For many newcomers to tabletop gaming, their experiences are limited to an odd game of Monopoly at Christmas - which more often than not results in everyone involved swearing they will never play the game again. Others may have played Scrabble and argued about what actually counts as a "proper" word. However, tabletop gaming is much more expansive than the same handful of battered titles you often find stashed in a cupboard in a vacation home.

Tabletop games cover many different genres and play styles, from card games to tile or miniature based games, alongside those that use a board. Whatever your interests, you can probably find a tabletop game that fits with them. Today, we're going to take a look at some of the very best games for newcomers to tabletop, and why you should give them a try.

Related: Most Underrated Tabletop RPGs Of All Time

Updated August 30, 2022, By Helen Ashcroft: Playing tabletop games is a hobby that can span different generations and be a great way to pass the time with family or friends. In order for you to find the right board game for the group you have some important information has been added to this list.

We've added the number of players, time taken to play and suggested age for each title, and specified any games we feel don't quite match these manufacturers recommendations.

17/17 Codenames

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
2-8 15 minutes 14+

In Codenames, you'll have to think fast to help your teammate identify which cards conceal your secret agents. As spymaster, you can only give one-word clues to help your partner locate them amongst the array of options. If they uncover enemies, bystanders or an assassin instead, you're both in trouble.

You tend to need at least four players to really enjoy Codenames, and it scales very well for larger groups in particular. However, you may find the game lasts longer when more people have to agree which cards hold the secrets. You'll also find that the suggested age is related to reading and understanding the code words, so this may be lower, depending on the child.

Get it on Amazon here.

16/17 Azul

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
2-4 30-45 minutes 8+

Azul is a tile-collecting game. You'll be able to take all tiles of the same colour from a set of four, with the remaining ones moving to the centre. After this, tiles can also be taken from the centre pile. These tiles are then used to create lines marked on the board. Once complete, the lines will form a wall.

It's a simple idea but a game that does require a lot of thinking and strategy. You'll need to be aware of not only what you are building but what your centre pile discards could allow your opponent to build. Younger gamers will be able to play due to the simple concept, but it may take them longer to understand the strategy.

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15/17 Herd Mentality

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
4-10 20 minutes 10+

Herd Mentality sees players answer important questions like "What's the best way to cook an egg?" or "would you rather have robot arms or robot legs?" and attempt to blend in with the crowd. If your choice is the most commonly picked in the group you'll score some points. If you stand out from the herd then prepare to collect the squishy pink cow! He's incredibly cute, but he will stop you winning the game, so you'll want him to moo-ve on pretty quickly, (sorry).

This simple game is easy to learn, fun to play and a great icebreaker. It can even be played remotely if you want to get your tabletop fix but can't all be in one place.

Get it on Amazon here!

14/17 Throw Throw Burrito

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
2-6 15 minutes 7+

Throw Throw Burrito is marketed as a dodgeball card game and this is the most accurate description we can imagine. The core gameplay focuses on trying to collect sets of three matching cards. Amongst the quirky snap style gameplay are burrito cards that see you grab a squishy burrito to hurl at your family or friends. They can be one on one matches or all out brawls.

If you get hit with the adorable burrito then you'll lose points so make sure that not only are your reflexes sharp for card collecting, but you've also practiced ducking. For those who prefer complete chaos there's even an extreme addition using huge inflatable burritos. Just make sure you aren't near any valuables, especially if you have younger players or those with a strong overarm!

Get it on Amazon here!

13/17 Rhino Hero: Super Battle

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
2-4 10-20 minutes 5+

Rhino Hero: Super Battle is a quick and easy game for all ages that sees you building a card tower and climbing to the top with your superhero. Luck will determine the cards you are dealt and the towers that result can be interesting to say the least. You'll then have to move your hero up to the top of the tower to claim the Super Hero Medallion.

