We live in a golden age of board gaming. If you grew up with Scrabble and Cluedo (which are okay games) and Risk and Monopoly (which are a bit more painful), you may understandably believe such things are limited in scope and of interest only to kids and weirdos. But in 2018 this hobby has far more to offer. The best board games are well worth anyone’s time.

Depending on your tastes (and you can consider the following our ‘recommended, but not top 10 material’ list), modern board gaming offers simplicity (Hive) or complexity (Twilight Struggle); abstraction (The Duke) or narrative (Tales of the Arabian Nights); co-operation (Ghost Stories), semi-co-operation (Celestia) or backstabbing (Game of Thrones); silliness (Galaxy Trucker) or seriousness (Puerto Rico). Board games have something for everyone.

In this article we round up the 10 best board games available to humanity, together with our explanation of why each one is so essential, vital statistics (time to play, number of players, our difficulty rating) and a link to buy. We’ve also put links to help you find more information about each game on the wonderful resource Boardgamegeek, to whom I am indebted for the information about game times and recommended ages.

A note on board game expansions

Where relevant we’ve included our picks of the best expansion packs for each board game. Expansions are a little cheaper than full games and can be an appealing choice of Christmas present for a loved one with a particular obsession with one board game. Some of them are amazing. But there are pitfalls to avoid.

We don’t recommend that you buy an expansion until you’re sure you love the base game, have played it a fair bit and are starting to feel like you’re reaching the limits of what it has to offer. A good expansion takes a great game and adds more depth, but no good game needs an expansion to ‘complete’ it; some expansions, in fact, will take a tight, streamlined game and bog it down with extra rules.

What’s more, for the price of maybe two expansions you could get an entirely new game. When I was getting into board gaming I went right down the rabbit hole of Settlers of Catan expansions and rather regret it. We could have been trying new games instead of settling into a comfort zone.

The 10 best board games

1. Cosmic Encounter

2. Pandemic

Pandemic

3. Carcassonne

Carcassonne

4. Power Grid

Power Grid

5. Love Letter

Love Letter

6. King of New York

King of New York

7. Ticket To Ride Europe

Ticket To Ride Europe

8. Betrayal at House on the Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill

9. Scotland Yard

Scotland Yard

10. Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan





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