Thanksgiving

The 15 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 15 even more recent board games that every household should have in stock, boredom not included.

Sagrada
Sagrada | Courtesy of Floodgate Games

Sagrada

Number of players: 1-4
Play time: 30-45 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of Azul, Yahtzee, and sudoku
Why it's great: It has the luck-of-the-roll quality of Yahtzee, the intellectual quality of a mind puzzle, and the aesthetic quality of a basilica.
What it's about: You're trying to make a beautiful stained glass window, but you need specific pieces to create a pattern. Assemble the artistic masterpiece one chunk at a time by rolling dice, carefully placing them, and rallying a couple of useful tools in the process. Making a pretty picture seems simple enough, but don't get cocky—there are a number of rules to follow that turn the task into a mind-bending brain game.
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

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

Carcassonne

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

Splendor

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

Sushi Go Party!
Sushi Go Party! | Derek Bruff/Flickr

Sushi Go Party!

Number of players: 2-5
Play time: 15 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of Spoons and conveyor belt sushi
Why it's great: It's unpredictable (and the illustrations on the cards are adorable).
What it's about: Save your appetite, because a whole lot of sushi is coming your way. In this expanded version of the original Sushi Go! game, your success relies on the cards that other players pass to you, and the goal is to collect a high-scoring combination of sushi cards. You'll be dealt a hand, keep your favorite sushi card, then pass the rest of your cards to the player on your left. You'll then receive a new hand of cards from the player on your right, and start the process over again. You never know what's "rolling up on the conveyor belt" next, which makes strategizing both difficult and exciting.
Buy it here

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

Cat Lady

Number of players: 2-4
Play time: 15-30 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of cats, Cats, and Nintendogs + Cats
Why it's great: A goofy, heavy-handed, cat-themed game that even dog people can buy into.
What it's about: You're a cat lady, eager to adopt as many kitties as possible, but be wary not to take in more than you can care for. In your quest to become the ultimate cat lady, you'll have to collect enough milk, tuna, chicken, costumes, and toys to give each of your felines a good life. The card-based game requires strategy and foresight—whoever assembles their litter best wins.
Buy it here

King of New York
King of New York | Farley Santos/Flickr

King of New York

Number of players: 2-6
Play time: 40 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of King Kong and Godzilla
Why it's great: It builds off its predecessor's success with new and challenging elements.
What it's about: A larger, more dynamic riff off King of Tokyo, this game pits players against one another, each fighting to dominate Manhattan and become the king of New York. Players embody monsters who crush buildings, fight off military units, and take control of valuable land. It's very Godzilla, only this time you're the one wreaking havoc.
Buy it here

Pandemic

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

Munchkin

Number of players: 3-6
Play time: 1-2 hours
Who it's for: Fans of Bears vs Babies, D&D, and Magic: The Gathering
Why it's great: It's funny and complex, but not to a frustrating degree.
What it's about: Before you pass judgment, this dungeon game isn't embarrassingly nerdy—and it doesn't require roleplaying, only card-laying. Build up your armor, steal other players' magical accessories, and prepare to fight every monster you encounter. What happens if you're not strong enough to beat a monster that crosses your path? You can accept defeat, or try to bribe another player into helping you by offering them something they can't refuse. Munchkin is a game of creatures and alliances, and even though it takes some time to learn and play, it'll keep you on your toes from beginning to end.
Buy it here

Czech Games' Codenames
Codenames | Courtesy of Czech Games

Codenames

Number of players: 2-8+
Play time: 15 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of Mastermind, the James Bond franchise, and Among Us
Why it's great: It's competitive, creative, and—like a sunken 8 ball—one wrong move can suddenly end the game.
What it's about: With Codenames, two spy teams go head-to-head. Each team has a spymaster, whose goal is to help their teammates identify the allies in a pack of secret agents. There are 25 cards laid out on the table representing 25 agents, and each agent has a codename. Only the spymasters know which agents are friendly and which are foes, and they'll have to give their teammates clues that direct them to the right aliases. Whichever team can crack their spymaster's codes first and find all of their ally agents wins. Careful though—if you decipher the code incorrectly, you might come face-to-face with a deadly enemy.
Buy it here

Kingdomino setup
Kingdomino | Courtesy of Blue Orange Games

Kingdomino

Number of players: 2-4
Play time: 15 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of dominoes and Shrek 2
Why it's great: It's quick to learn, quick to play, and has wide appeal to both children and adults.
What it's about: Sitting somewhere between dominoes and Carcassonne, this tile-laying game involves tactically acquiring land for your growing kingdom. You're a lord looking to expand your property, but there's one problem: The surrounding area is only so big, and other lords nearby won't let you take it all. On your turn, you'll select a tile to add to your kingdom—each domino-like tile features some combination of fields, farms, mountains, mines, and lakes—and when the tiles run out, the lord with the most valuable resources wins.
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

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.
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