to time travel) and everyone at the table has to guess whether you’d date or deny them. No points and no winners, but super fun.

    – Chrononaughts – time travel game where you have missions to alter the course of history and collect artifacts from certain points in time. Complicated, but awesome.

    – Boss Monster – build a “dungeon” that heroes have to fight their way through, but make it so they can’t reach the end.

    – Bloody Inn – you run an inn somewhere in France, the artwork looks reminiscent of the 1800’s, and your objective is to kill your guests and hide the bodies. It’s fun, I promise!

    – Mr. Meseeks – Rick and Morty game with highly inappropriate dare cards, tough to explain if you’ve never watched the show. But if you like the show, play the game!

    – Splendor – use gemstones to claim land and gain points

    – Guillotine – take turns beheading nobles, some are worth more points than others

    I feel very fortunate to not only have a boyfriend with an amazing collection of games, but I live in a metro area with two board game cafes, $10 lets you hang out and play as many games as you want, for as long as you want. One of them even lets you bring in alcohol!

    • Anomnibus :

      As a followup, since we’re on the topic, have any of you game lovers ever played in a group of friends or acquaintances, and had some guy . . . how should I put this . . . explain the game to you a tad more than they needed to? As though they assumed you needed a lot of extra help learning or playing the game? I’m sure some of it is well intentioned, they just want seem (or feel) helpful, but it feels so condescending and patronizing.

      I’ve been spoiled, mostly playing games with guys who talk to me like I’m smart, but recently I was playing in a small group and this guy kept telling me really obvious stuff, like what my item cards did and what I could do on my turn. I kept thinking . . . really?

      • Yes, a thousand times. For a while I dated someone who was that guy. Couldn’t figure out why all my female friends hated playing board games with him until one finally opened my eyes to what was happening. Felt really good to beat him in games while we were dating, but felt better to kick his @$$ as his own games in front of all of our friends after we broke up.

        • Anomnibus :

          I’d forgotten why I’d avoided playing, until this happened. And then I was like “oh yeah, because most guys don’t take women seriously.”

          My boyfriend, thankfully, treats me like a smart person when he teaches me a new game, and he’s super aware of women’s issues in geek spaces, knows the term “mansplaining,” but even he didn’t really pick up on what was happening.

    • Anony-mouse :

      Are you willing to share what area you’re in? The board game cafes sound great and I’m hoping there’s one near me!

    • pugsnbourbon :

      … there’s a Mr. Meseeks game?!?!??

  16. I recommend Farkel, my husband bought it when we were spending a bunch of time in waiting rooms and it was perfect for that. Quick and easy clean up. We could interact with each other when there wasn’t a lot to talk about.

  17. Thisperson1 :

    Hubby and I play cribbage (because we’re really 80 year olds trapped in Gen Xer’s bodies?) Even took it along on an anniversary trip with friends and played at a bar.

  18. Blonde Lawyer :

    Not sure if it counts as a board game but I love Mexican Train Dominoes.

  19. Mrs. Jones :

    I love Cards against Humanity so much. I also like playing Mexican Train, Uno, and Clue (we got the Star Wars version) with our young son.

  20. Anonshmanon :

    I guess these two haven’t been mentioned because they are technically card games.

    We love Dominion, it is very easy to learn, works well when it’s just the two of us or for more players, and has fantastic replay value.

    Ligretto is super fast and fun, can be played with a bunch of people and doesn’t have to last longer than 15 minutes.

  21. I love Ticket to Ride and Settles of Catan.

    A few other games that haven’t yet been mentioned:
    -“Agricola” is also a great game. It is not easy to learn, but once you do, it is a lot of fun.
    -“Bang” is a fun card game that can be played with a larger group (Ticket to Ride, Settles of Catan, Agricola are all just 5 player games).
    -“Loaded Questions” is great in groups where the players are not big gamers.
    -“Play Nine” is a fun card game.

  22. applesauce :

    Chicago Express! Fun and not terribly complicated, but still strategic (more economic version of Ticket to Ride, you invest in railroad companies and build across the US but the focus is making money like Monopoly). It’s not difficult to pick up and there are multiple ways to end the game so it doesn’t drag on. The more you play, the more deeply strategic and interesting it is, but it’s easy enough for new folks to get the hang of it. I have played with many groups of people of varying ages/demographics/interests and everyone had a lot of fun.

  23. Love, love Code Names. It was surprisingly difficult and fun, with tons of different interpretations. Can’t recommend it enough.

    I also love dice games (Farkel, Yahtzee, Liar’s Dice), and card games (Cribbage, Euchre). My sweet spot is the card/board game hybrid – games that take their own deck (Exploding Kittens, Organ Attack) and sometimes pieces (Unexploded Cows).

    For traditional games, I will never turn down the opportunity to play Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit, or Scrabble.

    • You might like We Didn’t Play Test This At All. It’s a card game with no real rules (other than those on the cards). So hilarious. Great if you have a mix of ages too. But not good for people who are competitive because it’s almost completely random (more so than Exploding Kittens).

    • i’m so glad someone mentioned Scattergories and Trivial Pursuit! i was starting to feel super old.

      FWIW whenever my family gets together with my godparents’ family, we bust out the old Genus and Genus II editions of Trivial Pursuit and play boys versus girls. we have found that this prevents fistfights, although there is generally a lot of whooping and yelling and sneering and groaning. (my godmother, bless her, is the worst winner ever.)

  24. Anonymous :

    Love, love, love ticket to ride. Can’t wait to take a real trip!

  25. Love, love, love ticket to ride. Can’t wait to take a real trip!

  26. Cards Against Humanity story: I attended a birthday party for a partner in our firm. At some point in the night, several partners, their wives and me decide to bust out the Cards Against Humanity. We breifly all looked at each other like, is this a bad idea? And played anyways.

    And of course it was a particularly nasty session.

  27. I love The Game of Things. It’s easily portable, generally family/coworker friendly (although you can totally have fun with it), and hilarious. I would lump it in the same category as Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity, which I also happen to like.

    • https://www.thegameofthings.com/

    • I love Things. If you play with people you know well, all those private jokes from the past eventually end up as hilarious answers.

      We laugh do hard when we play it

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