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30 Classic Board Games Everyone Should Own

It's game night, and these classic board games offer up a dose of nostalgia alongside strategy and fun.

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30 Classic Board Games Everyone Should Own Ecomm Via Amazon.comrd.com, via amazon.com (3)

Classic board games to break out on game night

Who doesn’t love a classic board game? A night in with friends or family becomes a trip down memory lane when you’re getting competitive over games that have been popular for decades. Their longevity speaks to the level of entertainment they provide. Take, for instance, chess. Though not the oldest board game—that honor goes to the ancient Egyptian game Senet, created in 3,500 B.C. and originally played on rectangular slabs made of wood, limestone, or faience—the classic two-player game is old.

Chess was first played around the sixth century A.D. and is to this day the top-selling board game of all time. Sales have soared since the release of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit. In fact, Goliath Games revealed to the New York Times that sales of chess sets were up more than 1,000 percent shortly after the series released in 2020. Following chess, checkers, backgammon, Monopoly, and Scrabble are among the top five most popular board games.

Whether you like to play the best card games or prefer to think ten steps ahead in one of your favorite strategy board games, one of these classic board games will suit your taste. So press pause on the online board games tonight and settle in with an oldie but goodie. And get ready for the most fun game night yet.

Monopoly Gamevia walmart.com

Monopoly

Created in: 1935

For ages: 8 and up

According to the Hasbro website, Monopoly is the world’s favorite family gaming brand. Brand, because while the original Monopoly game is still going strong, there are now more versions than anyone can count, including ones based on Star Wars, Empire, Disney princesses, and even Minions. You can find electronic and on-the-go versions, plus an app for every device.

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Guess Who Game via amazon.com

Guess Who?

Created in: 1979

For ages: 6 and up

This two-player game started over 40 years ago, it has now been updated with character art that fits the 21st century: The original version had only five female characters (out of 24) and no non-white characters at all. This version has 11 female characters and 14 characters of color. Kids love flipping the characters and asking inventive questions to try to guess each other’s mystery character. It’s a classic for a reason.

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Rummikub Gamevia amazon.com

Rummikub

Created in: 1978

For ages: 8 and up

Rummikub (pronounced “rummy-cube”) is definitely one of the most fun board games for families. Players take turns placing numbered tiles in sequential runs and groups of the same. Jokers add spice and interest, and the first player to use all their tiles wins. The game is simple enough for kids to get but engaging enough for adults. If you don’t already have Rummikub in your game chest, it’s worth adding.

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Scrabble Gamevia amazon.com

Scrabble

Created in: 1933

For ages: 8 and up

Scrabble has been one of the go-to classic board games for wordsmiths and puzzle lovers for decades. From 1984 to 1990, a Scrabble-based game show ran on television. And although the classic board hasn’t changed much throughout the years, Merriam-Webster’s Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, which contains over 100,000 usable Scrabble words, is now in its sixth edition and includes new words like bitcoin, emoji, and facepalm.

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Sorry Game via amazon.com

Sorry!

Created in: 1934

For ages: 6 and up

For years, the look and rules of Sorry! remained pretty much the same. But in 2013, some rules were updated and other changes were made. Before, players started with four pawns, but now they get only three pawns. And two new cards, Fire and Ice, were added. Special editions of this family board game include those that feature Disney villains and SpongeBob SquarePants.

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Trouble Game via amazon.com

Trouble

Created in: 1965

For ages: 5 and up

Get ready to hit that famous Pop-o-Matic and watch the dice roll. The classic Trouble game has remained pretty much the same since it launched in the 1960s, but recent special editions feature Trolls, Star Wars, and Olaf from Frozen. A smaller grab-and-go version means Trouble can follow you wherever you go.

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Trivial Pursuit via amazon.com

Trivial Pursuit

Created in: 1981

For ages: 16 and up

The classic version of this iconic game includes six knowledge categories: geography, entertainment, history, arts and literature, science and nature, and sports and leisure. But over the years, Hasbro has developed more than 50 special editions of this classic board game, covering topics like Star Wars, the 2000s, Baby Boomers, and Stranger Things. The questions are slightly different for each version. The 2000s edition, for instance, includes the categories of places, entertainment, events, the arts, science and tech, and sports and hobbies. If that doesn’t challenge your brain, then perhaps one of the most challenging jigsaw puzzles will.

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Boggle Game via amazon.com

Boggle

Created in: 1972

For ages: 8 and up

If you love word games like Wordle, Boggle is the classic board game you need. It’s a fast-paced, head-to-head word search game that’s perfect for almost any number of players, including just one. Shake up the letters and spot the most words before the timer runs out to win! Boggle is also available in a “Big Boggle” edition.

