Are You Game?

This is the golden age of board games. Let’s play.

Photos by Adam Ewing

Move over, Monopoly: There’s a new game in town. Board games have busted out of toy stores and are taking over networking groups, man caves, and girls’ nights out. Unlike typical kids’ fair, today’s board games aren’t about luck; instead, they challenge players to think strategically while bidding, building, trading, or even playing against the game itself. They are easy to learn but challenging to master and stand up to repeat play. Grab a game for your next gathering!

Hall of Game

These games consistently top fan favorite lists—and they’re widely available at Target and other retailers. Want more recommendations? Board Game Geek ( is the internet’s home for board game enthusiasts and has plenty of well-curated lists and thoughtful reviews.

Catan — Collect and trade resources to build your own civilization. 3-4 players.

Ticket to Ride — Build train routes to connect cities across America. 2-5 players.

Carcassonne — Lay tiles to build a medieval landscape, claiming towns and connecting roads to score points. 2-5 players.

Codenames — Spymasters give one-word clues to help players identify agents, but most clues have multiple meanings. 2-8 players.

Pandemic — Play as a team to stop the spread of deadly diseases across the world and save humanity. 2-4 players.

Bonus: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes — You have a bomb and your friends have the manual; you have to communicate or explode. This collaborative puzzle-solver is a bit of a cheat, because you need a computer, phone, or gaming console to play, but it’s such a good family or party game that it makes the list.

Game Stats

27 million — Copies of Catan sold since it was introduced in 1995; it’s available in 39 languages.

80 hours — Length of the longest continuous marathon playing a board game, in the Netherlands in 2017 (Guinness World Records).

70,000 — Tickets sold for GenCon, the tabletop gaming convention held in Indianapolis, in 2019. 

3,100 BC — Year the world’s oldest board game, Senet, was invented in Egypt.

1957 — Risk, the global war game, was invented by French film director Albert Lamorisse.

3,000+ — New board games introduced in 2018

5,000 — Board game cafés opened in the U.S. in 2016.

$165 million — Amount of money raised on Kickstarter by tabletop games in 2018.

$10 billion — Estimated value of the global board game industry. (Video game sales? $43 billion in 2018.)

This article originally appeared in our December 2019 issue. For more on board games, click here. For a game night menu, click here.

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