Games | November 24, 2020 11:42 am

15 Board Games to Gift the Family That’s Finally Sick of Monopoly

There’s more to tabletop gaming than Catan and Scrabble

Betrayal, Memoir '44 and Small World board games
Already played Betrayal at House on the Hill, Memoir '44 or Small World? We've got a dozen more board game options.
Avalon Hill Games / Days of Wonder

Visit InsideHook’s Holiday 2020 gifting hub to find gift ideas for every person on your list this year. Also, who are we kidding? Find lots of ideas for yourself there, too.

Even if you’re not part of a “board game family” — where you’ve got an entire closet dedicated to tabletop diversions — you probably have a copy of Monopoly, Scrabble or Catan tucked into a cupboard somewhere. Whichever end of the spectrum your household lands on, your arsenal of game-night choices has most likely gotten more use this year as we’ve collectively spent more time at home.

That means, in the abnormal holiday season that is 2020, a new board game is a better gift than ever. In pre-pandemic times, a tabletop game was a safe bet for almost any gifting situation, sort of like a bottle of booze. It’s something they’ll actually use, offers you some personalized wiggle room in your choice, and opens up the potential to share the gift with the recipient. And this year, board games are a panacea for pandemic boredom, or at least an alternative to endless, mind-numbing streaming.

We’ve been experiencing something of a board game renaissance in the last decade, which means there are lots of new games to choose from. But that can lead to choice paralysis, leaving the general public to simply buy whatever version of Monopoly was just released (please steer clear of the House Divided political edition).

To make it easy, we’ve categorized 15 of our favorite new (or new-ish) games below by which classic they match.

Small World board game
Days of Wonder

Small World

  • Good if you like: Risk 
  • Number of players: 2-5 
  • The basics of play: You try to conquer a map of territories (like Risk), with different fantasy characters (from orcs to wizards), over different regions (like Catan). One of the most popular games of the last couple years.
Betrayal at House on the Hill board game
Avalon Hill Games

Betrayal at House on the Hill

  • Good if you like: Clue
  • Number of players: 3-6 
  • The basics of play: It’s like Clue in the sense that it’s set in a spooky mansion and there’s one traitor among the party, but here, a set of tiles that build out from one another mean the house is different every time.
Qwixx dice game
Gamewright

Qwixx

  • Good if you like: Yahtzee
  • Number of players: 2-5
  • The basics of play: You roll dice of various colors and attempt to fill out your sheet first. It’s quick but engaging, and familiar but draws you back over and over. 
Throw Throw Burrito game
Exploding Kittens

Throw Throw Burrito

  • Good if you like: Spoons, Twister
  • Number of players: 2-6
  • The basics of play: This one involves plush burrito characters … that you hurl at each other. As such, it’s good for kids who need extra stimulus, or adults who appreciate a card game with an added element of danger.
Memoir ‘44 WWII board game
Days of Wonder

Memoir ‘44

  • Good if you like: Axis & Allies
  • Number of players: 2-8
  • The basics of play: A World War II game that prizes detail in the scenarios (there are a number of historic battles to play through), but user-friendliness in the directions. 
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion board game
Cephalofair Games

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

  • Good if you like: Dungeons & Dragons, Gloomhaven
  • Number of players: 1-4
  • The basics of play: Are you intrigued by the combination of fantasy and strategy in D&D or the more recent blockbuster board game Gloomhaven, but not interested in endless hours of directions followed by multi-day sessions? This brand new condensed version of the latter offers the same legendary feel without the commitment. 
Wingspan bird board game
Stonemaier Games

Wingspan

  • Good if you like: Birdwatching 
  • Number of players: 1-5
  • The basics of play: Yes, we mean this is a good game for you if you like actually going outside and watching birds. Wingspan has been a surprise hit that’s good for people who appreciate superb design and new experiences. 
Tiki Topple board game
Gamewright

Tiki Topple

  • Good if you like: Sorry!, Uno
  • Number of players: 2-4
  • The basics of play: Another good one for the youngsters, Tiki Topple combines the reaction cards of Uno with the knockout tactics of Sorry!
The Quacks of Quedlinburg board game
North Star Games

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

  • Good if you like: Can’t Stop, Zombie Dice
  • Number of players: 2-4
  • The basics of play: A “push your luck” style game that sounds arguably too nerdy to try (you’re all “quack doctors” brewing potions by adding a variety of ingredients), but turns out to be good at getting everyone’s blood boiling once they learn the rules.
Wavelength board game
Palm Court

Wavelength

  • Good if you like: Concept
  • Number of players: 2-12+
  • The basics of play: This ingenious party game is all about reading the minds of your teammates. Like word association, too? Then this one’s for you.
Blockbuster party game
Big Potato

Blockbuster

  • Good if you like: Catch Phrase, Charades 
  • Number of players: 4+
  • The basics of play: Movie buffs, this is your time to shine. It’s up to your team to show they’ve watched more Netflix, been to the movies more and, yes, rented more VHS tapes at Blockbuster. There’s also an expansion called, naturally, Blockbuster Returns.
Letter Jam board game
Czech Games

Letter Jam

  • Good if you like: Scrabble
  • Number of players: 2-6
  • The basics of play: Think you have a better vocabulary than the rest of the group? It’ll become clear quickly, as this guessing game involves seeing everyone else’s letters but your own.
Disney Villainous board game
avensburger

Disney Villainous 

  • Good if you like: Any Disney version of a board game
  • Number of players: 2-6
  • The basics of play: If you or your kids sympathize more with the Disney villains — Captain Hook, Jafar, Maleficent, Prince John, the Queen of Hearts or Ursula in particular — than you’ll appreciate this twist on the protagonist. Multiple expansion packs are available, as is a Marvel supervillain version
The Princess Bride Adventure Book Game
Ravensburger

The Princess Bride Adventure Book Game

  • Good if you like: Games based on movies
  • Number of players: 1-4
  • The basics of play: Let’s be honest, most board games based on movies are either hack jobs meant only to make money off a new release, or lame tie-ins to classic games (does anyone really need James Bond Monopoly?). This Princess Bride game is different, letting you play through the entire film in an engaging and surprisingly detailed setup. 
Superfight card game
Skybound Games

Superfight

  • Good if you like: Cards Against Humanity
  • Number of players: 3-10
  • The basics of play: All those arguments about who would win in a fight (Superman or Batman? Pirate or robot? 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?) but in an argument-forward card game with fun twists. Yes, like Cards Against Humanity, there are tons of expansions.

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