Board games have come a long way in recent years. What was once seen as a pastime for kids has evolved into a thriving hobby for adults. Sophisticated design, intricate gameplay, and high-quality components have made modern board games an engaging pursuit for grown-ups.
For adults, board games offer an opportunity to socialize, compete, and exercise critical thinking skills. The best board games provide a mental challenge, encourage player interaction, and create memorable shared experiences. In a world where we spend so much time staring at screens, gathering around a table to play a board game can be a welcome change of pace.
If you’re looking for board games to play with adult friends or family members, here are 10 of the best options to consider in 2023:
Wingspan is a competitive engine-building game where players collect birds for their wildlife preserves. With gorgeous illustrations and engaging mechanics, Wingspan has wide appeal for both experienced gamers and newcomers alike.
On their turn, players take actions such as gathering food, laying eggs, or acquiring more birds for their habitats. Each bird has unique abilities that drive the strategic gameplay. Players earn points for completing collections like shorebirds or birds of prey. With careful planning and satisfaction from seeing your engine churn away, Wingspan always makes for an entertaining playthrough.
Root is an asymmetrical war game set in a whimsical woodland realm. Each player controls one of four unique factions, ranging from the Marquise de Cat’s robotic army to the Eyrie Dynasties’s bird clan. With vastly different abilities and goals, the competing groups clash as they spread influence and control territory.
The game has a deceptive simplicity that unfolds into emergent complexity during play. No two games of Root feel the same. There’s a satisfying loop of building forces, attacking rivals, and working toward your faction’s objective that makes every session engaging. Root works best with 4 players who can embrace the chaotic energy of the competitive ecosystem.
For a thoughtful 2-player experience, Patchwork is a must-try abstract tile-placement game. Players purchase fabric patches for their quilts, trying to accumulate buttons to afford the most valuable shapes. Tetris-like puzzle skills come into play as you arrange patches to fit efficiently on your 9×9 quilt board.
Despite simple rules, Patchwork offers satisfying depth from spatial planning and optimizing your patch and button income. The pace is relaxed, making it a chill option for a couple to play together on a weeknight. The charming quilt theme rounds out the experience. Patchwork deserves its reputation as one of the best modern 2-player only titles.
If you’re looking for a party game for adult gatherings, Wavelength provides hours of word association fun. One player gives a one-word clue like “dark” for the target word “night” at a secret position on the game’s scale. The other players debate where “night” falls along the scale’s spectrum from radio waves to gamma rays and place their markers accordingly.
The subjective nature of interpreting the clue makes for hilarious, heated arguments as players justify their assumptions. Is night closer to dark or light? The debates reveal how differently people’s minds work. With quick playtimes and engaging discussions, Wavelength is one of the best large group board games for adults.
5. Spirit Island
Cooperative games are thriving lately, and Spirit Island stands out as one of the most immersive and rewarding. Players are nature spirits defending their island home from invading colonizers. With unique powers, you work together to grow in strength and drive out the invaders through strategic card play.
As you destroy settlements and fight back, Spirit Island creates an experience that satisfyingly reverses colonial tropes seen in many games. With challenging gameplay and imaginative spirits to embody, it provides a one-of-a-kind adventure of teamwork and discovery. You’ll find yourself completely absorbed in living out the mystical narrative.
6. Dune: Imperium
Based on Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel, Dune: Imperium translates the intrigue of competing noble houses into an exciting deck-building game. Set on the dangerous desert planet Arrakis, players leverage political influence and military might to gain control of the valuable spice Melange.
With asymmetric player decks and a non-combat worker placement element, no two games feel the same. Moments of betrayal and temporary alliances make things spicy. For fans of the Dune universe or newcomers, Imperium offers an accessible yet strategic experience. Just beware of giant sandworms interfering with the best-laid plans.
7. The Quacks of Quedlinburg
For some raucous adult fun, pull out The Quacks of Quedlinburg and channel your inner medieval alchemist. Drawing ingredients blindly from your bag, you concoct potions trying to rack up points but avoid hazardous explosions. Push your luck too far and your pot could overflow!
The tension of not knowing what you’ll draw next makes for lots of thrilling and agonizing moments. And chucking plastic ingredients into your cauldron is just plain satisfying. With spooky artwork and witty theming, Quacks is one of the best party board games for getting a group laughing and yelling together.
