There are tons of different tabletop games out there, from roleplaying games to auction games, but one of the most distinctive genres is dexterity-based tabletop games.
These types of games require dexterity to play - tasks that often use your hands and require skill beyond strategic prowess, from flicking and throwing to sliding and catching.
Best dexterity games
- Beasts of Balance: Stack animals and watch them evolve on your phone.
- Fungeon Party: A multitude of dexterity-based mini-games against a ticking timer.
- Ice Cool: Fling penguins around a school, skipping class or being a hall monitor.
- Mars Open: Tabletop Golf: Simplistic tabletop golf. IN SPACE.
- Dr. Eureka: Mix up concoctions in vials, without touching the balls with your hands.
- Rhino Hero: Super Battle: Build a tower and fight your way up it as a superpowered animal.
- Crokinole: Flick discs and try to land in the middle in a true classic.
- Cube Quest: Summon your army before knocking each other’s castles down.
- Klask: A modern successor to table hockey, plus magnets.
- Flick 'em Up: A complex western-themed game with a lot going on.
Dexterity games can take a bit of practice to get to grips with, but they are games worth mastering as the physical skills can then help you forever be the best of the best when it comes to challenging your friends.
Many dexterity games are great for children and adults alike, bringing the whole family together to play and improving skills beyond the table. Most of these dexterity games also have really interesting pieces and unique takes on tabletop games, which bring something new with each and every one of them.
1. Beasts of Balance
Stack animals and watch them evolve on your phone
Beasts of Balance is a really interesting dexterity-based game that also happens to require a companion app for phones or tablets. Players must tap different animal artefacts against a base to register them in the app, then place them onto the base, balancing them on top of any other pieces. These animals appear in a virtual world on the app, placed in their natural habitat. The animals grow weaker over time, so you will need to pick up resource pieces from the table and balance them on the platform, allowing the animals to transform into hybrids.
The harder a piece is to balance the more reward it offers, but with different challenges to overcome as the tower of artefacts and animals grows. If the tower falls, there is a small amount of time where you can rebuild the tower - if you fail to rebuild it, the world ends due to a volcano.
As well as the pieces and companion app, Beasts of Balance has a card element. Players can tap cards to the base to attack other player’s creatures, if you decide to play in the versus mode instead of co-op. The stacking and building aspect of Beasts of Balance is lovely, especially with all of the different shapes that come with the animals and artefacts.
2. Fungeon Party
A multitude of dexterity-based mini-games against a ticking timer
Fungeon Party is a smorgasbord of different dexterity-based challenges, all presented at random depending on the card flipped over. This variety keeps things interesting, as do the various abilities each player can gain by choosing their character. Every player gets a bunch of different items including five coloured dice and a popsicle stick ‘wand’, with a meeple placed in the middle of the table in case it’s needed for a specific challenge. You’ll also need a timer, though a phone works just as well.
In Fungeon Party, you’ll need to create your dungeon by putting down a specific number of challenge cards. Once everyone is ready, you’ll start the timer and then try to complete all of the quests within that timeframe to finish the dungeon. Cards have different lead characters who need to read the quest card they are on and make decisions. Quests come in many different forms - from hiding a dice in a room for everyone else to find to solving maths equations. Soon, you’ll find yourself making bridges out of your wands to get the meeple into the box and balancing dice on your heads.
If you’ve got friends who aren’t as confident with dexterity games, the special abilities for each character can help, as they can be used once per dungeon and many make the challenges easier or allow players to skip challenges all together. This is a great introduction game for those who want to explore dexterity games, as there are a lot of different challenges and ways to bypass them.
3. Ice Cool
Fling penguins around a school, skipping class or being a hall monitor
Ice Cool stars plastic penguins that can be flicked around a school, trying to gain fish or stop other penguins from skipping class. The game box itself contains a bunch of different rooms, with small door frames that link them together. Along the walls, you will end up placing different fish pieces. One player ends up being a hall monitor - someone looking to capture the missing penguins from class - while the others are penguins just looking for some fish to eat.
