The Best Board Games of 2019

Take to the skies, the national parks and to the streets of Tokyo in these offerings perfect for family gatherings

The list includes Wingspan, Letter, Jam, Parks and Dune. (Photo illustration by Meilan Solly)

Looking for some analog fun this holiday season? Bring a board game to your next family gathering.

“I have a Playstation and a [Nintendo] Switch at home, and I’d rather play Tapestry,” says Taylor Jenkins, owner of Philly Game Shop, a board-game store and community space that recently opened in Philadelphia. Her operation is one of a wave of board-game focused businesses. “We’re about to be home to three board game cafes,” she adds.

Why are board games so popular? Jenkins theorizes that it’s about social connection — you can play a board game by yourself, but why bother? — combined with the destigmatizing effect of shows like “Stranger Things.”“It’s not shameful to be geeky anymore,” says Jenkins.“That has freed up people to enjoy things they may have shied away from in high school.”

This year, even self-described board game geeks who may think they’ve seen it all should have new appreciation for this year’s unique, accessible game themes (who would have guessed a few years ago that a game about birds would be so popular).

To pull this list together, I interviewed board-game designers, store owners and critics to hear about what they thought were the best games of the year. Read on to find out how to provide your whole family some old-fashioned fun this year. No electricity required.

Having trouble seeing our list of games? Turn off your ad blocker and you'll be all set. For more recommendations, check out The Best Books of 2019.

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