Top 10 Best Board Games 2017
In the age of the internet, it is all too easy to forget that board games were once a primary form of entertainment. Sitting down on a cold afternoon, fire burning in the grate, to have a fun game of choice with all the family was a regular occurrence, and a great deal of fun was had by all. Today’s popular, and often exciting, online games are very impressive, especially those where you can play interactively against other people. However, as the other players are not present, you miss the interaction and social atmosphere that comes with playing board games.
For this very reason, the humble board game has made a comeback in recent years, and not only the more traditional games such as Monopoly and Cluedo. The modern breed of new board games includes some highly innovative titles, and there are many that are educational and great to play with adults and children. Games of strategy involve some serious thinking and enhance cognitive ability, and there are some that are highly original. With so many to choose from – they make excellent gifts, after all – we took a close look at the different options, and came up with the top ten best board games available in 2017. Before we move on to our reviews, let’s talk about the board game, and what it’s all about.
How it Works
How does a board game work? You roll a dice, and make your move! That’s the basics of most board games, but in fact there are many that work in a different way. Board games have been around – in one form or another – for a long, long time, and the 20th century was a boom time for the companies that made them. Some have sold in millions – the very popular Trivial Pursuit for example – and are still popular many decades after they were first introduced. Many are more innovative, as we shall see!
Whether you want a board game for the children, or one that can be played with all the family, there is plenty to choose from, and there are plenty of exciting and fun themes on offer. There are some games that are notably educational – great for young minds to learn from – and others that are simply fun, so let’s have a close look at our chosen top ten of the best board games available today.
Top 10 Board Games
This fun and engaging game is one of the most innovative we have seen, and combines necessary cognitive thinking with great fun for all the family. It is suitable for children aged six and over, and is equally fun for adults. The game involves fitting together a set of different tiles in certain ways, and you score points by getting rid of all your tiles and by laying them in the most difficult and complex fashion. It’s a great game for building confidence in thinking, and one full game play will take just 20 minutes, so you can play repeat games.
We like the way the game is easy to learn, yet you will only become more proficient if you play frequently and learn the strategy involved. It’s a game where, with time, you will learn how to plan your moves in advance, so you can gain an advantage. The tiles are all patterned, so it is suitable for colour-blind people, too, and it will help with social interaction and planning skills. Latice is a game that, once you play it, you will find it more fun the next time, so definitely one for the shortlist. At around £20 it’s not expensive, but there are cheaper games if you’re on a budget.
Pros: Original, easy to learn, educational
Cons: Perhaps the price
This is a beautifully designed game based on the famous stories of the great detective, Sherlock Holmes. The setting is Victorian London, a dangerous place, and it can be played by as many as six people. It is aimed at people of 10 years and older, so is great for the older children in the family, and involves solving a series of crimes. The crimes scenarios are pre-written – there are 75 of them in the pack so you get plenty of game play opportunities – and each game should take between an hour and 90 minutes. It’s fun, intelligent and creative, and involves each player taking the role of Holmes, and picking up clues at a variety of locations.
The crime cards are very evocative and well written, and the clues range from the mundane to the more intriguing. Your trail through London begins at the detective’s house, 221b Baker Street, and takes you to many exciting locations in the city, where clues can be found to lead you to the perpetrator. The object is to put the clues together, return to the address, and announce the solution. The winner is the first to do so. This is a clever game with some great ideas, and 75 possible scenarios is a good deal at little more than £15.
Pros: Innovative, creative, fun
Cons: Not for younger children
This is one of the most popular games of the moment, and is truly inspired. It was funded via Kickstarter, and ranks as the highest funded such product in its history. Despite the name, it’s a fun game for all the family, and one that involves a good deal of strategy. This very clever game is played using cards, and the cards are used to keep the player from drawing an exploding kitten! If that happens, you are out of the game, and there are various ways to use cards to avoid the dreaded exploding kitten.