Dixit is an enchanting card game that stimulates creativity and communication. Players take turns as storyteller, offering a word or phrase and choosing an illustration card that matches. The other players then select cards they think match the clue. If some guess correctly but others are fooled, the storyteller scores points.
The abstract art style makes interpreting clues more challenging, leading to delightful “a-ha” moments when you see connections. Dixit encourages imaginative and outside-the-box thinking as you come up with clues that are not too vague but not too obvious. With simple rules and beautiful art, it makes for engaging party gameplay.
No list of adult board games is complete without the modern classic Codenames. Two teams compete to make contact with all of their secret agents first. The spymasters give one-word clues pointing to multiple words on the table. Field operatives have to decipher the connections.
With clever wordplay and light strategy, Codenames is arguably the best board game for parties. Quick thinking and creative clue associations separate the best spymasters. Offering teamwork, humor, and occasional frustration, a round of Codenames always entertains. Just be sure not to accidentally guess the assassin and lose the game!
For experienced gamers, Scythe offers a rich strategic challenge set in an alternate 1920s reality. Each player controls a faction aiming to claim territory and resources in the wake of war. Mechs, workers, and power-ups drive player actions in this competitive engine builder.
There are so many viable paths to victory that no two games feel alike. With gorgeous artwork, engaging combat and economic systems, and top-notch components, Scythe stands out as one of the best strategy games in recent years. Just be prepared to spend some time learning the complex rules before playing. The payoff is an unparalleled immersive experience.
FAQ About Board Games for Adults
What makes a board game good for adults?
Board games aimed at adult players often share traits like:
- Strategic depth – Interesting choices and multiple paths to victory that reward critical thinking.
- Engaging themes – Storytelling, settings, and artwork geared toward an older audience.
- Social interaction – Opportunities for conversation, teamwork, or healthy competition with others.
- High component quality – Durable boards, playing pieces, and cards with appealing graphic design.
- Play time – Games that can be completed in 1-2 hours work well for adult schedules.
What types of board games do adults enjoy most?
Some popular board game genres among adult players include:
- Strategy games that allow deep strategic planning like Scythe and Terraforming Mars.
- Cooperative games that promote teamwork like Pandemic and Spirit Island.
- Party games that encourage creativity and social skills like Codenames and Just One.
- Legacy games with ongoing storylines and permanent changes like Pandemic Legacy.
- Deck-building games where players construct custom card decks like Dominion.
- Auction/bidding games that create engaging player interaction like For Sale and Modern Art.
How can you find other adults interested in board games?
If you don’t have a regular group to play board games with, try:
- Browsing board game Meetup groups or Facebook groups in your local area.
- Attending board game conventions and events to connect with fellow hobbyists.
- Checking your local game store for regular board game nights or playtesting events.
- Joining online communities like Reddit’s /r/boardgames to discuss new game releases.
- Introducing games to coworkers, friends, family – you never know who will catch the board gaming bug!
What are good board games for two adult players?
Excellent 2-player only games include classics like Chess, Hive, and Jaipur. Some modern standouts for duos are:
- Patchwork – Tetris-style tile placement game with charming theme.
- 7 Wonders Duel – Drafting card game of rival ancient civilizations.
- Twilight Struggle – Strategic card driven game set during the Cold War.
- Fox in the Forest – Clever trick-taking game with twist on standard rules.
- Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small – Streamlined worker placement farm game.
What board game gifts are good for adults?
When shopping for adult board game gifts, you can’t go wrong with:
- Ticket to Ride – Classic set collection game to build railroad routes across a map.
- The Crew – Cooperative trick-taking game with engrossing team play.
- Wingspan – Engine builder with gorgeous bird-themed artwork and appeal for non-gamers.
- Azul – Abstract tile placement game with mesmerizing components.
- Pandemic – The co-op game that defined the genre – work together to cure diseases.
- Codenames – Word association party game perfect for many occasions.
How much do quality adult board games cost?
Board game prices can range quite a bit based on components and complexity. Here are typical cost tiers:
- $10-$20 – Simple card and party games.
- $20-$40 – Gateway games and classics like Catan, Ticket to Ride, Azul.
- $40-$60 – Most mid-weight Eurogames and Kickstarter productions.
- $60-$100+ – High-end hobby games with extensive components and deluxe editions.
With so many titles available, you can find engaging options for adults at nearly every price point. And board gaming provides hours of value per dollar compared to short-lived forms of entertainment.