Just be careful of being too confident when building. If you cause the tower to fall you'll lose your medallion and the game. Spider monkeys and strategy add a twist to the premise and help keep the game fresh and fun. It's great for younger players, but some may need a little help with tower building.

Get it on Amazon here!

12/17 Bananagrams

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
1-8 15 minutes 7+

If you're a fan of Scrabble then Bananagrams will be right up your street. The simple anagram game sees players use their letters to build up a grid of words without the restrictions of a board. There are no triple letter scores, and you won't even have to do math. Simply build up your word grid on any surface, getting rid of all your tiles first in order to be crowned the top banana.

While age seven is recommended, this is a little on the low side. If you have younger players you can agree to bring your own word complexity down to their level, but many will still get frustrated. Kids of around 11 or 12 are likely to enjoy this much more.

Get it on Amazon here!

11/17 Kingdomino

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
2-4 15-25 minutes 8+

Kingdomino sees you build up lands of domino tiles in order to create your very own kingdom. You'll need to match up land types in order to build the most perfect and high-scoring land. The tiles are easy to match and once you've got the hang of how to place them in order to stay within the 7x7 grid shape required this is a simple and fun game.

The age recommendations are reasonable on this, although slightly younger players can still enjoy the game with a little guidance. It's getting them to build within the square that's the difficult part, they don't like to be confined!

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10/17 Labyrinth

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
2-4 20 minutes 8+

Labyrinth falls firmly into the category of a classic game that is still popular over 30 years after its creation for a good reason. Simple enough for children to understand, yet complex enough to get very competitive between adults, Labyrinth is a tile-moving, puzzle-solving board game for a wide age range. Simply move the tiles through the labyrinth to create a path for your counter to follow in order to discover the secrets and treasures that lay within.

While age eight is recommended you can go younger than this, as the premise is pretty simple. The only issue is that younger players will struggle to see the strategy in blocking others, and tend to focus just on themselves.

Get it on Amazon here!

9/17 Forbidden Island

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
2-4 30 minutes 10+

Forbidden Island is a little more complex than some games on this list but due to its co-operative game play system younger children can still join in, aided by adults. As long as they can sit still long enough to manage the half hour game time, they'll be fine. Since everyone can see every card etc. without it affecting gameplay, you can direct them, and they can still enjoy collecting treasure.

Related: The Best Two Player Tabletop Games

The island is made up of tiles, and you'll need to work together to make your way around and collect the treasure before the whole place sinks into the sea. Just make sure to keep your helipad safe, as you'll also need a way to get back to safety with the loot. This is where adult direction comes into play, as sinking helipads can be very tempting for younger (and occasionally older) ones.

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8/17 Carcassonne

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
2-5 30-45 minutes 7+

Carcassonne is a tile-based game that sees you build up a city out of different tiles. As players place tiles in turn they can claim roads, cities, fields, and abbeys in order to acquire the largest share of the finished map. Since you can only claim so many areas at once, it relies on both luck and skill. You need to learn how to build in order to better your own score and hinder the progress of other players, all while dealing with the random tile selection process.

The game is easy to understand, easy to play, and yet difficult to master. Once you've mastered the basics there are also several expansions available that add new ways to gain points or hinder other players. These can be added and removed in different combinations to mix up gameplay and provide new experiences.

Younger children of around the recommended age can play, but the process will be easier if scoring is simplified, for example by ignoring farmers. It's also good to note that this playtime is accurate and for seven year olds it can be a long time to sit in one place.

Get it on Amazon here!

7/17 Isle Of Cats

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
1-4 60-90 minutes 8+

The Isle of Cats is a tile placing game with different ways to play and a variety of expansions. The original can be played by up to four people but the Late Arrivals expansion increases this to up to six. It also comes with family rules, which enable younger ones or those wishing to make things simple to play quickly and easily. These rules not only reduce the complexity but also bring the playing time to around 45-60 minutes.

