There’s something satisfying about trivia. Nothing beats the lightbulb moment when you recall an obscure fact or niche tidbit of knowledge to answer a question and impress your mates. That feeling is why pub quizzes and TV quiz shows are so popular.
But while there are plenty of popular TV quiz shows, trivia board games are a mixed bag. Most people have played the grandparent of the genre, Trivial Pursuit, but it’s not a great game. There’s little strategy: all you do is wait until it’s your turn to roll the dice, move and hope you’re lucky enough to know the answer to the question card. If you’re wrong, you just have to sit and wait until the next round.
So here’s a guide to ten other, much more fun trivia games. They’re a great way to test the general knowledge you’ve honed from months of virtual pub quizzes over Zoom during the past few months of lockdown.
Best trivia games
- Linkee: A brain-tickling card game where you must guess the link between four questions.
- Colourbrain: A quiz where the answer to every question is a colour.
- Shot in the Dark: A party game in which no-one will know the answers to these bizarre questions.
- Wits & Wagers: Win points not just by answering questions, but betting on who is most likely to be right.
- Blockbuster: A game for films fans who love quoting movies.
- Smart Ass: Who’s the smart arse in your friend group? Find out.
- Cranium: Test a range of skills with this party game. Answer questions, hum a tune or sculpt something with clay.
- Pointless: A recreation of the teatime TV show.
- Timeline: Build a timeline of historical events using cards.
- Half Truth: A clever spin on trivia games from the maker of Magic: The Gathering and a Jeopardy champion.
A brain-tickling card game where everything’s connected
In Linkee, each card consists of four questions, with one link connecting the answers. For example, if the answers were John, Paul, George and Ringo, the link would be The Beatles. Whoever guesses the link wins the card, and each card has a letter. The first to collect cards spelling “Linkee” wins the game.
Linkee does a great job of addressing the problems with Trivial Pursuit. First, everyone takes part in each round (barring whoever’s reading the question). Second, it balances player abilities; you don’t need to get all four answers to solve the link, so your group’s trivia expert won’t necessarily win.
This leads to some interesting tactical decisions. Do you wait to hear all four questions to work out the connection, or do you take a stab after two or three questions in the hope of guessing the link before the other players? You can only make one guess - if you’re wrong, you might help an opponent solve the link.
The questions cover a broad range of topics, from sports to pop culture and history, meaning it should cater to most players. It’s a great game for family gatherings.
Playtime: 30 minutes
Best for: Lateral thinkers
A family-friendly quiz where every answer is a colour
Colourbrain comes from Big Potato, maker of popular party games including Obama Llama, The Chameleon and Bucket of Doom, as well as trivia games such as Mr. Lister’s Quiz Shootout and What Came First?
Colourbrain simplifies the trivia format by making every question about colours. Each player holds 11 cards of various hues, and has to place down the correct cards to questions such as “What’s the colour of the lid on a jar of Marmite?” The questions are a mix of general knowledge and pop culture, so kids and adults can play together - there’s even a Disney-themed version of the game.
There’s also a neat game mechanic where you only score points if one player got the wrong answer. This stops anyone from racing into the lead by getting a streak of correct answers.
Playtime: 20 minutes
Best for: Colourful people
3. Shot in the Dark
A quiz game where no-one will know the answer - give it your best guess
The problem with some trivia games is that if one player is an expert on a topic and those questions come up, they may stroll to an easy victory. Shot in the Dark levels the playing field by asking niche questions like “What percentage of a Greggs sausage roll is pork?” or “What was the most valuable sports team in the world in 2018?”
The answers are so specific (in this case, 18% and the Dallas Cowboys) that players must make an educated guess - the closest guess wins the point, and the team with the most points wins.
In practice, it’s more of a conversation-starter, as players take turns reading out interesting questions and then discussing the surprising answer - it’s a bit like watching an episode of the comedy panel show QI. It comes in a small box so it can easily be taken to gatherings or the pub. One small criticism is that some of the questions are true or false, meaning answering them is less a shot in the dark and more the flip of a coin.
Playtime: 15 minutes
Best for: Starting conversations
Buy Shot in the Dark on Amazon UK.
4. Wits & Wagers
Win points not just by answering questions, but betting on who’s most likely to be right
Similar to Shot in the Dark, Wits & Wagers levels the playing field by asking niche questions with specific answers such as “In inches, how tall is the Oscar statuette?” or “In years and days, for how long did Franklin D. Roosevelt serve as US president?”
Every question has a numerical answer, and each player or team writes down a guess. These guesses are then arranged on the board from smallest to largest. Now comes the clever part.
Before the answer is revealed, you bet on which guess is closest to correct. Feeling confident? Bet on yourself. Think someone else knows better? Bet on them. Points are awarded based on these bets.
