The Most Popular Board Games by Decade

The board game industry will grow to $30.93 billion by 2028. This is partly because many board games are now digital and partly due to boredom during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever the reason, board games are in!

Maybe you are looking to build your board game library. Or you are just thinking about a fun new game you can try on your next family night. Whatever the reason, we have quite the list for you.

Below, we've listed dozens of the most popular board games from the 1960s to the 2020s. There are options for everyone, so get to browsing!

Table of contents


1960s Board Games

Board games were very popular in the 1960s for people of all ages as a form of entertainment, especially among children. Board games were also used as educational tools for teaching math, reading skills, and other subjects. Read more about the most popular games of that decade below:

Game of Life

The Game of Life is a popular board game that has evolved over the generations. It is a racing game where players move around the board, making life decisions and progressing based on those decisions. The game is for 2-4 players and is full of adventures, twists, and turns.

Players advance around the board according to their dice rolls. They land on spaces that represent life events such as marriage, parenthood, and wealth. The goal of the game is to be first to reach the goal space with 10 points or more.

The gameplay of this game is simple enough for children to understand but complicated enough for adults to enjoy. The Game of Life is an excellent way for families and friends to bond over something new and exciting.

Mouse Trap

The game Mouse Trap was a new invention that would make use of levers, gears, and other mechanical parts. The inventor had been working on the idea for the game for over a decade before he finally came up with the final design.

The board game Mouse Trap is a fun and challenging game. It is also a great way to spend time with your family, friends, or even by yourself. Players play the game by placing the board on the table. Then, each player takes turns placing a piece of the trap onto the board, to trap one or more mice.

4 players can compete with each other to see who collects the most cheese without getting their mouse trapped.

Mystery Date

Mystery Date is a board game for two to four players. Players take turns asking questions to determine which among the six hidden cards in front of them is their date.

The object of the game is to guess the date, location, and activity of one's date. The player spins a spinner and then draws a card. If they are correct in their prediction, they receive an additional card.


Battleship quickly became popular with adults, who played it at home or on cruises.

Battleship is a game with the objective of sinking the opponent's fleet of ships by firing missiles (shots) at them. The game starts with each player's fleet on their respective sides of the playing board. Players then take turns guessing where they think the opponent's ships are by naming coordinates in an attempt to hit them.

1970s Board Games

Board games were very popular in the 1970s. They were a great way to spend time with family and friends. There was a wide variety of board games available, from Monopoly to Clue and Scrabble.

The games that stood out the most in the 70s were:


Masterpiece is an art auction and strategy board game where players compete to buy and sell paintings. The goal is to amass the most wealth from their paintings. The game starts with a number of paintings on the board, each one worth a different amount of money.

Players take turns rolling dice and moving around the board to bid on paintings or buy them outright if they can afford them. There are also opportunities to trade paintings with other players. Players can also steal from other players by bidding higher than they can afford or force other players to give up their money if they cannot afford a painting up for auction.


Boggle is one of the most popular word games in the world because it's a simple, fast-paced, and fun game. The popularity of Boggle has increased over time. It has become a classic game that everyone knows how to play and everyone can join in on the fun.

The game consists of a 4x4 grid of square cells, with each cell showing one letter. Players take turns finding words in the cells which are horizontally, vertically, or diagonally adjacent to each other.

They then mark them using dice. The player who finds the most words wins the round.

Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy role-playing game in which the players create characters to play in a medieval fantasy setting. The game has 42 dice and is for several players.

The game combines elements of both fantasy and adventure games. This means that the players have to create their own characters based on the rules of the game. The players then take turns controlling the actions of their characters in an imaginary setting called a "dungeon".


Whoisit has been played by generations of people. The goal for each team is to identify their opponent's identity before they get identified.

The players take turns asking yes or no questions to try to reveal their opponent's identity. If they are able to do so, they win the game and become the detective for a new round while also getting a point for their team.

Connect Four

Connect Four has been around for over 40 years. More than 100 million people play this game. Connect Four is a great game for all ages and genders.

