It is 2019, the US president is impeached, South America and Australia are burning and Europe is going through a big break up, but there is plenty of good too. Grey’s Anatomy is now in its 15th season and the longest-running primetime medical drama in history, Beyoncè, Keanu Reeves, kids are really trying to be proactive about important issues, Baby Yoda and Cookie Monster made his baseball debut. Amongst the coming and goings of the last year of the 2010s, some great board games hit the scene. This is the list of the best board games of 2019.
OR SEE THE: Best Board Games Of The Decade 2010 – 2020
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#20 | Jaws
The title that just made the list of best board games of 2019 is based on a classic film. In JAWS, one player takes on the role of the killer shark off Amity Island, while the other 1-3 players take on the roles of Brody, Hooper and Quint to hunt the shark. Character and event cards define player abilities and create game actions for humans and the shark. Gameplay is divided into two acts — Amity Island and The Orca — played on a double-sided board to replicate the film’s story. If humans kill the shark, they win; if the shark attack on the Orca succeeds, the great white shark wins. Games run about 60 minutes.
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#19 | Letter Jam
Letter Jam is a 2-6 player cooperative word game where players assist each other in composing meaningful words from letters around the table. The trick is holding the letter card so that it’s only visible to other players and not to you. At the start of the game, each player receives a set of face-down letter cards that can be arranged to form an existing word. Throughout the game, other players search each others cards to make words. And then there are clues. Letter Jam is a puzzle mixed with a social game and a great choice for best board games of 2019. A game runs about 45 minutes.
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#18 | ShipShape
In the late 17th Century, mighty ships sailed the seas and brought all manner of goods back to port. As a savvy captain, you must skillfully utilize your crew to fill your ship’s hold with the best combination of treasure and other items to earn gold. In the end, the player who amasses the biggest bounty will prevail. In ShipShape, 2-6 players each control a ship. Over the course of three voyages (rounds), you bid using numbered crew cards to claim unique crate tiles off the central stack. Fill your hold with gold, cannons, and contraband and cover up what you don’t want. At the end of each voyage, score coins by comparing your holds with everyone else, looking only at what is visible in your hold. About 20 – 50 minutes per game.
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#17 | Tiny Towns
You are the mayor of a tiny town in the forest in which the smaller creatures of the woods have created a civilization hidden away from predators. Cleverly plan and construct a thriving town, and don’t let it fill up with wasted resources! In Tiny Towns, your town is represented by a 4×4 grid on which you will place resource cubes in specific layouts to construct buildings. Each building scores victory points in a unique way. When no player can place any more resources or construct any buildings, the game ends, and you add up the points with high total winning. It is like Settlers of Catan meets Tetris. This entry into the list of best board games of 2019 is for 1 – 6 players and games will last about 45 – 60 minutes.
FOR MORE: Tiny Towns Page | How To Play Tiny Towns | Tiny Towns Review | Games Like Tiny Towns | Buy Tiny Towns
#16 | L.A.M.A
In L.A.M.A, you want to dump cards from your hand as quickly as you can, but you might not be able to play what you want, so do you quit and freeze your hand or draw and hope to keep playing? Each player starts a round with six cards in hand; the deck consists of llama cards and cards numbered 1-6, with eight copies of each. On a turn, the active player can play a card, draw a card, or quit. The round ends when one player empties their hand or all players have quit. You get combinations of points depending on what happened. Whoever has the fewest points wins! L.A.M.A is a hand management cards game that is fun for the whole family. For 2 – 6 players, games run a quick 20 minutes.
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#15 | Obscurio
The Sorcerer is out to get you! Find your way among the illusions, but beware of the traitor in your ranks! The Grimoire guides their team towards the exit using images, upon which they point at certain details. Working together, the other players have to find the exit as quickly as possible while avoiding picking the wrong cards. However, a member of the team is a traitor looking to lead the other players astray. Obscurio is a family game, an original mix between an image-based communication game and a secret role game in which the players have to be careful when sharing ideas with their team. This is one of the fresher concepts on the list of best board games of 2019. Games are for an impressive 2 – 8 players and will last about 40 minutes.
