Entertainment

9 New Board Games That Deserve Your Time and Attention

When the classics just aren't cutting it, try out some newer options.

The Alpha board game setup
The Alpha | Courtesy of Bicycle Games
The Alpha | Courtesy of Bicycle Games
Looking for board games that have stood the test of time? Check out our guide to the best board games of the 21st century and see which classic board games still hold up today.

When you think of board games, your mind probably jumps to classics like Life and Clue and Monopoly. Where your mind doesn't jump? Modern smashers like Betrayal at House on the Hill and How to Rob a Bank. Every day, board game inventors are hard at work to create the next game night staple; it's your job as a lover of fun to consider their infant works as potential masterpieces.

Of course, keeping up with the world's best board games is a never-ending task, which is why I, Thrillist's self-proclaimed board game expert, have committed myself to regularly updating you, curious reader, on the latest and greatest games to hit the market. Check back often to see the freshest picks, and start budgeting for an updated board game collection. Here are the games that I just can't get enough of right now.

Blockbuster board game
Blockbuster | Courtesy of Big Potato

Blockbuster / Blockbuster Returns

Release date: June 2019 / October 2020
Number of players: 4+
Play time: 15-20 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of Guesstures, movies, and the riff-off in Pitch Perfect
Why it's great: It's a creative take on charades that doesn't require you to know everything about film.
What it's about: The Blockbuster games are great for anyone who enjoys watching movies and/or misses the days of heading to the video store to find their evening entertainment. The goal is to collect a VHS tape from each category (e.g., "All-Time Classics" and "Heart Warmers") by excelling at a few different high-energy tasks. The game's two versions can be played on their own or blended together, but you're best off starting with the original and treating Blockbuster Returns like an expansion pack focused on films from the last decade.
Buy the original and the sequel here

All of Us

Release date: September 2020
Number of players: 4+
Play time: 30-60 minutes
Who it's for: Quite literally all of us
Why it's great: It's a game that people of all generations can enjoy together.
What it's about: From the people behind What Do You Meme?, this super-difficult trivia game tests players' generational knowledge. The group will divide into two teams and take turns answering rapid-fire trivia questions from one of four categories: Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. If you choose to answer questions from the Gen X pile, you might be quizzed on people like Joan Jett and historical events like the Whitewater controversy. If you pull from the Gen Z pile, you might be quizzed on the failed IHOb marketing campaign and the most viral TikTok stars. See how much you know, and if you're brave, venture outside of your generational comfort zone.
Buy it here

Know Nine? board game
Know Nine? | Courtesy of Ginger Fox Games

Know Nine?

Release date: June 2020
Number of players: 2+
Play time: 20-30 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of Scattergories and Punnett squares
Why it's great: It's an instant-classic party game that's fit for groups small and large.
What it's about: Remember learning about genotypes in biology? Your game sheet looks like one of those Punnett square gene charts, only it has nothing to do with science and is much easier to understand. In each round of this word-linking game, the group is given three random adjectives and three random nouns to work with. You'll write those words on the edges of your chart, and then—racing against the timer—you need to fill out your chart by writing objects that link each adjective and noun together. At the end of each round, you'll compare answers with other players and any duplicates will be scratched. Think creatively, and fast!
Buy it here

The Alpha
The Alpha | Courtesy of Bicycle Cards

The Alpha

Release date: June 2020
Number of players: 3-6
Play time: 45 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of Risk and The Grey
Why it's great: The game strategy relies on anticipating other players' moves and betting on dice rolls, making it suspenseful and unpredictable in the absolute best way. Also, it's visually pleasing, painted by a park ranger, no less.
What it's about: Don't let the rulebook fool you, The Alpha is not too complex once you've deciphered the instructions. Long story short: You want your wolf pack to dominate the Northern Forest, and to do that, you've got to hunt more food than the rival packs and stave off starvation. Each round represents a week and contains four stages: stalk, chase, resolve, and advance. During the stalk phase, wolves scatter around the board, choosing which prey they want to hunt. During the chase phase, dice are rolled to determine how much food is up for grabs. During the resolve phase, players that are gunning for the same prey must choose to fight for all of the food or distribute it evenly between the packs. During the advance phase, wolves move forward on the scoreboard to represent the amount of food they earned during the hunt. Whichever pack secures the most food in the allotted number of weeks becomes the ultimate alpha.
Buy it here