The basic premise is that you'll rescue different cats by placing their tiles Tetris-style into your boat. You can then score points based on a variety of criteria. There are also more complex ways to play, with additional cards and counters, including rules for solo play. This feels like several games in one, and the range of expansions makes it even more so.

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6/17 Catan

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
3-4 60-120 minutes 10+

Catan used to be called The Settlers Of Catan, so you may also have heard it referred to by this name or the alternative abbreviation of Settlers. It's a resource management game in which players must collect the right resources to build roads, houses, and cities on the tile-based map that changes with every game.

The resource management aspect can seem daunting at first but the system is much simpler than many titles with similar themes. It isn't as quick to pick up as some games but taking a little extra time to learn will really help you understand some slightly more complex gaming systems. The map and its resource generation are both random and resources are determined by rolling dice, so Catan will never be the same game twice. This gives it a great deal of flexibility and longevity. The only downside is that younger players are likely to get bored due to the lengthy run time.

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5/17 Sushi Go!

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
2-5 15 minutes 8+

Sushi Go! is a cardmatching game where you need to collect matching sets of cards to create the most valuable, and delicious meal. However, there is a catch. Each turn you'll need to give some of your cards away to the person next to you.

Related: Card Games To Play If You Like Cards Against Humanity

This game is easy to learn, fun to play and fast-paced. A round only takes 15 minutes or so and up to five people can play at once, making it a perfect family-friendly choice for all ages. No matter if you are six or sixty you can enjoy assembling the ultimate sushi meal.

Get it on Amazon here!

4/17 Exploding Kittens

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
2-5 15 minutes 7+

This quirky card game is full of fun and chaos. The game is the brainchild of Matthew Inman from The Oatmeal and game designers Elan Lee and Shaun Small. It features cards that depict taco cats, magical enchiladas, and more. Its art is as random as the game itself, and it's great fun for all ages. There is an NSFW version, but the basic game is quirky but clean, aside from an occasional fart joke and image of a butt.

The rules are quite simple to grasp and games can be quick or quite drawn out, it all depends on the cut of the cards. All you need to do is play cards that help you avoid the exploding kitten. There are also well-explained rules with illustrations of each step as well as an online video tutorial, meaning learning to play is very accessible. Younger ones will take a few rounds to understand, but it's easy to pick up.

Get it on Amazon here!

3/17 Dobble

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
2-8 15 minutes 7+

Dobble is a simple and versatile game that has many variations. It is essentially like snap, except with an extra layer of complexity. For those who love a themed game there are also different Dobble sets with themed images of different franchises including Marvel, and Pokemon.

As a card is played everyone has to see if they can match a symbol on their cards with one on the face up card. The basic game has eight images on each card, while a kids' version has fewer less complex icons. Most versions are well suited to players a good deal younger than the age seven suggested here, so just pick your favourite and give it a chance.

Get it on Amazon here!

2/17 Castle Panic

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
1-6 60 minutes 10+

If you want a game that allows players to work together, then Castle Panic is a great choice. Instead of competing, you'll work alongside others to protect your castle from invading ogres. Drawing cards, swapping resources, and always looking several turns ahead will be essential, yet the basics are easy to understand.

The game being co-operative also means players can work things out together and this can aid with understanding the rules, especially for younger or more inexperienced players. You can also add a competitive element if you wish by keeping track of which monsters you personally destroy and adding them up at the end. Regardless you get to kill ogres and destroy walls, fun times all round.

Get it on Amazon here!

1/17 Ticket To Ride

Number of Players Playing Time Suggested Age
2-5 30-60 minutes 8+

If you want a more traditional board game, then Ticket To Ride may be the choice for you. Players collect colored cards and then exchange them for trains that they use to connect different places on the board together. Destination cards depict the routes you must claim and points are earned for each route successfully completed.

The rules are simple, and the game is easy to understand. It's also not too long but always fun to play, especially since you can block your opponents if you can figure out where they are going. Younger players can join in but you'll need to make sure they understand how to correctly identify the routes they need to take.

Get it on Amazon here!

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