24 Classic Board Games Everyone Should Own
From family game night to trivia with friends, everyone loves a classic board game.
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Classic board games
Who doesn’t love a classic board game? An old-fashioned night in with friends or family, getting competitive over games that have been popular for decades. These games’ longevity speaks to the level of entertainment they provide. Whether you like to play games for two people or prefer to think ten steps ahead in one of your favorite strategy board games, there’s something for everyone. During the pandemic, online board games have been a lifesaver for virtual game nights. But now that the vaccines are proven safe and are widely available across the country and we can spend time indoors with others again, it’s time to open the classic board game cupboard and plan a game night!
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According to the Hasbro website, Monopoly is the world’s favorite family gaming brand. Brand, because while the original Monopoly game is still going strong, there are now more versions than anyone can count including ones based on Finding Dory, Empire, Disney princesses, and Minions. There are even versions of these classic board games for the horse lover, cat lover, and One Direction and The Walking Dead fans. Plus, you can find electronic and on-the-go versions, and, of course, an app for every device.
We couldn’t talk about classic board games without mentioning Guess Who?. This two-player game started its life in 1979 and has now been updated with character art that fits the 21st century: The original version had only five female characters (out of 24), and no non-white characters at all! This version has 11 female characters and 14 characters of color. Kids love flipping the characters and asking inventive questions to try to guess each other’s mystery character. A classic for a reason.
Rummikub (pronounced “rummy-cube”) is definitely one of the most fun board games for families. Players take turns placing numbered tiles in sequential runs, and groups of the same. Jokers add spice and interest, and the first player to use all their tiles wins! The game is simple enough for kids to get, but engaging enough for adults. If you don’t already have Rummikub in your games cupboard, it’s definitely worth adding to your family game night rotation.
For wordsmiths and puzzle lovers, Scrabble has been one of the go-to classic board games since the 1950s. From 1984 to 1990, a Scrabble-based game show ran on television. And although the classic Scrabble board hasn’t changed much throughout the years, Merriam-Webster’s Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary, which contains over 100,000 usable words, is now in its sixth edition and includes new words like bitcoin, emoji, and facepalm.
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Not much had changed with the look and rules of Sorry! That is, until 2013, when some rules were updated and some changes made. Players now only get three pawns (before they started with four), and two new cards, Fire and Ice, were added. Special editions of this family board game include ones featuring Disney characters, The Simpsons, Pets Behaving Badly, and SpongeBob SquarePants.
Get ready to hit that famous Pop-o-Matic and watch the dice roll. The classic Trouble game has remained pretty much the same since it launched in the 1960s, but recent special editions include Trolls, Star Wars, Marvel’s Avengers, Olaf from Frozen, and a Despicable Me edition. A smaller Grab & Go version means Trouble can follow you wherever you go.
The classic version of this iconic game involves having knowledge of six different categories, including Geography, Entertainment, History, Arts & Literature, Science & Nature, and Sports & Leisure. But as of 2014, there were more than 50 special editions of this classic board game, including everything from Star Wars, a 2000s edition, Baby Boomers, and a junior edition. The 2000s edition includes the categories of Places, Entertainment, Events, The Arts, Science & Tech, and Sports & Hobbies.
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If you love word games, Boggle is the classic board game you need. It’s a fast-paced head-to-head search word game that’s perfect for almost any number of players, including just one. Shake up the letters and spot the most words before the timer runs out to win! Boggle is also available in a “Big Boggle” edition.
Clue is so popular it’s spawned multiple versions, books, and even a cult classic film. To distinguish between all the different versions, the original is always marked “The Classic Mystery Game.” Currently, there is a Star Wars version of Clue that takes place inside of the Empire’s Death Star and players can choose to be Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, R2-D2, or C-3PO. Find the murderer, you can!
Sequence is a classic for a reason. It’s similar to Rummikub in that players are looking to build sequential runs of numbers, and it’s similar to Connect Four in that players are looking to build runs of five in any direction, but it’s no copy. In Sequence, you draw cards and place a chip on the corresponding card on the board, trying to build two runs of five cards: Sequences! The cards on the board match up to two full decks of cards, but they’re not always in sequential order, and you can build in any direction. Additionally, drawing jacks adds intrigue: One-eyed jacks remove your opponent’s chips from the board, foiling them at the last minute, while two-eyed jacks are wild, replacing any card you’re missing to win that Sequence.
