The Best UK Board Games: Top Titles You Should Play in 2020

Board games are a mainstay of every family gathering and for a good reason. They’re easy to play and don’t require electricity. It also gives you plenty of social interaction – something that’s becoming increasingly rare with more and more people being glued to their smartphones all the time.

However, don’t just bring out your copy of Monopoly or Risk on your next game night. There are plenty, plenty, of better board games out there, for every age, preference, and skill level imaginable. Honestly, you’ll be surprised by the variety.

To help you out, here are some of the best UK board games you need to play on your next game night, based on our own experiences playing them with our gaming group.

The Best UK Board Games for Casual Players

Ticket to Ride

  • Number of Players: 5
  • Average Game Time: 30 – 60 mins.
  • Game Mechanic: route building

If you have a person who swears by and only plays Monopoly, give them this game. There’s a reason why Ticket to Ride is often everyone’s first break into board games – it’s the surest way to convert anyone into the hobby.

In Ticket to Ride, you’re tasked with establishing train routes between cities. You do this by drawing and completing train cards of the same colour, allowing you to lay miniature train meeples to mark your claim. Points are scored based on routes you complete, plus a bonus score if you establish the secret route that you receive at the beginning of the game.

Ticket to Ride is easy to learn and teach and has elements of Monopoly that will be instantly familiar to anyone. But what sets this train-based game apart is the strategic depth it requires, with a smattering of hidden agendas thrown in for good measure. It can be a frantic race to finish a route (or scramble to find an alternative) if you see someone else finish it ahead of you!

Overall, no one can call themselves a board gamer without having Ticket to Ride in their collection. If you get bored with the base game, there are numerous other expansions you can try out, including a UK edition.

Catan

  • Number of Players: 3 – 4
  • Average Game Time: 60 mins.
  • Game Mechanic: trading, resource management

The other game people say is their first introduction into proper board games is Catan. It’s one of the world’s most celebrated board games and has quickly become a worldwide hit.

The premise of Catan is simple enough. You represent a group of settlers on the island of Catan, and you must help settle it by creating roads, cities and towns. To achieve this lofty goal, you have to gather resources like wood, wheat, and sheep. These are the raw materials that are necessary to build your burgeoning empire.

However, unlike Monopoly, you can’t just throw money at the problem and buy everything wantonly. The catch with Catan is that you often don’t have all the resources you need to build stuff, so you’ll inevitably need to trade with other players. This trading mechanic is what sets Catan apart, and is where the fun and tension is.

Aside from this, the appeal of Catan is in the simple gameplay that has surprising depth into it. While luck does play a part (since you need to roll a dice), negotiation and strategic placement of your next settlement factors in even more. Add in the social element, and it’s easy to see why Catan is a classic.

Splendor

  • Number of Players: 2 – 4
  • Average Game Time: 30 – 45 mins.
  • Game Mechanic: set collection, card development

Splendor is one of those games that’s elegant in terms of simplicity, yet packs a strategic punch. In this game, you find yourself as a Renaissance jewellery merchant trying to best the other merchant players by earning the most prestige and attracting the attention of prominent nobles. You do this by collecting resources such as mines, transportation lines, skilled artisans.

When we said the game is simple, we mean it. Every turn, you only have a choice of three actions – get coins (to buy cards), buy a card, or reserve a card. Cards give a particular discount, so it will be cheaper to buy subsequent cards.

The fun of Splendor lies in figuring out how to race everyone into completing the sets that will net you big points. It’s also easy to learn, fun to play, and strategically satisfying if you win. It even has enough depth to be played in big tournaments. If you haven’t played this one yet, do yourself a favour and get it right away.

Pandemic

  • Number of Players: 2 – 4
  • Average Game Time: 30 – 60 mins.
  • Game Mechanic: cooperative

If you want to feel how it is to be in the frontlines of battling a deadly outbreak, Pandemic is the game for you. This cooperative game pits you against four deadly viruses that are spreading quickly across the globe. You and your team must work together to contain it while racing against time to find a cure and win the game.

