Toy Corner

Curating Your Game Night: The Best Board Games for Adults 2024

May 06, 2024

best adult board games

Nowadays we entertain ourselves with either our smartphones or playing computer games. Have you ever looked at trying to find another way to spend your free time? Maybe find a different way to connect with your friends and loved ones. For most of my pastime since lockdown, I have been spending it playing board games and it has brought back a lot of nostalgic memories.

The Rising Popularity of Board Games for Adults

Board games are no longer confined to kids' corners or nostalgic recollections. They've hit the adult world with a bang, proving to be enjoyable and engaging pastimes. The global board game market is now a whopping $10 billion industry that's projected to grow 7-11% in the next 5 years. These games now offer deeper strategic depth compared to traditional family games – it's not just Snakes and Ladders anymore!

Adults playing board games are becoming the norm rather than an exception. Believe me, dusting off the best adult board games on a Friday night with a group of my mates has become the highlight of my week! And here are the top 6 board games I believe you should take a look at.

1. Cascadia

Cascadia, a 2021 board game gem, has been making waves in the world of adult gaming. With its focus on challenging players to create a balanced ecosystem, it's clear to see why it's made our list of best board games for adults.

It's often said that Cascade boasts a refreshingly shallow learning curve compared to other games like Wingspan. The gameplay itself is fast and streamlined, making it an ideal pick-n-go for casual game nights. You can feel the balance between crunchy strategic depth and smooth, easy mechanics – hinting at why it's highly regarded in the tile-laying/set collection genre.

While some might find the contrasting terrain types a tad unsightly, many can't resist appreciating the game's stunningly appealing illustrations. What's notable about Cascadia, aside from being visually pleasing, is its level of accessibility. Whether you're a casual weekend warrior or an experienced gaming champ, Cascadia engages all with its simple mechanics and strategic depth.

Indeed, Cascadia presents itself as more than just a contender in the category of best adult board games. As you puzzle together habitats and wildlife in an attempt to create balance, you're also drawn into the strategic elements that make the game both intriguing and enjoyable.

cascadia board game

2. Carcassonne

We've all longed for a game that's simple to pick up but offers layers of strategy, haven't we? That's Carcassonne for you! Easy rules, intuitive gameplay, and believe me - it keeps you coming back for more. Building roads, cities, fields, and monasteries sounds simple, right? But, the choices you make around these can lead to some genuinely mind-bopping decisions.

Carcassonne defeats the stereotype of complex games shying away from beginners. It's brilliant because it caters to everyone. It’s a gateway game for novices - and yet, there's enough strategic nuance, that even a seasoned player like me finds engaging. I've had just as much fun playing Carcassonne with newcomers as with my die-hard gaming buddies.

Appreciating good quality is part of being an adult, isn’t it? You will adore Carcassonne's high-quality components - sturdy tiles and detailed artwork. It significantly elevates the overall game experience, making it quite a spectacle on the gaming table.

Here's a part of Carcassonne that keeps me hooked - no two games are the same! With randomized tile placement and various ways to use your 'meeples', every game has its unique twist and turns.

My favourite aspect of Carcassonne is this perfect balance. You're building your kingdom and at the same time, trying to disturb your opponent's plans. This dynamic interplay of working together but also competing delivers an engaging gameplay experience like no other.

Finally, let's remember that Carcassonne has been around since 2000. It's stood the test of time, and won several awards, including the esteemed Spiel des Jahres in 2001. With multiple expansions and spin-offs, the popularity of this game among the best board games for adults is undisputed.

Carcassonne board game

3. Codenames

Shuffling up to the podium of our best adult board games list is the incredibly admired, Codenames. Plunge into a mind-twisting universe of cryptonyms, spies, and cryptic clues that is set to get everyone present at the edge of their seats.

If you're scouting around for board games for adults that spotlight collaboration and communication, then Codenames is your game. It's a team-based rollercoaster that propels players to join forces, brainstorm together, and build hidden word associations. So, gear up for a high-stakes intellectual face-off that brings out great social interaction among players.

Let's face it, nobody likes a predictable game. That's where Codenames shines. With a random assortment of word cards, its replayability is through the roof. Each game red carpet a unique experience, meaning your gameplay stays fresh, exciting, and unpredictable. No two rounds of Codenames are the same, adding such a delightful element of variability that keeps you coming back for more.

Codenames besiege players with cognitive challenges, calling upon their critical thinking and creativity skills. It appeals to those who relish puzzles and thrive on word-based contests. Hence, if you're seeking board games for adults that tickle your mind, Codenames makes a fantastic choice.

codenames board game

4. 7 Wonders

Continuing our journey into the realm of the best board games for adults, I can't skip mentioning the gem that is 7 Wonders. True to its name, this modern classic is a wonder in itself, creating a spectacle in strategic gameplay and interactive board games.

Few games match the accessibility and engaging gameplay that 7 Wonders offers. Its simple rules make it an inviting option for casual players and beginners. Yet, its strategic depth provides enough allure to captivate the seasoned strategists among us. The card drafting mechanic, where each player chooses and passes cards each round, truly captures the essence of interactive and intuitive gameplay.

Another feather in 7 Wonders' cap is its high degree of replayability and variability. Thanks to its randomized card decks and double-sided wonder boards, no two games are alike. You can count on 7 Wonders for a fresh board game experience every time, with different strategies to employ and wonders to choose from.

