Board games you must play before you die

Diagram of best board games, sorted by recommended player count and weight rating

I have some of those "1001 ... you must see before you die" books and felt like this concept could be applied to board games as well. Since I don't claim to be the ultimate authority on games, I decided to crowdsource and turned to boardgamegeek.com, the biggest board game database online.

How to poster

Step 0: learn a programming language. I know Javascript, so I wrote a bunch of little Node.js scripts for scraping and calculating.

  • This initial attempt took the top games from boardgamegeek ranked list (only those with 30+ ratings).
  • Rankings were then adjusted for complexity bias.
  • After that the player count recommendations were sorted from best to worst.
  • Then I filled out the table, trying to put top games in their best column. Had to introduce some bias toward larger player counts, because 7 is an uncommon player count; 6×167=1002 games looks much better on a poster though.
  • Finally the columns were sorted and coloured by weight.

The resulting visualization makes it pretty clear that it's really hard to design a good game that is both complex and playable with many people at the same time.

If I were to make an actual book on this subject, I would try to limit games to one representative of the family (only one Ticket to Ride edition, for example); also add some maybe less highly rated but historically relevant games (Chess, Monopoly, Go) and try to account for age bias in general.

2 players
3 players
4 players
5 players
6 players
7 players
KLASKRhino HeroICECOOLStrawHalli GalliStart PlayerTussie MussieDr. EurekaVirus!AnomiaOoga BoogaArbosDrop ItOutfoxed!CoconutsIllusionJoking HazardSpot it!Encore!QwixxTumblin-DiceCranium WhoonuCrazy KickTac Tac JackSilver & GoldPickominoAnimal Upon AnimalWorm Up!Rumble in the HouseFuji FlushPoint SaladCan't StopAdventure Time: Love LetterRibbitSpaceteamGambit 7A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King5-Minute MarvelLoopin' LouieWavelengthCrossingJust OneLegacy of DragonholtRiff RaffThe MindSkullElectronic Catch PhraseThe ChameleonOdin's Ravens (Second Edition)Welcome to the Dungeon5-Minute DungeonCheating MothGulo GuloPass the PigsKingdominoEscape the Dark CastleCockroach PokerExcapeTelestrationsMonikersSpirits of the WildThe GameCockroach Poker RoyalWhat the Heck?Age of WarRock the BeatDead Man's DrawCuBirdsCarcassonne JuniorKing's BreakfastHappy SalmonImagineBalloon CupWelcome Back to the DungeonSushi Go!KobayakawaSitting Ducks GalleryInsiderCat LadyDragonwoodHerbaceousMars Attacks: The Dice GameEat Poop You CatWe Didn't Playtest This At AllOn TourLotusDeep Sea AdventureOne Night WerewolfTime's Up! Edición AmarillaSay AnythingJaipurZombie Kidz EvolutionLas VegasFriday the 13thGet Bit!Roll For It! Deluxe EditionLost CitiesHey, That's My Fish!Love LetterDixit JinxCompatibilityPoo: The Card GameOnirim (Second Edition)CartagenaLoony QuestKing Up!Don't Mess with CthulhuZombie DiceThe Fox in the ForestPort RoyalDraftosaurusTabooActivitySnorta!The Little Prince: Make Me a PlanetMint WorksNMBR 9BraggartCatch Phrase!Wits & Wagers FamilyMenaraKodama: The Tree SpiritsJunk ArtThe Bucket KingCloud 9Timeline: InventionsQwirkleDream HomeThe Magic LabyrinthFor SaleCluzzleDiamantPatchworkBibliosSushi RollCodenamesKakerlakensuppeUNOFugitiveRed7CrokinoleMagical AthleteFormula Motor RacingPitchCarBlokus DuoGravwell: Escape from the 9th