Alas, things aren’t that simple, as the diseases evolve and spread in new and unpredictable ways. Hence, the rest of the game becomes a tension-filled, frantic race. To win, you and your team must coordinate your actions and prepare yourself for any possible outcome. You’ll also often find yourself trying to put out multiple fires, so it becomes a difficult choice of which problem to tackle first.

We love Pandemic because it’s a thrilling game, and having to work with other players instead of against them is a refreshing change of pace. You can also change the difficulty level of every game, so there’s plenty of replayability there.

Exploding Kittens

  • Number of Players: 2 – 5
  • Average Game Time: 15 – 30 minutes
  • Game Mechanic: push your luck

Exploding Kittens is a card game that simulates the feeling of playing Russian Roulette – with all the thrills and (fortunately) none of the danger.

The rules are simple. Each turn, you draw a card. If you get the exploding kitten card, you’re eliminated from the game. The whole gameplay of Exploding Kittens is all about avoiding the exploding kitten in various creative ways. From changing the order of the deck to forcing other players to draw multiple cards, the game quickly turns into a hilarious game of pass the grenade.

The best thing about Exploding Kittens is how approachable it is. The rules are so simple you can teach a kid to play it in 5 minutes or less. At its core, it’s similar to Uno with just some added features. Each game takes roughly 15 minutes to play, and because it’s a card game, you can take and play it anywhere you have spare time.

If you’re looking for a quick, casual game, Exploding Kittens has our vote.

The Best UK Board Games for Parties and Big Groups

Cranium

  • Number of Players: 2-4 teams of at least two players per team
  • Average Game Time: 60 minutes
  • Game Mechanic: charades, wordplay

Cranium is all your favourite party games all rolled into one fun package. Each team races to be the first to reach the finish line by having their fellow teammates guess the correct answer. Clues are given in a variety of (often hilarious) ways, such as sketching, sculpting with clay, humming a tune, or acting out something ala charades.

The appeal of Cranium is that it’s a collection of different activities, so there’s never a dull moment. It also touches on various skillsets and knowledge, so it requires a well-rounded team or person to win.

The gameplay of Cranium is simple but brilliant, and the entertainment value is top-notch. Anyone can participate in a game, but we find it works well for ages 12 and above, as some of the clues require humming an 80’s or 90’s song.

If you’re looking for lots of laughs on your next family gathering, get this one ASAP. We assure you, you won’t regret it!

Secret Hitler

  • Number of Players: 5 – 10
  • Average Game Time: 60 minutes
  • Game Mechanic: social deduction

Social deduction games are the mainstay of most large game night groups, with games like Avalon or Resistance. But a personal favourite is the insanely clever hidden role game, Secret Hitler.

In Secret Hitler, you belong to either the Fascist or Liberal party. In addition, one person is secretly designted as Hitler. To win, the Fascist must try to elect Hitler as Chancellor, while the Liberals’ goal is to prevent that from happening.

The twist is that no one knows who the Liberals and the Fascists are, except for the Fascists who secretly know each other beforehand. Of course, everyone will claim to be Liberals, so the Fascists will need to be as sneaky as they can to achieve their objectives. It’s a game of treachery, blatant accusations, bluffing, negotiating, and scheming – all rolled into one ludicrously fun package.

Secret Hitler introduces the kind of fun that has to be played to be experienced. Be careful that it doesn’t ruin your friendship too much, though!

Sushi Go Party

  • Number of Players: 2 – 8
  • Average Game Time: 45 – 60 minutes
  • Game Mechanic: drafting

Sushi Go Party is a frantic, pass-the-card drafting game where you attempt to complete sets of sushi, drinks, and dessert based on a predetermined menu.

Every turn you pass your hand to either your right or left, pick a card to play, then pass it again. You score points by completing certain sets, with some combinations being harder to complete than orders (and therefore give you bigger points)

The tension in Sushi Go Party comes in the crucial, split-second decisions that you need to make. Should you take that salmon nigiri card to score a point? Or wait for the tempura to possibly score bigger? But if that tempura card that doesn’t show up, then you’ve essentially scored nothing.

Very often, other players will take cards that you need and screw your meticulously laid-out plans, so on-the-go course correction is key in winning. Overall, Sushi Go Party is a simple party game but offers surprising depth and complexity.

