Best Board Games for Adults
When you hear “board games” it’s undeniable that many people assume that kids are involved in them in some way. And why not? They are fantastic family entertainment that brings kids and adults together for quality entertainment in our digital and atomized age. But classifying them this way ignores the fact that most board games are deep, demanding, and definitely meant for adults. Whether you love two-player board games, group games, or even single-player games, here’s our pick of the best games to help stretch your gray matter and spark interesting discussions.
There is no better place to start this list than with one of them. The most popular and addicting games of the last few years. The wingspan is often advertised as a family game. But in fact, it is too complex and difficult for children. However, it’s perfect for adults, with the perfect mix of tactics and strategy along with a winning theme as you try to attract birds to the sanctuary. Different birds need different food and habitats. But they will contribute to your growing ecosystem. Which will become a kind of engine that generates resources, allowing you to play bigger and more beautiful birds.
Many co-op board games are very family friendly, but Spirit Island is different. First, it’s deep and demanding, with a commensurate sense of strategic satisfaction when your group wins. On the other hand, it boasts a thought-provoking anti-colonial theme, where players take on the roles of elemental gods working together to fight back against colonizing invaders. Victory means using a combination of your local worshipers and your special elemental powers to plan a way to predict the path of the invasion and push them back into the sea.
The titular Brian was a famous king of medieval Ireland whose military, social and economic campaign to unify the island is reenacted in this exciting stunt game. After collecting their cards, players compete in tricks to gain control of the cities on the map of Ireland, but losing cards provides critical resources to use in marriage, supporting the church, or sending off the Viking invaders. Failure to balance all of these elements can cost you the game while other players compete to steal your tricks or usurp you on one of the game’s sub-tracks. Check out our Brian Boru review for more on this.
Dune was one of 2021’s movie highlights, and it just so happens to be very well supported by board game spin-offs. Among them is Dune: Imperium, where players are the nobles of the Dune universe, each creating their own deck of cards representing their resources, influence, and personnel. They can then be played on the board to intrigue with other factions or fight on the planet’s surface, or held for added effect during “reveal”. It’s a powerful, tangy concoction that forces players to continually improve their decks and strategies as the drama unfolds. See our review of Dune: Imperium for more details.
Gloomhaven tops many gamers’ and critics’ “best of” lists and is an extraordinary marriage of story and strategy. You will control an ever-changing group of characters through a massive story campaign, equipping and upgrading their skills as they participate in events and encounters. Exploration and combat unfold through a complex, hard-hitting tactical engine driven by multi-purpose maps, where misfortune and death are constant threats to the unwary. If the original’s length and price put you off, you can still get most of the fun out of Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion’s stripped-down prequel.
If none of the other games on this list are to your liking, then genre-blending Terraforming Mars might be what you’re looking for. In your quest to civilize Mars ahead of your competitors, you’ll have to juggle hand control, resource gathering, and positional play on the surface of the planet, all combined into one neat package. Best of all, for this style of play, they also help create a real sense of humanity colonizing the red planet, inch by inch. Various corporate powers and card spreads make every game new and no longer a guaranteed path to victory.
Judging by the box art, this is a children’s game about cute forest animals. It’s actually a fascinating and multi-layered exploration of the meaning of power for different groups in society. There are four factions in the game: traditionalist birds, industrialized cats, oppressed forest dwellers, and a lone wanderer. Everyone has their own set of rules and objectives to bring to this highly asymmetrical game. In which you will command troops and maps to accumulate your resources, fight and advance towards your goals.
You may never have heard of the psychic espionage comic series on which this book is based. But that doesn’t stop you from enjoying its sublime blend of strategy and surrealism. One player, a recruiter, surreptitiously navigates a hidden map in an attempt to visit enough recruitment locations to win. Other players work as a team using a limited set of actions to try and get clues about the recruiter’s movements. And targets so they can corner and capture them. Mind MGMT is a fun new bluff and deduction puzzle game in every game. It’s brilliantly brought to life with a series of closed crates with additional play pieces that you can open and add at your leisure. See our full Mind MGMT review for more information.
Placing workers when you have a limited set of pieces to assign actions. On the board is a common mechanic in medium to heavyweight games. Anachrony takes it to the next level by allowing you to “borrow” workers and resources from your future turns in a time travel theme. Failure to repay your loans when such a turnaround comes has predictably dire consequences. Aside from the usual juggling with the resources you need to climb one of the game’s paths, this keeps it fresh, challenging, and challenging, and evokes the classic sci-fi theme.