If you have not explored board games for adults lately, you are in for a real treat. There are board games for two players and an unlimited number. (Yes, really!) Some are perfect party games for a large crowd and some work for a family game night. Some can be finished in less than an hour, and some provide a full evening of fun. All of the games we present in this article are modern, challenging, and entertaining. The games we reviewed are only a few of those available, games we think are some of the best board games for adults out there. At the end of our more detailed list of board games for adults, we’ve named some others you might wish to explore. Additionally, we have included an estimated time required for play to aid in your choice.
Table of Contents
- 1 Board Games for Adults
- 1.1 Sheriff of Nottingham
- 1.2 Dead of Winter
- 1.3 Legendary
- 1.4 Settlers of Catan
- 1.5 Tsuro: A Game of the Path
- 1.6 Takenoko
- 1.7 Lords of Waterdeep
- 1.8 Pandemic
- 1.9 Carcassone
- 1.10 King of New York and King of Tokyo
- 1.11 7 Wonders
- 1.12 Arkham Horror Board Game
- 1.13 Steampunk Rally
- 1.14 Great Western Trail
- 1.15 The Voyages of Marco Polo
- 1.16 Scythe
- 1.17 Quantum
- 1.18 Terraforming Mars
- 1.19 Clank!
- 1.20 The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
- 1.21 Quadropolis
- 1.22 Stronghold
- 1.23 Mysterium
- 1.24 Five Tribes
- 1.25 Castles of Mad King Ludwig
- 2 Party Board Games for Adults
- 3 Other Adult Board Games to Explore
Board Games for Adults
Sheriff of Nottingham
A game where players lie, bribe, and smuggle, the more devious you are, the more likely you are to win. Your goal is to sneak goods into the city of Nottingham past the watchful eye of the Sheriff. You have the choice of legal or illegal goods. Which will you choose? As a merchant, you can make a deal with the Sheriff or get him to target another player. You also get to take a turn as the Sherriff, who gets to confiscate goods for himself. Play this exciting game with up to five players.
Playing time: 60 minutes
Dead of Winter
A post-apocalyptic survival game, Dead of Winter requires two to five players to cooperate for survival. However, each player leading his group of survivors battling flesh-eating human monsters has his own hidden objective. This means some players may survive and some die. Players must decide how to meet their own objectives while leading their group to victory. Objectives can be harmless or jeopardize the entire colony. Players must make hard, quick decisions for both themselves and the colony in the attempt to not only survive, but also meet their individual goals. This game is always fresh and full of surprises.
Playing time: 45 minutes to over three hours
If you are a Marvel character fan, this game is for you. Whether you are a fan of classic villains like Loki, Magneto, and Dr. Doom; the Fantastic Four; Guardians of the Galaxy; or all the Marvel heroes, there is a version you will love. Hero decks are chosen and shuffled together. A mastermind villain is chosen, whose card stack is modified based on the villain’s scheme. Players recruit hero cards to maintain a hand of five, battling the villain and gaining points with each battle won. When the mastermind’s villain cards are all gone, whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins. However, if the mastermind completes his scheme, all the players lose.
Playing time: Approximately 45 minutes
Settlers of Catan
A now-familiar civilization building, strategy game, award-winning Settlers of Catan has spawned expansion and extension packs for its fans. One reason is because of its playability – children as young as ten can play. Players build roads, settlements, and cities with resources determined by the roll of dice – stone, brick, wood, sheep, or grain. The goal is to get ten victory points, some of them kept secret, to win. To do so, one must avoid the robber pawn, build an army, and trade and steal resource cards. Now simply referred to as Catan, this game provides a fun evening of entertainment.
Playing time: 60 to 120 minutes
Tsuro: A Game of the Path
In this quick game – it takes only 20 minutes to play – players take turns building a safe path by placing tiles on a 6 x 6 board. If a player is stopped at the edge of the board, or collides with another player’s token, they are out of the game. The goal is to be the last player with a token on the board. Sounds simple, but strategy is essential. This board game’s versatility adds to its appeal; it can be played by up to eight players as young as 8 years old. Try this adult board game for a fun-filled family game night.