Telestrations

  • Number of Players: 4 – 8
  • Average Game Time: 30 – 45 minutes
  • Game Mechanic: pass the message

You don’t always play a board game to win. Sometimes, you do it just for the pure laughing factor. Such is the case with Telestrations, a hilarious game of pass the message that’s guaranteed to liven up any party.

In Telestrations, each player is given a sketchpad. At the beginning of the game, you each draw cards that tell you the word that other players will need to guess. You then sketch this word, flip on the next page, then pass it to the next player. That player, in turn, will need to guess what you drew without looking at the original word. He or she will then pass the sketchpad again and have the next player sketch based on the word that they guessed. This continues until you get your own sketchpad back.

Then the laughter begins as everyone takes turns showing their sketchpads and the hilarious, often unpredictable, sketches that come out. There are no winners or losers here. Telestrations really is just for the pure hilarity of it.

We love Telestrations because it’s a versatile activity for any kind of group. It’s also great because there’s no tension of competition involved.

(By the way, if you’re looking for a version that’s geared more for adults, try the raunchier and naughtier After Dark version ).

Codenames

  • Number of Players: 2 – 8
  • Average Game Time: 20 minutes
  • Game Mechanic: word association

Codenames is a cult favourite that’s extremely easy to learn and plays in breezy 20-minute sessions. In this game, two teams must uncover all of their secret agents on the field, without revealing any from the opposing team. The first one to do this wins.

Codenames is set up with a 5 x 5 grid of random one-word cards. One player acts as the spymaster, who has the knowledge of which cards correspond to their secret agents. He will then attempt to guide his teammates by giving a one-word clue, followed by a number that corresponds to how many cards that clue applies to.

For example, the spymaster might say “kitchen 3”, and his or her teammates must find three cards with words that somehow relate to the clue “kitchen”.

If they uncover the right cards, they score points. If they accidentally reveal the opposing team’s cards, the other team scores. Uncover the assassin card, however, and your team immediately loses!

As you can see, it’s not that simple! Codenames is a game that requires creative thinking and maybe a fair degree of psychic powers. It’s fantastic because it’s so easy to set up and quick to learn for anyone.

Once you get bored of the base game, you’ll be glad to know that Codenames has spawned several different editions. Some are simple thematic versions of the base game (like the Disney and Marvel versions), while others add a twist that changes the gameplay completely (like the challenging Codenames Pictures).

The Best UK Dexterity-based Board Games

Rhino Hero

  • Number of Players: 2 – 5
  • Average Game Time: 5 – 10 mins.
  • Game Mechanic: stacking/balancing

Rhino Hero puts a spin on stacking games like Jenga by using cards instead of blocks. As you can imagine, it can make for a bit of a challenge. However, Rhino Hero is surprisingly playable even for very young kids.

The goal of the game is to get rid of your hand, which consists of ceiling and wall cards. On your turn, you need to play a wall card depending on the floor card currently played, and then try to balance it as best you can. Sometimes, you’re required to move the rhino meeple up, which adds the risk of the tower toppling down.

Rhino Hero is a hit with children, simply because it’s so easy to learn. We find that they even have fun even if they lose. Despite being a kid’s game, adults will still find plenty of challenge and thrill with Rhino Hero, enough to warrant a regular playthrough.

Suspend

  • Number of Players: 1 – 4
  • Average Game Time: 5 – 15 mins.
  • Game Mechanic: balancing

Suspend is a new take on a balancing game that introduces its own version of tension and fun.

At the beginning of the game, you’re given a set of wire pieces of varying length, and your goal is to get rid of them. You do this by taking turns balancing them on a vertical pole with a single hook. A dice roll on your turn determines what colour of wire you need to balance.

Suspend is a game that starts calm but quickly escalates into a session that will have everyone at the edge of their seats. The more wires that are suspended, the more creative and dexterous you need to be in order to place your pieces successfully.

This is a game that’s especially great with children, as it teaches them many things like problem solving, motor skills, and hand-eye coordination. But don’t let that fool you, adults, into thinking that this is child’s play. After a few rounds, you’ll realise that Suspend is a challenging game in its own right.

