The 21 Best Board and Card Games for Adults to Play ASAP
Ever feel like kids get all the fun games? We’re here to prove that wrong. This list goes to show that adults get to have some of the fun, too. The 22 board games that follow are great for parties and small get-togethers, and there are even a few meant for just two players. Some of these lighthearted games, like Cards Against Humanity and Joking Hazard, have a tendency to get a little scandalous, making them perfect for grown-up game nights. Some of these games require a little imagination as you are whisked off to a fictional land. (Anyone care to go to King’s Landing?) And some of these games require peace and quiet and strategic thinking. We’re looking at you, Stratego. Find your favorite game, break out a yummy snack mix, and get ready to have some fun.
1. Apples to Apples
Get as outrageous as you want with a rowdy adults-only game of Apples to Apples. The highly entertaining card game features 500 apple cards—red apple cards have nouns on them and green apple cards have adjectives. Each round, a new player gets to be the judge and selects a green apple card. Fellow players then peruse the red apple cards in their hands for the word they think works best with that adjective. It could be an accurate match, completely random, or hilariously inappropriate, but everyone has to play a red card. After the red apple submissions have been shuffled to reduce any bias on the part of the judge, he or she gets to choose a favorite—will it be yours?
2. Cards Against Humanity
The tagline for Cards Against Humanity is “a party game for horrible people,” which should certainly not dissuade you from playing, but consider it a warning that it’s not a game for those with fair sensibilities (aka perfect for game night). The game consists of a box of black cards, which have open-ended statements or questions on them, and a larger box of white cards, which bear a variety of funny, morbid, and strange words and phrases. The premise is simple. Each round a new player gets to be the judge, who selects a black card. The other players then search through their hand of white cards to find the phrase that they think should complete the statement. Prepare to be appalled and delighted by the combinations that are played.
3. Exploding Kittens
Exploding Kittens is worth playing for the laugh-out-loud instructions and hilariously illustrated cards alone. But the premise of the game is highly entertaining, too. If you’re familiar with the cartoon site The Oatmeal, then you’ll probably want to get your hands on this game ASAP. To play, a stack of game cards—all illustrated by The Oatmeal—is placed facedown on the table. There are 122 cards that dictate various actions or nonactions, and players take turns drawing cards off the top. There’s a good chance you’ll draw a card with a cat on it, or maybe you’ll draw a card that allows you to see into the future of gameplay, but if you draw an exploding kitten, you’re eliminated from the game. The last player remaining is the winner.
Think fast with a game of Scattergories! In this creative list-making game, players are challenged to come up with answers to a list of 12 different categories—things like TV shows, U.S. presidents, vegetables, or types of sandwiches—in a timed round. But there’s a catch: Every word must begin with the same letter. Roll the game’s 20-sided letter die at the start of each round to see which letter it will be. When time is up, players compare their answers. Any duplicates get crossed off the lists, but points are awarded for any unique (and valid!) answers. Technically, each game lasts for just three rounds, but you could add on as many additional rounds as you like, and even make up your own crazy categories.
5. Wits and Wagers
Here’s a question for you: “In feet, what is the highest recorded jump by a dolphin?” Don’t know? That’s the point of the playful trivia game Wits and Wagers. You don’t have to be a trivia buff to win; you just need to place your best guess. In each round, players write down their answers to a trivia question and then place them faceup on a betting mat in the center of the game. The answers, which will always be numbers, are arranged from smallest to largest—and then the betting ensues. Players place their chips on the guess that they think is closest to the correct answer but not higher than (kind of like on The Price is Right). Points are scored for having the correct guess or placing your wager on the closest answer.
6. Say Anything
There’s no such thing as a wrong answer in Say Anything. The name of the game pretty much says it all. This game poses a question and asks players to say, or more specifically write, anything they want as their response. Each round, one player acts as the judge and gets to ask one of the game’s more than 400 open-ended questions to the group. Players write down whatever comes to mind and submit their answers faceup on the table. After the judge has secretly selected the winning response, the players try and guess which one it was. With questions like “What would I want most for my next birthday?” there’s no telling what hilarious answer your friends will come up with.
