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6 Modern Board Games You’ve Never Heard Of

Board games don’t have to be boring if you find the right fit

When you hear “board game,” you might think of games like “Monopoly,” “Scrabble,” “Clue” or “Sorry.” Those games are classics, but they can suck.

Luckily, an explosion of new board game designs in recent years has created a thriving modern board game scene.

Many of these games are crap, immensely complicated or so dry they would bore even your grandparents. However, some are actually fun.

I’ve been playing board games for a long time. Here are some of my most accessible favorites for various crowds.

For the actor:

“Monikers” is charades, but with a reliable set of cards to act out. To make things better, Monikers offers three rounds of increasing difficulty.

In the first round, you can do anything and say anything but the title of your card to try to get your friends to guess what’s on the card. In the second round, you get one word. In the third, you get only your miming ability. Monikers makes you laugh.

Monikers. | Photo by James Wilde

For the detective:

“Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective” hands you a pamphlet for a crime mystery and tells you to go solve it. You and your friends work together, going to locations on a map to find clues or reading from facsimile newspapers to find leads.

The goal is to use as few clues as possible to solve the case. The game is reading-intensive and the cases often involve illogical jumps, but if you’ve ever wanted to be a detective this is probably the closest you can get without actually becoming one.

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. | Photo by James Wilde

For the artist:

“A Fake Artist Goes to New York” begins with everyone secretly receiving the same object to draw. However, one player, the fake artist, has no idea what they’re supposed to be drawing.

Everyone goes around in a circle adding one line to the same drawing, and the players must then suss out who the fake artist is, before the fake artist successfully guesses what the object is. Bonus points to this game for coming in a tiny box.

“Funemployed” is like a riff on “Monikers.” You get a hand of cards with varying words on them. When it’s your turn, you have to “apply” for a a job determined by a card drawn from a deck. Essentially, you’re giving your pitch in front of your friends.

A Fake Artist Goes to New York. | Photo by James Wilde

For the talker:

The catch is that in your pitch, you have to include the terms from all of the cards in your hand. Good luck fitting “Fifty Cats” or “Scientology” into your pitch for that internship. Another game that’s guaranteed to make you laugh, so long as you play with people comfortable ad-libbing and talking a lot.

Unemployed. | Photo by James Wilde

For the gambler:

“Lords of Vegas” makes you into a prospective businessperson setting out to build Las Vegas. Compete with your friends to buy lots, build casinos, and talk your way into questionable trades to win the game.

It’s also very probable that at some point you’ll gamble your money at another player’s casino and lose everything. This game is basically what Monopoly should be. It’s also a little more complex than other games on this list.

Lords of Vegas. | Photo by James Wilde

For the storyteller:

“Tales of the Arabian Nights” is a choose-your-own-adventure book on steroids. You and your friends traverse around a map while reading from a booklet of stories and then choosing your reaction to said stories.

There’s not much of a game here. Mostly, there is lots of room for laughs as your character gets captured by fire worshippers, turned into an elephant or has some other bizarre encounter. I recommend using the app to streamline the choose-your-own-adventure part.

Tales of the Arabian Nights. | Photo by James Wilde

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