Geistes Blitz

  • Number of Players: 2 – 8
  • Average Game Time: 15 – 30 mins.
  • Game Mechanic: speed/dexterity

Geistes Blitz is a game that will have everyone exercising their brains as well as their quick hands.

In this fast-paced game, a set of coloured items is placed in front of everyone. Cards are then drawn that correspond to either an item or item colour already laid out – except for one. Players must figure out what that is, then be the first to grab that item to score. But be careful! You get a penalty if you get the wrong item.

The gameplay is simple but devilishly tricky. You need to take time to get the right item, but don’t take too long or else someone will beat you to it! It’s fun, simple, and fast-paced fun that’s amazing as a quick icebreaker.

Halli Galli

  • Number of Players: 2 – 6
  • Average Game Time: 15 mins.
  • Game Mechanic: speed/dexterity

Halli Galli is another dexterity game that gives you the experience of playing in a game show.

Here, each player has their own set of cards depicting different kinds of fruit. On their turn, players flip a card one by one. As soon as there are precisely five fruits of the same kind across all cards shown, players must race to be the first to ring the bell in the middle of the table. Whoever does so gets all the cards in the pile. The one who gets the most card at the end of the game wins.

Halli Galli presents the same kind of simple, fast, and frantic fun as Geistes Blitz, but presents a bit of math into the mix – something that stresses most people out! We also love using it to teach counting skills to young kids.

Slide Quest

  • Number of Players: 1 – 4
  • Average Game Time: 15 – 45 mins.
  • Game Mechanic: balancing, cooperative

Slide Quest is a cooperative game that presents a new twist and theme on the old “balancing a marble on a board” game.

Slide Quest plays like a video game where you need to advance through levels that become increasingly difficult. It puts you in the role of a knight, who must go through an obstacle course to defeat the evil forces and save the kingdom. The catch is how you move that knight around –by tilting the board using special levers on each side. There are traps to avoid and bad guys to defeat, so you need to have nimble and dexterous hands to make it through.

The real challenge of Slide Quest, however, is when you play it with two or more people. Each player is assigned a side of the board that they can only control, so sliding the knight around requires near-perfect coordination from all players. It’s deviously difficult and tension-filled in its own way, but extremely rewarding if you manage the more challenging maps

The Best UK Board Games for Two Players

Jaipur

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Average Game Time: 30 mins
  • Game Mechanic: set collection, push your luck

Jaipur is a casual two-player game that seems simple enough on the outside. But once you play it, you’ll appreciate the strategy and tactical depth it offers. Here, you play as the Maharaja’s personal trader, tasked with growing his fortune by getting goods at the market and selling them for profit.

In game terms, you need to score as many points as possible by collecting cards of the same colour, which can be traded as tokens. Tokens are stacked and valued in descending order – meaning the first person to complete a particular set will get tokens with higher points. Some sets also have tokens with a higher value.

This simple rule forms the decision making of the game. Do you trade your cards now, or wait for a bigger set for a potentially bigger payout? However, if you wait too long, you risk your opponent getting the bonuses, leaving you with nothing.

The beauty of Jaipur is that it creates so much tension and strategic opportunity in a span of just a few cards. It also has a certain “push your luck” element that’s pretty exciting. All of these make Jaipur simple to play and instantly replayable.

7 Wonders Duel

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Average Game Time: 30 mins
  • Game Mechanic: drafting, engine building

7 Wonders Duel is the compact, two-player version of one of the most well-known strategy board games ever. In this game, you play as leaders of an ancient city, tasked with leading it to greatness. You can expand your military, develop infrastructure, and of course, build Wonders – all while keeping an eye on what your opponent is doing. It does a good job of giving you the same decisions any world leader encounters daily.

The great thing about 7 Wonders Duel is that it gives you more than one way to win, depending on your strategy and play style. You can focus on city-building and amass the most victory points, or you can be the most scientifically advanced civilisation. Of course, you can simply invade your rival’s capital if you’re the warmongering type. Balance is the key to this game, lest your opponent finds a weakness and exploits it.

