These engaging board games are perfect for players of all ages

By Sam Lauron
Updated July 20, 2020 06:00 PM
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In a time where almost everything we do is digital — from work to communicating with friends to seeking entertainment — it’s refreshing to put our phones down and engage in some screen-free fun.

This is especially true since most of us are spending more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. And what better way to keep ourselves occupied and entertained indoors sans technology than with a game night?

When it comes to choosing the best board game, it all depends on the game style you prefer and the type of group you’re playing with. For instance, if you’re looking for a family-friendly board game, you might want to opt for a classic that’s easy and engaging for all ages. Or if you’re seeking a game for just you and your partner to play during a cozy date night in, you’ll want to look for a two-player game that’s more strategy or puzzle-based. In the end, the best board games are ones that can keep an entire group engaged for hours on end.

To help you find the right one, we scoured thousands of customer reviews and personal recommendations and outlined 11 board games available to shop online. These picks will allow you to have fun and enjoy a social, technology-free activity at home while you’re practicing social distancing.

Here are the 11 best board games:

  1. Best for Adults: Codenames
  2. Best for Kids: Spot It Party Game
  3. Best New Board Game: Azul
  4. Best for Couples: Scrabble
  5. Best-Selling Board Game: Monopoly
  6. Best Strategy Board Game: Splendor
  7. Best Two-Player: Sequence
  8. Best Family Board Game: Candy Land
  9. Best for Teens: Apples to Apples
  10. Best Solo Game: Geode Puzzle
  11.  Best for Sports Lovers: Strat-O-Matic Baseball
  12. Best for Bluffers Brilliant or B.S. 

Best for Adults: Codenames

Word play, clue-giving, and subtle spy elements make up Codenames, the popular party game for adults. After being split into two teams, each team will attempt to guess which codenames belong to their team based on clues given by the appointed Spymaster. The challenge for the Spymaster is to make sure the clues don’t lead your team to one of the words that belongs to the opposing team. Customers love the camaraderie and mystery behind this game, with one reviewer praising it for being an engaging activity for nearly anyone who plays it. “I dub this as my highest-rated party game at 9.5. It’s virtually flawless.”

Buy It! Codenames, $15.28; amazon.com

Best for Kids: Spot It Party Game

Spot It is an amusing, fast-paced card game that relies solely on visual elements. Each card in the deck has one matching symbol with another card, so the goal is to find the symbol on your card that matches with the one at play. After just one round, the whole family will be on the edge of their seats and ready to dive into more friendly competition. With similarities to the game I Spy, younger children will enjoy being able to spot the fun illustrations while older kids, and even adults, will appreciate the race to identify the matching symbols before their opponents. One parent even said they “had as much fun as my seven-year-old!” while playing Spot it.

Buy It! Spot It Party Game, $19.99; amazon.com

Best New Board Game: Azul

A contemporary game of tile laying, Azul takes players through a race to decorate the walls of the fictional Portugeuse Royal Palace of Evora. The game balances strategy and efficiency, encouraging players to finish tiling their walls before their opponents, and to outscore them based on the quality of tiles and materials used. One reviewer was a fan of Azul’s elaborate style, noting that “the tiles are very beautiful and the game strategy is complex enough to merit replayability.”

Buy It! Azul, $28.99; target.com

Best for Couples: Scrabble 

Scrabble, AKA the original Words With Friends, is a quintessential board game. The crossword game combines elements of competition, strategy, and word play, making it a challenging yet entertaining way for two people to stay busy for a couple hours. Plus, anyone who’s ever played a round of Scrabble with a partner or friend knows that the game is a true test of a relationship. “There is nothing like sitting down with a friend and having an intense game of scrabble,” one customer said. You may find yourself debating whether or not “qi” is a word, but a little lighthearted bickering is part of what makes it fun in the first place.

