13 best board games to kick off a fun family night

Kelsey Chapman
Thursday 01 April 2021 18:10
Wishlist
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Family game night might seem like a thing of the past for many, but now's a better time than ever to lean into having relaxing nights at home with the ones you love the most. Having some goof old-fashioned board games on hand is a great way to disconnect from the stress of a perpetually online world, and they might actually convince your moody teens to close Snapchat for a couple hours here and there.

Classics like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit still reign supreme in the game world, but special editions and fun updates add a fresh touch to the mix while incorporating popular culture that make it easy for multiple generations under one roof to come together in the name of friendly competition. A few newer names that follow similar playing styles also cropped up, along with an at-home spin ripped straight from a long-running game show you can have delivered straight to your door.

Once you've finished up your analog game night, check out these popular Nintendo Switch games that are great for the whole family.

Read on to find out more about what you can incorporate into your next game night at home, and as always, you can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing, expert advice and our own research. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Goosebumps Movie Game - Thrilling Family Board Game - Battle Each Other In A Frantic Race To The Typewriter/End (Ages 8+)

If you weren’t enamored with the Goosebumps book series as a kid, are you really even a millennial? Bring that nostalgic fun into your home again today with this goofy game based on the movie (which is based on the books) and enjoy playing the part of your favorite R.L. Stine monster.

Monopoly Star Wars Complete Saga Edition

Fans of the ultimate classic board game who happen to be Star Wars obsessives might already own this, but if you don’t, now is the time.

An average of 4.7 stars on Best Buy’s website and pros like cardboard currency and family-friendliness make this a go-to if you’re quarantined and want to make a theme day out of it–simply marathon your favorite movies in the background while you gather ‘round and play the world’s favorite real estate trading game, now with intergalactic stakes at hand.

Disney Villainous Perfectly Wretched Game

Another one sure to please the family, Disney’s Villainous series is built around card games that lets everyone step into the role of their favorite evil-doer and explore their devious powers in order to usurp those competing against them. While this can be played alone, the set can also be used as an expansion pack and paired with other Disney Villainous installments, meaning you won’t be wasting your money on something that loses its charm easily–the evil possibilities are nearly endless. And don’t think this is just for kids, either. As one user states in their review, “Best game to play for a diverse group! Small or large. It has become mine and my husbands go-to game for when we have a game night. We’ve gotten all our friends hooked too. Easy to learn, and fun to play.”

Z-man Games Pandemic Board Game

If you, like so many right now, are ready to face fear and lean into the most meta version of yourself, it’s time to invest in Pandemic, the game where you’re tasked with saving mankind from a rush of lethal plagues. With 100% of buyers on Best Buy’s website recommending the challenge, it’s hard to ignore this game’s appeal and culturally relevant content.

One reviewer called it a “Nice two-player game," and added, “Basically the Pandemic game has you work as a team to defeat global infections. It even teaches you a little bit of geography.” Who doesn’t want to combine entertainment and little learning with your newfound free time?

Catan The Board Game

If you haven’t joined the cult of Catan yet, what are you waiting for? Endless expansions make this a years-long adventure of finding resources in the make-believe land of Catan, all while protecting yourself from the robber who plans to thwart your settlement. With 95% of notoriously picky Amazon reviewers giving this classic a four or five star rating, you can put your full faith in this being a game that piques the interest of even the most jaded player, as one especially fiery review notes: “Beware! Don't try this unless you plan on getting addicted. Your life will forever be altered. You'll find yourself begging strangers to come over to play. Watching youtube videos to improve your game, bribing your children. Your spouse will become a tricky, sneaky person you hardly recognize.”

Twister Ultimate

Another classic we encourage you to try if you haven’t already is Twister, a party game that can now function as a way to stay entertained and physically active while locked indoors for the foreseeable future–now in an ultimate version touting a larger play area for more players and mayhem. You know the rules: spin, pose, repeat, and awkwardly entangle yourselves until someone loses balance and topples the whole crew. It’s nothing new because it doesn’t need to be, but it’s also a fun game to consider for couples to bring back some physical spark if being isolated as a duo has you ripping out each others’ proverbial hair.