The penguins collecting fish have the goal of passing through door frames with a fish in their colour above them. When they do, they grab a card with a different number of fish on it, which is kept secret and added to their score or used to take another turn. The hall monitor penguin is instead is trying to strike the other players, taking their ID cards. These ID cards provide bonus fish cards to the hall monitor.
Ice Cool has a lot of really awesome moves when it comes to flicking your penguins - you can hop walls, learn to curve your flicks and bounce your penguin into other penguins. Some of these skills, like wall-hopping, take quite some time to master but feel really cool once you have.
4. Mars Open: Tabletop Golf
Simplistic tabletop golf. IN SPACE.
You can tell by the title what kind of game Mars Open: Tabletop Golf is. This game is all about golf, having players flick a little ‘golf ball’ around a nine- to 18-hole course with the aim of getting the ball into the hole in as few shots as possible. The golf balls are folded bits of paper - easy to flick far if you’ve got the finger strength and angle, but harder to keep on target. The course is made up of the box and cardboard obstacles, placed in a specific way for each course.
After playing for a while, you’ll start to really understand how to flick the balls perfectly, getting the angle and amount of force needed to get to the hole efficiently. It’s a skill you can quickly build up as you play, getting better and better at it but, unlike Ice Cool, there aren't a bunch of tricks that can really give you an advantage.
5. Dr. Eureka
Mix up concoctions in vials, without touching the balls with your hands
Dr. Eureka sees players moving balls between different vials to create different scientific experiments. Each player gets three vials, each filled with two balls that are the same colour. You’ll need to draw a card into the middle of the table and try to make your vials match the three vials on the card.
What makes Dr. Eureka unique compared to other dexterity games is that you don’t actually get to touch the balls you are moving with your own hands. Instead, these balls must move between three vials by passing them between the tubes without dropping them.
Once a card is flipped over, you are free to start moving your balls from vial to vial. Whoever completes it first must yell “Eureka!”, before everyone checks to see if you have actually completed the card. Vials can be flipped upside-down, so if you have the pattern reversed you can flip it to fulfil a card. If you are the first person to correctly form the pattern, you get the card. Nobody can reset any vials, and must continue with what they have to complete the next card. Dr. Eureka can become very frantic - especially as if you drop a ball, knocking you out of that round.
6. Rhino Hero: Super Battle
Build a tower and fight your way up it as a superpowered animal
The sequel to Rhino Hero, Rhino Hero: Super Battle has more going on in its gameplay and takes a bit more planning and patience. Oh, and the towers are bigger, too. Each player gets a hero - Rhino Hero, Giraffe Boy, Big E. and Batguin - to represent them on the tower they build together. Cards come in different types: floor cards and tall and short wall cards. The floor cards define which walls need to be placed, which will come into play as the tower ascends.
On your turn, you must select one of your floor cards (or pick one from the pile in the middle) and grab the necessary wall cards. You can place the wall cards on any floor already in play, building the support to hold your floor. Some floor cards need a monkey placed on them as well. Your turn isn’t over once the walls and floor are stable - you must then roll a die to see if your hero will scale the tower. The die can also leave your hero where they are or even see them climb down a floor. If you move to the same level as another hero, you both will need to roll a die to see who gets to stay and who must go down a level.
Rhino Hero: Super Battle’s epic tower can get quite tall, so placement and movement becomes a big part of the game. Nobody wants to be the one to topple it, but sometimes grabbing a monkey and moving it to a new floor can be enough to bring everything crashing down.
Flick discs and try to land in the middle in a true classic
Easily the oldest game on the list, dating back to the late 1800s, crokinole is a classic dexterity game played on an impressive, massive wooden board. Players take their places around the board, keeping fixed to their chair (the “one cheek rule” applies), while they slide discs from the outside edge into the middle of the board. The game can be played head-to-head with two people, or in teams with up to four (or more, if you take turns).