Connect Four is a two-player game in which the players take turns dropping colored discs. They drop them from the top of the game piece into a seven-column, six-row vertically suspended grid.

The pieces fall straight down, occupying the next available space within the column. The objective of the game is to be the first player to get four of one's own discs in a row.

Guess Who?

In Guess Who? one player chooses a card from their hand of cards and tries to guess which character their opponent is thinking of. Characters are represented by an illustration on the card.

The game is for two players. One player asks questions to identify the other player's character from a set of twenty-four pictures on cards.

1980s Board Games

Board games have been around for centuries and have evolved over time. In the 1980s, board games were popular due to the rise of technology. With video games and computers, there was less of a need for board games because they were more interactive.

The hottest games of the 80s were:

Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit is the world's best-selling trivia game with over 100 million copies sold. The object of the game is to move around a board, answering questions and collecting wedges of pie.

In the game, players answer trivia questions from six categories:

  • Entertainment
  • Geography
  • History
  • Arts and Literature
  • Science and Nature
  • Sports and Leisure

Scotland Yard

Scotland Yard is a family board game for children aged 8 to adults. Players use cards with various clues to solve crimes and capture criminals on the board's map of London.

The object of the game is to find out which one of the six suspects committed the crime, where it happened, and with what weapon. Players take turns moving their playing piece around a board representing London. They visit locations such as Piccadilly Circus and Scotland Yard.

They then draw cards that instruct them how to move on this turn and what action they can perform at each location they visit. For example, it guides them on whether they can question an individual.


Pictionary is a guessing game in which one player draws a word or phrase while their teammates try to guess what it is. It is played with two teams of players, each team has a different color marker to write with. The board contains drawings of common words and phrases that are guessed by one member of one team.

Torpedo Run!

Torpedo Run is played on a 4x4 grid. Players would take turns rolling dice and moving their pieces in an attempt to be the first to get all of their pieces across the grid and off the board.

The game is played on a hexagonal grid and players take turns moving their pieces, which are shaped like torpedoes, around the board. The goal of the game is to be the first person to get all of their pieces to the other side of the board.

Mall Madness

Mall Madness is a game where players go on a shopping spree with a budget and have to buy items from a mall. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins.

Mall Madness was originally released in the early 1980s. It was a board game that the players would take turns rolling dice to move around a game board. The goal of the game is to buy as many items from stores and get them back to one's own home base before they ran out of time or money.

1990s Board Games

Board games were popular in the 1990s, but it was a little different than today. The board games of the time had less of an emphasis on strategy and more on luck and chance. Nowadays, board games are more strategic and have a lot more variety.

The coolest games to play in the 90s include:

Pretty, Pretty Princess

Pretty, Pretty Princess is one of the most popular games amongst girls. The game is a family game that can be played by all ages and genders.

The game is played with a deck of cards and a board with 12 spaces on it. The object of the game is to move all around the board. As you do so, you collect as many jewelry pieces as possible while avoiding bumpers scattered around the board.


The makers created Cranium as an educational tool. It was to help children learn how to cooperate with others and develop their creative skills through play.

The goal of the game is to collect as many cards as possible from the categories that are on the board. There are six different categories in total, which are: Creative Cat, Data Head, Star Performer, and Word Worm.


The Catan game is a board game that was first published in 1995. The game is about the struggle to survive on an uninhabited island.

Players need to collect resources and trade these with other players. This is so they have the chance to build a settlement and develop their own civilization.

The players take turns rolling dice and drawing cards from a deck of resources that represent different types of land on the island of Catan. These cards determine what resources each player receives for the coming turn. Players can trade goods with one another or use them to build new settlements, cities, or roads on unoccupied lands.

Crocodile Dentist

Crocodile Dentist is a cooperative board game where players work together to extract teeth from a crocodile's mouth. The game simulates a crocodile's mouth and teeth.

The first edition was released in 1992. The game became popular after a British children's television show featured it.

2000s Board Games

Board games were also popular in the 2000s. They were a common pastime for families to play on weekends. There was a very large variety of board games to choose from, such as:

Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples is a party game in which one player draws a card from the green deck and tries to come up with an adjective for it. The other players then have to choose a noun from their hands that best matches the adjective.

