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12 fun board games for adults 2021

Nowadays, the board game market comprises so much more than games like Monopoly and Clue. Those games might be timeless, but it’s still good to give yourself options on game night that can accommodate different numbers of players — and keep everyone entertained. Plus, as an adult, you might want to switch things up and try a new board game. Whether you’re looking for a fun board game for two players or a good game for parties, we compiled a list of some of the best board games for adults using both shopper ratings and previous expert guidance.

Best board games for two players

Splendor

The goal of Splendor is simple: Players must strategically collect poker-style chips every turn and use those chips to buy cards. Once in your hand, all of the cards take on the value of one specific chip, making it easier to acquire the more valuable cards that are worth points. The first person with 15 points in their hand wins. This strategic game can be played with anywhere from two to four players, and it boasts a 4.9-star rating from more than 6,500 Amazon reviews.

Carcassonne

W. Eric Martin, news editor at online gaming resource BoardGameGeek, previously called Carcassonne one of the best games to play in quarantine. In this game, players slowly build a medieval city with the tiles they accumulate and earn points for completing things like roads, cities, fields and monasteries. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can buy some of the expansion packs like Inns and Cathedrals or Hills and Sheep. The tile-laying game has a 4.8-star rating from nearly 5,600 Amazon shoppers.

Wingspan

In our guide to the best board games for quarantine, Lincoln Damerst, the director of media at BoardGameGeek, called out Wingspan’s “fantastic art and production value.” The game caters to bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike as players must attract and hatch the most diverse bird collection. Wingspan, which won the prestigious Kennerspiel des Jahres award in 2019, has a 4.9-star rating from almost 4,200 Amazon reviewers.

Scrabble

A classic board game that puts your vocabulary to the test, Scrabble is a fun game for fans of crossword puzzles and people who enjoy thinking on their feet. With just seven letters in your hand at any given time, you must work with what’s already on the board to score as many points as possible. Fans of Scrabble might also enjoy Bananagrams, another crossword grid game.

Best strategy board games

Catan

Catan, previously The Settlers of Catan, requires critical thinking from the moment you place your first settlement. Where you build your starting settlements dictates the types of resources you have access to — and those, in turn, will help you expand with roads, upgrade to cities, earn development cards and (hopefully) win the game. Catan is slightly more involved than some of the other board games on our list, but once you get the hang of it, it’s fairly simple. The game, which has a 4.9-star rating from more than 16,700 Amazon reviews, has several expansions, including Explorers and Pirates and Seafarers. You can also purchase a board extension to play with up to six players (the base game allows up to four).

Blokus

Fans of Tetris will likely enjoy Blokus, where the goal of the game is to place all of your 21 pieces on the board. All of your tiles have to touch at the corners, which makes this strategy board game difficult — especially when your opponents block you in. The game, which can be played with up to four players, sits at a 4.8-star average rating from more than 4,400 Amazon shoppers.

Ticket to Ride

In our guide to best quarantine board games, Damerst said Ticket to Ride was his “go-to recommendation, especially for new gamers.” He noted that the train game is “super easy to digest” and even has its own Amazon Alexa skill that will teach you how to play. Ultimately, the goal of the game is simple: Build the train routes on your ticket cards before someone blocks you. Ticket to Ride has a 4.9-star rating from nearly 11,780 reviewers on Amazon.

Risk

If you’ve ever dreamed of conquering the world, you might enjoy playing Risk. In this strategy conquest game, players must build an army and seize their opponents’ territories after defeating them in battle. The board game, which works with up to four players, has a 4.7-star average rating from nearly 6,400 Amazon reviewers.

Best board games for parties

What Do You Meme?

Similar to Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme? Instructs players to match one of the caption cards in their hand with the photo card in play to come up with the funniest meme. The photo cards are taken directly from some of the biggest memes of the moment, from Gunshow’s “This Is Fine” to side-eye Chloe. If you start to feel like you want more photos and captions to choose from, there are several expansion packs, including a Game of Thrones Expansion Pack and an NSFW Expansion Deck. What Do You Meme? Holds a 4.7-star average rating from more than 25,600 Amazon reviews.

Codenames

Czech Games’ Codenames can accommodate any number of players, making it a great game option for parties. In order for a team to win, the resident spymaster must help their teammates figure out which agents match with which secret identities, all while avoiding the dreaded assassin. The deduction game has a 4.8-star average rating on Amazon from nearly 15,600 reviews.

Exploding Kittens

Described as a game “for people who are into kittens and explosions,” this strategic card game is relatively simple and loads of fun. The biggest thing to remember: Avoid the Exploding Kitten card at all costs. The game accommodates up to five players, and has a 4.6-star rating from more than 8,600 Amazon reviewers.

Pandemic

In Pandemic, another board game experts recommended as one of the best to play in quarantine, you moonlight as an expert fighting a deadly disease and must collaborate with fellow players to stop the spread before it’s too late. Martin noted that the game almost makes you feel like you’re in a movie, since you take on the role of “an unlikely hero who has to see whether you can find the solution to the problem — whatever that might be — in the nick of time.” Pandemic has a 4.8-star average rating on Amazon from more than 9,400 reviews.

Catch up on the latest from NBC News Shopping guides and recommendations and download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

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