Best board games for adults, kids & families 2017

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We live in a golden age of board gaming. If you grew up with Scrabble and Cluedo (which are okay games) and Risk and Monopoly (which are not), you may understandably believe such things are limited in scope and of interest only to kids and weirdos. But in 2017 this hobby has far more to offer. The best board games are well worth anyone’s time.

Depending on your tastes, modern board gaming offers simplicity (Hive) or complexity (Twilight Struggle); abstraction (The Duke) or narrative (Tales of the Arabian Nights); co-operation (Ghost Stories) or backstabbing (Game of Thrones); silliness (Galaxy Trucker) or seriousness (Puerto Rico). Board games have something for everyone.

In this article we round up the 11 best board games available to humanity, together with our explanation of why each one is so essential, vital statistics (time to play, number of players, our difficulty rating) and a link to buy. We’ve also put links to help you find more information about each game on the wonderful resource Boardgamegeek, to whom I am indebted for the information about game times and recommended ages.

A note on board game expansions

Where relevant we’ve included our picks of the best expansion packs for each board game. Expansions are a little cheaper than full games and can be an appealing choice of Christmas present for a loved one with a particular obsession with one board game. Some of them are amazing. But there are some pitfalls to avoid.

We don’t recommend that you buy an expansion until you’re sure you love the base game, have played it a fair bit and are starting to feel like you’re reaching the limits of what it has to offer. A good expansion takes a great game and adds more depth, but no good game needs an expansion to ‘complete’ it, despite what some people will tell you; some expansions, in fact, will take a tight, streamlined game and bog it down with extra rules.

What’s more, for the price of maybe two expansions you could get an entirely new game. When I was getting into board gaming I went right down the rabbit hole of Settlers of Catan expansions and rather regret it. We could have been trying new games instead of settling into a comfort zone.


1.

Cosmic Encounter



2.

Pandemic


Pandemic


3.

Carcassonne


Carcassonne


4.

Power Grid


Power Grid


5.

Love Letter


Love Letter


6.

King of New York


King of New York


7.

Ticket To Ride Europe


Ticket To Ride Europe


8.

Betrayal at House on the Hill


Betrayal at House on the Hill


9.

Space Hulk


Space Hulk


10.

Scotland Yard


Scotland Yard


11.

Dominion


Dominion


12.

Settlers of Catan


Settlers of Catan

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