The 10 Most Fun Board Games Made in the 21st Century

Boredom not included.

Carcassonne board game
Carcassonne | Robinotof/Shutterstock
Carcassonne | Robinotof/Shutterstock

If you've ever said, "Board games? More like bored games!" you should probably close this tab and go back to arguing in r/runescape. Not that some board games aren't boring. Anything that requires reading a 14-page instruction manual is off the table. And everyone's spent too much hard time with Monopoly and other family-gaming-night classics to get hugely excited about playing those in adulthood. (Except Clue. Clue rules.)

You probably already know about great, modern classics like Settlers of Catan and Cranium. Here are 10 even more recent board games that every household should have in stock, boredom not included.

How to Rob a Bank board game setup
How to Rob a Bank | Courtesy of Big G Creative

How to Rob a Bank

Number of players: 2-4
Play time: 30+ minutes
Who it’s for: Fans of Secret Hitler and Baby Driver
Why it’s great: It satisfies strategists by requiring cooperation, foresight, and friendly competition.
What it's about: One person's the bank, everyone else is a robber. Can the criminals successfully execute a heist without the bank interfering? Over the course of three rounds, the robbers have to get a certain number of money bags into the getaway car in order to win, all while dodging alarms, evading security guards, and trying not to get tackled. How to Rob a Bank won't teach you applicable skills for the real world, but it will teach you that pitting people against one another can have costly consequences, and that's perhaps a better lesson.
Buy it here

Machi Koro cards
Machi Koro | Courtesy of Pandasaurus Games

Machi Koro

Number of players: 2-4
Play time: 30 minutes
Who it’s for: Fans of Monopoly Deal and The Big Short
Why it’s great: For a brief moment, your hunger for power will be celebrated.
What it's about: This popular Japanese game moves fast. Your goal is to turn the town of Machi Koro into the bustling metropolis of your dreams by establishing businesses, making profits, building landmarks, and stealing business from other players who have their own plans in mind. On each turn, you roll the dice and hope that it matches the number on one of the buildings you own. If it does, you can take the action on that building's card, earn money, and invest in future structures. The first player to finish building all of their landmarks wins the game.
Buy it here


Number of players: 2-5
Play time: 30-45 minutes
Who it’s for: Fans of Risk and Sid Meier’s Civilization
Why it’s great: Players can build off opponents’ work to steal their points, making it anyone’s game right up to the end.
What it's about: Drawing inspiration from France's fortified city Carcassonne, this game requires players to build a countryside, one tile at a time. As players place tiles, they create an elaborate map full of fields, rivers, roads, cities, and monasteries -- the question now is who will stake claim of each feature as it's completed. Carcassonne is anyone's territory, and players will have to disrupt their opponents' plans if they want to come out on top. May the most ruthless builder win.
Buy it here


Number of players: 2-4
Play time: 45 minutes
Who it’s for: Fans of Outbreak and Contagion
Why it’s great: Pandemic tosses you into a parallel world where humanity works together when problems come their way. Plus, you learn geography.
What it's about: You don't need a rulebook to tell you that the only way to stop a pandemic is by working together to minimize its spread. This cooperative strategy game removes competition from the equation -- you either prevent a pandemic together by controlling outbreaks and building research stations, or you go down together if it takes over. After you've mastered the classic Pandemic game, move on to its spinoffs -- the elaborate Pandemic Legacy seasons are a strategizer's dream.
Buy it here


Number of players: 2-4
Play time: 30 minutes
Who it’s for: Fans of Munchkin and The Merchant of Venice
Why it’s great: Splendor puts to bed every notion that games with nerdy backstories are only for nerds.
What it's about: Somewhere between a card game and board game, Splendor is quick, competitive, and far simpler than it sounds. Let's set the scene: You're in the Renaissance, you lead a merchant guild, you have raw gems but you want nicer gems. Can you earn more prestige than the other merchants, or will their wealth put you to shame? To turn your gem tokens into coveted prestige points, you'll need to buy development cards, collect bonuses, and earn a visit from a noble. The first merchant to garner 15 prestige points wins.
Buy it here