7 Wonders Duel introduces a card drafting mechanic, which adds a different strategic flavour even if you’ve already played the other 7 Wonders titles. It also ensures that you won’t play the same game twice.

Overall, Duel is the game for you if you want the satisfaction of epic games in a card game that can be played anywhere and in just 30 minutes.

Patchwork

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Average Game Time: 15 minutes
  • Game Mechanic: pattern making

Patchwork presents a unique theme – that of quilting! In this game, two players compete to create the most beautiful patchwork quilt on a game. They do this on their personal 9×9 board grid where they can layout pieces to complete their pattern and score points.

Pieces are collected from a common pile. The problem is that these come in all shapes and sizes, and is often not what you need. The result is an experience akin to Tetris – making the most of the pieces you’re given and trying your best to fit them to your masterpiece.

This game is a fantastic strategy game fitted into an easy to learn, 15-minute game. This ensures the game’s pace is breezy and tight, without dragging on unnecessarily. We find that couples especially take to this game, as it offers plenty of competition more subtly.

Patchwork is the perfect game for whiling away an afternoon with your partner over a cup of tea.

Star Realms

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Average Game Time: 20 minutes
  • Game Mechanic: deck building

Collectable card games like Magic: The Gathering were always one of the best two-player games we’ve played. However, these require a time and money commitment to building the best deck possible. What if you want to just jump in? Enter Star Realms.

Star Realms is a fast-paced deck-building game that plays in breezy 20-minute sessions. Here, your deck represents your military might, which you build up over the course of the game to defeat your opponent.

What we love about Star Realms is that it’s all about fairness. In other collectable card games, you can often be thwarted by your opponent simply because he was able to buy better cards than you. In Star Realms, you both start with the same decks, and how it progresses depends solely on how you build it.

Overall, Star Realms is a fantastic game to introduce someone to the world of collectable card games. It’s fun, compact, and fast-paced. Plus, it’s straightforward to learn.

Twilight Struggle

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Average Game Time: 3 hours
  • Game Mechanic: area control

Twilight Struggle is a universally acclaimed title often near the top of many gamers’ lists of amazing two-player games. The historical game places you right in the middle of the Cold War, the decades-long struggle between the US and the Soviet Union. Strategy, politics, subterfuge, espionage – this game has it all.

Unlike other two-player games on this list, however, Twilight Struggle requires a considerable time commitment. Every game takes an average of three hours to complete. This complexity and long game time might turn off some people. However, it’s a super rewarding game experience once you’ve gone past that hurdle.

Twilight Struggle is all about strategy and leaves nothing to chance. The gameplay is perfectly balanced, and every card the game presents to you is exciting and unique. Despite requiring hours to play, you actually can’t wait to play another game, thanks to the strategic depth and freedom you get while playing. What would’ve happened if you went in a completely different direction?

Twilight Struggle is a game that’s a worthy addition to any board game collection. Now, the challenge is to find someone you can play with for three hours!

The Best UK Board Games for Serious Gamers

Scythe

  • Number of Players: 1 – 5
  • Average Game Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Game Mechanic: resource management, engine building

Scythe is a board game built to a grand scale. From the moment you open the hefty box filled to the brim with parts and components, you know you’re in for a treat. The production value here is top-notch, with beautifully crafted pieces that perfectly complements the atmosphere the game is trying to build.

And that’s a good thing because Scythe is meant to be immersive. The game is set in an alternate version of 1920s Europe. You play as one of five factions, each vying for control of the rich land surrounding the capitalistic city-state known as The Factory.

To win in Scythe, you need to gather resources with villagers to build your war machine, activate monstrous mechs, and conquer territory. The game is a blend of resource management, engine building, and a little bit of diplomacy thrown in.

We like Scythe because it involves deep strategy and master planning more than chance. There’s no unlucky card draw or dice roll to blame here – every outcome is solely from the decisions that you make. While it takes a lengthy 2 hours to play, the gameplay is brisk enough that it never fees that way.

Scythe is a unique experience altogether. If you take the time to learn it, it will reward you with fantastic, immersive gameplay.