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#14 | Pipeline
The refinement of oil has long been part of the government-controlled energy sector. Amassed with an incredibly complex and inefficient system of refineries, the government can’t handle it and has resorted to privatizing the oil industry. This is where you come in. Seeking to capitalize on this new opportunity, in Pipeline you start a company in the oil business. You will focus on building a much more efficient pipeline network in your refinery, hiring experts that provide valuable benefits over your competitors, and managing the logistics of purchasing and selling your refined oil in the various markets. Science and education mixed with fun in this best board games of 2019 title. It is for 2 – 4 players and will run about 1 – 2 hours.
FOR MORE: Buy Pipeline
#13 | Point Salad
Point Salad is a fast and fun card drafting game for the whole family. There are over 100 ways to score points. Players may use a variety of strategies and every game of Point Salad is unique! Cards come in six different types of veggies, and the back of each card has a different scoring method. So for instance, one scoring method may award 2 points for every carrot you have, but deduct a point for every onion. By drafting combinations of veggies and point cards that work for your strategy, you can amass the most points and win. If you like Sushi Go, this is the title on the list of best board games of 2019 that may be right for you. For 2 – 6 players, games are quick at 15 – 30 minutes each.
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#12 | Tokyo Highway
In Tokyo Highway, players compete to place all of their cars on the road — but to do that they will first have to build the roadways! This is certainly the best transportation game on the list of the best board games of 2019. Over the course of the game, players construct columns of varying heights by using the 66 squat cylinders in the box, then connect those columns with sticks that serve as roadways, with the columns not necessarily being the same height when connected. If a stretch of highway is placed well, you can place one or more cars on it to score. For 2 players only, expect the duration of games to be at about 30 – 50 minutes each.
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#11 | Tapestry
In Tapestry, you create the civilization with the most storied history, starting at the beginning of humankind through the future. The paths you choose will vary greatly from real-world events or people — your civilization is unique! In Tapestry, you start from nothing and advance on any of the four advancement tracks (science, technology, exploration, and military) to earn progressively better benefits. You can focus on a specific track or take a more balanced approach. You will also improve your income, build your capital city, leverage your asymmetric abilities, earn victory points, and gain tapestry cards that will tell the story of your civilization. With a timing of around 2 hours per run, gameplay is robust and lovely from start to finish. If you are looking for that heavy builder, this is a great choice on the list of best board games of 2019. For 1 – 5 players.
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#10 | Parks
PARKS is a celebration of the US National Parks featuring illustrious art from Fifty-Nine Parks. In PARKS, players will take on the role of two hikers as they trek through different trails across four seasons of the year. While on the trail, these hikers will take actions and collect memories of the places your hikers visit. The trails, represented by tiles, get shuffled in between each season and laid out anew for the next round. Campfires allow you to share a space and time with other hikers. Canteens and Gear can also be used to improve your access to resources through the game. This game has it all – set collection, worker placement and engine building. It’ll be tough to manage to build up your engine versus spending resources on parks, but that is the challenge. For 1 – 5 with games at 30 – 60 minutes each.
FOR MORE: Buy Parks
#09 | Star Wars: Outer Rim
Take to the stars and become a living legend in Star Wars: Outer Rim, a game of bounty hunters, mercenaries, and smugglers for 1-4 players! In Outer Rim, you take on the role of an underworld denizen, setting out to make your mark on the galaxy. You’ll travel the outer rim in your personal ship, hire legendary Star Wars characters to join your crew, and try to become the most famous (or infamous) outlaw in the galaxy! Star Wars has pumped out so many games but do not be deterred, this latest entry easily makes the list of the best board games of 2019. This is a dice rolling, pick up and deliver, trading, unique character, exploration game that will run about 2 – 3 hours.
FOR MORE: Buy Star Wars: Outer Rim
#08 | Cartographers
Cartographers is one of the top “roll-n-write” games of the year. Queen Gimnax has ordered the reclamation of the northern lands and you are given a map to carve out her kingdom and claim her favorite lands. But you must face the Dragul who contest your claims with their outposts, so you must draw your lines carefully to reduce their influence. Reclaim the greatest share of the queen’s desired lands and you will be declared the greatest cartographer in the kingdom. In this best board games of 2019 entry, players compete to earn the most reputation stars by the time four seasons have passed. Each season, players draw on their map sheets and earn reputation by carrying out the queen’s edicts before it is over. The player with the most reputation stars at the end of winter wins! For 1 – 100 players with games running 30 – 45 minutes.