Playing time: 15 Minutes
Two to four players take care of the emperor’s bamboo garden so that the Japanese emperor can feed his giant panda bear. Players plant and grow one of three bamboo species. The goal is to grow the most bamboo while making sure the panda is fed. The player who does so the best wins the game.
Playing time: 45 minutes
Lords of Waterdeep
In eight rounds, players must complete quests and collect treasure and resources while constructing buildings, all to collect the most points and win the game. Strategy involves negotiations, trickery, and force as you attempt to control the city of Waterdeep. This game for 2 to 5 players won Origins Award for Best Board Game of 2012 and continues to be a favorite adult board game.
Playing time: 1-2 hours
Two to four players must work together to eradicate four deadly diseases. If they fail, everybody loses. Each player is a specialist in a particular area and must work with the other players to plan strategies to research cures and treat disease hotspots. Epidemic! cards increase the diseases’ activities, while other cards control the spread. Players use up to four action cards to build a research station, discover a cure, treat those infected, or travel between cities. Fast paced and fun, this game works for those eight and over.
Playing time: 45 minutes
Carcassone is a game full of possibilities and options that moves quickly. Players deploy farmers, monks, knights, and thieves protecting and destroying parts of their opponents’ French landscapes. To do so, players place tiles adjacent to those already played, connecting roads to roads and cities to cities, etc. Each time a player completes an area, his meeple scores points. A game full of strategy, two to five players ages eight and up will enjoy playing, although gamers state it is best played with two players.
Playing time: 30 to 45 minutes
King of New York and King of Tokyo
These two stand-alone games each have six monsters – interchangeable between the two games. King of Tokyo came first and remains a gamers’ favorite. King of New York has a larger game board and adds the ability to achieve “Fame.” Additionally, the destruction of buildings provides bonuses, but also an intense response form the National Guard. A relatively simple game, luck plays a role as players use purchased power-up cards (not interchangeable between the two games). The winner must collect 20 victory points or be the only monster remaining at the end of the game.
Playing time: 40 minutes
In this fast-paced game, players have 30 minutes to develop one of seven great ancient civilizations into a world power. For each of the three ages in this game, players are dealt cards of resources which they organize on their double-sided boards. Strategy must be used to gain victory points as play passes both left and right and one must weigh decisions considering the other players’ card play. The game ends when all three ages have ended. The game is for three to seven players, but includes directions for a two-player variation.
Playing time: 30 minutes
Arkham Horror Board Game
In this cooperative game set in the 1920s, players battle the Ancient Ones attempting to enter out world. Players choose one of sixteen Investigators and one of eight Ancient Ones. Players acquire spells, allies, skills, and weapons as they fight monsters attempting to enter our world through portals in the town of Arkham, Massachusetts. When too many portals open, the players must resort to combat to win and save our world.
Playing time: Two to four hours
In Steampunk Rally, players become history’s greatest inventors design racing machines that race across the Swiss Alps. This strategy game involves selecting parts to add to each player’s engine while assaulting their opponents. Fueled by steam, heat, or electricity, the goal is to finish the race first with one’s machine intact, no easy task. Damage results in loss of machine parts, fortunately replaceable. This game keeps players involved in making tricky choices and using every bit of strategy they can muster to build their machines and win the race.
Playing time: 40-60 minutes
Great Western Trail
Called “one of the best pure-strategy games of the 2010s,” Great Western Trail takes players on a cattle drive from Texas to Kansas City. Players contract craftsmen to erect buildings along the trail, engineers to build a rail line, and cowboys to serve as trail hands. Every turn has multiple options, as you accumulate money and earn victory points. The winner is the player who manages to accumulate the most victory points, a challenging task.
