I LOVE playing games—board games, people games, talking games, guessing games, and hosting game nights. I also find that it is one of best ways to connect with people.

So I came up with the best games to play with every kind of friend for different scenarios. For example:

  • Is there a game that is best for connecting new friends?
  • Do you know of any good learning games I can play with my kids?
  • Do you know the best strategy board games?
  • Are there any games you can play virtually?

The answer is yes, yes, and yes!

Here is a big list of my favorite games that you can play, broken down by category. I did my top 3 for each category.

And if you are playing games virtually, over video call, Zoom or Facetime, I recommend skipping down to:

  • Bowl of Nouns This is easy to play over video since there is no board or pieces, all you need are slips of paper.
  • Would You Rather? As long as one person has the cards, they can ask or show them on screen.
  • Mafia. You do not need the cards for this; you can definitely do it over video or find online versions.

Ready for the best games? Let’s game on!

Best Group Games

These games will help you get to know people better. If you have a group of people you are trying to bond with, these games will be easy to play without having to know each other well. You can also play these with your family or old friends.

#1: Cranium

Cranium board game
  • Players: 4 to 16
  • Playing Time: 60 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 16+

Pros

✓ Great for teenagers and young adults

✓ Great if you like “mini-games”

✓ For fans of Pictionary, Charades, Trivial Pursuit, and other word games

cons

✗ T/F and trivia questions may lower replayability

✗ May be a bit long

This one is perfect for goofy groups of 4 or more who love creative challenges. With 600+ cards, Cranium provides a great source of entertainment as players are prompted to act, draw, sculpt, play word games and engage in other fun activities.

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#2: Bowl of Nouns

Bowl of nouns game
  • Players: 6 to 20
  • Playing Time: 15-30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 6+

Pros

✓ Easy setup

✓ Good for word game, memory game, and Charades lovers

cons

✗ May be too simplistic

So this one requires nothing but some pads of paper and pens. Here is what you do:

  • Have everyone write a noun on a piece of paper and fold it in half. They should drop it in the bowl at the center of the table. Split into 2 or 3 teams.
  • Round #1: Teams take turns pulling out a card and explaining what it is without saying the word (like Taboo). Count up how many each team gets.
  • Round #2: Same bowl, same nouns, same teams. This time it is charades. Each team has to act out the card for their team members—it’s kind of a game of memory in this way. Count up how many each team gets.
  • Round #3: This last one is the hardest and it’s when each team has to think of one word to trigger or remind their team of the word. Count up how many each team gets.
  • Highest total wins!

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#3: Would You Rather

Would You Rather board game
  • Players: 3 to 8
  • Playing Time: 20 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 12+

Pros

✓ Lots of variety

✓ Great to get to know people

cons

✗ Cards can be gimmicky

This game is a great conversation starter, and playing it is super easy:

  1. Get together with two or more people.
  2. Take turns drawing cards that ask random, bizarre, and silly “Would You Rather…” questions.
  3. Have fun trying to guess who would rather do what. Whoever is the best at guessing what other people would do wins.

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Best Strategy Board Games

These tabletop games require brainpower, strategy, and a little luck. If you’re looking to take your board games to the next level, look no further than these top 3 strategy board games:

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#1: Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan board game
  • Players: 3 to 4
  • Playing Time: 60-120 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 10+

Pros

✓ Lots of player interaction

✓ Classic gateway strategy game

cons

✗ Can be hard to win if a player is in the lead

This fast-paced strategy game puts you head-to-head with your partner to see who can build the most successful settlements using the resources you’re given.

One of the best parts about this game is that it gives you the opportunity to trade between players, making it a highly interactive experience.

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#2: Quantum

Quantum board game
  • Players: 2 to 4
  • Playing Time: 60 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 13+

Pros

✓ Good theme

✓ Grid movement and dice rolling

cons

✗ Low replayability

If you and your friends are interested in space and exploration, then this strategy game is a great fit for you.

Quantum is designed for 2-4 players who are each fleet commanders trying to conquer space. Your goal throughout the game is to expand your fleet and damage the other players’ so you can take over the universe.

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#3: Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars board game
  • Players: 1 to 5
  • Playing Time: 120 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 12+

Pros

✓ Great space theme

✓ Interesting cards provide complexity and strategy

cons

✗ Takes time to learn

This game is out of this world! You get to turn Mars into a livable planet. Introduce plants, build cities, mine the moons of Jupiter, and heat up the atmosphere with greenhouses in this strategic tabletop game.

