It’s never been a better time to be a tabletop gamer, with some of the best board games ever made being widely available and played nowadays. Long gone are the days where you’d struggle to get anyone to pick up anything but their nearest licensed version of Monopoly or Cluedo. With all the amazing board games sitting on store shelves, there’s absolutely no excuse not to find something for everyone to enjoy - and there are some absolutely stellar picks on this list of the best board games.
We’ve made sure to include a wide variety of board games on this list, both in terms of theme and gameplay. Whether you’re looking for the next co-op game to share with your friends, a new lighthearted title to bring to a party or a heavier strategic game to get to grips with, you’ll be able to find an entry to fit your criteria. There are scary games, historical games, fantasy titles and even war-themed board games, meaning that whatever the weather you’ll have a fantastic tabletop title to pop onto the table.
The Best Board Games to play in 2022
- 7 Wonders
- Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
- Descent: Legends of the Dark
- Undaunted: North Africa
- Arkham Horror: The Card Game
- Junk Art
- Terraforming Mars
- Camel Up: Second Edition
- Quacks of Quedlinburg
Let us know your own picks in the comments below, but without further ado - here are the best board games currently available in 2022.
Exceptionally well-balanced factions and a unique theme have secure Root its place amongst the board game stars
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 in tabletop gaming history - 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 Woodland Alliance’s desire to establish sympathy across the woodland. Whilst 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 you have your hand on it, the more you know and the more invested you are in the game. Don’t miss out on one of the hands-down best board games ever created and start your Root journey.
Feed birds, lay eggs and create the perfect habitat in this bird lover’s board game
Designer Elizabeth Hargrave’s board game about attracting avians to their natural habitats has quickly become one of the must-play tabletop releases of the last few years, with millions of copies sold and its creator catapulted to stardom.
Wingspan’s acclaim will be little surprise to anyone who’s played before, thanks to its combination of gripping strategic cardplay and the pastoral charm of its theme. Players take turns to add cards to each of their natural habitats, with every additional card increasing the actions they can perform in a combo on subsequent turns as well as scoring points. Players can choose to gain food to attract further birds, lay eggs to add birds further down each row and draw additional bird cards to play on future turns.
What makes the gradual building of your card-driven engine even more satisfying is the faithful representation of the birds’ real-life counterparts, from their diet and how many eggs they typically lay to, yes, their wingspan.
Wingspan isn’t just a beauty to play - it’s a beauty to look at too, thanks to the gorgeous artwork of its feathered stars and its now-iconic pastel egg tokens. (Reminder: you can’t eat them, despite how tasty they look.) With a delightfully original theme, brilliant gameplay and a visual feast to match, Wingspan deserves its place as a modern classic-to-be. It’s one of the best board games of recent years, and destined to become an all-time great.
Icons of popular culture clash in a series that provides a tabletop experience like no other
This isn't the first time we’re going to be cheeky and include what is essentially a series of games as a single entry on this list, but there isn’t really a superior release in the Unmatched: Battle of Legends franchise. That’s because it’s a series that’s intended to have many entries that can be liberally mixed and matched with one another, but has a core gameplay system holding them all together. The concept of Unmatched is to have a roster of well-known characters - both public domain and licensed - fight one another in an area, with each character having their own unique deck of cards and abilities.
If I were to imagine how a fighting video game would be translated into a tabletop title, it would be like Unmatched. In the game, each player controls a character of their choice - for example, in the case of Season One, it could be King Arthur of Medusa - on a simple board. Players will then fight to the death using any abilities, allies and cards they have to hand. Every character’s deck is designed around a different playstyle, with players being encouraged to approach every one differently. For instance, whilst King Arthur has a lot fewer defence cards in his deck, he has an ability that allows him to boost his attacks.
Not only does this make Unmatched a series with so much potential, with each new character introduced offering up a new experience, but it also ties beautifully into the concept of pitting beloved pop culture characters against each other. Characters in Unmatched don’t just look how we imagine them, they also play like we imagine them, which is a level of care that I can’t help but respect.
4. 7 Wonders
Building an ancient civilisation shouldn’t be this fun or easy
There are dozens upon dozens of civilisation building board games out there, but none quite like 7 Wonders. Creating your own society and city may be an enormous and decade-spanning task in real life, but 7 Wonders makes it seem like an absolute breeze thanks to how easy it is to learn and how quickly the game moves. The theme is certainly presented in a grandiose manner, with each player responsible for building one of the seven wonders of the ancient world - from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the Temple of Athena - but the gameplay mechanics themselves are gloriously straightforward and yet very fun to play.