7. Telestrations After Dark
Telestrations After Dark puts an adults-only spin on an already hilarious party game. Each player starts by drawing their interpretation of one of the words from a game card. Think: hand sanitizer, money shot, and dry rub, and you’ll see how quickly this version can enter into some racy territory. Illustrations are passed to a second player who then tries to decide what was just drawn. This word is passed to yet another player who tries to draw his or her interpretation of the second player’s word. This process continues eight times, after which, to the delight of everyone, the “telephoned” word is read aloud. Chances are, you will be doubled over with laughter. We should add that there is zero artistic ability required to play.
8. The Game of THINGS
In The Game of THINGS, players take turns presenting open-ended statements to the group and writing down the answers. Each of the 300 statements in the game begins with the word “things.” For example, “Things you wouldn’t do for all the money in the world.” Just imagine the wide variety of responses each card will elicit. Each round, a new player reads a card and then everyone writes down the first thing that comes to mind. Answers are submitted to the reader, who shuffles them and reads them aloud. Then see just how well you know each other as you take turns trying to figure out who said what. If you can correctly match someone with their answer, you get one point and that person is eliminated.
9. What Do You Meme?
This is THE game to play with your friend who is constantly blowing up the group chat with hilarious on-point memes. The premise is simple, with similar rules to other popular party games. Each round, one player gets to be the judge who then picks a photo card for the group to caption. The rest of the players choose one of the caption cards from their hands to accompany the photo and attempt to out-meme each other. The judge will select his or her favorite caption. No matter which card wins, everyone is sure to get a kick out of all the cards played. Make it competitive by awarding points for playing a winning caption, or play just for the heck of it.
Monikers: If you’ve ever played the party game Fishbowl, then you’re in for a treat with Monikers. Monikers is basically the fancy, grown-ups only version of the game you’re already familiar with—but it’s already done all the hard work for you. This game comes with 440 cards each with the name of some character, celebrity, or historical figure on it. Some of these names you’ll recognize and others will leave you in the dark. Game play consists of three 60-second rounds that will put your short-term memory to the test, with each round using fewer words to describe your team’s cards. For example, you’ll probably want to remember that “George W. Bush” is one of your cards when a teammate is trying to act it out in round three.
Taboo is the game of forbidden words. In this fast-thinking game, players try to get their teammates to guess the word listed on a game card, but must do so without using any of the “taboo” words also identified on the card. You just might have to get a little creative as you try to describe each particular word. Try and guess as many words as possible in the given time. You’ll score a point for every word guessed, but lose a point any time you say a taboo word. To add to the pressure (and the fun), the opposing team is in charge of enforcing the time limit and pressing a lovely little buzzer anytime you accidentally let one of the taboo words slip (which is bound to happen). The team with the most points wins.
12. Joking Hazard
Delight in the strange, silly, and hilariously inappropriate comic combinations that arise during a game of Joking Hazard. The game, inspired by the Cyanide & Happiness Random Comic Generator, asks players to complete a three-card comic panel. Each round a new player gets to be in charge of setting up two of the three cards by using one card from the draw pile and another card from his or her own hand. The other players submit a card from their hands to complete the comic strip. The judge chooses a favorite card as the winner. But, really, in this game every combination is a winner. The pack contains 360 comic cards which means that you won’t run out of fresh combinations any time soon. If you’re dying for more though, there are a number of expansion packs available.
13. Clue: Game of Thrones Edition
Even if you’ve never watched an episode of Game of Thrones (GOT if you’re feeling hip), you’ll still enjoy this spin on the classic murder mystery game Clue. Unlike the traditional game, this board is double-sided for twice the fun. Have your crew choose whether they’d prefer to play a game in the streets of Meereen or in the Red Keep. Either way, there’s trouble afoot and it’s up to you to find the clues and solve the murder. For an additional twist on gameplay, character cards in this version allow each character one special power to use during the game, and there’s also the chance to land an intrigue card, which will reveal new information about the murder. Be the first player to correctly solve the crime and make everyone else bend the knee.