Didn’t everyone own this one growing up? Candy Land requires zero strategy, unlike some others on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun. In the 1940s during the polio epidemic, Eleanor Abbott, a victim of the disease, wanted to create a game for bed-bound children recovering from the disease. Candy Land was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2005. Current special editions for Candy Land include Disney princesses and Minnie Mouse.
World domination is the goal of this military-themed game. According to About.com, Risk was created by a French film director and first published by Parker Brothers in the United States in 1959. Risk may be the most complicated and strategic of the classic board games listed here, but that hasn’t taken away from its popularity. It’s so popular, in fact, that the classic game has inspired special editions such as several Star Wars versions, Europe, Captain America, and Narnia. There’s even an edition where players can conquer the moon!
Settlers of Catan
This classic settlement board-game-turned-video-game is filled with action and adventure, as each player is on a mission to be the first to settle the uncharted island of Catan. This game originated in Germany and was one of the first German-style board games to be successful outside of Europe. This classic board game intrigues people from all walks of life—it’s fun for the whole family.
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This infamous strategy-heavy board game is perfect for a sibling rivalry. Its roots go back as far as World War I, where it was said to be played by Russian officers with a pen and paper. Milton Bradley ran with the concept, and the familiar Battleship game with plastic boards and pegs made its debut. This game of competition and strategy is perfect for the game night when you want to use some brain cells.
The Game of Life
It’s not possible (yet) to choose our life’s path in advance, and the Game of Life makes the element of chance very clear. Spin the wheel and your future awaits you. Will you get married? Have twins? Go to college? Receive a pension? Who knows, but that’s the fun of it. And it’s hard to have the same path twice, so this is one of the classic board games that’s good for the long haul.
Like charades, but better (especially for lazy game-nighters). This classic drawing game is always good for laughs. When someone gives you the excuse “I’m not good at drawing,” remind them that the worse the drawing is, the bigger the laughs and the more memorable it is. This game can be for kids and adults, as there are plenty of “junior” cards that the kiddos will be able to comprehend. Pictionary is the most fun when it’s played with a big group, so be sure to pull it out at your next dinner party: For vaccinated folks, they’re back!
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This is the perfect board game for people who love wordplay and riddles. Get ready for brainteasers and genius-level challenges. Players need to think outside the box and stretch their critical thinking muscles. There are four different categories to test skills: sequences, odd one out, teasers, and wild cards. The questions span history, geography, science, pop culture, and more! It’s the ideal gift for the brainiac gamer on your list.
The simple concept of lining up four chips in a row proves to be a classic game time and time again. Do you start in the middle, or do you focus on one of the corners? The choice is yours in figuring out a strategy to outwit your competitor.
There’s never been a board game so aptly named—that is, if you like to aggravate your game night opponents with high doses of aggravation! This classic marble and dice game seems random, but it requires intense strategic forethought to avoid getting sent back home before you’re in the safe zone. Perfect for people who can keep their cool while wreaking havoc and winning. And if that’s not your style, this is the perfect classic board game for practicing your patience skills.
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You’re the actual game piece in this classic party game. Better stretch beforehand: Players spin to find out where they’ll put their hands and feet. Contort your body, get closer to friends and family, and best of all, get ready to end up laughing as you all collapse on the floor! You can also play in teams for added competitive fun.
This game was invented in China over 2,500 years ago and people are still playing it! Talk about a classic board game. Two players use black and white “stones” to strategize how to take over territories on the board. The setup is deceptively simple, but it requires abstract thought and intensive strategy. Perfect for competitive types!
Who doesn’t remember taking out the old checkerboard and jumping over various squares to get to the other side? Checkers is one of the world’s oldest games: Greek writers Homer and Plato mentioned this two-player game in their works. Life is full of change, but checkers will apparently always be there.
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How can you mention classic board games without mentioning chess? Another one of the oldest games in the world, according to Britannica, chess appeared around the sixth century AD in India and then spread to other parts of the world including Europe and the Middle East. Even the nobility started playing this “royal game” in the 15th century. Chess has enjoyed a boost lately with the success of the Netflix show The Queen’s Gambit. Why not start reading up on classic defense strategies?
Pass the Pigs
Pass the Pigs is a simple game, but it’s hours and hours of hilarious fun for kids and adults. Gameplay is as follows: Toss two pigs, and score points for the pose they land in. Snouters are good, but Leaning Jowlers are even better! You can keep rolling, but you might lose all your points if you get a Pig Out. The first player to win 100 points wins the game. This game is amazing for little kids and can be played with up to four players. It’s also super-portable, making it perfect for travel. If you’re itching to get outside, check out these backyard games and outdoor games for kids the whole family will love.
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