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Best Educational Board Games

Want to get your brain going? Want to learn something new? Here are the best board games for adults that are fun and will also get you thinking:

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#1: Predictably Irrational

Predictably Irrational board game for adults
  • Players: 2 to 6
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 12+

Pros

✓ Learn from science-backed studies

✓ Great for people interested in psychology

cons

✗ Can get repetitive

Have you ever wondered why people do the things they do? In this game designed by behavioral economist Dan Ariely, you and your friends can take turns guessing what decisions people will make in unique situations.  After everyone’s guessed, you’ll discover which of your friends knows the most random facts about human nature and learn the fascinating science behind the correct answers.

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#2: Code Names

Codenames educational board game
  • Players: 2 to 8
  • Playing Time: 15 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 14+

Pros

✓ Great if you like mind-reading games

✓ Great player interaction

cons

✗ Differences in knowledge or vocabulary between players can be a barrier

Get together 2-8 of your friends to bring out your inner spies with this fun and challenging word game.

When you play the game you’ll divide into two teams and on each team, one person is chosen to be the spymaster who knows the secret identities of 25 secret agents aka words on the table.

The rest of people only know each secret agent’s code name so the spymaster has to give them clues to help them guess their team’s spies and while avoiding the other team’s.

Whichever team finds all of their spies first wins.

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#3: Smart Ass

Smartass Board Game
  • Players: 2 to 8
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 12+

Pros

✓ Great for trivia lovers

✓ Easy to learn and pick up

cons

✗ Can be too fast for small groups

Find out who the smart ass in your family and/or group of friends really is with this fun trivia game.

Unlike many games where you’re required to take turns, this game lets you yell out the answer as soon as you think of it, making the game perfect for those who love fast-paced competition.

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Best 2 Player Board Games

Just you and your partner want to play a game? Or you and a new friend? Cool! Here are my top 3:

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#1: 7 Wonders – Duel

7 Wonders Duel board game for adults
  • Players: 2
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 10+

Pros

✓ Small box

✓ Good strategic depth

cons

✗ Can be too competitive

This game pits you and your friend, family member, or partner against each other. This game is a card game that also includes resource-acquiring mechanics. The goal of the game is to advance towards your opponent’s capital, or acquire 6 of the 7 different wonders and achieve scientific dominance!

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#2: Hive

Hive 2 player game
  • Players: 2
  • Playing Time: 20 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 9+

Pros

✓ Elegant design

✓ Portable

✓ Deep strategy

cons

✗ First player has advantage

A board game without a board, this bug-themed game is “crawling with possibilities.” Instead of playing on a board, you’ll use your pieces to build as you try to capture the other player’s queen bee while protecting your own.

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#3: Sushi Go!

Sushi Go! 2 player game
  • Players: 2 to 5
  • Playing Time: 15 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 8+

Pros

✓ Fast gameplay

✓ Simple to learn

cons

✓ Simpler game than 7 Wonders – Duel

Yes, you guessed it—this card drafting game is for sushi lovers. But even if you don’t love sushi, Sushi Go! Is a great, easy-to-learn game that you can pick up and play on the go. The winner of the game is the one who has the most pudding cards at the end! Who said card games couldn’t be adorable? 

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Best Family Board Games 

Here are the games that you can play when you are sitting down at home with your family around the coffee table. Whether you are looking to cooperate with each other, have some creative fun, or want to relax, we got you covered.

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#1: Pandemic

Pandemic family board game
  • Players: 2 to 4
  • Playing Time: 45 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 8+

Pros

✓ Randomness of epidemics and infections adds surprise factor

✓ Great to work together with friends

cons

✗ Harder with more people

✗ Can be ruined by over-controlling players

Whether you win or lose you’ll do it together in this apocalyptic-themed game. Rather than competing against each other, you and your friends or family have to work together to play to your assigned character’s strengths and find a cure to the diseases that threaten to wipe out humanity. With the added element of teamwork, this is a great game to get to work with your family to solve a shared problem!

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#2: Taboo

Taboo family board game
  • Players: 4 to 10
  • Playing Time: 20 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 12+

Pros

✓ Great team interaction

✓ Creative wordplay

cons

✗ Not for overthinkers

Taboo is kind of like a fast-paced, verbal version of charades. To play, you need enough family members or friends to divide into two teams with two or more people each. Once you’re on teams, you pick a card from the deck that says a word or phrase and you have to try to get your team to guess what it is. The challenge is you are under a strict time limit and can’t give any obvious clues. Whichever team guesses the most words correctly wins.

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#3: Monopoly

Monopoly game for families
  • Players: 2 to 8
  • Playing Time: 60 to 180 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 8+

Pros

✓Great use of money and trading

✓ Real world locations and tons of Monopoly game variations

cons

✗ Can be quite long

With so many different themes to choose from, it’s easy to find a version of monopoly that fits your interests.

Since this game can last for as long as you want, it’s great option for days when you just want to spend some quality time with your family.

