THE BEST 25 TABLETOP GAMES OF ALL TIME
Updated: Dec 1, 2020
The creative minds at Parker Brothers, Gabriel, and Milton Bradley are responsible for some of the most preeminent tabletop games ever invented. Check out our list and get your game on!
I had no earthly idea how this game was played and I still loved playing it. I'm guessing I was five when I traded a handful of nickels for this game at a garage sale and then proceeded to spend the rest of the summer waging war on a transparent piece of plastic. Oh, the glory!
Not only would this game threaten to chomp off your fingers, but come bath time, it was the perfect size for swallowing all my Mego dolls. Sorry, Super Friends, you’re gonna need a bigger boat.
This game induced nightmares. Pull the wrong peg and a ghoulish, hammer-wielding hand would break a mirror and plague you with seven years bad luck! There was a poisonous toad, a devilish ghost, and an evil eye that, according to my older cousin Jamie, would literally haunt you the night you played it. GAHH!!
PROFESSOR NOD AND HIS TURTLE RACE
Professor Nod… you temperamental, son-of-a-$&#%! He and he alone decided if you would be “allowed” to move forward in a reptilian race against time. To this day, I still don’t understand how the mechanism behind this little fella worked. And he was so unpredictable! Curse you, Professor Nod! CURSE YOU!
SHOOT OUT IN SPACE
Now we’re talkin’! A life-size laser-rifle that actually blasted robots from across the room?! Eat that, Buzz Lightyear.
Whoever thought to combine a booby trap with everyone's favorite ice cream topping, deserves a round of applause.
Nothing says kid-friendly entertainment like First Degree Murder. This is pretty troubling stuff for an eight-year-old. The weapons, the creepy rooms… if it weren’t for my childhood delusion that I would someday marry Miss Scarlet, I never would've had the guts to play this game.
My cousin Jeff had the best games. This one made my palms sweat. Technically, we were deploying paratroopers into the battlefield to “save the survivors” but we all knew this game was silently conditioning us to drop bombs on innocent puppies frolicking in the kill zone.
ESCAPE FROM DEATH STAR
Back in the day, anything Star Wars was awesome. Hell, I remember getting excited over Star Wars Dixie Cups, so naturally, playing this board game while listening to the sweet sounds of John Williams on the turntable made for a glorious experience.
BLOOP! BLOOP! That's the sound of a thief sneaking around the neighborhood. And no thief was more terrifying than The Brain – a pair of sinister eyes lurking in the dark. Yikes! It still creeps me out.
COLOSSAL FOSSIL FIGHT!
Sure, Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots were cool, but they didn’t hold a candle to these Jurassic blokes. And when there was no one around to challenge your prehistoric might, the chasm of bones made a spectacular lair for the most treacherous of action figures.
Never before has a squatty, eight-track cassette player been so much fun. 2-XL pushed the limits of our five-year-old minds while cracking jokes and playing disco music all at the same time. Technology at its finest.
Who doesn't wanna play a game where you get to stand on the game board? As if that wasn't cool enough, that marvelous plastic sheet continues to make the perfect canopy for any afternoon fort.
This brainy innovation integrates dastardly playing cards into your standard chess game. But be warned! Once you play this, you'll never wanna play ordinary chess again.
DON’T BREAK THE ICE
Crack the wrong cube and this dude on the ice is goin' into the drink. I love this game despite the fact that it always ends with this poor guy drowning.
Sharks, sea monsters and an island sinking into the deep… FREAKIN' AWESOME.
My nephew is the champ at this game. If you've never played it, think of it as Stratego on steroids. Unfortunately, even with a piece of duct tape over the speaker, the repetitive piercing music of its “electronic brain" would force us to wave the white flag in defeat.
Wanna make this game really exciting? Cousin Jamie gets credit for this brainstorm. Simply move the decimal point over a few places and play for real cash!!
I’m convinced that Numbers Up and Perfection are the two games responsible for my entire generation’s need for Xanax. These games were designed to instill panic, but neither of them compare to the astonishing adrenaline rush produced while playing Superfection.
This game serves as the perfect conduit, bridging kids from the simplicity of Candyland to the complexity of Monopoly. If ever we sat down to play a game as a family, this was the one we could all participate in. And that tradition continues, only now it’s way more intense, with my six-year-old daughter dropping 4s and trash-talkin’ her Grams.
CROSSBOWS & CATAPULTS
This game requires rolling around on the kitchen floor and hurling projectiles at your opponent. Does it get any better than that?!
Numps, chiloma, roker, squonk – you're telling me these are actual words?? If you've got a silly sense of humor and a love for word play, this game is a must.
Sure, the box says it's for ages 8 and up, but that doesn't keep me and the middle-age geek squad from gathering once a month and battling over Yakutz.
STIGA TABLE HOCKEY
This game brings out the competitor in me, especially during the Holidays. While the grown ups mingle around the mistletoe, you'll find us kids in the basement - taking slap shots and excessively celebrating with each goal. And while its become routine for my younger cousin to wipe the ice with my @$$, this year I'm comin' for him and Hell's coming with me, you hear? HELL'S COMING WITH ME!!
When Orson Welles is advertising a game of swords and sorcery, you know it rocks. The box alone was a thing of beauty, with it's bright rainbows and mystic creatures. And inside it stood a menacing, black tower that tracked your every move. Raid tombs, slay dragons, and fight to hear the song of victory played in all its electronic glory.