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It’s easy to get the doldrums in the winter—especially a couple months in. The holidays are over, it’s too cold to do anything outside and there’s seemingly no end in sight. Besides watching yet another Netflix show or scrolling through Instagram for hours on end, what is there to do?
As it turns out, the answer is an old one, but a good one: Play a board game. Whether you’re digging a classic out of the closet or picking up something new, playing a tabletop game is a great way to connect with others, exercise different parts of your brain and get those competitive juices flowing. Here are 14 of the best board games for kids and adults right now, from Ticket to Ride to Sequence and everything in between.
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1. Ticket to Ride
A strategy game for players 8 and older, Ticket to Ride has birthed numerous expansion packs and twists on the game. The original is still a great place to start—you'll build railroad lines across the United States in a battle to become the most successful railway baron around. You can also play Ticket to Ride against Alexa, by telling any compatible Echo device, “Alexa, launch Ticket To Ride.” She probably won’t be quite as fun to beat as your most competitive sibling, but just try and take satisfaction from the fact that you out-gamed a robot.
2. Exploding Kittens
The product of the most backed Kickstarter ever, Exploding Kittens is easy to learn, great for kids and adults and always makes for some heated competition. The only goal is to not explode. Draw an Exploding Kitten card and sayonara. Draw anything else, and you’ll pick up help to stay away from those nasty (but adorable) cats. Amazon shoppers absolutely love Exploding Kittens, giving the game an impressive average 4.7 stars from more than 53,000 reviews. Kaboom!
3. Hunt A Killer: Death At The Dive Bar
Love true crime but not interested in getting into any trouble? Hunt A Killer’s games let you solve a mystery from the comfort of your own home. Death At The Dive Bar asks players to find the person who threw Old Scratch Tavern owner Nick Webster off a cliff, giving you clues, suspects, puzzles and ciphers along the way. There are realistic documents to study, actual bits of evidence and motives aplenty. Full disclosure: This game can only really be played one time per household, because once you solve the murder, you crack the entire case.
A blast from the past, Sequence is another game that’s intensely beloved by Amazon shoppers. Holding down an average 4.8 stars from more than 28,000 reviews, Sequence has many people calling it “super fun,” “easy to learn” and “highly recommended.” A blend of card games and strategy, the board game is great for anyone 7 and older and can support up to 12 players at a time.
5. Guess Who?
An easy to play classic that was first introduced in the late ‘70s, Guess Who? can be played by practically anyone. The game’s simple mechanics make it perfect for parents to play with kids, kids to play with each other or even two people to play over Zoom. Hasbro has recently diversified the game’s characters, adding more women and people of color to the faces on the cards. It’s a great update to a game that’s remained a nostalgic mainstay for a reason.
A decidedly mod and modern game, Wavelength is ideal for ages 14 and older. Players break into teams and then try to guess where a word or concept might lie on a spectrum of, say, hot to cold or round to pointy. If the word is “coffee,” the guesser has to place a sliding needle where they think coffee would lie on a scale of hot to cold. The team receives points for how close they were to “correct,” and then inevitably argue a bunch because all of these answers are subjective. Amazon shoppers call it “unique” and “thought-provoking,” with one writing in their user review that Wavelength is an “easy game with limitless replay value.”
Photosynthesis is a strategy game with a STEM twist: Players move their trees through a natural life cycle, using photosynthesis to collect energy as trees move from seedling to full bloom to decay and rebirth. While it’s certainly a game that scientists will enjoy, Amazon users say Photosynthesis is “easy to learn," with one raving that they loved the game’s take on “competitive forestry in a box.”
8. Monopoly: Ultimate Banking
There are dozens of versions of Monopoly, from Monopoly Junior to a special edition inspired by Baby Yoda and The Mandalorian. Monopoly: Ultimate Banking stands out because of how timely it is. There's no paper money—instead, you get a bank card that you can use to make instant transactions and see your property values rise and fall with the market. The bank cards can track your wealth, while “event cards” in the game help stir the pot every so often.
9. Shelby’s Snack Shack
Killing time can be difficult when you’ve got little ones around. A new board game can always add some zest to the routine. Shelby’s Snack Shack is aimed at kids 4 and up and can be played with just two players. In the game, players quest to find the bones an adorable pug named Shelby has buried on the beach. Use the Shelby-shaped pinchers to pick them up, but watch out for sneaky seagulls—they’re hungry for bones and they’ll set you back. QVC buyers say that the game is a lot of fun but also sneakily educational, with kids learning math as they play.
A classic strategy game from Ravensburger, Labyrinth has sold over 20 million copies and thrilled countless more players. Kids and adults alike will love working to find the shortest route through the board game’s maze, all while attending to pick up treasures and meet targets along the way. Watch out, though—the maze moves as the gameplay continues.
11. Pan Am: The Game
Miss the days of glamorous international travel and in-flight steak? Funko’s Pan Am: The Game aims to take you right back. In this strategy game, players aim to build a global travel empire of their own, using miniature planes, airports and stock certificates to go up against the all-powerful Pan Am. While Amazon shoppers say the game has a bit of a learning curve, they note that once you get the hang of it, you’ll be so into the game that you’ll be strategizing your next routes in your sleep.
A magnetic party game that’s advertised as half foosball, half air hockey, Klask is for players who are looking to do something more than just sit around and look at cards. Designed in Denmark, Klask has taken the Nordic countries by storm with its sleek design and “fast and frantic” play. Each game only lasts about 10 minutes, so it’s easy to set up a tournament or just get a match in while you’re waiting for dinner to cook. People say it’s “so fun and addicting.”
13. Secret Hitler
A wildly popular party game based on social deduction, Secret Hitler is pretty much what the name would suggest: Players are secretly divided into liberals and fascists and tasked with furthering their group’s own agenda in 1930s Germany. Fascists must spread discord and install an evil chancellor, while Liberals must find and stop the Secret Hitler before it’s too late. It all sounds a bit dark and dramatic, and it certainly can be, but it’s also fascinating and fun, with more than 10,000 fans giving it an average 4.9 stars.
14. Trekking the National Parks
Love getting out on a good hike but facing down a winter stuck at home? Get out into the metaphorical wilderness with Trekking The National Parks. Created by a couple who actually visited every single National Park, the independently-made strategy game charges players with mapping out their visit to different national parks, with the added bonus of being able to send the opposing players back to start with savvy moves. It’s a great way to travel and get outdoors without ever having to leave the comfort of your home.
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This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Popular board games for kids and adults 2022: Ticket to Ride, Sequence and Exploding Kittens