board game
Whether you prefer intense competition, cooperation or word games, there's something for everyone on our list. Image Credit: Shutterstock

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No matter how often you’re swept into the digital world, through smartphones, tablets and other gadgets, it doesn’t beat the joy and sense of community you feel when you’re laughing with family and friends over a good board game.

Kids aren’t the only ones who love a highly competitive board game. There are plenty of options out there for adults too, with something to suit every kind of mood and environment. From team games to strategy games to ones that you can pull out at parties, the board games on our list are diverse and entertaining. We scoured viral trends, checked out reviews, and picked top rated offerings that will help you keep your family entertained, this summer.

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1. Best Overall: Wingspan 

Arguably one of the best modern board games, award-winning Wingspan is as beautifully designed as it is laid-back. While there is an element of competition, there’s no need for cut-throat tactics here. And how can there be, when you’re playing with items like grain, pastel-coloured eggs and even a birdhouse? The game, at its core, is about biodiversity. You’re the guardian of an ecosystem that consists of forest, grassland and wetland habitats, and your goal is to attract birds to these areas, by carefully making moves using combinations of eggs, food tokens, and other resources. It’s what’s called an ‘engine-building game’ – the birds you play become more efficient at generating points in each turn, like an engine running faster and faster. Reviewers praise the beautiful artwork and the soothing ambience it creates, while others say they’ve learnt a lot about various birds through this game.

2. Best for Teens: Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion 

The original Gloomhaven and its sequel Frosthaven were Kickstarter board games that went on to cash in millions of dollars. This prequel, Jaws of the Lion, keeps all the best parts of the original board games, and makes it more accessible for people who love adventure titles. Fair warning, though: this isn’t a short game – it can take upwards of two hours to complete. With complex characters, long-running narrative campaigns and character building, you can immerse yourself in a world where you explore dungeons, fight monsters, outsmart puzzling scenarios, as well as acquire and spend loot.

3. Best Word Game: Tapple 

This new party game has been going viral on TikTok recently, garnering upwards of 20 million views. It’s a quick-fire word game that’s simple and well-suited for families, bringing both kids and adults together as they compete to beat the timer. A quiet game, this is not. Prepare for excitement, serious competition and lots of shouting – it’s ideal for two to eight players. Reviewers like that the Tapple wheel stores all its category cards securely, so it’s portable and easy to pack if you’re travelling. Since it involves memory and vocabulary building, parents in the reviews say it’s a fun tool to expand children’s language skills.

4. Best Strategy Game: Dune: Imperium Uprising 

Who needs battle arena video games like Dota (Defence of the Ancients) or Warcraft, when you can supervise an entire siege on your tabletop? Based on the 1965 epic novel by Frank Herbert, and the recent film adaptation, Dune’s Imperium Uprising is a deeply tactical strategy game that you can truly immerse yourself in. It involves worker placement and includes deck-building mechanics that give you an exciting array of options and draw you into the plot. And yes, there are sandworms here that can completely change your prospects. Reviewers love the detailed plastic figures that are essential to the game, but they warn that it takes a while to understand all the rules, and learn how to play. This intense game can be completed with two players, but reviewers say it’s a lot more fun when all four players are involved.

5. Best for Two Players: Disney Villainous 

Take a Villainous romp through classic Disney films you grew up watching, from Aladdin to Maleficent. As its name suggests, the game has an important twist – you’re the villain, not the hero. You get to pick from six iconic Disney villains, such as Captain Hook, Jafar and Ursula, and spend the rest of the game trying to scupper other foes’ plans, even as you advance your own strategies and objectives. While you can play with up to six players, reviewers say the intricacies of the game make it a lot better when you go head-to-head with one other person – it gives you time and space to hash out tactics and plot to your heart’s content.

6. Best Team Game: Codenames 

A fun game for groups, Codenames relies on word association and is a fast and furious guessing game between teams. Each team picks a spymaster, who’s responsible for guiding you to victory with carefully chosen clues that you’ll have to decode correctly. Reviewers say placing this responsibility in the hands of the youngest members of the team leads to hilarious and unexpected results. Great for two to 10 players, it’s an excellent game to bring out during parties.

7. Best Co-op Game: Pandemic 

It may feel a little strange playing a game that reminds you of COVID-19, but the beauty of it is that it’s a cooperative board game that brings people together. Each player has a role, and you work together to eradicate four deadly diseases before humanity is compromised. There are lots of element involved, like communication, strategy and a reliance on each player’s unique abilities. While the game can be completed in under an hour, you can buy expansions to extend the game and add even more interesting characters and plots.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.