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Clue Gamevia amazon.com

Clue

Created in: 1985

For ages: 8 and up

Clue is so popular that it has spawned multiple editions, books, and even a cult classic film. Can’t distinguish between the different versions? Here’s a hint: The original is always marked “The Classic Mystery Game.” Currently, there is a Star Wars version of Clue that takes place inside the Empire’s Death Star, and players can choose to be Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, R2-D2, or C-3PO. Find the murderer, you can!

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Sequence Game via amazon.com

Sequence

Created in: 1982

For ages: 7 and up

Sequence is a classic for a reason. You draw cards and place a chip on the corresponding card on the board, trying to build two runs of five cards: sequences! The cards on the board match up to two full decks of cards, but they’re not always in sequential order, and you can build in any direction. Additionally, drawing jacks adds intrigue: One-eyed jacks remove your opponent’s chips from the board, foiling them at the last minute, while two-eyed jacks are wild, replacing any card you’re missing to win that Sequence. For more fun that’ll stump you, try the hardest puzzles you can get on Amazon.

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Candy Land Game via amazon.com

Candy Land

Created in: 1948

For ages: 3 and up

Didn’t everyone own this one growing up? Candy Land requires zero strategy, unlike some others on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun. In the 1940s, during the polio epidemic, Eleanor Abbott, a victim of the disease, wanted to create a game for bed-bound children recovering from the disease. Candy Land was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2005. Current special editions for Candy Land include Disney princesses and Minnie Mouse.

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Risk Game via amazon.com

Risk

Created in: 1957

For ages: 10 and up

World domination is the goal of this military-themed game. Risk may be the most complicated and strategic of the classic board games listed here, but that hasn’t taken away from its popularity. It’s so popular, in fact, that the classic game has inspired special editions based on Star Wars, Europe, Captain America: Civil War, and Narnia, among others. There’s even an edition where players can conquer the moon!

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Catan Game via amazon.com

Settlers of Catan

Created in: 1995

For ages: 10 and up

This classic settlement board game (which later became a video game) is filled with action and adventure, as each player is on a mission to be the first to settle the uncharted island of Catan. It originated in Germany and was one of the first German-style board games to be successful outside of Europe. This classic board game intrigues people from all walks of life—it’s fun for the whole family. Keep the fun going while you’re on the go with these entertaining car games.

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Battleship Gamevia amazon.com

Battleship

Created in: 1967

For ages: 7 and up

This infamous strategy-heavy board game is perfect for a sibling rivalry. Its roots go back as far as World War I, where it was said to be played by Russian officers with a pen and paper. Milton Bradley ran with the concept, and the familiar Battleship game with plastic boards and pegs made its debut. This game of competition and strategy is perfect for the night when you want a brain game that’ll put your mind to good use.

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The Game Of Life via amazon.com

The Game of Life

Created in: 1960

For ages: 8 and up

It’s not possible (yet) to choose our life’s path in advance, and the Game of Life makes the element of chance very clear. Spin the wheel, and your future awaits you. Will you get married? Have twins? Go to college? Receive a pension? Who knows, but that’s the fun of it. And it’s hard to have the same path twice, so this is one of the classic board games that’s good for the long haul.

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Pictionary Game via amazon.com

Pictionary

Created in: 1985

For ages: 6 and up

Think of this like charades—but better (especially for lazy game-nighters). This classic drawing game is always good for laughs. When players say they’re not good at drawing, remind them that the worse the drawing is, the bigger the laughs are and the more memorable the game remains. Pictionary is a good choice for both kids and adults, as there are plenty of “junior” cards that the kiddos will be able to comprehend.

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Wits End Game via amazon.com

Wit’s End

Created in: 1995

For ages: 16 and up

This is the perfect board game for people who love wordplay and riddles. Get ready for brainteasers and genius-level challenges. Players need to think outside the box and stretch their critical thinking muscles. There are four different categories to test skills: sequences, odd one out, teasers, and wild cards. The questions span history, geography, science, pop culture, and more. It’s the ideal gift for the brainiac gamer on your list.

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Connect 4 via amazon.com

Connect Four

Created in: 1974

For ages: 6 and up

The simple concept of lining up four chips in a row proves to be a classic game time and time again. Do you start in the middle, or do you focus on one of the corners? The choice of strategy is yours as you work to outwit your competitor.