Playing time: 75 to 150 minutes
The Voyages of Marco Polo
In The Voyages of Marco Polo, up to four players recreate the 1271 journey of Marco Polo to the court of Kublai Khan. Each player is a different character and has a special power. Five main actions, shown on the bottom of the game board, are possible, with one performed in each turn. Players can get resources, take one resource and two camels, earn money, purchase orders, or travel. Play ends after five rounds with the winner the player with the most victory points. This game mixes strategy and luck is such a clever way, it is sure to become a favorite.
Playing time: 40 to 100 minutes
Although designed for five players, this game works best with four. The beautifully illustrated imaginary setting on the hexagonal game board in 1920s Eastern Europe enhances the players’ enjoyment of the game. Players rely on strategy rather than might as they battle with coal-powered mechs in The Factory, a capitalistic city-state. The goal is to gain territorial control with both regional prestige and resources. Play begins with each player having access to different resources and a hidden goal. The game relies heavily on strategy with even the “Encounter” cards offering choices. Additionally, each game is unique as the starting points may be the same, but a player’s decisions and choices change the direction of the action. Always a fresh and exciting play is guaranteed.
Playing time: 90 to 115 minutes
Quantum is a dice-tossing strategy game where opponents wage war across a star system. Player’s dice are spaceships, the lower the number, the more powerful the ship. Your goal as a fleet commander is to gain territory and create new bases to win the game by constructing Quantum Cubes. Each time you do so, you can expand your fleet, make a special move, or transform your ships. This game of space combat, strategy, and colonization has limitless possibilities, so play always remains unique and exciting.
Playing time: 60 minutes
Terraforming Mars uses a hexagonal mapped game board for play. As the name implies, the goal is to terraform Mars, which includes building cities. Successful play requires chaining bonuses as you and your fellow players attempt to 1] raise the atmospheric oxygen level to 14%, 2] raise the planet’s temperature to 8 degrees Celsius, and 3] create nine oceans with tiles. Players keep track of their resources and production on individual boards, competing for the best places for city, ocean, and greenery tiles, as well as different Milestones and Awards worth many victory points. The goal is to earn the most victory points and win the game. With 200 action cards, play remains surprising no matter how many times you play.
Play time: 90 to 120 minutes
In Clank!, the goal is to loot in a multi-leveled dungeon without being killed by a dragon. The best treasure is close to the bottom of the dungeon, of course. Cards provide bonuses, but make you more likely to be a victim of random dragon attacks. A game of thievery, stealth, and luck, Clank! is sure to please.
Playing time: 30 to 60 minutes
The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
Players are nations in the atomic era, attempting to increase their might in the areas of international leadership, industry, and commerce. Using power generating sources – solar, coal, nuclear, etc. – players progress through three main paths, building industry while keeping energy clean and controlling pollution. A fast-paced game, you will want to play this one more than once.
Playing time: 60 to 120 minutes
Like a cross between Sim City and Monopoly, Quadropolis has players building their own metropolis on a personal 4 x 4 city map. Buildings earn points based upon type and position in relation to other structures and landscape features, such as city parks. After four rounds of play, points are totaled to determine who wins. The goal is to build and place the best city structures with adequate resources – energy and inhabitants. A game of concentration, Quadropolis is refreshingly quiet compared to many adult board game.
Playing time: 30 to 60 minutes
You must play this game more than once to gain proficiency, as one must think ahead and use long-term strategy. One player defends the castle during a six-day siege, while the other attacks. The gameboard depicts the castle and surrounding area. Defenders gain victory points defending the castle if possible against goblins, orcs, and multitudes of enemies.
Playing time: 120 minutes
Mysterium takes place in Sweden in the 1920s. Mr. MacDowell and a group of mediums contact a mute, amnesic, ghost who communicates through illustrated clue cards representing his visions. Up to five players are guided to identify a trio of weapon, murder place, and murderer of the ghost and solve the mystery. Each game round represents one hour of time and the players have only seven hours to solve the mystery. The goal is to guess correctly and reveal who, with what weapon, and where the murder took place. Play moves quickly in this refreshing game similar to the Classic Clue, but with a twist.