7 Wonders provides an evenly balanced game offering multiple pathways to victory. Success could be a result of different card combinations or clever usage of the wonder abilities. The game continually challenges you to adapt strategies based on the cards received and the strategic plays of your opponents. This adjustability only enriches the strategic depth that attracts players in the first place.

The brilliance of 7 Wonders hasn't gone unnoticed. Winning numerous prestigious awards, including the Kennerspiel des Jahres (Connoisseur's Game of the Year) in 2011, 7 Wonders enjoys widespread critical acclaim.

7 wonders board game

5. Wingspan

Next up on our list of best board games for adults comes "Wingspan". One thing I appreciate about Wingspan is its engaging gameplay that is easy to learn yet filled with strategic depth. Think about it, how many games can you say are both relaxing and award-winning? Here, you're extending your habitats by playing bird cards, a core loop that's satisfying, engaging and keeps you hooked.

Wingspan might be one of the most replayable games on this list. It features a large number of unique bird cards, bonus cards, and scoring options. This guarantees every game plays out differently - the birds you'll draft are never the same, making you adapt your strategies and keep things fresh.

Let's talk about aesthetics. The cards, the artwork, the components – they're top-notch in Wingspan. The illustrations by Natalia Rojas and Ana María Martínez Jaramillo are breathtaking. You might find yourself playing this game just for the visual appeal, honestly!

Wingspan is also great for different player counts, it does not matter whether you play the minimum required players of 2 or the max of 5 players, the game is just as engaging and as fun.

Wingspan isn't just loved by players. It's highly regarded in the board game community and has clutched several prestigious awards, including the 2019 Kennerspiel des Jahres. That's practically a stamp of quality right there. It's truly remarkable seeing players from Reddit to BoardGameGeek call this the "best adult board game".

Wingspan has become a modern classic in the board game genre, thanks to its balance of engaging gameplay, excellent quality, replayability, versatility, and well-deserved acclaim.

wingspan board game

6. Exploding Kittens: NSFW Edition

Coming in at number 6 is the NSFW Edition of Exploding Kittens. Originally funded through a Kickstarter in 2015, Exploding Kittens became a huge hit and widely known as the go-to party game. With the huge success from the original, the founders created an NSFW version, especially for adults. These cards were labelled as too "horrible" for children but have provided a lot of laughs on my game nights.

The game is still for 2-5 players and keeps the rules of the original, where each player is strategically looking to avoid the exploding kitten cards.

What sets this game apart is its replayability. For such a simple game to understand, and with a game lasting around 15 minutes, you really won't find a game that remains as entertaining as when playing it for the very first time.

exploding kittens nsfw card game

How I made my List

When it comes to the best board games for adults, the length and complexity matter. You want to be mentally stimulated but not overwhelmed. Games like Carcassonne and Codenames test your strategic skills, but, importantly, they don’t overstay their welcome. And the mechanics? Intricate enough to keep you pondering, but not so much that you'll need the rulebook after your first few games.

Next up, I considered replayability and any potential for expansions. Games that excel in these facets keep growing with you, revealing new strategies or elements the more you play. Take Carcassonne for instance, its dozens of expansions mean that you'll be able to keep changing the game for years to come.

The nature of social gatherings is unpredictable, and so the best board games for adults need to cater to varying player counts. Games like Codenames can accommodate any leisurely get-together or party, making them excellent brew-and-board game night choices.

Engaging themes and immersive gameplay were other must-haves. Whether it’s building railways in Ticket to Ride or solving collective crises in the Pandemic, games that transport you to another 'world' just offer that extra spice of engagement.

Lastly, community recognition and awards provided the final validation. Acclaimed games like Wingspan, aren't just loved by me – they’ve borne the brunt of critical scrutiny and come out on top, a sure sign of their quality.

By considering all these factors, I’ve been able to round up a selection of some of the best board games for adults. They incite laughter and stoke competitive spirits, but fundamentally, they create some fantastic memories.

How to Make the Most of Your Board Game Experience

Upgrading your board game encounters allows the qualities of the best adult board games to shine through, where competitive camaraderie can come out.

Creating the right environment is essential in enhancing your enjoyment of adult board games. Consider your gaming space - it should be comfortable, spacious and well-lit, equally welcoming for a strategic battle in 'Carcassonne' or a witty wordplay in 'Codenames'. Silence the room's distractions, your focus should solely be on the game and the players. Music? Why not! A well-curated playlist can do wonders, setting a mood that complements the game’s setting or theme. Lastly, stock the table with snacks and drinks - they're a vital part of the gaming experience. But remember, choose wisely, no one likes greasy cards!

To retain the freshness every game night, mixing and matching games is the way to go! Begin with light-hearted, short games like 'Exploding Kittens' to stir excitement. As the night progresses, lure players into more challenging games, those that demand strategic depth like '7 Wonders'. And don't stick to just one genre. Spice things up with a blend of cooperative, competitive, thematic, strategy, and party games. The best board games for adults are those that engage all and provoke laughter, competition, and sometimes alliances.

And there you have it, my list of ultimate board games that every adult should have played, if you enjoyed these then there will definitely be something for you in Zippigames, so why not have a look and see if you can find your next board game adventure.