A Game of Thrones

  • Number of Players: 3 – 6
  • Average Game Time: 3 hours
  • Game Mechanic: area control

A Game of Thrones is based on the George R. R. Martin novel of the same name. It allows you to experience the politics and treachery that every fan of the hit HBO series should be familiar with.

In this game, you play one of the great houses of Westeros vying for control of the Iron Throne. To achieve victory in this game, you need to conquer and control the most number of castles or strongholds at the end of ten rounds. Players do this with military might, complete with gorgeous footmen and siege engine pieces.

This is a game of battlefield tactics and war strategy, blended in with a little diplomacy and bluffing. It might seem intimidating to learn because of the deep rulesets and detailed pieces. However, it’s surprisingly easy to pick up once you’ve played a few rounds. Despite this, it offers plenty of complexity and depth for advanced players to master.

Most of all, the appeal of the game comes with reliving your favourite Game of Thrones characters, whether you’ve read the books or just watched the show. It does a great job of putting you in the hot seat to see if you can fare better in taking the Iron Throne than your fictional counterparts.

Grand Austria Hotel

  • Number of Players: 2 – 4
  • Average Game Time: 1 – 2 hours
  • Game Mechanic: dice drafting, engine building

The Grand Austria Hotel is a Euro-style game in every sense of the word. Here, you play the role of a budding hotel in 20th century Vienna, vying to become the next great Austrian hotel sensation. To do this, you must attract your clientele with fabulous food, impeccable service, and a five-star experience.

This game replicates the stresses, joy, and fulfilment of managing a hotel empire correctly. The game mechanic uses dice drafting to determine the actions that you can take, be it hiring staff or building new rooms in your hotel. To score points, you need to attract the right customers and satisfy their needs.

The Grand Austria Hotel is all about spatial thinking and planning ahead. You need to be tactical to get the right guests in the right order, in order to score points. The game can be complicated and might drag on (especially when playing with four players), but it’s still a rewarding and fun gaming experience.

Dead of Winter

  • Number of Players: 2 – 5
  • Average Game Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Game Mechanic: cooperative, social deduction

Dead of Winter pits you against fellow survivors right in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. It’s a cooperative game of sorts – until it isn’t. That because the twist is that one player is secretly a traitor who wants the group to fail. Plus, every player also has their own hidden agendas that they need to fulfil if they want to win personally.

That pretty much sums up the tension that Dead of Winter presents to you.

During your turn, you’re given a limited set of actions to perform anything from gathering supplies to defending your outpost from the hordes of zombies that want to get you. Everything is towards helping everyone survive – and of course, uncovering the dirty traitor before he or she does any damage.

And then there are the Crossroad cards that add flavour to the gameplay. These are events players encounter along the way that will sometimes test their moral compass. Will you stop and help the group of survivors or leave them? Worse, will you steal from them when the opportunity presents itself?

It’s this fun, thrilling, and sometimes devious gameplay that makes each Dead of Winter session genuinely unforgettable.

Things to Consider When Buying the Best UK Board Games

Buying board games is much like choosing where to eat or which movie to watch – that is to say, it’s highly subjective. After all, everyone has their idea of fun. So when tasked with buying a game for your next family get together, how do you go about getting one?

There are two ways to approach this. One, you can buy according to the type of players you’ll be playing with. The other is buying by genre if your group is already into one type of game mechanic.

Type of Players or Group You’re Playing With

This is the simplest way to pick which board game to buy for your group if you have no idea what they like. For example, games that are aimed at casual or younger players will have easier rulesets and gameplay mechanics, compared to those designed for gamers and enthusiasts.

Here are a few categories you can consider:

Casual or Family Games

Casual games are great for people whose board game experience is limited to Monopoly and Sorry. They have straightforward rules that are easy to learn and teach, and anyone from a young kid to your grandma should pick it up quite quickly.

However, unlike Monopoly, an excellent casual game has a great strategic depth that makes it attractive even to advanced players. Replayability is another good quality of a casual board game.

Party Games

Most board games are designed to be played by four people on average. So what happens if the entire gang comes in? Grab a party game off the shelf, of course!