DimensionGuillotineFamily BusinessCelebritiesMuseOnitamaDownforceColorettoFlick 'em Up!Time's Up! Title Recall!When I DreamHanamikojiAzulArchaeology: The New ExpeditionCelestiaPick PicknicUnusual SuspectsSantoriniCopenhagenTales & Games: The Hare & the TortoiseBig PointsDixit: OdysseyWits & Wagers PartyMorelsSplendorMeeple CircusTransAmericaTime's Up!No Thanks!Schotten TottenCacaoKarubaPyramid of PengqueenCoyoteEscape from the Hidden CastleBlitzkrieg!: World War Two in 20 MinutesWyatt EarpTerror in Meeple CityOnce Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game11 nimmt!Jungle SpeedPalm IslandCottage GardenEscape: The Curse of the TempleRush & BashWits & WagersTempel des SchreckensPotion ExplosionRoamWitnessCampy CreaturesSkip-BoPitchCar MiniMandalaStick 'EmParadeLinko!PictionarySnake OilRoll Through the Ages: The Bronze AgeQuarriors!Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-KarFelicity: The Cat in the SackMille BornesPairsMr. Jack PocketUnearthKing of TokyoNosferatuGood Cop Bad CopGhost BlitzUnmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume OneLuxorHigh SocietyCoupPerudoApples to Apples JuniorReefValeria: Card KingdomsMachi KoroDungeon RaidersCa$h 'n Gun$Cardline: AnimalsRisk: Star Wars EditionTakenokoUbongoBalderdashPack & StackPitSprawlopolisColossal ArenaLanterns: The Harvest FestivalIt Happens..Loaded QuestionsApples to ApplesThe Lost ExpeditionHorrifiedFabled FruitOne Night Ultimate Werewolf DaybreakHex HexA Fake Artist Goes to New YorkThat's Pretty Clever!Jump DriveBärenparkMartian FluxxDilbert: Corporate ShuffleOutburst!CribbageLittle TownFUSEiKNOWThe Big IdeaGuessturesBattle LineTiny TownsGhost Fightin' Treasure HuntersBunny Bunny Moose MooseBananagramsWerewordsStar Realms: Colony WarsSpace BaseFlamme RougePictomaniaTrails of TucanaAttributeHero RealmsRise of TribesBlueprintsSavannah TailsLa BocaHannin Wa OdoruCarcassonneRallymanDice TownCanyonAve CaesarFunemployedNova LunaTales of the Arabian NightsSurvive: Escape from Atlantis!TutankhamenNicht die Bohne!Ghost Blitz 2IngeniousThebesMajesty: For the RealmDeception: Murder in Hong KongUnexploded CowCards Against HumanityThe Quest for El DoradoNidavellirForbidden IslandYou're Bluffing!QwintoBamboleoSagradaTiny Epic GalaxiesTokaidoCentury: Golem EditionIgel ÄrgernWhat's It to Ya?Dragon CastlePARKSBlokusThe Game of 49One Night Ultimate WerewolfStay Away!PaperbackClank!: A Deck-Building AdventureThe Downfall of PompeiiSheriff of NottinghamTrans Europa6 nimmt!GizmosMaximum ApocalypseThe Grimm ForestFacts in FiveHart an der GrenzeWhy Did the Chicken...?Shards of InfinityVillagersZoolorettoPowerboatsNuclear WarDuplikCall to AdventureVikings Gone WildKing of New YorkMississippi QueenDOGSuperfightOne Deck DungeonEscape Room: The GameTicket to Ride: 10th AnniversaryBoomtownLovecraft LetterThe Game of ThingsRaptorFantastic FactoriesThe GrizzledHanabiBeyond BalderdashAbandon ShipJamboIsle of Skye: From Chieftain to KingThe Quacks of QuedlinburgMagic MazeFaunaBlack Stories 2San Juan (Second Edition)Via NebulaBlack FleetFantasy RealmsNuclear ProliferationTime's Up! Edición AzulHarry Potter: Hogwarts BattleThurn and TaxisDice ForgeSchrille StilleCrazy CircusTsuroFincaK2World's Fair 1893Cthulhu GloomMafia de CubaSpyfallDale of MerchantsArctic Scavengers: Base Game+HQ+ReconThe Crew: The Quest for Planet NineDecryptoWise and OtherwiseGiftTRAPQueendominoPhotosynthesisMy Little ScytheNiagaraSaboteur GoldSuch a Thing?Battle CryDice HospitalImhotepEarly American