Described as a game for ‘people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats’, Exploding Kittens is unlike any other board game, and while there is a degree of chance, it is a game of some skill. You can avoid the exploding kittens by using a get out card which may be a laser beam or even a belly rub! There are few more innovative and original games on the market now, and we can’t recommend this one highly enough for family fun. You can play with up to five people, and expand it to nine by purchasing a second pack. At around £20, we think it’s good value for a lot of fun.
Pros: Highly original, great fun for all the family
Cons: None, unless you’re a kitten
This is the game that, when first released, took the US market by storm. It is another card game, and one that is designed for play by adults. Like the above, it was – partly – funded by a Kickstarter campaign, and this exclusively UK version is great fun for parties. The game has a reputation for being somewhat risqué, so if you’re averse to a little rudeness and controversy, it might not be for you. However, it is a simple concept, and one designed not to play as competition, but as a fun and amusing icebreaker.
What’s the concept? You get a set of cards – 90 black cards, and 460 white cards. The black cards contain a statement with a word missing; it can be part of a nursery rhyme, a song, or anything. The white cards, dealt to players, contain a single statement that, when put in the blank, can be amusing. The idea is to come up with the most amusing combination. The only downside is that, once you’ve played all 90 black cards, there’s not a lot of scope for reply, but it is worth checking out. At £25 it’s a little pricey, but it is high quality and great for parties.
Pros: Fun, innovative, intelligent
Cons: For adults, price
This is a perfect game for families, and involves an interesting amount of strategy. Labyrinth is played on a specially created board, with cards that determine the objections of each player, and the object of the game is to travel through the labyrinth and retrieve your magic object. The innovation is that the labyrinth changes shape thanks to players using their allotted cards to build walls; this means the shape of the maze is constantly changing, so you can block the path of other players trying to reach their goal.
The game is for play by two to four players, aged seven and upwards so it’s great for children, and it can be played over and over again as nothing is effectively changed. The great thing is there will never be two identical mazes, so each game is unique. It’s sensibly priced, to, at around £15, and will keep youngsters occupied and interested thanks to its fantasy theme, so one for the shortlist if you have little ones to keep entertained!
Pros: Fun, interesting, fantasy theme
Cons: None that we can see
This is a game with a difference, and it’s important we stress that it is strictly for adults only. Speak Out is not a game in the traditional sense, but one that is designed to induce fun and merriment at parties and gatherings. The concept is highly original, and it does provide some very funny moments. Players are issued with a mouthpiece – it’s put in the mouth for your turn and stops the mouth from being able to close – and cards with phrases on them. The idea is for the player to say the phrase while the mouthpiece is in place.
The result is a very strange sounding phrase! There are five mouthpieces, so five people can play at once, and you get 200 double-sided cards so you have plenty of phrases to play with, so you can play over and over again and have plenty of fun. The downside, from our point of view, is that people may be concerned about hygiene; we wouldn’t want to use a mouthpiece that had already been used, unless we could be certain it had been properly cleaned. Nevertheless, a fun game if you’re up for it, and not expensive at under £15.
Pros: Fun, different
Cons: Hygiene concerns
This is a game of skill and deduction, and is one of the best value in this review in terms of game play for your money. Codenames is a spy game with a difference. It uses a series of cards, which are codenames of 25 spies. Two of the players are spymasters, and they pick at random a key that shows the names of the spies. The other players – it works best with four – are given clues by the spymasters as to the names of the spies, and the idea is to work out their real names. Whoever gets the names first is the winner.
It’s an interesting game, and makes for a great deal of fun when played with more people for better discussion, and one that, at less than £15, is not expensive. It’s best played with adults, and makes a great icebreaker as game play may not be too long. We did feel that it is rather limited – once you’ve played it, you’ve played it – but when played in different company could be fun. Not a bad game, then, but not the best.
Pros: Quick, fun, encourages discussion
Cons: Lack of variety
This is a great game with potentially endless possibilities, and is excellent for family fun. It is a mix of games brought together in one package, and is also portable and innovative. Randomise involves participants – it doesn’t matter how many as it can be played by any number – acting, drawing or describing a random combination of phrases, which are drawn from a set of cards. These are no larger than standard playing cards, so you can fit this in your pocket and take it to the pub or to a party. The fun is in the rendition, and acting a giraffe playing a guitar, for example, is not as easy as you may think!
