Lighten up family time with 20 board games they’ll be begging to play again

In case you missed it, board games have gotten really good recently. With so much of our lives mediated through screens, it’s refreshing and humanizing to play face-to-face with people. Millions of people have taken the step from the tedious Monopoly and Life of their youth to modern gateway classics such as The Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, or Cards Against Humanity, but where do you go from there?

We’ve hand-picked this list of fantastic games to suit a wide range of players and interests, showing off just a sample of the most fun and interesting games that have been released in the last few years. With the holidays coming up, these might be just the thing you want for bringing together friends and family.

‘Fog of Love’ — 2 players ($50)

best modern board games fog of love

Modern board gaming isn’t just about zombies and elves and space marines. Sure, there’s a ton of that, but every year the range of possible tabletop experiences grows by leaps and bounds. Enter Fog of Love: a romantic comedy board game for two. Both players create their own fictional character and work through one of several scenarios with fixed chapters and randomized scenes, charting the course of their relationship to its happy (or unhappy) ending. It’s an elegant game that strikes an incredible balance between mechanics that create an interesting puzzle to solve while keeping story and character forward, instead of getting lost in abstract min-maxing.

Fog of Love’s genesis speaks worlds about its revolutionary place in the industry Designer Jacob Jaskov played and loved hundreds of board games, but his wife was never interested in any of them. For all the industry’s growth and diversification in the last several decades, games still almost exclusively focus on external conflicts, and never on internal, character-driven stories. Jaskov developed Fog of Love for this uncompromising audience of one, and the result is an exquisitely sharp application of some of modern gaming’s best design practices and ideas, while also totally defying industry convention. Its Walmart-exclusive distribution deal in the US hopefully speaks to a radical diversification of the mainstream board gaming industry in the near future.

Buy it now from:


‘Azul’ — 2-8+ players ($80)

best modern board games azul

Some games are built entirely around a single idea or theme, with every mechanic designed to serve it. For others, a “theme” is just a thin aesthetic veneer over its crunchy, abstract systems. Azul, a game about laying beautiful tiles for the Portuguese royal palace, is squarely the latter. Players compete to build the most complete and aesthetically-pleasing square of colorful tiles. Drafting tiles from a shared pool, combined with rules for how to lay them or save them for future rounds, makes for a satisfying puzzle that’s easy to learn, but hard to master and plays well (and differently) at its full range of two to four players in just about half an hour.

When building a game collection, it’s important to have a range of weights and interaction-styles. Azul is a fantastic “opener” for a game night, since it plays quickly and provides a constant stream of interesting decisions without ever overwhelming players into “analysis paralysis.” It also features a pleasant level of passive-aggressive interaction (through denying tiles to other players), making it important to keep up with what your friends are doing without ever putting you into direct clashes, which can be the perfect, congenial tone that some people like to set for an evening of laughter and conversation around the table, with games as the excuse to get there.

Buy it now from:


‘Gloomhaven — 1-4 players ($225)

best modern board games gloomhaven

In Gloomhaven, 2-4 players team up for a co-operative fantasy adventure campaign that spans hundreds of hours, with over a dozen, unique characters to unlock. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a video game, but no, Gloomhaven is the latest massive dungeon crawl board game to blow up on Kickstarter. Players assume the role of wandering adventurers in a persistent world full of treasure to find, monsters to hunt, and dungeons to clear, accruing new items and abilities as they go. It’s standard video game fare, but Gloomhaven has set the board gaming world ablaze for how elegantly it distills that experience into an analog format.

Fantasy dungeon crawl is a crowded genre in board games as well as video games. Historically dungeon crawls fall under the “Ameritrash” lineage, with their mechanical excess, focus on simulation, and heavy dose of randomness. This tracks from poorly-aged classics like Hero Quest through to Gloomhaven’s immediate Kickstarter precedent, Kingdom Death: Monster. While similar in the broad strokes as ponderous coffin boxes, laden with ridiculous amounts of monsters and loot, Gloomhaven takes a more restrained and thoughtful approach than KD’s maximalism, with tighter mechanics reminiscent of European-style board games

Buy it now from:


‘Twilight Imperium’ (4th Edition) — 3-6 players ($150)

best modern board games twilight imperium
Fantasy Flight Games

There are big board games, and then there’s Twilight Imperium. Fantasy Flight’s signature strategy game of galactic diplomacy and conquest is famously massive, hosting four to six players in a galaxy that takes up an obscene amount of table square footage, pounds of plastic miniature spaceships, and up to eight whopping hours of play time. Every player assumes the mantle of a unique alien civilization, competing to be top dog in space in the wake of a galactic empire’s collapse. Whether you want to be savvy traders like the Ferengi, haughty imperialists like the Centauri, or a hive mind like the Formics, the expansive mechanics and broadly-sourced archetypes of TI allow for basically whatever flavor of space opera tickles your fancy.

