Tabletop gaming is great, especially when you’re playing the best board games possible. Finding good board games can be difficult considering the sheer number of options available and the overwhelming dominance of the likes of Monopoly, Cluedo and other ‘classic’ titles drowning out everything else. Sometimes you just have to hope that there’s an educated and experienced voice pointing you in the right direction.
Best board games
- Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies
- The A.R.T. Project
- Sky Team
- Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
- Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion
- Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition
- Quacks of Quedlinburg
- Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Luckily enough, Dicebreaker is here to guide you towards the best board games out there, whilst avoiding any duds you might otherwise encounter. Regardless of what you’re looking for – whether that’s an easy-to-learn family-friendly game, a rich story-driven experience or a silly lighthearted title – there will be something for everyone on this list.
From picturesque nature-inspired board games to terrifying horror titles, there are also a wide variety of themes found here, meaning that you’re sure to find a game that’s suitable for your intended audience. Skip the boredom of yet another night of Trivial Pursuit and crack into some of the best board games available to buy and play right now.
Create and populate habitats across the Pacific Northwest in this puzzling tile-laying game
Set within the astonishing beauty of the Pacific Northwest, Cascadia is a puzzle board game that you play with other people. The tabletop title challenges you to construct habitats that are native to this picturesque part of the world, before inviting the appropriate wildlife species to come make their homes there. However, your means to complete this task are limited to whatever resources are available to you, with your opponents also being subject to the same limitations.
In Cascadia, players take turns choosing a new habitat tile to place onto their board – which starts out with three existing tiles. There are five different types of habitat tile in the game, with players being rewarded for connecting matching tiles to form larger habitats. Every draftable tile comes with a random wildlife token, which players must place onto a suitable habitat tile. The randomised nature of the token to tile pairings – alongside competing with others when drafting – means that players have to think carefully about which tiles to pick and what strategies to go for.
Players can choose to optimise their habitat construction: ensuring that their board is filled with larger areas of matching tiles, or can decide to focus on collecting certain types of wildlife tokens instead. Every game of Cascadia will feature wildlife goals that can net players big points if they’re willing to commit to them. Either way, every decision has the potential to work for or against players depending on their own strategies, their opponents’ plans and straight luck. Cascadia is a fantastic family board game that will test your intellect without demanding you jump through several rule-learning hoops to do it.
2. Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies
Explore a strange and vast land through a narrative-driven co-op board game
The sequel to the 2021 original, Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies is a co-op board game that takes place in an alternate 1937, wherein a group of people find themselves stranded in a strange world after flying through a portal. Desperate to return home, the player characters will need to brave a myriad of unknowable dangers to find a way back to their world, before it’s too late.
The threats you’ll face in Distant Skies are no joke. This is a challenging board game, with even the early scenarios featuring dangerous enemies and difficult decisions. However, don’t let that put you off playing it because Distant Skies is an excellent board game that perfectly melds high drama story with a collection of engaging gameplay mechanics. Distant Skies features combat, exploration, puzzle-solving and resource management elements, offering a new experience with every scenario players tackle. As an open-world board game, players are free to choose between a handful of scenarios at any given time, with their decisions affecting which are available to them and their specifics.
As they progress through the ongoing campaign, players’ characters can develop new abilities and acquire more equipment – making them more capable when dealing with the overwhelming threats they’ll face. As well as finding a way home, players will also need to ensure they have the resources they need to continue surviving in the harsh landscape they’re stuck in. For a story heavy tabletop experience without the need for a games master or any pre-planning, give Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies a look.
This asymmetrical board game provides an intense strategic experience
The designer of Root, Cole Wehrle, has created an astonishingly good catalogue of board games, but none outshine the glory that is Root. A board game about warring forest creatures, Root may first appear absolutely adorable - the illustrations by Kyle Ferrin are some of the best on the tabletop - but beneath the woodland whimsy it’s incredibly savage. The war for the great wood is a bloody one and only one faction may be victorious, which means a lot of anguish and cruelty needs to happen first.
Players will have a completely different experience depending upon whichever faction they choose to control, with the Marquise de Cat’s building goals being vastly different from the rebellious Woodland Alliance’s desire to establish sympathy across the woodland. While this does make Root a difficult board game to learn - requiring multiple playthroughs to understand how each faction works - it also makes it very rewarding to win. Getting to grips with how to play and deal with the four factions included in the core game, and eventually those featured in the expansions, is all part of the experience of playing and loving Root.
