Choosing a new board game, whether as a gift or for your next game night, can seem like a daunting task, so here’s a handy guide that will help you pick one that’s right for your audience.

While you have to consider things like how many players are going to be playing as well as age range, I think the best way to choose a game is by figuring out where on the silly scale you want to be. Let me explain .…

Games for all around silly fun

If you want to have a fun and silly time, and not have to worry about too many rules, then you’re probably going to want to play a party game. Games like Telestrations, where you’re drawing and guessing what people drew (like the old telephone game); or Dixit, where players try to pick which card was yours based on the clue you gave. These games get you started quickly and laughing a lot.

You can still be silly even if you’re not into party games. Games like Spot It, where you’re trying to find the two images that match on any 2 cards, or Lift it, where you have to place objects on top of each other—using a contraption attached to your head! Crazy!

Still silly but a bit thinky

Then if we move down the silly scale, a bit towards serious strategy, these games will be light and easy to get started, but will involve a few more rules to understand. Here we’re looking at games like Sushi Go where players have a hand of Sushi cards, choose one to keep and then pass the rest of their hand to the player on their left. Players try to collect certain sets to get the most points. Or Munchkin, and its many expansions, which can be very silly and funny as players try to be the first to level their character up to level 10.

If you like to be sneaky then try Spyfall, which has players asking each other questions about the secret location, but one player is the spy and has no idea what the secret location is! If you want to stretch your creativity, then you should try Codenames. Here you give a one word clue to your teammates to get them to guess the specific words that are secretly assigned to your team. This one has been very popular! Or Machi Koro—every turn you roll your dice and everyone checks their cards to see if any of them activate based on your roll. You collect coins which you can then use to buy more cards that give you more abilities as different numbers are rolled.

Not silly at all, but not overly complicated

Now if you’re looking to get into some more strategy, and are okay with the fun starting to come more from out-thinking your opponent, then maybe you’d enjoy Carcassonne. This is a tile laying game which means the game will look different every time. As you build castles, roads, and farmlands, players place their token—which we call Meeples—to score them once they get completed. Or maybe you’re ready for the most successful strategy game of the last 20 years, Catan, with its many expansions. Here you’re trying to collect resources to build roads, settlements, and cities in an effort to get to 10 victory points first.

Another popular game that’s great for players wanting some strategy but still wanting to keep it accessible to families with older kids is Ticket to Ride. This game has very easy to understand rules as you collect cards to place your own train cars on routes on the board, all in an effort to connect two cities based on your secret route cards.

Games designed for the strategically inclined

Finally, if you’re looking for some serious strategy, then we’re talking about games that will take a longer time to read and understand the rules, and a longer time to play. Here you’ll find games like Pandemic, which is a co-operative game that has players working together trying to cure the world of diseases, or even Pandemic Legacy (Season 1 and Season 2), which is a similar game, but has players placing stickers on the board and on cards as well as opening envelopes and boxes throughout each game—permanently changing the game for all future plays. Pretty epic! Or maybe you want to try a game that involves something called Deck Building. Dominion is the first game with this mechanic, and in it you use your 10 card deck to buy new cards from a supply and then add them to your existing deck, making your deck bigger and bigger as you play, and giving you access to bigger and crazier abilities. It’s a really interesting mechanic!


So that’s a brief review of how you can choose which game is right for you. From super silly to super thinky. If you’ve played these games, or are looking for more recommendations, comment below and we’ll see what other games we can recommend!

Jay Cormier
Jay enjoys his double life: working at Best Buy Canada as a Video Production Specialist, and his side career as a board game designer. He has a dozen or so games on store shelves right now and many more signed to come out soon. He also teaches game theory to students taking the video game design program at Vancouver Film School.


  1. If you’re strategically inclined, hunt down a copy of Belfort! It combines some of my favorite board game mechanics – worker placement and area majority- into a tight, amusing package!

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