The Ten Best Board Games of 2018

Go analog at your next party with one of these new classics

(Amazon)
smithsonian.com

If anything, board games have become even more popular than last year, when Smithsonian.com inaugurated our first-ever board game gift guide. Analysts predict that the industry will become a $12 billion market by 2023. Games also got weirder and more diverse, as the last few years have given us both Gloomhaven, a delightfully complex roleplaying game that supposedly contains 150 hours of gameplay and numerous secrets, and Dude, a card game where you say the word “dude” a lot. There truly is a board game to suit every taste and budget.

We sat down with some board-game industry experts (and fans) to find out the best board games of 2018.

Hardback

Hardback.png
(Fowers Games)

Kind of like: Dominion meets Boggle

Good for: Book lovers and Scrabble fans

This deck-building game expands and improves on the original Paperback game. Players compete to get high-scoring letters in their decks of cards, then play them to spell high-scoring words. Says Grosso: “It will stretch your brain in ways that Scrabble never has. Like any word game, a good vocabulary helps, but in this deck-building game the strategy of how you play matters much more.” Word lovers who prefer a less competitive experience can even play in cooperative mode, working together to defeat a simulated literary adversary.

Someone Has Died

Someone has died board game copy.png
(BoardGameGeek)

Kind of like: Apples to Apples

Good for: Your friend who’s always suggesting an improv class

A rich person is dead. Luckily, they’ve left a very contestable will. You are a friend/roommate/ex-lover/neighbor of the deceased, and you think you deserve to inherit their fortune. Good luck.

This “improvisational storytelling” game, where you have to make your case to inherit a fortune, is for anybody who’s ever thought about trying out roleplaying games but has been too intimidated to do so, says Bilanko. “Every time this game is played in the store there’s just roaring laughter,” she says. More structured than a typical roleplaying game, this game provides cards that provide characters’ backstories and motivation. Players take it from there.

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