The act of playing Root is like picking up a book that you can’t wait to read again because the more time you spent with it, the more you know and the more invested you become. Don’t miss out on one of the best board games ever created and start your Root journey.
4. The A.R.T. Project
Recover stolen art in this co-op board game that features tons of variety
Though Pandemic has long reigned supreme as the co-op board game of choice for many people, The A.R.T. Project has the potential to steal its crown. A globetrotting game that will take players across the world from East Asia to North Africa, A.R.T. Project perfectly captures the feel of series like Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. Players take the role of the Art Rescue Team working tirelessly to recover pieces of stolen art from the clutches of the nefarious White Hand gang, who have infested various countries around the world.
To stop these ne’er-do-wells, players will need to work together to reach various key locations in their target countries, search for the stolen art and recover it before The White Hand cronies can make their getaway. Like Pandemic, the players will be working against a clock whose current time depends on the number of cards left to draw and how tight a control players have on the board. Every round will see the arrival of yet more White Hand members onto the board, which players will need to remove or otherwise risk being overwhelmed – spelling the end of the game.
In the meantime, they’ll need to carefully spend their resources to play cards from their hand, as well as move across the board. Playing certain cards will spawn the pieces of art players will need to win the game. Securing the stolen art will require players to clear out any White Hand goons – the more pieces of art players have already obtained, the harder it’ll be to roll the dice results they’ll need to win.
Beating one particular board doesn’t mean the end of The A.R.T. Project, as the title has multiple different playable boards, each with their own unique gameplay mechanics and challenges. The A.R.T. Project. is an excellent evolution of Pandemic’s already solid co-op foundations, pushing players to put their brains together in a tense race to the finish.
Survive against a terrifying alien foe who stalks the hallways of a doomed spaceship
Nemesis is effectively an Alien (1979) board game in all but name. Players find themselves on a spaceship that has been infiltrated by a deadly and bloodthirsty extraterrestrial that will stop at nothing to murder the entire crew. On top of that, certain players will have the opportunity to turn on each other in the hopes of finding a more brutal survival option, with traitors stabbing other crew members in the back. All in all, Nemesis presents players with an extremely bleak, but exceptionally thrilling, situation.
Each player begins the game as a crew member with their own set of abilities depending on the type of role they hold on the ship – such as scientists and soldiers. Players also start with a selection of equipment and their own set of cards. Every crew member will have their own advantages and disadvantages, with those who play to their strengths greatly increasing their chances of survival.
Winning requires players to complete one of two potential objectives given at the start of the game. Though working together will certainly help, there are those whose personal agendas rather get in the way of collaboration – especially considering some character goals include killing other crew members.
Nemesis is the kind of board game that you’ll play multiple times because you’ll probably die repeatedly: whether at the hands of one of the horrifying Intruder aliens or a fellow crew member, or just the ship’s gradual destruction. It's a good thing that the horror game’s immersive setting, variable narrative and tension inducing gameplay mechanics makes it so enjoyable to play then.
6. Sky Team
A two-player board game about landing planes without blowing them up
Winner of Dicebreaker’s Tabletop Award for the best board game of 2023, Sky Team absolutely deserves such an accolade. This two-player board game sees participants working together as pilot and co-pilot of a plane that’s coming in to land. The players in their respective roles must successfully complete all of their required tasks before landing, as well as ensuring that the plane remains at the right angle and speed in order to land on the runway safely.
Operating the plane sees the two players rolling a pool of dice at the start of every round. The die results must remain a secret from the other player, as the two people cannot share what numbers they have before they use them. Players will then take turns to place one of their dice into an appropriate spot on the board. Each player will have places that only they put dice into – such as the pilot’s slots for operating the wheels and brakes and the co-pilot's slots for the wing flaps. Certain places will require players to put dice of a certain number into them, meaning that players will need to think carefully about which dice to put where on their turns.
Another important element of playing Sky Team is deciding the speed and turning direction of the plane. Every round, players must put one of their dice into their side of the slots for turning and speed – with each result being worked out differently. The speed is the result of the two dice being added together, whilst the turning is the result of the difference between the dice. Players must try and keep the plane as level as possible, whilst their speed will affect how quickly their plane reaches the runway. If the plane’s systems aren’t ready for landing or there are other planes in their path, then the plane crashes and the players lose.