The object of the game is for one player, designated as a "judge", to select one card from his or her hand. They then say a word or phrase that he or she thinks will match one on another player's card. If the judge's word matches that on another player's card, then that player must turn over his or her card and show it to all players.

If there are multiple cards with matching words, then all those players must turn their cards over simultaneously. The judge then picks another player who now becomes the new judge for this round.


Carcassonne is a tile-based board game that was first published in 2000. It is named after the medieval fortified town and commune in southern France.

The game consists of a board, made up of 20 different tiles, on which the players build the medieval city of Carcassonne. The players draw and place a tile at each turn, creating the landscape of Carcassonne. The player who finishes his or her turn with the most points wins the game.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is a board game where players collect and claim railway routes in North America. The game is set in the early 20th century with players acting as railroad companies. Players build tracks and collect train cards to complete destination tickets.

The routes between cities on the board are worth victory points. The objective of Ticket to Ride is to build a network of railway lines across North America connecting cities shown on the cards in your hand. You also collect sets of matching train cards, either three or six, which are used to claim railway routes between those cities.

A Game of Thrones

The Game of Thrones board game was originally published in 2003 by Fantasy Flight Games. The game is based on the epic fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire written by George R. R. Martin.

The game is a strategy board game for 2-6 players. Each player takes on the role of one of the Great Houses of Westeros vying for control of the Iron Throne. Players can choose to play as either:

  • House Stark
  • House Lannister
  • House Baratheon
  • House Greyjoy
  • House Tyrell
  • House Martell

All other houses are available as an expansion pack.

Small World

A board game, Small World, was first published in 2009 by Days of Wonder. It is a turn-based game with a fantasy theme. The game is set in a small world where players take turns to play as one of 17 different fantasy races to conquer and control territories.

The goal of the game is to have the most victory points when the board has been filled up and all players have had an equal number of turns.

2010s Board Games

The board game industry has been growing steadily since the 1990s. In the 2000s many new and innovative games were released. Board game popularity has increased in recent years, with some people saying that this is due to nostalgia for older board games.

Fun games to play during this decade include:

Pandemic Legacy

Pandemic Legacy is a board game that takes place over a 12-month period. Players take on the role of a disease-fighting team and must work together to keep four diseases at bay in various regions around the world. To win, players must keep all four diseases at bay for 12 months or more and then find a cure for each one before any of them spreads beyond control.

As players move around the board they will collect cards. They can then use them to upgrade their laboratories or improve their skills to combat diseases more effectively.

Some cards will also introduce new challenges to your campaign. This includes things such as outbreaks that can cause epidemics if not dealt with quickly enough.


Wingspan is a board game about birdwatching and it features a variety of birds from around the world. The goal of Wingspan is to be the first player or team to build a bird sanctuary that is connected to all six of its surrounding hexes. Players take turns placing hexagonal tiles to create a network of paths between their sanctuary and the six surrounding hexes.

Players can also place birdhouses on these pathways. They will provide them with additional points at the end of the game if they are connected to other houses or sanctuaries.

When all players have placed all their tiles there is an opportunity for players to swap any two adjacent tiles. This is to create more efficient paths between their sanctuary and neighboring sanctuaries.


The game Azul is a tile-laying puzzle game where players compete to score the most points by creating rows of tiles in different colors. The game is played in two phases: the build phase and the scoring phase. The player with the fewest points at the end of the scoring phase wins.

In Azul, players take turns drawing tiles from a bag, placing them on the table, and then choose one of their previously placed tiles to place on top of it. This continues until there are no more tiles left to draw from the bag or until no player wants to make another placement. Then, players score points for each tile they placed during both phases of play (build and score).


In Codenames, players work as teams to identify their agents from 25 words on a 5x5 grid of cards. One player on each team is the spymaster who knows the agents but not where to find them on the grid.

The other players know where to locate all the words, but not which words correspond to which agents. The teams compete to see who can find all of their agents first and then identify them correctly one at a time.