Playing time: 42 minutes
Called “Mancala on steroids by game reviewer Tom Vasel, players grab colored game pieces and place them strategically on a checkered board. Victory comes with the defeat of the Five Tribes of Assassins, Builders, Elders, Viziers, and Merchant as players attempt to grab control of the Arabian sultanate Naqala. Chance plays an extremely minor role as players choose from many ways to score points using planning and patience, while keeping opponents from succeeding.
Playing time: 40 to 80 minutes
Castles of Mad King Ludwig
King Ludwig II of Bavaria wants his castle built. Players are building contractors charged with the task of designing and building the interior while selling services to other players. Players accrue points by adding rooms based upon size, type of room, and location. Each round begins with purchasing, after which a player becomes a Master Builder, setting prices for a set of rooms. At the end of each round, players receive points based upon the popularity of their rooms and responsiveness to the King’s requirements. The player with the most points wins.
Playing time: 90 minutes
Party Board Games for Adults
Games are part of a fun party and these new and entertaining games are perfect. Board games, as the name implies, include a board. Although some of the following games are not technically board games – players do not sit around a four-sided board – these boxed games adhere to the definition by having game pieces such as cards. They also have rules for play. Try one at your next party.
Captain Sonar is perfect for after a four-couple dinner party, as it is best played with eight players – two teams of four. Full of excitement, two submarines fight a battle to the death, evading mines and drones. You may be a Captain, an Engineer, or a Radio operator (with a map, felt marker, and clear plastic sheet) seeking to follow the Captains directions. It is not over until one of the Captains fires a torpedo to destroy the opponent’s submarine. You will want to play again to get your revenge!
Playing time: 45 to 60 minutes
A small group party game for five to ten players, this deductive game divides players in German Liberals and Fascists. The card-carrying Fascists know each other’s identities, one of whom is Hitler. Each player is given a secret dossier with character and party affiliation cards. Players elect a president and chancellor for each round who secretly enact one of three government policies. The German Liberals attempt to win the game by enacting six Liberal policies. Meanwhile the hidden Fascists attempt to either elect Hitler as chancellor or enact five Fascist policies. A dark game of accusations and lies, the surprise of discovering Hitler’s identity and possibly assassinating him ends this game on a high note.
Playing time: 45 minutes
Two teams with three to four players each have a Spymaster who know their secret identity, one of twenty-five possible agents. The teams only know the agents by their Codenames. The goal is to be the team able to make contact with their agents first. One word clues point to words on the board and the number of cards associated with the clue. Everyone attempts to avoid the assassin while making contact with the agents on their team. Players will want to play this fast-paced game multiple times.
Playing time: 15 minutes
The Resistance: Avalon
The Resistance, a party game for adults, is designed for five to ten players, who attempt to deduce the other players’ identities, while liberating the population and defeating the Empire. Imperial Spies and Resistance Operatives join to choose an assignment, then some secretly either sabotage or support the mission. Play continues until a team wins three missions, thus winning the game. This deductive game with Arthur, Merlin, and Mordred will please King Arthur fans.
Playing time: 30 minutes
There are four colored question categories – No Brainers, Anything Goes, Personals, and Hypotheticals. A player rolls and reads the question on the space where they land. The other players write down their answers. Whoever rolled previously reads the answers and the current roller guesses who gave which answer. The roller moves one space for each correct match. The roller writes down the answer and the other players guess. The goal is to reach the Win! space. However, the board also has Reversal spaces. Full of funny and unexpected revelations, Loaded Questions makes a perfect party game for adults.
Playing time: 45 minutes
Camel Up, a betting racing game, provides a quick (30 minute) simple, but surprisingly addictive play. Camels move forward based upon dice throws, sometimes landing on top of each other. Place your bet early and win more money, but only if you correctly guess the winner. You will want to play this game over and over.
Playing time: 20 to 30 minutes
Game for Fame
Game for Fame challenges players to gain celebrity while working with a team and gain cash prizes by working solo, contradictory goals, but that is part of the fun of this party game for up to sixteen players. Players want to reach the red carpet of success while avoiding Re-hab. The player with the most money at the game’s end wins.