A card-drafting game at its core, a single round of 7 Wonders is as simple as players taking turns to play cards from each hand that is given to them. As players receive a new selection of cards, they choose one to play and pass the rest on to the next player until there are no cards left. Which cards players decide to take will depend upon what resources they’re after, what cards they already have and what their opponents have taken, with 7 Wonders providing plenty of opportunities for strategising. As a card-drafting game, there are also lots of opportunities to be mean to your opponents and vice versa, especially when it comes to aspects such as army cards - which can be used to minus victory points from an adjacent player.
Despite the inclusion of things like resource management and card combos, 7 Wonders remains exceptionally accessible due to its straightforward gameplay loop and short playtime. It’s the ideal board game to introduce to beginners and serves as a fantastic gateway into more complex civilization building board games, or titles that use similar concepts. Which is why 7 Wonders deserves to be acknowledged as one of the best board games of the modern era.
5. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
Investigate the streets of London to crack cases under the watch eye of the World’s Greatest Detective
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.
6. Descent: Legends of the Dark
Crawl your way through 3D dungeons with an app as your DM in the sprawling fantasy adventure
An ambitious reboot of sorts for the much-loved Descent series of dungeon-crawler games, Legends of the Dark introduces a new companion app to guide players through its epic fantasy adventure.
Legends of the Dark is a sweeping, cinematic take on the classic fantasy questathon, popping up on the table with 3D environments - including levels build across multiple vertical levels - and off of your tablet screen with its fully-featured companion app, which keeps track of the players’ story-shaping decisions during the 30-plus-hour campaign and brings its enemies to life with dynamic behaviour that responds to the characters’ actions.
Descent’s familiar dice-chucking combat is given a fresh twist with the introduction of double-sided cards that can be flipped to open up new options during fights, with characters able to take on fatigue to perform more powerful abilities.
Between the dungeon crawls, players can retire back to the local town, upgrading their equipment - with both new physical cards and digital effects handled by the app - and embarking on side quests that flesh out the colourful characters’ backstories while granting chances to grab extra gear.
Descent: Legends of the Dark’s blending of physical gameplay and ambitious digital features comes together in a slick, satisfying package. With this box billed as the first act of a planned trilogy, we can’t wait to see what the world of Terrinoth holds.
7. Undaunted: North Africa
Deckbuild to command troops in desert warfare during World War II
Wargames are often considered one of the drier genres of board games. Often, that’s not without good reason, with the focus typically on faithfully simulating the minutiae of battles and tactical complexity of their historical setting.
Undaunted proves that historical games can be fun for non-history buffs without sacrificing accuracy. The series blends the deckbuilding of games such as Dominion with the tactical movement and combat of traditional skirmish miniatures games. Players use their cards to command units on the battlefield, moving between tiles to claim objectives and pin down enemies with fire by rolling a die - with key elements such as range and terrain taken into account.
Undaunted’s debut entry saw players command US and German troops following the invasion of Normandy during World War II. Its second standalone instalment shifts focus to the conflict’s North African theatre, with players controlling the opposed Long Range Desert Group of the British Army and Italian Axis forces.
Undaunted: North Africa improves on Normandy’s already impressive formula by introducing new rules for vehicles and increasing the asymmetrical setup of each of its unique scenarios. It presents the complex, immersive combat of wargaming through the easy-to-learn lens of deckbuilding without reducing its appeal to those after a strategic showdown in the dunes. Whether you’re coming to Undaunted as a fan of deckbuilders such as Dominion looking for a more thematic experience or a wargaming fan after a historical treat that’ll play in under an hour, Undaunted: North Africa has it all. It’s superb.
8. Arkham Horror: The Card Game
The ultimate horror board game series gets one of its finest entries in this co-op card game
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.
9. Junk Art
Feed your creative side and look ridiculous whilst doing it
A lot of dexterity board games are focused on challenging players’ aim and, well, how dexterous they are, but few test people’s ability to visualise shapes and practise engineering. Junk Art provides an entirely unique dexterity game experience by pulling the focus away from physical aptitude and pushing it towards careful thinking and ridiculousness. Over the course of several rounds, players in Junk Art will use their set of oddly-shaped - but wonderfully smooth - pieces to create various sculptures, all whilst attempting to fulfil the criteria set by each city’s art community.