Buy It! Scrabble, $42.99; amazon.com

Best-Selling Board Game: Monopoly

You can’t go wrong with the classics. For your next game night, gather the family around the table for a round of Monopoly, one of the best-selling board games of all time. The fast-paced property trading game is engaging for players of all ages, including adults, teens, and kids alike. It’s simple enough for kids to follow along with yet detailed and entertaining enough for adults to get into the friendly, money-based competition. One customer described it as “a huge hit” for the whole family.

Buy It! Monopoly Classic Game, $17.99 (orig. $19.99); kohls.com

Best Strategy Board Game: Splendor

In this highly-rated strategy game, each player works toward building their own jewelry empire by developing mines, collecting gems, and ultimately opening a storefront to sell them from. The goal is to compete with other players over resources and infrastructure and become the most successful business by the end. Though the game is easy to pick up, there are countless strategies to employ, which makes the replayability high. One reviewer described Splendor as one-of-a-kind and said, “it’s not like any other game and requires thinking and planning in advance!”

Buy It! Splendor, $44.99; amazon.com

Best Two-Player: Sequence 

Sequence combines the best of both gaming worlds by utilizing a board and a deck of cards. Players will take turns putting down a card and then placing a chip on the corresponding spot on the board for that card. The object of the game is to get five chips, or sequences, in a row. Perfect for two or more players, the game may be pretty straightforward, but strategy and competition will come into play if you try to block your opponent’s sequences, similar to tic-tac-toe. One reviewer said playing Sequence will result in “hours of entertainment.”

Buy It! Sequence, $24.99; amazon.com

Best Family Board Game: Candy Land

Another timeless game that’s perfect for the whole family, Candy Land is easy for little ones to pick up but entertaining enough for all ages. This classic edition celebrates 65 years of the game, pairing bright graphics with Candy Land’s traditional characters for a whimsical escape from reality. With easy-to-follow directions, the simple game has players race through the candy-themed land with the goal of reaching the Candy Castle first.

Buy It! Candy Land Game, $15.99; amazon.com

Best for Teens: Apples to Apples 

Much like its adult-rated counterpart Cards Against Humanity, Apples to Apples is an entertaining word play card game. Players take turns pairing the phrases on the cards they were dealt with a chosen word for each round. One player will judge the answers and choose a winner, with the funniest or most obscure combination typically taking home the win. “It isn’t easy finding a game that my 11 and 13 year old boys like to play with the family,” noted one reviewer. “We played for well over two hours.”

Buy It! Apples to Apples, $26.99; amazon.com

Best Solo Game: Geode Puzzle

For solo players looking to occupy their mind and de-stress, consider trying this unique geode puzzle. Handmade from birch plywood, the pieces are laser cut into intricately-designed shapes that will add to the challenge of piecing together the artwork. One reviewer was impressed with the complexity, saying that “I got the blue one for myself and was amazed it took as long as it did to put together considering the number of pieces.”

Buy It! Geode Puzzle, $65; uncommongoods.com

Best for Sports Lovers: Strat-O-Matic Baseball

Credit: Strat-O-Matic

If you can’t be on the field, Strat-O-Matic is the next best thing for sports superfans. The company offers a tabletop version of Major League Baseball that lets players get in on the action. The best-selling board game has gained a massive following that includes celebrities like Drew Carey, Spike Lee, and Tim Robbins, thanks to its realistic statistics and inclusion of all 30 major league teams from the past season. People readers can take 10% off their purchase using the code PEOPLE10.

Buy It! Strat-O-Matic Baseball, $53; strat-o-matic.com

Best for Bluffers: Brilliant Or BS?

Credit: Brilliant or BS

If you love trivia — and hilariously tricking your friends and family — this brand-new game will keep you entertained for hours. Best for groups of four to six people ages 14 and up, Brilliant Or BS? asks players a variety of trivia questions in categories like entertainment, geography, sports, and food and drink. Players must secretly answer before explaining to the group why they believe their answer is correct (even if they were absolutely clueless). The "judge" of the round must then decide which players really got the answers right, and which ones are full of, you guessed it, BS. Interrogation and cross-examination are encouraged, and hilarity is sure to ensue!

Buy It! Brilliant Or BS?, $20; brilliantorbs.com

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