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Aggravation Game via amazon.com

Aggravation

Created in: 1960

For ages: 6 and up

There’s never been a board game so aptly named. So if you like to aggravate your game-night opponents, this is the board game for you. The classic marble-and-dice game seems random, but it requires intense strategic forethought to avoid getting sent back home before you’re in the safe zone. It’s perfect for people who can keep their cool while wreaking havoc. For something totally different, gather pals for one of the best card games.

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Twister Game via amazon.com

Twister

Created in: 1966

For ages: 6 and up

You’re the game piece in this classic party game. Better stretch beforehand! Players spin the board to find out where they’ll put their hands and feet. Contort your body, get closer to friends and family, and best of all, get ready to end up laughing as you all collapse on the floor. You can also play in teams for added competitive fun.

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Go Game via amazon.com

Go

Created in: 2,356 B.C.

For ages: 8 and up

This game was invented in China over 2,500 years ago, and people are still playing it! Talk about a classic board game. Here’s how it works: Two players use black and white “stones” to strategize how to take over territories on the board. The setup is deceptively simple, but it requires abstract thought and intensive strategy. It’s perfect for competitive types.

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Checkers Game via amazon.com

Checkers

Created in: 3,000 B.C.

For ages: 5 and up

Who doesn’t remember taking out the old checkerboard and jumping over various squares to get to the other side? Checkers is one of the world’s oldest games: Greek writers Homer and Plato mentioned this two-player game in their works. Life is full of change, but checkers will apparently always be there. Need some on-the-go entertainment? Grab one of these road trip games.

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Chess Game via amazon.com

Chess

Created in: Sixth century A.D.

For ages: 7 and up

How can you mention classic board games without mentioning chess? Another one of the oldest games in the world, chess appeared around the sixth century in India and then spread to other parts of the world, including Europe and the Middle East. Even the nobility started playing this “royal game” in the 15th century.

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Pass The Pigs via amazon.com

Pass the Pigs

Created in: 1977

For ages: 8 and up

Pass the Pigs is a simple game, but it’s hours and hours of hilarious fun for kids and adults. Toss two pigs and score points for the poses they land in. Snouters are good, but Leaning Jowlers are even better. You can keep rolling, but you might lose all your points if you get a Pig Out. The first player to win 100 points wins the game. Pass the Pigs is amazing for little kids and can be played with up to four players. It’s also super portable, making it perfect for travel.

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Senet Movie via amazon.com

Senet

Created in: 3,500 B.C.

For ages: 12 and up

This Ancient Egyptian journey game only requires two players. The full name was formerly “senet net hab,” meaning “game of passing through,” because the object of the game is to get from one side of the board to the other. This is another great travel game, as the board comes with drawers to store the playing pieces.

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Backgammon Game via amazon.com

Backgammon

Created in: 3,000 B.C.

For ages: 5 and up

Backgammon dates almost as far back as Senet. It’s a two-player game in which each player has 15 pieces that move between 24 triangles according to the number that is rolled on the two dice. The game involves a healthy combination of strategy and luck. With each roll, players have to choose how they want to move their pieces and anticipate what their opponent will do next.

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Axis And Allies via amazon.com

Axis and Allies

Created in: 1981

For ages: 12 and up

Calling all history buffs! This military strategy board game is based on World War II. Players represent either the Axis or Allied powers and make military decisions across the globe. Beware: This game may take a few hours to complete.

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Operation Gamevia amazon.com

Operation

Created in: 1965

For ages: 6 and up

Break out the gloves! It’s time to perform a little surgery. The object of the game is to remove all of the pieces from the patient using a pair of tweezers. If you aren’t careful and the tweezers hit the side of the patient, the game will buzz, indicating it’s the next player’s turn to try.

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Scattergories Gamevia amazon.com

Scattergories

Created in: 1988

For ages: 12 and up

Scattergories is one of those classic board games that will keep you on your toes. Players aim to come up with unique answers that fit the categories on their card and begin with the letter rolled on the die. The object of the game is to come up with as many answers as possible before the clock runs out. But remember to be creative! If you choose an answer that matches another player, neither of you will receive a point.

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Mouse Trap via amazon.com

Mouse Trap

Created in: 1963

For ages: 6 and up

The kids will love this one. And let’s be real: So will the adults. The object of this game is to avoid getting trapped as you scurry around the board to collect cheese tokens. The best part of this game is building the set before play even begins. If you have a builder on your hands, they’ll love this. No kids? Pull out one of these adult party games instead.

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Sources:

Felissa Benjamin Allard
Felissa Allard has worked at The New York Daily News, Health, Life & Style, About.com and more. As a freelancer, she has had pieces published on What To Expect, SELF, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Modern Mom, Working Mother, and more. Her specialities are beauty, fashion, health, wellness, and parenting.