Trivial Pursuit Netflix's Stranger Things: Back to the 80s Edition

With the fourth season of smash Netflix show Stranger Things currently in the works and premiering sometime this year or next, there’s no better time to upgrade your old Trivial Pursuit game with this nostalgia-packed adventure that sees the upside down come straight to your table. The board actually flips and sends other players to the mythical netherworld the co-exists with the tiny fictitious town of Hawkins, Indiana, and 1500 questions will keep you busy, taken from the following categories: TV, music, famous people and event, trends, technology, fun, and Stranger Things.

Splendor

This game is an adventurous fantasy where you and between one and three other people compete to see who can collect and build their precious gem collection to become Renaissance Europe’s premiere jeweler. For players 10 and up only, consider this to be an adult-friendly game that challenges the mind more than some other standard editions elsewhere in this list, perfect for setting up and sorting through while you and an of-age partner enjoy some dramatic background music and a bottle of vintage red (or the $5/bottle variety you stocked up on at the liquor store fire sale). 35 reviewers on Walmart.com all give it the full five stars, and some suggest that despite the age range listed, it’s easy enough for younger children to pick up on as well.

Mini Tabletop Plinko

If you grew up daydreaming about how well you’d do given the chance to “Come on down!” as cheered by Bob Barker, your inner child (or adult!) will be thrilled to discover the joy of the game’s finest game Plinko can happen from inside your own home.

“Well made and adaptable,” one thrilled customer said of this game after purchasing. “I think I sold three more by sharing this on Facebook!” Another bonus: once you’ve worn this out in lockdown entertainment mode, it can be used for things like school fairs and classroom presentations, making it a great long-term investment for anyone who works with kids or the public.

Takenoko Board Game

In this game, players learn to strategize in order to maximize the output on their bamboo plantations while also caring for a Giant Panda. Two to four players will spend a relatively short 45 minutes competing to see who can win the most points through competing their gardening and caretaking tasks for gameplay similar to that in Catan but with a cuter aesthetic.

Reviews are generally positive, touting aspects like “game was very fun and easy to follow” and “the whole family had fun deep into the night,” with the only complaint being the cardboard feels slightly thin on some of the pieces so maybe save this one for more skilled (as in ages 7+) hands.

Throw Throw Burrito

Board games have a general air of civility to them, with all those smart little pieces just begging to get lost in a closet after a few round and a hasty cleanup go by. To combat that, the geniuses at Exploding Kittens created a game in which you take those delicate sensibilities and toss them in the trash for a while in lieu of chucking soft foam burritos at one another for a bit–and did we mention those burritos are adorable?

“We have had this game for roughly three days now and have played Throw Throw Burrito every night since receiving it in the mail,” one five-star reviewer said of their new preferred way to spend their together time. “My family has multiple closets full of games and this is our favorite, hands down.” Other buyers left glowing assessments claiming the game is easy to use, fast-paced, and fun for nearly all ages, proving you can’t go wrong with this goofy contest that combines dodgeball and cards for the ultimate tortilla-wrapped showdown.

The Golden Girls Any Way you Slice it Game

The Golden Girls: Anyway You Slice It trivia game goes down like a perfect slice of midnight cheesecake, and for less calories, too. If you are a lover of the 1980s smash hit show starring four retirement-age women and their adventures in Miami, you’ll revel in the various questions about their style, dating lives, and more as you and up to three other friends compete to see who can collect eight slices of cheesecake first. It may seem light-hearted, but the questions can get fairly intense and require a level of attention to detail you may not have expected at first but that’s just more reason to binge-watch reruns before you settle in to play.

Monopoly: Friends The TV Series Edition Board Game for Ages 8 and Up; Game for Friends Fans (Amazon Exclusive)

If Star Wars isn’t quite your thing when it comes to themed board games, perhaps you’ll enjoy this version based on one of the most popular television shows of all time, Friends. Memorable situations and locations crop up amid the real estate game play, and real fans will appreciate details like Relaxi Taxi, All the Candy, Ross' Teeth, and Holiday Armadillo. 

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