This casino-style mechanic adds a fun element, as you try to work out who knows the most about a topic. One potential gripe is that the questions are very America-centric, so if you have no idea about US sports or culture you’ll be making more blind guesses than educated ones.
Playtime: 25 minutes
Best for: Confident answerers
For film fans who remember renting VHS tapes
Another creation from Big Potato, Blockbuster is a party quiz for people who love movies. Players split into two teams and have to collect eight cards, each of which has a movie title on it.
There are two halves to the game. First, two players go head-to-head in a buzzer round where they must list movies on a topic like “based on a book” or “set in the future” until someone fails to answer correctly or runs out of time. The victor then gets a chance to win cards by acting out one movie, reciting a quote from another and using just one word to describe the last, so their team can guess the correct title.
It’s an exciting game that encourages creativity, and is perfect for the type of person who loves memorising movie quotes. By its nature, the game skews towards film buffs (it even comes in a VHS box) - so if your friends don’t watch many movies, they may not have much fun.
Playtime: 30-45 minutes
Best for: Nostalgic film fans
6. Smart Ass
Who’s the smart arse in your friend group?
In Smart Ass, you have to guess the identity of a person, place or thing. Each card has a list of descriptive statements in descending order from obscure to obvious. The first person to shout out the right answer gets to move around the board, and the first person to reach the end wins.
Being able to shout when you know the answer keeps everyone involved each turn, and the cards are simple enough for all ages and abilities. There’s also a travel-size version of the game that doubles as an expansion pack for when you’ve answered all the cards in the base game.
Playtime: 30 minutes
Best for: Fast thinkers
Test a range of skills with this party game
Created in 1998, Cranium expands on the basic trivia game formula by challenging players to demonstrate more abilities than just remembering facts. As well as regular general knowledge questions, players will have to solve word puzzles - such as spelling a word backwards - play charades, hum tunes and get teammates to guess a word by drawing clues or sculpting something out of clay. The first team to complete a circuit of the board wins.
The wider range of challenges means Cranium should appeal to a more diverse playgroup than just the trivia experts. The original game skews a little older due to the difficulty of the challenges, but there are family-friendly versions of the game for young ones.
Playtime: 35 minutes
Best for: Challenge seekers
A fun recreation of the teatime TV show
In the popular BBC quiz show Pointless, players have to think of obscure answers to trivia questions in order to score the fewest points possible. Questions might be along the lines of “Name a film directed by Steven Spielberg”. Points are assigned to answers based on survey results from asking 100 people the same question, almost like Family Fortunes in reverse.
The board game does a good job recreating the four rounds of the TV show. It can feel a bit clunky to play the first few times as each round is very different, but it should get easier the more you play. There’s even a little trophy for the winner to hold at the end of the game.
It’s a great game if you or someone you know is already a fan of the show, and might even help you convert them into playing more board games.
Playtime: 60 minutes
Best for: Pointless fans
Buy Pointless on Amazon UK.
Build a timeline of historical events using cards and your memory
This one is great for amateur historians. Each player receives four cards with an image of a historical event on one side and the date it happened hidden on the back. The aim is to place their cards in the right order by guessing if an event happened before or after a card in the timeline. The first person to place all their cards correctly wins.
Timeline is a quick and fun educational game, and the card illustrations are appealing. Don’t worry if you’re not a history expert - the pictures should provide enough context to make an educated guess.
More recent versions of the game come in travel-size tins, which are great for taking out and about, but only contain 55 cards, so after a few games you may remember the dates. That limits replayability, but you can mix and match different sets (each of which have different themes, such as inventions or British history) to increase complexity, and older versions of the games have more cards.
Playtime: 15 minutes
Best for: History buffs
10. Half Truth
A clever spin on trivia games from the creator of Magic: The Gathering and a TV quiz show pro
Half Truth is a trivia game designed by tabletop titan Richard Garfield - creator of Magic: The Gathering and King of Tokyo - and Ken Jennings, the highest-earning contestant on TV quiz show Jeopardy of all time.
Players must score victory points not just by getting questions right but by taking risks. Each question card has three correct answers and three wrong ones. Do you play it safe by just making one, or push your luck and try to guess all three? In some rounds, you’ll be trying to guess the wrong answers, which makes the game fairer as players can use logic to make educated guesses rather than just relying on knowledge. Everyone plays simultaneously, keeping everyone engaged and having fun.
It’s visually pleasing, with lots of tokens and chips to play with, and the base game contains over 500 questions, meaning it should last a long time before you have to repeat any cards.
Playtime: 30-45 minutes
Best for: Risk takers
Buy Half Truth on Amazon US.