Playing time: 30 to 90 minutes (depending on number of players)
Cards Against Humanity
Not a game for the squeamish or extremely conservative party group, this currently best-selling game is described by its makers as a “game for horrible people.” Questions and answers are funny and tremendously inappropriate, perfect party fare for the right group. The game moves fast and works best with four to twelve players, although it can be played by as many as thirty.
Playing time: 30 minutes or longer
Eight to twenty-four (or more!) players assume the roles of Werewolves, Villagers, the Seer, and a Moderator. The Moderator controls the game’s flow. The Werewolves conspire secretly to kill a Villager, who could be the Seer, during the night phase of the game. During the day phase, the dead Villager’s identity is revealed and he is out of the game. The rest of the Villages vote on who the Werewolf is, who is also out of the game. The Villagers win if and when they kill all the Werewolves, and the Werewolves win when their numbers equal those of the Villagers.
Playing time: About 1 hour
A small group party game for up to eight players, Say Anything delves into what players think with some hilarious consequences. Players take turns drawing cards with questions such as, “If you could have a big anything, what would it be?” The other players write down answers, throwing them face-up on the table – no duplicates allowed. Players bet tokens on which answer the card reader will choose.
Playing time: 30 minutes
In this FPS (first-person shooter) game up to five players control robots armed with killer weapons. As the name implies, this game is fast! And, if a player is shot, they get faster. Set in the future, players use a virtual tournament battle to settle a factional, world-wide dispute. The player who builds their arsenal with many weapons and can pull the trigger the most often racks up the most points and wins.
Playing time: 30 to 60 minutes
Kingdom Death: Monster
Kingdom Death: Monster is a game of five cooperative and competing campaign systems. Each campaign lasts thirty lantern years, each consisting of hunt, showdown, and settlement. Hunt through various encounters and events, meet and fight a monster, and, if you survive, expand your settlement.
Fights with the monsters – seven of them – are controlled by individual decks and are extremely variable, some of the three levels very challenging, requiring strategy and a sharp mind. Meanwhile, players craft gear on their individual 3 x 3 gear grids.
Kingdom Death: Monster’s four players will find this game challenging. Definitely an adult play.
Playing time: 60 to 180 minutes
Colt Express is a two to six-player game where players are bandits robbing a train on July 11, 1899 at 10 a.m. going from Folsom, New Mexico, with 47 passengers. The goal is to get the most loot during five rounds of play, especially the Nice Valley Coal Company’s payroll guarded by Marshal Samuel Ford. Players use Schemin’ and Stealin’ with two sets of action cards. Add special powers for each character and play moves quickly and unexpectedly to its conclusion, when the winner is the bandit with the most loot.
Playing time: 30 to 40 minutes
Other Adult Board Games to Explore
- Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar – a game of military and political maneuvering set in ancient Rome
- Mombasa – a trading company game set in Africa
- Orleans – a strategy game set in medieval France
- Runewars, Runebound, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Rune Age – four related fantasy games with dragons
- The Gallerist – combines art and capitalism
- Lewis and Clark – a reenactment of the 1803 exploratory journey
- Anachrony – a futuristic game of survival
- Captain Sonar – a submarine battle team game
- Stockpile – a game of stock market investing
- StarCraft: The Board Game – players seek galactic domination with 180 plastic figures
- Grand Austria Hotel – turn a small café into a grand hotel
Classic board games are fun, but why limit yourself to what you know. Modern adult board games contain adventure, require strategy, and provide unlimited entertainment. They tell stories, contain mysteries, and challenge your thinking and reasoning skills. Adult party games introduce cooperative and individual conflicts designed to get a group acquainted with each other, some in outrageous ways. Our list is not all inclusive. There are adult board games of every size, subject, and description. Prices range from below $20 to over $300 for Kingdom Death: Monster. However, most run around between forty and sixty dollars. Grab your favorite today and get playing!
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