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Best Board Games For Large Groups

Do you have a huge family? Or a bridal party that needs something to do while getting ready? These games are perfect for big groups:

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#1: Mafia

Mafia card game for large groups
  • Players: 7 to 22
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 8+

Pros

✓ Great for analyzers and psychology lovers

cons

✗ Can be long

This game can be a little bit confusing at first, but is loads of fun for people who like mystery games.

It is best when played with 8 or more people who get divided into innocents and mafia members. A moderator then leads the group through a series of steps to decide who kills and who is killed.

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#2: Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity board game for groups
  • Players: 4 to 11
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 17+

Pros

✓ Hilarious if you are a fan of dark humor

✓ Can buy additional cards through expansions

cons

✗ Can get repetitive

✗ Not ideal for those unfamiliar with pop culture

Known as “the party game for horrible people,” this is the rated R version of Apples to Apples. Like that game, everyone puts down cards that they think fits each round’s topic and whoever’s cards gets chosen the most, wins. However, unlike Apples to Apples, your cards are politically un-correct, risque and often offensive.

If you’re with a group of people who all have a healthy sense of humor this game is sure to bring lots of laughs.

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#3: Spoons

Spoons game for small groups or large groups
  • Players: 4 to 13
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 7+

Pros

✓ Easy to set up

✓ Small and portable

✓ Fast-paced game

cons

✗ Takes time to learn

✗ Not very in-depth

All you need to play this game is a pack of cards with no jokers and one less spoon than the number of people participating.

Here’s how to play:

  1. Set out the spoons in a circle in the middle of the table and give everyone four cards.
  2. The dealer will then a take a card from the top of the deck and place it facedown to his left.
  3. Every other player will follow by placing one card from their hand to their left while the last player places their card in the discard pile.
  4. Pick up the cards and pass them around until someone gets four of a kind. Once they do, they grab a spoon and everyone follows suit.
  5. If you fail to grab a spoon, you earn a letter of the word “Spoon”.
  6. Repeat until  someone spells out the entire word and loses.

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Best Board Games for Kids 

Are you a parent, or want a way to entertain the kids? Look no further than these childhood classics!

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#1: Candyland

Candyland board game for children
  • Players: 2 to 4
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 3+

Pros

✓ Great candy-themed design

✓ Little skill required

cons

✗ No interaction with other players

This adorable game is perfect for when you have a few kids you want to introduce a board game to. It’s a great little game for early child development and helping kids follow a set of rules.

Make it even more fun by sharing some of the candy featured in the game.

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#2: Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples card game for kids
  • Players: 4 to 10
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 12+

Pros

✓ Easy to teach

cons

✗ “Kid” version of Cards Against Humanities

This is an easy game that can be played with 3 or more people and is great for sparking conversations. Every person is given a handful of cards with random things from famous people to places to foods and everything in between. People take turns choosing a category card and everyone else has to put down a card that fits. The person whose turn it is then reads the cards aloud and chooses the one that they think best fits the category.

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#3: Chutes and Ladders

Chutes and Ladders dice game for kids
  • Players: 2 to 6
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 3+

Pros

✓ Fun and funny artwork

✓ Easy to learn

cons

✗ Based on luck rather than skill

This simple game is sure to bring back memories not just of playing the game itself but also of going down slides on the playground and climbing up things. This game is great for kids who love to roll dice and is a simple concept to learn.

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Best Board Games For Adults Based on Movies

There are some awesome games based on TV shows, movies, or hobbies. Be sure to search your favorites to see if you can find a niche game. Otherwise, here are some of my favorites:

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#1: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones game for adults
  • Players: 3 to 6
  • Playing Time: 120 to 240 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 14+

Pros

✓ A complex version of Risk

✓ Lots of planning and thinking ahead

cons

✗ Can be very long

This game is your opportunity to become the ruler of Westeros. Over the course of 10 rounds, you and 2-5 of your friends will use your power cards and negotiating abilities to conquer land across the map. Whoever takes over the most strongholds and areas with castles wins.  

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#2: Clue Harry Potter Game

Harry Potter game based on the movie
  • Players: 3 to 5
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 9+

Pros

✓ Great Harry Potter theme

✓ Adds a few mechanics on top of classic Clue

cons

✗ None

This is the classic mystery game Clue set in the world of Hogwarts.

Get together with 2-5 of your friends to each become one of the main characters. Then, see who can solve the mystery of the missing student.

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#3: Star Wars Battleship

Star Wars Battleship movie-themed board game
  • Players: 2
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 8+

Pros

✓ Great old school game

✓ It’s Star Wars

cons

✗ Can be luck-based

This 2 player game is great to play with a fellow Star Wars fan who likes strategy games. Like the original version, you’ll battle head-to-head with your opponent to guess where their battleships are located and shoot them down before they get to yours.