There are several different airport runways and scenarios featured in Sky Team, meaning that players can test their flying skills at a variety of levels. The theatre and pure drama of playing Sky Team is difficult to convey in words, so you should just go play it already.
Buy Sky Team on Zatu UK.
Hilarity ensues when classic playground game Telephone meets Pictionary
Telestrations is possibly the best board game for more than 4 players you can find anywhere. A devilishly clever mashup of the playground game Telephone – wherein you whisper a word into someone’s ear, before they attempt to repeat the same word into the ear of the person next to them – and Pictionary, where players guess ideas from a person’s drawing, Telestrations is almost guaranteed to have an entire room of people crying from laughter.
In the party game, players receive their own pad before a clue is randomly selected for each person. Players then write their assigned clue in the back of their pads, which they’ll then have to try to draw as best as they can within a strict time limit at the front of their pads. Once players have run out of time, they’ll have to pass their pads to the person next to them, who will then need to guess what they think has been drawn. After this, the pads are passed around again and the next player will draw what has been guessed. This cycle continues until the players get the pads they started with back.
Easily the best part of Telestrations is the last stage of every round wherein each player goes through their pad with everyone, tracking the disastrous and hilarious journey their original clue has been on. The mixture of the tight time frame, personal interpretation and often bad drawing means that miscommunication is inevitable in Telestrations, but that’s all part of the fun. Terrible drawings and guesses made in Telestrations become immortal jokes amongst friends and family members, such is the power of such a simple but genius party game.
8. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
Help the world’s greatest sleuth solve a series of original cases
Part of the fun of mystery novels is trying to predict the solution before the detective. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective takes the unspoken game of reading classic thrillers and makes it an actual game, inviting players to pit their wits against the World’s Greatest Detective himself.
Consulting Detective plays out like an interactive story, with players reading blocks of text as they search a map of Victorian London for clues and suspects. There are plenty of red herrings to lead you astray - but taking a less direct route can pay off in the final interrogation with Holmes, as the players are asked a series of questions about the case and its surrounding details.
The immersive nature of Consulting Detective - the box includes a newspaper for players to search for leads, along with its map and case books - makes it one of the best board games for those after a shared story and tricky puzzles, blending together choose-your-own-adventure books, escape room riddles and even a light touch of roleplaying.
The long-running series has seen a number of entries over the years, ranging from the original box and its expansions - re-released in recent years - to the more recent Baker Street Irregulars and even the more gameplay-driven competitive spin-off Watson & Holmes. While we’d recommend steering away from the macabre inspired-by-true-events campaign of the Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures box, each of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective’s boxes can be tackled as a series of standalone scenarios before picking up another.
Whether you successfully crack the case or not, you’ll have fun - but be prepared to pale in comparison to some of 221B Baker Street’s unforgiving solutions. It’s nicknamed ‘Sherlock Holmes: Insulting Detective’ for a good reason.
9. Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion
A smaller and better version of the original dungeon-crawler board game
The original Gloomhaven is pretty intimidating, even for people who are more familiar with bigger board games. Its sheer size, cost and required time investment is undoubtedly a massive turn-off for a lot of people, despite its excellent gameplay mechanics and engrossing world. Which is why it’s such a blessing that Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion exists.
Jaws of the Lion is essentially a more compact version of the original Gloomhaven, doing away with many of the elements that make the first game so large, long and expensive but keeping the essential essence of the series. Players still take control of a variety of different characters – each with their own unique deck of ability cards – and take on quests from in and around the fictional city of Gloomhaven. However, players no longer have to set up each map using piles of tiles and instead use a book containing maps and specific rules for every scenario.
Whilst there are fewer characters and quests available in Jaws of the Lion than the original, players will still have plenty to be getting on with – including an entire branching storyline and sidequests. The majority of what they’ll be doing is combat-oriented, with players attempting to complete objectives before they run out of ability cards or character health. The combat gameplay mechanics of Jaws of the Lion are incredibly rich and will certainly challenge its players but is still more forgiving than Gloomhaven.
By pairing down the bulk of the original game, Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion offers a much more accessible and approachable experience – both to players who are entirely new to the franchise and to those who need a break from the heaviness of Gloomhaven and Frosthaven. Jaws of the Lion proves that bigger isn’t always better.
10. Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition
The latest and greatest version of the beloved sci-fi board game
Twilight Imperium has a reputation for being one of the longest board games to play, with sessions sometimes lasting several hours or even days. For some, the prospect of being glued to a table for such a long period of time sounds like hell. For others, Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition features one of the most engrossing experiences tabletop gaming can provide. Set in a fictional universe in which humanity is but one of a whole host of sentient species living across the galaxy, Twilight Imperium 4E sees players leading their respective civilizations into what they hope will be a glorious future.
With the option to command one of 17 different species – and that’s just in the base game – Twilight Imperium 4E is pretty epic, to say the least. The space board game features multiple paths to victory, with players free to pursue whichever options open to them: whether they be peaceful or violent. Every playthrough of Twilight Imperium 4E is different depending on how the galaxy is constructed, with players having the option to travel to different planets in order to claim them for their respective civilisations. Whether or not players are successful in their chosen conquests will depend on if they have the resources and wits required to outsmart their opponents.
Success is dependent on completing objectives, with some objectives being public knowledge and others remaining a secret until they’re fulfilled. This element keeps players on their toes and makes it more difficult to predict what their opponents’ next moves might be. For a challenging, epic and deep tabletop gaming experience, look no further than Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition.
11. The Quacks of Quedlinburg
Test your luck in this real-time, bag-building board game
While deckbuilding games and dice-building games are fairly well-known across the hobby, bag-building games haven’t acquired the same amount of recognition. The Quacks of Quedlinburg is a fine example of what bag-building games can offer that the other two genres cannot: visceral anticipation. Pulling the right card when you need it certainly feels good and getting that perfect roll is undeniably satisfying, but the act of physically picking out exactly the token you were hoping for in Quacks is the kind of experience that requires at least a cheer, if not a full-on leap into the air.
Though Quacks might have an older European board game vibe to it - its terrible artwork and odd name being the major culprits - it undoubtedly understands what makes a modern classic work: a straightforward and addictive gameplay loop. At the beginning of each round, players simultaneously draw tokens from their respective bags, before placing them on their board. Where the tokens go will depend on the number they carry, but the general aim is to move as far along the board’s track as possible. However, players will need to be careful to not pull too many white tokens from their bag, otherwise they risk their potion exploding and losing one of their two potential rewards. It’s a genius move to have players all doing this part of the game at the same time, as it creates an atmosphere that's full of infectious tension and energy - one that’s a joy to watch as much as it is to be a part of.
If players exercise restraint - or are simply lucky enough - they’ll be able to gain a bounty of victory points, as well as money to spend at the ingredients store. Buying more ingredients tokens will increase a player’s chances of avoiding those dreaded white tokens, alongside giving them some nifty benefits. But this never guarantees that players will do well the next round, with Quacks teaching its players that chance can sometimes be a cruel mistress. However, getting lucky in Quacks is one of the best feelings a board game can gift you, which is why it’s here on this list.
12. Arkham Horror: The Card Game
A living card game that challenges players to survive the horrors of the Old Ones
Arkham Horror Files is the tabletop’s top scream queen, a collection of horror board games that range from dungeon crawls through haunted houses (Mansions of Madness) to globetrotting adventures in a desperate race to close monster-spawning interdimensional portals (Eldritch Horror) - and more besides.
While each of the Arkham Horror Files games has its own appeal, the series’ arguable masterpiece is Arkham Horror: The Card Game, a co-op living card game that sees players’ investigators delve into the cosmic horrors of the Cthulhu mythos during unique scenarios.
Players are able to kit out their characters - familiar faces from the universe’s shared roster of reformed cultists, action heroes and brainy puzzle-solvers - with gear, before exploring a number of locations in search of clues to progress their investigation. Along the way, they’ll have to deal with cultists, gribbly monsters and the looming return of an Old One by using both their brains and brawn.
The cards allow gameplay to be fast and fun, while pulling tokens from the chaos bag to resolve tests adds an element of controlled randomness. Players can acquire new cards and customise their deck over the course of multiple connected scenarios, creating a campaign-like progression as you work to save the world from its supernatural doom.
With a number of expansions for players to fight their way through and a huge amount of replayability in its characters and customisation, Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a perfect co-op game for friends looking for a card game to return to week after week. It’s frighteningly good.