Modern Art

The game Modern Art is a board game where players compete to create the best art museum. In this game, players are required to assemble a set of works of art from a range of artists and styles in order to attract visitors.

This is done by adding cards to the player's museum display, with each card having a point value for each visitor it attracts. The objective of the game is to have the most visitors at the end of six rounds.

Election Night

The object of Election Night is to be the player with the most victory points at the end of playtime. A player can earn victory points by flipping cards over on their turn or drawing cards from their card pile or voting cards from their voting pile. Depending on what card they play on their turn and what card they draw or vote for respectively

We Rate Dogs

We Rate Dogs is a board game that was released in 2016. Joe Pickett and Nick Belardes created the game. The game has quickly become a popular item on Amazon and eBay.

They based the game on the popular Instagram account that features pictures of dogs with funny captions. This account has over 3 million followers from all around the world, which makes it one of the most popular accounts on Instagram.

Players play the game by rolling a die to move their player around the board. They collect dog cards for points and then land on spaces that have different actions to take like "Doge" or "Doggie." The first player to collect 10 points wins!

7 Wonders

7 Wonders is a card-based board game that can be played by 3 to 7 players. It takes about 30 minutes to play. The objective of the game is to build a civilization using cards that represent various aspects such as the military or science. Then score points based on how well they were built.

Players take on the role of a leader of one of the seven great ancient civilizations. They must build their civilization, collect resources, and develop technologies.

Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity is a party game for adults. It is where the players take turns reading out a black card with a fill-in-the-blank sentence prompt. The other players then try to come up with their funniest white card response.

A group of eight friends created the game and initially funded it through Kickstarter. The project reached its $4,000 goal in two hours, and it eventually raised more than $15,000 in funding.

Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens is played by drawing cards until someone draws an Exploding Kitten and loses the game. The deck contains cards that allow players to avoid drawing an Exploding Kitten or to remove other cards from the deck.

The goal of the game is to eliminate all of your opponent's cards while keeping your own hand size at two cards or less. There are multiple ways to play the game with different rules and goals.

These ways include speed rounds where you are given a set amount of time to draw as many cards as possible. Or it could be long rounds where you have unlimited time but must draw one card at a time.


Gloomhaven is a cooperative fantasy game for 1-4 players. It is set in a richly detailed world that has been torn apart by war. Players will take on the role of one of four different heroes, working together to overcome the challenges faced in this ruined land.

The game takes place in Gloomhaven, a land of dark fantasy where adventurers come to find fortune and glory. The player's goal is to become the most famous warrior in the land. They do this by exploring the world of Gloomhaven and defeating monsters that roam its desolate landscape.

2020s Board Games

In the 2020s, there was a revival in board games. In fact, it became one of the most popular forms of entertainment for people all over the world. This was due to a variety of reasons such as the pandemic and lockdowns.

Most people were playing these games in recent years:

New York Zoo

The New York Zoo is a family board game that has been around since the 1980s. It is a strategy game where players have to build their own zoo. The first player to get three of their animal cards in the zoo wins.

Players start with six animal cards and get one card each turn until they have three in their zoo, or they run out of animals. There are also two bonus cards, a free animal card and an extra turn card, which can be used at any time during the game.

Scape Goat

Scape Goat is a game in which players are trying to get rid of all their cards by answering questions from the "goat" card. The goat card will ask questions about what is on the other players' cards. If someone answers incorrectly, they have to give that card to the player who asked the question.

The goal of this game is to be the last person without any cards, and whoever gets rid of all their cards first wins!

Beyond the Sun

Beyond the Sun is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the sun has died out and the earth is dying. Players are tasked with exploring outer space to find an inhabitable planet for humans to live on.

The goal of Beyond the Sun is to collect as many victory points as possible before all players run out of cards or pass their turn. Players must explore outer space and find planets that will provide enough resources for humans to survive. They must also make sure they have enough oxygen and water for when they land on these planets.

Learn More About the Most Popular Board Games

We hope you learned a lot about the most popular board games from the 1960s to the 2020s. This list has a lot of great options if you are looking to try a new board game! If you want to learn more about board games, puzzles, or other entertainment activities, check out our blog

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