Good party games are designed for a lot of people – we’re talking about eight or more players here. Some can even accommodate dozens and dozens of people playing simultaneously. A common and popular theme with party games is social deduction, where players are required to bluff and lie to win the game.

Serious / Heavy Games

Heavy “gamer” board games are for those who are very serious with the hobby. They feature complicated rules, deep mechanics, and gameplay that lasts an average of two hours or more.

The average person tends to shy away from these types of games because they can be overly complex and take a long time to play. There’s also the misconception that they’re boring.

However, if you manage the steep learning curve, heavy games are some of the most immersive experiences you’ll ever get playing a tabletop game. They require strategic thinking and long-term planning that feels utterly satisfying when you pull them off.

Genre or Game Mechanics

If you’ve already played a board game or two, you might already be familiar with a few game mechanics. The mechanic is the general theme or gameplay style of a particular game; the system on which players need to follow to win. Games can have more than one type of game mechanic.

What you need to know is that there are tons of board game mechanics out there, too many to fit in this guide. However, I’ll cover some of the more common ones, so you have a place to start:

Tile Placement

Tile placement games involve strategically placing tiles on a board. Scoring depends on how, where, and when you place these tiles. These games are often the featured mechanic in casual games because they’re simple to learn and grasp.

Trading

Trading emphasises on, you guessed it, trading with other players to achieve your own goal. This can be in the form of resources, which is actually a feature of Monopoly that, sadly, not many people do. Playing trading games properly requires negotiation skills and a silver tongue, which can be fun or frustrating depending on your crowd!.

Social Deduction

A mainstay of party board games, social deduction games require you to figure out if a player is an enemy or an ally. You then figure out how you can work together without the opposing team figuring out. This often involves hidden roles, which is known only to that player at the beginning of the game.

As you can imagine, social deduction games require plenty of bluffing and cunning, which is much fun in large groups.

Cooperative

Not all games are all about competing with each other. Sometimes, it’s a nice change of pace actually to work with other players to win the game. In cooperative games, it’s everyone else against the game itself.

We especially love to slot in a cooperative game in between competitive games, as breathing room if things start to heat up!

Area Control

Area control games require that you control the most significant area of the board game map, or at least a sizable portion of it, to win the game. The classic war game Risk is the best example of an area control game.

Due to its nature, most area control games are military-themed and involve moving armies around. They require more strategy than chance, so they’re great for people who want a little more brainpower when playing their games.

Drafting

Drafting games require you to build your deck or tiles by taking turns drawing cards from a common pile. Sometimes, these cards are shown or are passed to players on your left or right, which adds a strategic flavour of its own.

Dexterity and Physical Games

These types of games require physical prowess and hand-eye coordination more than chance or strategic thinking. The most famous example of a dexterity-based game is, of course, Jenga. Sometimes, it requires players to be the first one to grab a card or tile, as in Dutch Blitz.

Dexterity games usually have simple rules and gameplay that make them perfect for younger kids. At the same time, they’re challenging enough for even adults of any age to try.

Pattern Building Games

Pattern building games involve laying out tiles, cards, or coloured gems to form specific patterns to score. If you picture the wildly popular mobile game Candy Crush put into board game form, then you have a good idea of what a pattern building game is. These kinds of games reward meticulous planning and flawless execution, coupled with a little sabotage to foil your opponents’ plans.

Push Your Luck

Push your luck games add some elements of gambling to a board game. In this mechanic, you can take further action to gain potentially more significant rewards, but at the risk of more losses. It’s a thrilling “all-in” game element, particularly for the risk-hungry individual. Famous examples of push your luck games are, of course, casino mainstays like Poker.

Resource Management

Resource management games are best for business-inclined types. Every turn poses the same question: do you spend what you have right now, or save it for a potentially bigger purchase later on? It’s a combination of strategy and luck that’s good for players of any skill level.

Engine Building

Engine building games involve slowly developing a system for generating money, resources, or points for a victory. This “engine” can be anything depending on the game’s theme, from a city or town to an actual machine.

The gameplay of this genre is all about developing your engine, through the use of actions, cards, or dice rolls. Engine building games are fun and super rewarding as you watch your engine develop into a well-oiled machine.