Chrononauts25 Words or LessKaleidosManoeuvreBlue Moon CityEthnosGrimoireRailroad Ink: Deep Blue EditionFive CrownsCalicoThe Isle of CatsKanagawaWitch's BrewDiamonds: Second EditionCa$h 'n Guns (Second Edition)HardbackRaBlue LagoonIntrigueDungeon!AliasDice Throne: Season Two – Battle ChestDiscoveries: The Journals of Lewis and ClarkManilaN.Y. ChaseCheaty Mages!BANG! The Dice GameChronicles of CrimeYspahanForbidden DesertDC Comics Deck-Building GameCowboys: The Way of the GunCranium HooplaSmash Up: Awesome Level 9000FortKingdom BuilderPirate's CoveNuclear EscalationArticulate!Ascension: Deckbuilding GameRoll PlayerWildlandsKey LargoWinner's CircleBlack StoriesWhitehall MysteryTrainsThe Shipwreck ArcanaKolejkaRise of AugustusSlide 5ArboretumSpecter OpsTobagoLadies & GentlemenBANG!Ultimate WarriorzMr. JackCthulhu: Death May DieSub TerraSnow TailsJamaicaThe Great DalmutiLord of the Rings: The ConfrontationDisney VillainousPlague Inc.: The Board GameAtlantic StormCastle PanicAye, Dark Overlord! The Red BoxBaseball Highlights: 2045Black OrchestraJawsQuo Vadis?Formula-1Bausack7 Wonders DuelWingspanQuadropolisStockpileThe Really Nasty Horse Racing GamePass the Bomb1775: RebellionDominion: IntrigueDiscworld: Ankh-MorporkDream FactorySecret HitlerTime's Up! DeluxeUnlock!: Escape AdventuresCrusaders: Thy Will Be DoneHadaraAquarettoDragon's GoldSlapshotWatergateLegendary: A Marvel Deck Building GameKitchen RushRaccoon TycoonDetroit-Cleveland Grand PrixSushi Go Party!Mystic ValeGold WestNexus OpsHeroQuestLifeboatPanic LabUndaunted: NormandyLords of WaterdeepAmong the StarsAutomobilesWizardSaboteurCatacombs (Third Edition)The Pursuit of HappinessCryptidDeadwoodTop RaceCreationaryTaluvaZombicide Season 3: Rue MorgueBunny KingdomHeroQuest Advanced QuestStar MunchkinNaval WarMemoir '44ThunderbirdsTreasure IslandMystery of the AbbeyDungeon Fighter1000 Blank White CardsWar ChestSamuraiModern ArtThrough the DesertSkull KingWord on the StreetHeroscape Master Set: Rise of the ValkyrieEminent DomainCatanDarjeelingThe Resistance: AvalonConceptBurgle Bros.Carpe DiemGalaxy TruckerMutant Chronicles: Siege of the CitadelLifeboatsTanz der Hornochsen!Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-MenRaiders of the North SeaAbyssIt's a Wonderful WorldAround the World in 80 DaysBongo!Super MotherloadClank! In! Space!: A Deck-Building AdventureBlood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card GameBeowulf: The LegendShadow HuntersKragmorthaOh My Goods!Above and BelowThe EstatesFunny FriendsColt ExpressLinqHive PocketVikingsTichuThe King's DilemmaFearsome FloorsTsuro of the SeasTwice as Clever!Coal BaronLords of VegasChinatownMunchkin ImpossibleCraniumHiveEx LibrisSmall WorldChinaLeaping LemmingsTrapwordsTargiPandemic: IberiaMechs vs. MinionsLast Night on Earth: The Zombie GameHoity ToityChronologyElder SignAlien FrontiersKingsburgOasisTreasure HunterRage13 Days: The Cuban Missile CrisisDungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board GameQuantumThe Magnates: A Game of PowerRoom 25Take it Easy!Stuffed FablesTang GardenSaint PetersburgTower of BabelMall of HorrorHeimlich & Co.KeyForge: Call of the ArchonsLondon (Second Edition)Stone AgeVegas ShowdownMunchkin ZombiesDeadwood Studios USAWarhammer Underworlds: ShadespireZombicide Season 2: Prison OutbreakAcquireMidgardCondottiereBoggleClaustrophobiaUnfairArcadia QuestBetrayal at House on the HillI'm the Boss!Save Doctor LuckyThe DukeLegendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building