The Top 10 Board Games You Probably Don’t Have (But Can Buy!)

At fatrabbit CREATIVE, we love having fun. If you’ve ever visited our office, you may have noticed our brand is heavily based on classic children’s games like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em and Hungry Hungry Hippos. In times where finding something fun to do indoors is a challenge, we thought it would be appropriate to recommend our top-ten favorite board games! But these aren’t just any board games. We want to share some that you (probably) haven’t heard of, but can easily buy at places like Target, Walmart, and Amazon! Trust us, all of these great board games will bring tons of fun to your family game night, at-home date night, or just help you fill your time!

1. Pandemic

Fitting for the times, Pandemic is a co-op style game where you work together to stop a pandemic from spreading across the world. At the start of the game, each player draws a character card. These cards have perks to help you thwart the diseases. Each round, players take turns placing research centers, treating infected cities, and ultimately working towards finding a cure and eradicating diseases. But watch out: the game actively works against you. Each round, the threat level increases, and more cities become infected, making it harder to contain the diseases as the game progresses. You win by completely eradicating one type of disease or, if you’re up for a challenge, eradicating them all!

Pandemic boardgame example. Shows a world map, character cards, tokens, and icons.

2. Sheriff of Nottingham

Sheriff of Nottingham is a 2–5 player game of deception and persuasion. Each round, every player gets a chance to play the role of the sheriff. As sheriff, your job is to make sure no contraband makes it through the city gates. Players — the merchants — carry bags and can choose one type of item to claim in their bags. Contraband is worth the most points. This is where the deception comes into play: you can choose to play it safe or risk it all to get more points. If the sheriff suspects you have contraband, you can bribe them with coins to allow you to move along, or even search another player’s bag! Points are tallied based on who has the most of one item, the value of each item, and how many coins you amassed. The player with the most points wins!

Sheriff of Nottingham board game, showing the cards, coins, pouches, and other pieces of the game.

3. Codenames

Codenames is a 4-8 player competitive game that requires teamwork and builds critical thinking skills. The object of the game is to be the first team of agents to debunk the enemy’s codenames! Players divide into two teams and pick a color: red or blue. One "spymaster" is chosen from each group. After laying out a 5x5 grid of single-word cards, spymasters draw a key to reveal which words, or “codenames,” belong to them, designated by red and blue. The spymasters then take turns picking a codename or codenames that can easily be described with a one-word clue. Teams, or “agents,” use this clue to narrow down which codename(s) their spymaster may be referring to. They then guess by placing a finger on which card they believe is the correct codename. Answers are designated by placing a red or blue token on the guessed word. The first team to use all their tokens wins the game. But be careful: there is an assassin lurking on the board in every match! If any team guesses the codename of the assassin, it’s game over!

Example of the boardgame Codenames, shows the five by five grid of cards with words, with the key.

4. Blokus

Blokus is a strategy game where your actions affect every player. Each player starts with a multitude of shapes made with squares in groups of one to five. Starting from their corner, players place a shape each round by connecting corners only. Sides of shapes cannot touch. The object of the game is to use as many tiles as possible before you run out of moves. Because there are multiple players, a move made by one player can cause chaos for everyone else. You have to anticipate other players’ moves and think strategically about how to place your own pieces based on their actions. When no other player can make a move, points are tallied. You gain points from the pieces on the board and lose points based on the pieces that weren’t used. If you held on to that single square piece until the end, you’ll get bonus points! The player with the most points wins.

5. Settlers of Catan

More commonly known as just “Catan,” this game is a classic strategy game. The key to winning is expanding your reach by building roads, towns, and cities. Start by adding randomized "hex tiles” to your board, placing resource cards and tokens. As you collect resources, you can use them as bargaining chips with other players or as tools to build up your dominion over Catan. The game is won by gaining “victory points” based on actions you take each round. Victory points are earned through building, having the longest roads and largest armies, and gaining specific “victory point” cards. The first player to get 10 or more victory points in one round wins!

6. Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is an award-winning game noted as being a great introduction to strategy games if you’re new to the genre. Players collect a multitude of train cards and create train routes. Be careful: your plans for how you route your trains may be thwarted by another player’s railway! Be strategic in the way you lay lines and anticipate other players’ moves. Players work towards gaining points in several ways: by creating long railways and connecting cities. Bonus points are gained if you had the longest railway or connected cities with the greatest distance. The player with the most points wins!

7. Betrayal at the House on the Hill

Betrayal at the House on the Hill is a mouthful, but a great way to spend an evening with family or friends. The game starts off as co-operative. Each player selects a character card with four unique stats and moves their player piece to the foyer game tile. Players take turns discovering rooms in an abandoned, haunted mansion. Each room tile has specific triggers that require players to draw cards and read what happens. Depending on how you fare, you could end up with a useful item or at a severe disadvantage! The goal is to ultimately start “the haunt.” When the conditions are met for “the haunt,” players use a provided guide to determine who the survivors will be … and who is the traitor! Survivors and traitors are given unique objectives to accomplish in order to win the game. Will the survivors make it out, or succumb to the secrets of the house on the hill?

8. Mansions of Madness

If you like storytelling games, Mansions of Madness is just what you’re looking for! It’s a co-op Lovecraftian horror game that can be played solo or with up to five players. At the start of the game, players decide who will be the storyteller, or “keeper,” and who will explore the map, or “investigate.” In the second edition of the game, all players get a chance at investigating as the keeper’s job is replaced with a convenient companion app! Players begin playing by picking a storyline and setting up tiles on the board as instructed. Each investigator takes on the role of one character in the story and, much like Betrayal at the House on the Hill, takes turns exploring the mansion. Investigators work towards a secret goal that only the keeper knows, trying to discover their purpose for exploring the mansion. The keeper actively works against the investigators by gaining "threat tokens” used to take actions and manage the story. The game is finished when players complete the story.

9. Throw Throw Burrito

Not a board game, but still tons of fun. From the same company that made Exploding Kittens, the most backed game on Kickstarter, Throw Throw Burrito combines the classic card-grabbing game, Spoons, and dodge ball! After passing out about 15 cards to each player (the amount doesn’t matter, just as long as the stacks look even), players pass hilariously illustrated cards around a table trying to make groups of three. Most cards don’t do anything, but some are special. This is where the “dodgeball” (a squishy burrito) comes into play! Collect three of a special type of card and trigger anything from a brawl, duel, or all-out war! The first player to get hit with the burrito gains a “burrito bruise” worth –1 point at the end of the game. Points are tallied based on how many groups of three you made, the type of card, and how many burritos bruises you received. The player with the most points wins!

Throw Throw Burrito board game with the squishy burritos that you throw, the variety of cards and other pieces of the game.

10. Coup

Coup is a game of deception that pits you against other players in a strategic battle to the top. At the start of the game, players are given two “influence” role cards. From dukes to assassins, each role has a unique set of skills that can be performed throughout each round, like gaining extra coins, assassinating other influences, or swapping your cards for a new influence. Take coins each round and save up to eliminate other influences through a coup. Keep other players on their toes by taking on multiple identities. While this allows you to take full advantage of every role’s skill, there is some risk involved. If another player calls your bluff, you lose one of your influence cards! Run out of influence cards, and it’s game over. The last player standing wins.

These are our best board games for 2020 and are sure to help you keep a smile on your face while providing a fun challenge. Have you tried any of these fun board games? Have your own favorites? Disagree with our list? Follow us on social and let us know your thoughts!

Written by: Sierra DeBlank

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