Betrayal at House on the Hill
Betrayal at House on the Hill | Courtesy of Wizards of the Coast

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Number of players: 3-6
Play time: 1 hour
Who it’s for: Fans of Crimson Peak, Clue, and Scooby Doo 
Why it’s great: Avalon Hill incorporates every classic horror trope into a game that’s wildly different with each play.
What it's about: Build your own haunted house in this spooky tile game that never takes the same form twice. Players spend the first part of the game exploring the house -- discovering new rooms, finding useful items, and stumbling upon omens, for better or worse. At a random point during the exploration someone will accidentally trigger the "haunt," launching players into part two of the game when the eponymous betrayal occurs. At the start of the haunt, one player turns on the others, using newfound powers to try and take them out. Will the traitor successfully pick everyone off? It's anybody's guess at House on the Hill.
Buy it here

5 Second Rule sample card
5 Second Rule | PlayMonster Fun

5 Second Rule

Number of players: 3+
Play time: 15-30 minutes
Who it’s for: Fans of Scattergories, Catch Phrase, and trivia
Why it’s great: It’s easy to learn, upbeat, and as clean or adult as players make it.
What it's about: Name three components of a fun game. 5… 4… 3... 2... 1... Did you come up with them? If you quickly rattled off, for example, "a really short timer," "an excuse to show off my creative little mind," and "an opportunity for friendly debate," you would get a point! In 5 Second Rule, you'll get a prompt that begins with "Name 3…" and have five (very brief) seconds to spew off answers that make sense. If you can name them before the timer runs out, you get to keep the card. If you can't think of three things in time, the next person in line has a chance to answer and steal your point. It's a fast-paced game for all ages that requires virtually no setup. If you're playing with adults, consider the raunchier uncensored version.
Buy it here

Azul game setup
Azul | Courtesy of Plan B Games


Number of players: 2-4
Play time: 30-40 minutes
Who it’s for: Fans of Sequence and coloring books
Why it’s great: It appeases gamers who value organization and structure.
What it's about: For a few precious moments, pretend you're a tile-laying artisan tasked with decorating the Royal Palace of Evora. Azul, short for the azulejos tiles you lay for a living. Players take turns moving tiles onto their player boards to create patterns on their wall. Patterns are built, backstabbing ensues, friendships are broken. At the end, scores are tallied, photos of the pretty patterns are taken, and you're thrown back into your bleak reality where you're not an artisan and you'll probably never be invited to a royal palace.
Buy it here


Number of players: 2-4
Play time: 30-45 minutes
Who it’s for: Fans of Scrabble and dominoes
Why it’s great: It’s not too hard for kids, not too boring for adults, and not too big of a commitment.
What it's about: Qwirkle looks the handiwork of aliens, but once you decipher the tile patterns, you'll find that this family-friendly game is not too difficult to get the hang of. The aim is to organize wooden tiles into rows and columns based on their color and shape. Adding a tile to the board earns you points, and if you create a line with all six colors or shapes in a row, you score a Qwirkle, which means six bonus points. The game ends when players run out of tiles.
Buy it here

Ticket to Ride

Number of players: 2-5
Play time: 30-60 minutes
Who it’s for: Fans of Settlers of Catan and any Around the World in 80 Days adaptation
Why it’s great: You can travel the continent and dominate the map in under an hour.
What it's about: Inspired by Phileas Fogg's 80-day journey around the world, a group of friends designs their own challenge: Who can visit the most North American cities in seven days, traveling only by train? The winner gets $1 million and -- if you haven't figured it out by now -- you're part of the squad. To travel from city to city, you'll draw cards that can eventually be used to claim routes along the map. Whoever claims the most routes is poised to win, but Destination Tickets can interfere with players' scores during the final tally. With so much cash at stake, you better hope your journey goes smoothly.
Buy it here

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Kyler Alvord wishes everyone loved board games as much as he does. Find him on Twitter and Instagram.