GameTyrants of the UnderdarkBroom ServiceFormula DCamel Up (Second Edition)TakPathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base SetSmall World UndergroundMü and Lots MoreTortuga 1667MascaradeSummoner Wars: Master SetIn the Hall of the Mountain KingIstanbulAirlines EuropeSpeed CircuitFrank's ZooTZAARThunderstone Advance: Towers of RuinThe Godfather: Corleone's EmpireWeb of PowerMunchkin ApocalypseOne Night Ultimate VampireThe Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earthBrugesChampions of MidgardTarotCutthroat CavernsBezzerwizzerExit: The Game – The Abandoned CabinElysiumT.I.M.E StoriesAladdin's DragonsLetter JamNottinghamClaustrophobia 1643Roll for the GalaxyFrescoMü & MoreEketorpNobody Is PerfectRes ArcanaSuburbiaCastles of Mad King LudwigSantiagoWin, Place & ShowAntidoteNeuroshima Hex! 3.0OceansGlen MoreSentinels of the MultiverseShow ManagerPanic on Wall Street!The Taverns of TiefenthalEverdellMice and MysticsDungeon Saga: Dwarf King's QuestValhallaBlood Bound878 Vikings: Invasions of EnglandNear and FarClank! Legacy: Acquisitions IncorporatedFische Fluppen FrikadellenArticle 27: The UN Security Council GameBohnanzaRunebound (Third Edition)DeusSpartacus: A Game of Blood and TreacheryBetrayal at Baldur's GateMission: Red Planet (Second Edition)SETDVONNTapestryWarhammer Quest: The Adventure Card GameCosmic EncounterFlash Point: Fire RescueLong ShotSherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other CasesNusfjordArchitects of the West KingdomRisk LegacyRush n' CrushOh Hell!Commands & Colors: AncientsAuZtraliaLegends of AndorClippersPopular FrontSamurai SwordBattleLore (Second Edition)Glory to RomeConanHomeland: The GameLibertaliaWelcome To...YINSHViticultureWestern LegendsDogs of WarStrozziBetween Two CitiesDetective: A Modern Crime Board GameSpaceCorpFirst Class: All Aboard the Orient Express!Augsburg 1520MediciPetits Meurtres & Faits DiversInnovationFirefly: The GameTikalMansions of Madness: Second EditionQuartermaster GeneralBANG! The Bullet!Aeon's EndShakespeareEndeavor: Age of SailAxis & Allies: WWI 19147 WondersClue Master DetectiveSekigahara: The Unification of JapanDinosaur IslandThe Pillars of the EarthStrasbourgDark MoonOne Night RevolutionImperial SettlersGlen More II: ChroniclesCycladesNotre DameAwkward GuestsTajemnicze DomostwoSeasonsGùgōngEgiziaColosseumHorse FeverEscape from the Aliens in Outer SpaceMarvel Champions: The Card GameSanta MariaRajas of the GangesTammany HallCavern TavernObscurioSpace Hulk (Third Edition)VindicationBlood RageInvasion from Outer Space: The Martian GameCity of HorrorMysteriumThunderstone QuestRococoInisTimbuktuZombicide: Black PlagueCartographersPandemic Legacy: Season 1MacaoGhost StoriesSmartphone Inc.The Great Fire of London 1666Not AloneFive TribesStar Trek: AscendancySpace AlertKremlinBootleggersTurfMasterThe 7th ContinentXia: Legends of a Drift SystemAmerigoBetrayal LegacyIlluminatiFormula DéGears of War: The Board GameDwellings of EldervaleKemetA Brief History of the WorldLetters from WhitechapelThe Castle of the DevilFreedom: The Underground RailroadFury of Dracula (Third/Fourth Edition)Dead of Winter: A Crossroads GameAntike IIThe ReckonersCitadelsGinkgopolisTerraforming MarsThe Manhattan Project: Energy EmpireLeague of SixHistory of the WorldDas Motorsportspiel51st State: Master SetChurchillConcordiaMousquetaires du RoyEvolution: ClimatePacific TyphoonGlass RoadLorenzo il MagnificoOrléansDOOM: The Board GameCharterstoneAsking