Best board games: 7 games for entertaining all ages at home

The best board games make lockdown and the Christmas holidays much more fun. See our top picks for every age group

The best board games
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You might have the latest consoles and plenty to stream on TV, but nothing beats the fun of an old school board game. And while so many of us are counting the days until the end of lockdown the best board games can make being stuck at home a little bit more bearable. Especially when the weather is not conducive for a family walk.

Or, if you are planning ahead to Christmas, picking up a few best selling games is a great idea. Is it really Christmas if a fall out hasn't occurred after an overly competitive game of Monopoly? Jokes aside, a good board game can be a great way to break up the hours of feasting and festive films and these all make great gift options, too.

From silly games to get the whole family involved to tactical two player options, we have played our way through this list to give you the best board games. Take your pick and stock up, then check out our best Christmas gift ideas for 2020 for more present inspiration.

Best board games 2020

Ticket to ride

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1. Ticket to ride

The best board game if you love strategy but want something simple for the whole family

Specifications
Players: 2-5
Suitable from: 8 years
Play time: up to two hours
Reasons to buy
+Complex enough to entertain but not so complex it's hard to understand
Reasons to avoid
-It can be a long game that younger ones may not be able to concentrate on

If you haven't heard of Ticket to Ride before, it looks complicated, but it's actually really easy to learn and has just the right amount of strategy involved to still be playable time after time. The basic idea is that each player is given journeys they have to make by laying down their trains, but it's more complex than that, with tunnels, bridges, ferries and obviously other players getting in the way.

It's suitable for 8 years plus, but there is a more child-friendly version called Ticket to Ride First Journey

Board games

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2. Linkee

A fab shouty-outy card game that's quick to learn

Specifications
Players: 2+
Suitable from : 14 years
Play time : 30 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Quick to learn and quick to play +Can include as many players as you like
Reasons to avoid
-Once you have played a few times you might start to recognise the questions (there are 100s though)

While not technically a board game, this is a classic, and we are big fans of Linkee. It's a good family game, and like all good family games it can get a bit shouty. The basic rules are that you have to answer four questions and then find out the link between all your answers. Example: What is the name of Robin Hood's friend? Who judges The Great British Bake Off? What is the name of Kate and Will's oldest child? Errr, this one is less straightforward... what would someone propose with? Got it?

Board games

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3. Trivial Pursuit Classic Edition

A classic board game that the whole family can play

Specifications
Players: 2-6
Suitable from: 16 years
Play time : up to 1 hour
Reasons to buy
+Easy to follow+Perfect amount of play time+Great for adults and kids
Reasons to avoid
-Some of the questions can be challenging 

Another classic. Even if you already own it, might we recommend you update your version to a more recent one that people born after 1960 can get involved with? We are tired of answering questions like, 'Where was the Olympic games hosted in 1994?' (Lillehammer, btw) and 'Who won Wimbledon in 1981?' (John McEnroe, durrr).

There are now editions you can get, too, if the standard general knowledge version is a but too broad for you. There a 2000s version which sounds right up our street, a family edition that's great for younger kids, and loads of mini-travel versions that are quicker to play and come in every theme going. 

Board games

(Image credit: John Lewis )

4. The Gruffalo Memory Game

The best board game for younger children, easy to play and great for learning

Specifications
Players: 1-2
Suitable from : 3 years
Play time: as long as you like
Reasons to buy
+Suitable for younger children +The game can be varied to suit different abilities 
Reasons to avoid
-We can't find any!

If you have kids under three to entertain, Trivial Pursuit probably isn't the one. Memory games like these ones are great for younger kids because they also learn as they play. We couldn't resist this Gruffalo memory game, the illustrations are super cute and will be recognisable to your children. The game itself is really simple – a three year old could do it, you just have to match up the cards with the same characters on. 

Board games

(Image credit: John Lewis )

5. What Do You Meme?

Definitely not family friendly but does provide a load of laughs

Specifications
Players: 2+
Suitable from : 18 years
Play time: as long as you like
Reasons to buy
+Hilarious +Different every time you play it
Reasons to avoid
-Not family friendly

Definitely not child-friendly, this is game for adults only and probably only family suitable if you feel very comfortable being exposed to a side of your gran you never thought existed. The aim is to pair up popular memes with a caption, then someone will vote for the funniest. Mature? No. Hilarious? Absolutely. 

Patchwork board game

(Image credit: Amazon)

6. Patchwork

A great two-player game that is quick to learn and quick to play

Specifications
Players: 2
Suitable from : 8 years
Play time : 15-30 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Can be a really fast game if your family tend to get bored quickly
Reasons to avoid
-Only a two player game 

Looking for a two player game that can be as quick or as long as you want? Patchwork is just that. It is very easy to pick up (the box says it is suitable for ages eight and up), but can take a while to master like a pro – and that is the fun of it. The goal is simple: cover as much of your quilt board as possible with the patches to end the game with the most buttons. Buttons are your currency and different patches are worth a different amount, so choose your patches wisely to finish with the most profit. It is a good tactical game without the length of something like Risk.

Board games

(Image credit: John Lewis )

7. Ocean Bingo

You can't go wrong with a game of bingo based on creatures of the sea

Specifications
Players: 2-12
Suitable from : 6 years
Play time: 30mins – 1 hour
Reasons to buy
+Really easy to play +A great learning game 
Reasons to avoid
-Lots of bits that can potentially get lost

You just can't go wrong with bingo. You can shout, don't have to concentrate too much, and all ages can get involved. We especially like this oceans edition: instead of using a dabber, you have to match the sea creature to the one on your board. There is also a bird, dog, cat edition, and more!

Scrawl best board game

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8. Scrawl: The Disastrous Drawing Game

A hilarious game that can only be described as the love child of Pictionary and Chinese Whispers

Specifications
Players: 4–8
Suitable from: 17+
Play time: 20 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Crude and funny+Fast and easy to learn
Reasons to avoid
-Needs at least four players

This game is easy to pick up – even after a few bevvies – and only lasts from 20 to 30 minutes depending on how many are playing, so a great party game. The premise is simple. Draw what your card tells you to, pass to the next player and they have to write what they think it is. With your doodle hidden, the third player has to draw what the second has written and so on until your card returns to you. Now time for the reveal! Has your card come back depicting what your drew, or (more likely) something very very different? Points are based on how much you like everyone's awful scrawls, or awful guesses. It certainly exposes the inner workings of your mate's minds...