These criteria are laid out at the beginning of each round of the game, with a venue being randomly selected, but roughly speaking almost every round will involve players attempting to balance their pieces atop one another. Sometimes players will need to copy the layout shown on a card - without pieces falling off the structure - whilst other rounds see players drafting cards for their opponents, with each card depicting the next piece they’ll need to balance on their structure. Besides the difficulty presented by balancing the various vastly different shaped pieces on top of each other, players will also need to figure out how to fit it all on a small platform - as the pieces are not allowed to touch the table.
Though Jenga might be the most popular form of dexterity board game, Junk Art takes things to an entirely different level by forcing players to overcome a much more complex series of puzzles that test their hands and their brains. Despite this, Junk Art is still a very silly and lighthearted game that never fails to make its players laugh at themselves and their opponents, hence why it’s on this list of the best board games.
10. Terraforming Mars
A speculative science fiction game that doesn’t seem all that far-fetched nowadays
With several corporations already staring hungrily into the stars, with visions of intergalactic domination filling their heads, the concept of Terraforming Mars edges ever closer to reality. A space board game about companies and organisations competing with one another to gain the most influence and power during the habitation of Mars, Terraforming Mars is a fascinating examination of what could happen if humanity did try to populate the red planet. Rather than it being a publicly funded effort that puts the needs of the people first, most games of Terraforming Mars devolve into players finding whatever ways they can to put their faction ahead of their rivals - even if it means nuking parts of the planet.
The initial presentation of Terraforming Mars may come across as serious and dull, with the terrible artwork for the cards certainly not helping this, but it’s actually an irresistibly engaging game to learn and play, thanks to its core gameplay mechanics revolving around card combos and engine-building (or when cards played in previous rounds allow players to do more on their future rounds). Options may seem limited on the first round of the game, with players having few funds to buy and play cards, but if they’ve laid a solid foundation then players will have a lot more to do later on. Playing a card that allows them to produce resources like plants or electricity, will then enable players to perform additional actions like building gardens or increasing the planet’s temperature later on.
Terraforming Mars may appear intimidating to begin with - and it will take several goes around for players to really get the hang of it - but once you understand how to best utilise combos and eventually maximise your turn efficiency, then it becomes an incredibly satisfying game to play. This is a euro-game that proves that not every tabletop title like it needs to have players managing a dozen things and carrying out complex mathematics in their head, to provide a challenge.
11. Camel Up: Second Edition
Gambling has never been so family friendly or so thematically appealing
The original Camel Up has been a certified classic since its release in 2014, but it was elevated to new heights when the Second Edition of the game was released just four years later. What was always considered a fun and silly board game about betting on racing camels was only improved by the addition of a new type of camel - ones that go backwards around the track - as well as a snazzy plastic pyramid to shake the dice in, a palm tree decoration on the board and, in my opinion, better artwork. However, the foundation of a brilliant family board game was always there and it’s why Camel Up continues to capture the hearts of new players everywhere.
The concept of the game is simple enough: players place their bets on the different coloured camels moving along a track until one of them passes the finish line. It’s essentially gambling, but without the use of real world money and with the inclusion of camels, sand and mint julips (which I consider to be an improvement on the activity). Throughout the course of each round, players can choose to reveal a random die from the pyramid - which will move its corresponding camel up to three spaces - put a bet on the winning camel for that round or place bets on which camel they think will win or lose the overall race. Should a camel ever land on another camel, then it will move with the camel below it. This simple aspect changes the entire game, forcing players to carefully consider the bets and use whatever information they have to their advantage.
There’s very little strategy to Camel Up, with the outcome of the game being almost entirely decided by random chance. However, this works perfectly well with the fact that Camel Up is a silly game that’s easy to learn and enables players to experience the thrill of gambling without any of the actual losses, making it a perfect game to share with the family.
12. Quacks of Quedlinburg
Build a bag and pray that you pull out what you want in this board game of probabilities
Whilst 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, which is 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 an absolutely 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 not pulling 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 honestly one of the best feelings a board game can gift you, which is why it’s here on this list.