for TrobilsHammer of the ScotsCoimbraVillageGerman RailwaysKings of Air and SteamSpace Cadets: Dice DuelRace for the GalaxyYokohamaNavegadorFrancis DrakeFortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger GameNuns on the RunThe Castles of BurgundyTriumph & Tragedy: European Balance of Power 1936-1945Hansa TeutonicaContainer: 10th Anniversary Jumbo Edition!VolldampfCaptain SonarMythic Battles: PantheonPulsar 2849Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery20th CenturyViticulture Essential EditionSamurai SpiritA Few Acres of SnowAltiplanoCthulhu WarsOlympusSenjiBetween Two Castles of Mad King LudwigBattleCON: Devastation of IndinesLewis & Clark: The ExpeditionConcordia VenusRailways of the WorldWildLifeForgotten Waters1960: The Making of the PresidentMarco Polo II: In the Service of the KhanChaos in the Old WorldMare Nostrum: EmpiresMedieval MerchantWatson & HolmesMagic: The GatheringNewtonThe Voyages of Marco PoloAmun-ReEuphoria: Build a Better DystopiaThe Captain Is DeadGrand Austria HotelTroyesHeaven & AleThe OthersPower Grid Deluxe: Europe/North AmericaThunder AlleyObsessionMariaPuerto Rico (with two expansions)El GrandeMachiavelliRicochet RobotsCombat Commander: EuropeViscounts of the West KingdomRising SunDynasties: Heirate & HerrscheNew AngelesRoboRallyThis War of Mine: The Board GameNationsLords of HellasBusRex: Final Days of an EmpireAtlantis Rising (Second Edition)Tainted Grail: The Fall of AvalonLa GranjaShadows of Brimstone: City of the AncientsGenoaPower GridThe MessageAndroid: NetrunnerClash of CulturesKeyflowerHermagorMedioevo UniversalePokerArkham Horror: The Card GameMillennium BladesGoaDescent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)Eldritch HorrorHuman Punishment: Social Deduction 2.0D-Day at Omaha BeachGreat Western TrailScytheBattlestar Galactica: The Board GameColonial: Europe's Empires OverseasShadows over CamelotHannibal: Rome vs. CarthageLe HavreRussian RailroadsThe Princes of FlorenceImperial 2030Steampunk RallyUnderwater CitiesTeotihuacan: City of GodsSteamPeriklesPrinces of the RenaissanceCircus MaximusTwilight StruggleCaylusClans of CaledoniaWallensteinWarrior KnightsJuntaPaladins of the West KingdomGloomhavenEclipse: Second Dawn for the GalaxyNemesisImperialKingmakerStar Wars: RebellionMaracaiboTigris & EuphratesPower StruggleExodus: Proxima CentauriOutpostRobinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed IslandAlchemistsAgricola (Revised Edition)Empires: Age of DiscoverySidereal Confluence: Remastered EditionGunslingerForbidden StarsOra et LaboraTrajanVampire: The Eternal StruggleThe Battle for NormandyDiplomacyToo Many BonesBrass: BirminghamRootShogunFief: France 1429BattlestationsA Feast for OdinAnachronyTzolk'in: The Mayan CalendarA Study in EmeraldDuneClose Action: The Age of Fighting Sail Vol. 1Paths of GloryFood Chain MagnatePax Pamir (Second Edition)AutomobileAge of SteamStruggle of EmpiresFields of ArleThe GalleristCaverna: The Cave FarmersKohle & KolonieDominant SpeciesMega CivilizationSpirit IslandGaia ProjectMombasaAge of RenaissanceHere I Stand7 AgesWar of the Ring: Second EditionThrough the Ages: A New Story of CivilizationTerra MysticaDie MacherTwilight Imperium: Fourth EditionEmpires in ArmsKingdom Death: MonsterLisboaBarrageThe Republic of RomeStar Fleet Battles: Captain's Edition Basic Set1862: Railway Mania in the Eastern CountiesMage Knight: Ultimate EditionOn MarsVinhos Deluxe EditionWorld in FlamesVirgin QueenMagic Realm