The board is divided into different scoring sections, with a hole at the centre for the maximum possible score. If your opponent has discs already on the board, your shot must touch at least one to count. If the board is empty or only has your pieces, the shot must land in the centre area - or it’ll be invalid and immediately removed. Making things harder is a ring of pegs surrounding the centre hole and a gutter around the outer edge to knock other pieces into for zero points. Once all of the players have used all their discs, it’s time to tally up the scores.
Depending on how close your discs are to the middle once everyone has taken their shots, you’ll score points - with the maximum 20 for landing in the centre. There are multiple ways to play, including the highest score for a single game or banking the number of points between the winner and second place, with 100 banked points taking the overall victory.
Classics are classics for a reason. Crokinole is very simple to explain and can be quite addictive to play. Sliding discs around and trying to not lose too many shots to the sides becomes a big challenge and a fun thing to master.
8. Cube Quest
Summon your army before knocking each other’s castles down
Adding a bit of building strategy to its dexterity aspect, Cube Quest is a strategy game where each player controls a castle occupied by a king and their troops. All of the pieces are large dice-like cubes that are flicked at your opponent’s forces, attempting to defeat the enemy’s king by knocking them off of the game’s playmat.
You can build your army before the game begins by spending 40 points, which can be used on different units to customise your strategy. Your cubes are both attackers and defenders, so the pieces you buy and how you arrange them around your king is crucial.
Then comes the actual flicking. When aiming, you’ll need to aim for weak spots, as knocking cubes off the board takes them out of play. You don’t want to flick too hard, as your own characters are also removed from the game if they fly off the table. The way the dice you’ve flicked lands is another consideration, as your pieces can be captured if they land on a silhouette face.
Each of the different unit types have different abilities, from allowing you to get lost units back and freezing enemy cubes to taking extra shots and sneaking around the board. Getting the other player’s king off the board will take some ability when you flick, but there is a lot you can do to help you claim victory.
A modern successor to table hockey, plus magnets
Much like crokinole, Klask is another feature-piece game with an impressive wooden board - this time, resembling something close to a mini air hockey table. Your piece sits on top of the board, while you control it using a magnet underneath. You’ll be looking to bash a ball into your opponent's hole-shaped goal, gaining a point. To make things a bit more tricky, there are little white magnets in the middle of the table that can be knocked around by the ball.
These magnets can get stuck on your player - and if two or more get stuck on you, your opponent scores a point. A point is also conceded if your piece falls into your own goal hole. (The ‘smack!’ noise is what gives Klask its name.) These points are tracked along the side of the pitch.
Not many games use magnets - and even fewer are inspired by large, game room-style games such as table football or air hockey. Klask feels familiar, even if you’ve never played it before, and it’s simple enough to explain and set up that anybody can play.
10. Flick 'em Up
A complex western-themed game with a lot going on
There’s a lot going on in this Wild West-inspired dexterity game, where you must set up a little 3D town and try to complete different scenarios.
Players get a set number of different characters to use during their turn. Once a meeple has been activated, you must choose two actions: move, pick something up or shoot. To move, you need to flick your disc - wherever it lands is where your character moves to. If you try to move and knock over an object on the table, the action is not fulfilled and everything knocked over is left down. If you want to shoot someone, you’ll need to knock them over with your disc - a challenging feat - without knocking over any items. You can potentially knock over your own characters in play, which causes them to lose a life. Lives are limited and characters can end up eliminated.
Flick ’em Up is a very challenging dexterity game full of tricky aspects. Even the specific way you must flick is defined in the rulebook - you cannot flick using your thumb, forcing you to flick in a way that has less force and more control. The placement of your meeple determines where you can place your movement disc to be flicked, meaning you’ll need to pay attention to each move you make. Often your disc can get caught close to a building or scenery, meaning you’ll need to be extra careful in flicking and face a tougher challenge of lining up the perfect shot.