This is another game that was funded by Kickstarter, and it is a very popular one with children and adults alike, and at around £12 it is good value. The makers claim there are more than a million possible combinations of words and phrases that can be randomly drawn, so you can play again and again with little risk of repetition. It’s the sort of game that even those who don’t like games will be happy joining in with, so it goes on the shortlist.
Pros: Cheap, portable, fun for all the family
Cons: None that we can see
This is another game of deduction, and one with a difference. The goal of Concept is to guess the word your opponent has on his randomly selected card, and he gives you clues in the form of icons. There are a great deal of available icons that can be placed on the board as clues, so you get a wide variety of game play from this innovative and original game. The cards can contain simple words for identification or more complex phrases, or perhaps the name of an actor or musician to make things harder still.
This is an easy game to play and will result in a great deal of fun for all the family, and it’s entirely suitable for the younger ones. As there are many phrases – in fact, you can even make up your own – you can play this over and over again and avoid repetition, so we think it is a great choice for those afternoons where there is nothing on the TV and you are looking for fun. It could even be a great icebreaker at a party or gathering, but the downside is it is one of the most expensive games here at around £25. Still, one to consider.
Pros: Fun, different, variety
Cons: The price
This is a fun family game with an interesting concept, and relies on quick thinking and a fast response. The idea is actually very simple, but surprisingly original: the game contains a board on which there are certain danger areas, and a load of question cards that each player has to respond to. Each card has a question beginning with ‘Name 3…’ – it could be anything and most are daily objects – and once the question has been asked, the timer is activated. The player has five seconds to respond with three relevant – or not as it may be – answers!
The fun lies in the answers usually being wrong or ridiculous, thanks to the time constraint, and we reckon this may be a great one for playing as a drinking game at parties (by adults only, of course). As it is, it is great for all the family, and offers a chance to have some great fun and interesting results along the way. You can find this game for around £12 which we reckon is very reasonable indeed, and we can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t consider this one for plenty of family fun.
Pros: Cheap, great fun, family game
So, there you have it; the ten best board games on the market right now. Let’s have a look at the things you need to look out for.
Important Features to Look For
Each of these board games differs from a traditional board game in many ways; for example, a good number of them are card games, but may also involve a board in the game play. Let’s consider the features you might want to look out for in your choice of board game.
Family Friendly – a few of these games are designed with adults in mind and may, as a result, not be suitable for children. Some are intentionally rude, so make sure you choose one that is suitable for youngsters if you are looking for family fun.
Difficulty – if you are playing with young children than you don’t want a game that is too difficult. Some of these are more complex than others, so pay attention to the recommendations from the manufacturer.
Originality – you want a game that you can play time and time again without becoming bored or exhausting all the possible options, and that applies to some of these games more than it does to others.
Price – these are fairly cheap items, so price is not a major consideration, but still, you don’t want to be paying a load of money for a game that you will only play once.
Parties – if you are looking for games for playing at parties, perhaps as a handy icebreaker, there are some here that are perfect for the job, and that are also surprisingly portable.
Those are some of the features to look out for, and we help this review has given you some ideas as to what you want, so all that remains now is to wrap things up.
Let’s Wrap It Up!
As we said at the beginning, board games have made a surprising comeback in the face of competition from some very impressive digital online alternatives, and the above ten give you a good idea of why that is. The list includes some very innovative games – Cards Against Humanity, for example, as well as Randomise – and all offer their own version of fun for adults and children.
Which would we choose as our recommendation? It is, as always, difficult to single just one game out of these ten, but for sheer innovation, irreverent fun and also a degree of skill, the delightful and hugely innovative Exploding Kittens has to come close. So, off you go and buy your chosen board game, and enjoy hours of fun with actual, real people, just like you used to!