Whoever has the last ship standing wins.

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Best Active Board Games

Tired of sitting down? Want to get up and moving around? These games might get your heart rate pumping:

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#1: Twister

Twister active game
  • Players: 2 to 4
  • Playing Time: 10 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 6+

Pros

✓ Fun for both kids and adults

✓ Great game to loosen up

cons

✗ Can be embarrassing

✗ Repetitive

See how flexible your friends are with this challenging game. The best part about this game is that it’s just as entertaining to watch your friends struggle to stretch in weird directions as it is to play the game yourself.

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#2: Rollick

Rollick board game for exercise
  • Players: 6 to 24
  • Playing Time: 20 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 10+

Pros

✓ Great for large groups

cons

✗ Cards can be repetitive

If you love Charades then this game is for you. Full of random, silly words and phrases for you and your team to act out, this game is guaranteed to spark laughter.

A major perk of this game is that it works with an unlimited amount of people so you can get everyone involved in the fun.

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#3: Reverse Charades

Reverse Charades board game with activities
  • Players: 6 to 12
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Suggested Age: 6+

Pros

✓ Great twist to classic Charades

✓ Less intimidating than normal Charades

cons

✗ May need a lot of space to play

Like Rollick, Reverse Charades is—you guessed it—another version of Charades. In this game teams must act out fun words and phrases for a single person on their team who is given 60 seconds to figure it out.

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Best Digital Board Games 

Just because you aren’t playing in person, doesn’t mean your endless hours of fun can’t be brought with you. There are a ton of awesome virtual board games out there that you can play on your computer with your friends. Here are a few of my favorites:

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#1: Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride computer board game

Players: 1 to 5

Pros

✓ Beautiful visuals

✓ Just enough strategy and depth to be engaging

cons

✗ May not have enough depth for hardcore gamers

What do you get when you combine adventure, railroads, and a dash of backstabbing? Ticket to Ride, based on the famous board game, is a unique strategy game with one simple goal: connect one city to the other. 

The backstabbing part? That comes when you and your friends compete to make railways, blocking off each other’s path and taking over their route. Beware: loss of friends may occur as a side effect. Ouch!

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#2: Tokaido

Tokaido virtual board game

Players: 1 to 5

Pros

✓ Uses beautiful artwork from the tabletop game

✓ No need to calculate by hand

cons

✗ Not an in-depth game

This game, set in the heart of ancient Japan, is a game where you unravel various landscapes as you set out on your journey. It’s a relaxing game you can play with friends, and perfect if you have a travel itch and have to stay at home!

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#3: Potion Explosion

Potion Explosion digital board game

Players: 1 to 4

Pros

✓ Great for fans of Tetris

cons

✗ None

Pros: For fans of Tetris

This game is a fun and wizard-theme based game where your main goal is to become the best potions master! Based on the original puzzle board game, each player is given potions to complete with specific ingredients. You can use your ingredients to create magical potions, which have magical effects!

There are a lot of chemical reactions that occur throughout this game, as you are taking away potion ingredients and the board is ever-moving. Since it is all digital, you don’t even need to move the pieces yourself! That’s magical.

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What is the Best Board Game for Adults?

Ok, if I had to pick my very favorite board game for adults, it would have to be 

Codenames. I also love that it comes in different versions. Codenames pictures. Codenames Disney

The best board game for adults is one that has high replay value, is engaging, and has a good amount of depth. Codenames has all of those things!

This game has a good amount of strategy and is great for teamwork as well.

But it doesn’t matter what the best board game is for me—what matters most is what you will play! That’s because a 68-year old study by the Journal of Gerontology showed that people who played board games had higher cognitive functioning!Those who rated themselves as more frequent players of board games had faster memory processing and thinking speed compared to those who played less frequently.

So pull up a chair and play your favorite board game!

What are your favorite games?

Let me know in the comments!

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best selling author & founder at Science of People. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People has been translated into more than 16 languages. As a recovering awkward person, Vanessa helps millions find their inner charisma. She regularly leads innovative corporate workshops and helps thousands of individual professionals in her online program People School. Vanessa works with entrepreneurs, growing businesses, and trillion dollar companies; and has been featured on CNN, BBC, CBS, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine, USA Today, the Today Show and many more.

2 replies on “The 30 Best Games to Play With Every Kind of Friend [2020]”

  1. Svetlana

    5 second rule is a fun game and can be played online and in person. You need to name 3 things from a certain category (eg. name 3 famous Michaels), but when you only have 5 seconds to give the answers, you forget everything 😊

  2. Valerie D

    Cribbage is great for 2 players & Aggrevation is great for the family. I still have the board my uncle made us for our wedding 19yrs ago! 😁

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