14. Trivial Pursuit
Baby zebras are born without stripes. True or false? Put your knowledge to the test with the ultimate game of trivia, Trivial Pursuit. Each game contains more than 2,000 trivia questions spanning six different categories—sports & leisure, science & nature, art & culture, geography, entertainment, and history. Each category is identified by a different color. As you move along the game board’s wheel-shape path, different color squares correspond with the different categories of trivia questions you have to answer. Correctly answer the question and you get to go again. Collect a pie-shape game piece when you land on a category hub. Be the first player to make it around the board and collect a piece from each category. You’re likely to pick up a fun new factoid or two along the way.
Go undercover in Codenames and be the first to correctly identify all of your team’s secret agents. Break up into two teams, and have each team choose who gets to be that round’s all-knowing spymaster. The spymasters arrange 25 code name cards into a specific pattern where only they know which cards belong to their team. The spymasters then take turns giving one-word clues to their teammates to try and get them to guess the identity of their field operatives. For instance, two of your team’s cards might be “turkey” and “knife,” so the spymaster gives the clue “Thanksgiving.” But guess carefully, as you risk helping the opposing team by accidentally naming one of their operatives or, even worse, you might guess the assassin who immediately ends the game.
Take a break from real life and enter the fictional world of Catan, where you and your friends get to be the first settlers on a resource-rich island. The award-winning game is made up of 19 hexagonal tiles that allow for a different layout each time. Catan requires some strategic thinking as you expand your settlements and work with your opponents to trade and acquire resources, but beware of the robber who will prevent resources from being produced wherever he lands. Gather victory points as you build roads, new settlements, and cities, and the first player to 10 victory points wins. Catan is not the game to play if you’re pressed for time since a good game of Catan can last an hour or more depending on how many people are playing. (But it’s so worth it.)
Sequence is a game of skill and strategy that is as fun with two players as it is with 12. The premise of this chip and card game is simple: Play a card from your hand and place a chip on the corresponding square. In sequence, each card from two 52-card decks is represented on the game board and players take turns playing a card from their hands and then placing a chip on one of the spaces that matches that card. Five chips of the same color in a line, whether horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, create a sequence. If you want to win, be the first person or team to create two sequences. Think of Sequence as the adult version of Connect Four.
There are a lot of interesting, strange, and unique words in the English language, but never are those words scrutinized quite so much as during a game of Scrabble. Buckle up and grab your dictionaries folks, it’s time to play everyone’s favorite word game. Scrabble consists of 100 wooden letter tiles with different point values assigned to different letters. Analyze all of your tiles to see what word combinations you might be able to create, then race to use all your letters while building the most point-rich words. (Use those 10-point Qs on a triple letter score!) The game ends when the first player uses all of his or her tiles, but that doesn’t guarantee a win. Count up all your points because the player with the highest score takes home the gold.
If you’ve ever wanted to rule the world, then grab a couple of friends and sit down for a good old-fashioned game of Risk. In this iconic strategy game, a political map of the world is depicted on the game board, with every continent broken up into territories. Gear up your armies for battle, form alliances, dissolve alliances, and conquer new territories. The idea of the game is to eventually occupy all 42 territories on the board and eliminate the opposing players along the way. Do you have what it takes? We should add a time warning on this one, as a complete game of Risk can last upwards of a few hours, but nobody ever said total world domination would happen quickly.
In this Napoleonic game of strategy perfect for two people, players try to cross enemy lines and capture the opposing army’s flag. Stratego is approachable for kids, but with the levels of strategy involved, it’s enticing even for adults. Each player receives 40 identical pieces to arrange on their playing field as they choose. There are 12 different kinds of pieces, and each plays a different role that needs to be considered during setup. There are bombs to be hidden, spies, scouts, and miners to put to work, military members to maneuver, and of course, amid it all, a flag to keep concealed. Moving forward, backward, or sideways, game pieces make their way into enemy territory for a thrilling battlefield showdown.
Chess is a game fit for two critical thinkers. In the enduring game of strategy, players maneuver 16 different pieces across the board with a goal to checkmate the opposing player’s king. But of course, a game of strategy isn’t that easy. Of your sixteen game pieces, there are six different kinds (king, queen, bishop, knight, pawn, and rook), and each kind is allowed to move across the board in different ways. If you’re a newbie, it can be a lot of things to keep straight at once, but don’t fret, once you have a few games under your belt, you’ll love the challenge each round of Chess brings. Our best piece of advice: Be sure to study the entire board carefully before making a major move.