FOR MORE: Games Like Cartographers | Buy Cartographers
#07 | Silver & Gold
Following the previous entry with yet another “roll-n-write” game is the acclaimed Silver & Gold. The lightweight game combines simple rules, fast action, luck, and planning as players try to complete treasure map after treasure map, with the maps being printed on wipeable cards to allow for endless adventures. You are in luck, because the treasure is in your hands. Players must rain X’s down, rapid-fire, in the right configurations to close out island cards and hit the right bonuses before they can jump to the next card. It is all about making that money. Games of this best board games of 2019 all-star run a quick 20 minutes and are for 2 – 4 players.
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#06 | It’s a Wonderful World
In It’s a Wonderful World, you are an expanding Empire and must choose your path to your future. You must develop faster and better than your competitors. You’ll carefully plan your expansion to develop your production power and rule over this new world. It’s a Wonderful World is a cards drafting and engine building game from 1 to 5 players. Each round, players will draft 7 cards and then choose which ones will be recycled to immediately acquire Resources, and which ones will be kept for construction to produce Resources each round and/or gain victory points. Games last about 30 – 60 minutes.
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#05 | Detective: City of Angels
Detective: City of Angels, an easy choice for best board games of 2019, is a strategy game set in the dark and violent world of 1940s Los Angeles. A game of mystery, deception, and investigation for 1–5 players. Most players will step into the shoes of LAPD homicide detectives, hungry for glory and willing to do whatever it takes to successfully close a case, even if that means intimidating suspects, concealing evidence, and hiring snitches to rat on their fellow detectives. One player, however, will take on the role of The Chisel, whose only goal is to stall and misdirect the detectives at every turn using bluffing, manipulation, and (often) outright lies. Games last anywhere from 30 – 150 minutes.
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#04 | Hadara
Hadara, a 50 minute game for 2 – 5, carries you off into the world of cultures and countries of this earth. Over three epochs, you will experience the transformation of your new world from a small settlement to a high culture. You want to populate this world with people who come from different cultures and continents as well as different ages. To bring glory and honor to your world, you should choose the persons and accomplishments skillfully. But you should not ignore agriculture, culture, and military power, otherwise one of your competitors might get bigger and more successful than you. Who will succeed first in creating a new flourishing high culture? A game that deserves tremendous and its spot on the list of the best board games of 2019.
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#03 | Res Arcana
In a high tower, an Alchemist prepares potions, using vials filled with otherworldly fluids. Within a sacred grove, a Druid grinds herbs for a mystical ritual. In the catacombs, a Necromancer summons a bone dragon… Welcome to the world of Res Arcana! In it, Life, Death, Elan, Calm, and Gold are the essences that fuel the art of magic. Choose your mage, gather essences, craft unique artifacts, and use them to summon dragons, conquer places of power, and achieve victory! This card drafting, hand management game is for 2 – 4 players and runs a smooth 20 – 60 minutes.
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#02 | Horrified
The stakes have been raised. Imagine living in a place so wretched that it’s not plagued by one, two, or even three monsters — but seven of the most horrifying fiends! In this game, you’ll come face to face with them all as you work together to rid the town of the maniacal or misunderstood creatures…before it’s too late. Horrified includes high-quality sculpted miniatures (Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Dracula, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon). Its innovative, easy-to-learn, cooperative gameplay has players working together against the monsters with varying levels of difficulty. Just as each monster is unique, they require different strategies and tactics to be defeated. For 1 – 5 players, games run about 60 minutes.
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#01 | Wingspan
The top spot on the list of the best board games of 2019 goes to Wingspan. This award-winning game is a competitive, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game from Stonemaier Games. You are bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors—seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions). These habitats focus on several key aspects of growth. The winner is the player with the most points after 4 rounds. This game is the medium to heavy engine-builder you have been looking for your whole life. For 1 – 5 players, games last about 40 – 70 minutes.
FOR MORE: How To Play Wingspan | Wingspan Review | Games Like Wingspan | Buy Wingspan
OR SEE THE: Best Board Games Of The Decade 2010 – 2020