We live in a golden age of board gaming (and party gaming). If you’ve only played Cluedo and Monopoly, you’re in for a treat: in 2019 this hobby has far more to offer. The best board games are well worth anyone’s time.

In this article we round up the 17 best board games available to humanity, together with vital statistics (time to play, number of players, our difficulty rating) and a link to buy. For the best bargains, read our roundup of the best board game deals.

Expansions

Where relevant we’ve included our picks of the best expansion packs for each board game. Expansions are cheaper than full games and make great presents for loved ones obsessed with one game in particular.

However, we don’t recommend that you buy an expansion until you’re sure you (or they) love the base game, have played it a lot and are reaching the limits of what it has to offer. A good expansion takes a great game and adds more depth, but no good game needs an expansion to ‘complete’ it; some expansions, in fact, will take a streamlined game and bog it down with extra rules.

The best board games

1. Best board game ever: Cosmic Encounter

Cosmic Encounter

2. Best co-operative board game: Pandemic

Pandemic

3. Best simple board game: Carcassonne

Carcassonne

4. Most visually satisfying game: Azul

Azul

5. Best hardcore board game: Power Grid

Power Grid

6. Best quick game: Love Letter

Love Letter

7. Best silly dice game: King of New York

King of New York

8. Best friendly board game: Ticket To Ride Europe

Ticket To Ride Europe

9. Best game for vicious non-violence: Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis

10. Best horror game: Betrayal at House on the Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill

11. Best ‘engine building’ game: Splendor

Splendor

12. Best ‘push your luck’ board game: Celestia

Celestia

13. Best game for whimsical relaxation: Takenoko

Takenoko

14. Best one-versus-all game: Scotland Yard

Scotland Yard

15. Best deck builder: Dominion

Dominion

16. Best resource-management game: Catan

Catan

17. Best tactical action game: Space Hulk

Space Hulk

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