Exchange board game setup
Exchange | Courtesy of Bicycle Cards

Exchange

Release date: June 2020
Number of players: 3-6
Play time: 35 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of Monopoly and The Wolf of Wall Street
Why it's great: It's an economic game that doesn't totally suck!
What it's about: Fair warning: If you have absolutely zero interest in the stock market and/or finances and/or the wholly questionable concept of money, you may struggle to enter the proper headspace for Exchange. That said, if the NYSE tickles your fancy—or if you ever wanted to feel like you were in an episode of Billions—Exchange is worth your time. In this game, you're a trader trying to corner the market and earn the highest net-worth. You do this by choosing securities, buying and selling, and influencing market values (remember the ECON 101 mantra of buying low and selling high?). Beware of the market bubble, though—if it pops, your entire strategy could get disrupted. May the best Bobby Axelrod win.
Buy it here

Half Truth

Release date: May 2020
Number of players: 2-6
Play time: 30-45 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of Jeopardy! and Trivial Pursuit
Why it's great: It's the brainchild of legendary Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield and 74-time Jeopardy! winner Ken Jennings.
What it's about: This multifaceted party game blends trivia and poker, testing each player's ability to strategically wager on how well they know the topics at hand. To play, a trivia card is flipped, showing one prompt and six answers. For example, the card might say, "Is a state with no national parks," and list six US states to choose from. Three of the choices would be correct (i.e., they match the prompt and are states that do not contain national parks) and three of the choices would be false. Your job as a player is to decide how many of the correct answers you think you know. The higher you wager, the more victory points you earn, but you have to be careful: If you bet on knowing all three correct options and end up only knowing two, you get zero points. Will you play it safe and earn fewer points, or go all in and risk striking out?
Buy it here

The Shining

Release date: March 2020
Number of players: 3-5
Play time: 45-60 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of Betrayal at House on the Hill, Mafia, and The Shining
Why it's great: It's a spooky and collaborative game that throws players back into the world of the Overlook Hotel.
What it's about: Players try to survive five months in the Overlook Hotel without being possessed by dark forces around them. They must work together to ward off evil by gathering useful items around the hotel; at the end of each month, their willpower will be put to the test. If even just one person succumbs, the whole group is put in danger. Oh, and one more thing: One player has secretly been possessed the whole time, pretending to be an ally but actually trying to trap the group at the Overlook forever and ever and ever. Good luck distinguishing friend from foe.
Buy it here

Wavelength board game
Wavelength | Justin Vickers/CMYK

Wavelength

Release date: November 2019
Number of players: 2-12+
Play time: 30-45 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of Codenames, Catch Phrase, and Taboo
Why it's great: It's an easy party game that tests how well you and your friends understand each other, even on the most niche levels.
What it's about: In this mind-reading game, players divide into two teams who need to get on the same wavelength in order to succeed. Each round, there's a target on the game wheel—located somewhere on a spectrum between two opposite concepts—and it's hidden behind a plastic screen so that only the psychic knows where it is. With just a one-word clue, the psychic has to get their team to move the dial so that it's touching the target. For example, if the target was hidden perfectly in the middle of the concepts "Smells bad" and "Smells good," the psychic might give the clue "water," which is odorless, so that the team knows to place the dial in the center of the spectrum. In reality, the game isn't usually that cut and dry, though—you'll be shocked at how difficult it can be to tap into one another's brainwaves. Players take turns being the psychic, so everyone gets a chance to give hints and guess.
Buy it here

Off Topic board game box
Off Topic | Courtesy of Off Topic Games

Off Topic

Release date: November 2019
Number of players: 2-8
Play time: 30-90 minutes
Who it's for: Fans of Scattergories and 5 Second Rule
Why it's great: It's a fresh take on Scattergories, one with unhinged prompts, more room for interpretation, and less restrictive rules. 
What it's about: Roll the 20-sided letter die to select a letter and grab a prompt card: Players have two minutes to respond to the prompts using only words that begin with the selected letter. Each player is geared with a whiteboard and dry erase marker to write their answers, and whoever has the most unique answers when the timer's up wins the round. Whoever wins the most rounds wins the game. Off Topic comes with 18 prompt cards, meaning you can play up to 18 rounds if you're really enjoying yourselves.
Buy it here

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Kyler Alvord can't wait to update this list. Find him on Twitter and Instagram and tell him what he missed.