TI’s first edition released in 1997, making it ancient by the standard of contemporary board games. Several iterations have tightened up and streamlined the rule set towards more elegant, Eurogame-style mechanics and a vastly more appealing visual presentation. The 2017 4th Edition incorporates 20 years of player feedback, making a surprisingly smooth and refined version of a game that by all rights should be massively unwieldy. There are myriad, more focused versions of the TI fantasy now available in board and video games (from Eclipse to Stellaris), but nothing quite matches the maximalist grandeur of TI 4th Edition when you want to go all-in on a day of pretending to be on Babylon 5 with your friends.

Buy it now from:


‘Flamme Rouge — 2-4 players ($50)

best modern board games flamme rouge

As the themes and mechanics of modern board games grow increasingly elaborate, sometimes you just want the simple thrill of beating someone to the finish line. Flamme Rouge is a brilliant bicycle racing game that elegantly distills the real-world mechanics of team cycling into a fast, fun, strategic, and family-friendly board game. Each of 2-4 players controls two racers (a “rouleur” and a “sprinteur”), each with a corresponding deck of cards with the numbers 2-9 (the rouleur has an even spread of 3-7 while the sprinteur has a more boom-or-bust deck with twos and nines in the mix). Every turn each player draws four cards from each deck and chooses one for each of their riders to determine how far they move down the two-lane, modular track. Drafting and exhaustion mechanics encourage you to stay in packs and end with exactly one space (but no more)  between you and the next rider in a rule set that is remarkably easy to teach because of how cleanly it distills real world cycling.

Racing games are as old as board games themselves — Snakes and Ladders traces all the way back to ancient India as a meditation on karma and morality. Note “meditation,” however: the “roll and move” mechanic at the heart of Snakes and Ladders was random and non-interactive by design, but in modern gaming “roll and move” has been relegated to children’s and “Ameritrash” games. Flamme Rouge’s card-driven racing mechanics keep some of that randomness, but temper it in order to put skilled decision-making front and center. As the general complexity of board game rules goes up, Flamme Rouge is an excellent reminder for the value of elegance and simplicity.

Buy it now from:



‘Blockchain gaming’ startup gets $16 million in Series A funding

A gaming startup, Mythical Games, has raised $16 million in Series A funding to work on their concept of blockchain gaming. The aim is for the startup to develop games for the PC, console, and mobile markets.

‘Fortnite’ gifts perfect for the video game fan in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.

‘Fortnite’ named Ultimate Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick awards

This year's Golden Joysticks, the gaming awards handed out by GamesRadar, have been announced and Fortnite has been named the Ultimate Game of the Year. It beat out Red Dead Redemption for best game, but Red Dead was named critics' choice.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Want to gift a Steam game so you can play with a friend? Here's how to do it

The holidays may have passed, but it's always a good time to give the gift of gaming (especially when there's a Steam sale)! Here's our quick guide on how to give a Steam game as a gift.

‘Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers’ to launch next summer with gunblades, Viera

Square Enix revealed that Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers will be released in summer 2019. The third expansion of the MMORPG will include new story content, dungeons, and raids, in addition to gunblades and the Viera.

The Fix PUBG campaign is over: What’s next for ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’?

The PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds development team declared that the Fix PUBG campaign was over. Here are the results of the three-month campaign, as well as the future plans for the multiplayer Battle Royale shooter.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…

Get an Xbox One S or PlayStation 4 for just $200 at GameStop starting Sunday

GameStop is currently running an early Black Friday sale that offers an Xbox One S or a PlayStation 4 slim model for just $200 apiece. Both consoles come with a free game, and other games are also on sale.

Original ‘Diablo’ developer calls out Blizzard for disrespecting its employees

In a Twitch rant, an original creator of Diablo has said that Blizzard is more interested in caring for its shareholders and the elite one percent of the company than looking after its workers.

These are the coolest games you can play on your Google Chrome browser right now

Not only is Google Chrome a fantastic web browser, it's also a versatile gaming platform that you can access from just about anywhere. Here are a few of our favorite titles for the platform.
1 of 4