A List Of The 15 Greatest Must-Play TableTop Games

When people talk about tabletop games, they’re usually referring to board games in general, or perhaps role playing games. We’ve already put together a list of the best board games to play in isolation, so have gone on a bit of a tangent and considered the top games that will take up the whole table. This is an eclectic mix of traditional board games and more sporty pursuits. Either way, you’re bound to have tons of fun playing them!

Tabletop Ping Pong

The best thing about ping pong is that you don’t need to buy the table. You can just use your kitchen or dining room table and attach a net. Although obviously ping pong takes skill to play, it’s just as much fun for children as it is for adults.


Most sets are really easy to set up and will fit pretty much any table. Just make sure you buy plenty of spare balls – they always seem to go missing. We’d blame the dog… if we all had dogs to blame.

Arkham Horror

Before you get your hopes up, this has nothing to do with Batman. But we promise that the game is worth it anyway. We’ve included Arkham Horror in our list partly because it’s just a great game. It also really does take up the complete table top – the board is huge! Once you’ve set up all the other pieces, you won’t have much room to spare either.

Set in a sleepy town in America, the game requires cooperation between players to unravel mysteries and conspiracies. It’s a blend of card game and roleplaying game, set amid a backdrop of Lovecraftian horror. Not for the faint of heart perhaps. Overall though, we think that Arkham Horror is a brilliantly designed game that you’ll want to play repeatedly.

Risk

Risk has been around for many years. Most of our parents probably remember playing it late into the night in their twenties. The box doesn’t usually give you a game playing time – they probably don’t want to scare you off. You can be playing one game for hours. But if you’re playing it with the right group of people (hopefully fiendishly competitive) then you’ll love every minute. 
Risk is a strategic game, the aim of which is complete global domination. You can also get themed versions of the game, including Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, so you can take over fictional worlds too.

Table Football

Table football (or foosball) allows you to control your miniature team to score goals. You’ll also need to prevent your opponent from getting the ball anywhere near your end of the table. If you’ve ever seen Friends, you’ll know what we’re talking about.

This is the sort of game that takes practice to get good. So realistically, you need to buy your own table, right? It might set you back a few hundred pounds, but it’s definitely an investment. You’ll get hundreds of hours of gameplay out of it, so it’s certainly worth the money.

Subbuteo

The success of Subbuteo is almost certainly down to its simplicity. You’re essentially flicking bits of plastic around a felt football pitch, but somehow the game feels more magical than that. Maybe it’s nostalgia (the first sets came out in the 1940s) but Subbuteo will always hold a special place in our hearts. 

The newer version of the game includes players from the UEFA Champions League, so it will appeal to those who haven’t played the game before. They’ll enjoy it if they’re just excited by anything football related.

Total Action Football

Yes, we’re on a bit of a roll with football related games. But this is the last one on the list, we swear. Total Action Football is basically an evolution of Subbuteo. The players have magnets to allow you to trap, pass or shoot the ball. 

The game is aimed at younger players, but we’re betting that the adults won’t be able to resist playing too. It’s quick and easy to set up (and put away) and can provide hours of fun for the family, particularly if they’re obsessed with football.

Dungeons and Dragons

We’ve all heard of Dungeons and Dragons, but not everyone would admit to playing it – the game seems to have developed a super nerdy vibe. You can’t deny its success though – the game has been going for years, and its popularity has never wavered. Dungeons and Dragons has also been mentioned a fair few times on The Big Bang Theory

The board game version requires less players and less preparation, so if you’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons before, this can be a good option to introduce you to the basics. The game time is typically shorter with the board game version too – generally this would be between an hour and ninety minutes. Players from ages ten and above will enjoy this game if they’re fond of fantasy and adventure.

Snooker

Not many of us were lucky enough to have their own snooker table at home growing up, but it’s something lots of people gravitate towards in pubs or gaming rooms. There’s something about a snooker table that draws you in. It’s not an overly complicated game, but it does take a lot of time and commitment to truly master. 

If you’re good at mathematics and trigonometry, you can probably figure out the place you need to hit the ball so that it rebounds against the cushion to end up in the pocket, but the execution may leave something to be desired! Snooker can be a challenge, but it never gets boring.
A decent snooker table can be an investment – if you’re looking for a quality table, it will probably be fairly expensive. A lot of the cheaper versions are smaller, but you often get other games built in, such as ice hockey or backgammon.

Catan

Admittedly the tiles that set up the board for this game won’t take up as much space as some of the games mentioned, but when you factor in all the cards and other pieces, it’s a pretty expansive game. Not to mention the fact that you’re trying to build up a colony – Catan just feels epic. 

This is a longer game to play (the box advises an hour, however this can be a conservative estimate), but the joy of racing against your opponents to develop your settlement means that time flies by. It’s often difficult to to predict a winner too – unlike a lot of games, where it’s easy to fall behind and impossible to catch up, with Catan, it’s a lot more close-cut and you can sneak your way to victory.

Tabletop Ice Hockey

Air hockey games are great fun, but the boards can be rather small – they’re often marketed just for children. But ice hockey games are different – it’s similar to foosball in the sense that you can control your players, but with more flexibility.

Tabletop ice hockey is probably more difficult to play than air hockey, so we wouldn’t recommend buying it for young children, but older kids can have hours of fun practicing and developing tactics with this game. It’s well designed (the puck can be reached by at least one player at all times) and easy to set up – we’re sure you’ll love this game.

Twilight Struggle: The Cold War

Set during the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union, this game allows you to change the shape of history. You have limited resources at your disposal, so making decisions about how best to use them won’t be easy, and the outcome could be disastrous. 

The map folds out to a surprising size, so you really will need the whole table to play. The rule book is just as large, but Twilight Struggle is pretty easy to learn and pick up. It’s not a quick game, but certainly enjoyable.

Axis and Allies

This board game is also set during a war – in this case, WWII. Become a military strategist and learn when to strike, directing your forces against your opponents in a battle that will decide the fate of the world.


Depending on which version you buy, the stage is set in different parts of the world. You can play throughout 1940, 1941 and 1942. The 1941 version offers a good introduction to the game, and is cheaper to buy, but if you’re looking for a longer and more complicated game, we’d recommend the 1942 Second Edition.

Formula D

Formula D is another sports based game that’s easy to learn but harder to master. Players drive simulated cars in a Formula One style race to cross the finish line, but you need to have a bit of strategy and a lot of luck. Each gear you’re in will determine the type of move you can make, so you’ve got to plan which gears are best for what part of the race. 


The game allows for up to ten players, so you can imagine the scale of the board. There are also plenty of expansion packs available, including race courses in Chicago, Valencia, and Singapore. This is a must have game for anyone who’s a fan of high-stakes car racing.

Scalextric

Some might argue that this is not a game in the traditional sense, but it certainly provides hours of entertainment, and you can’t contest that it takes over your entire table (and your life). We’re betting that you had a friend growing up that owned a Scalextric set. Or their parents did, and they were permitted to touch it. We’re also sure that it was the envy of the whole group. Now we’re all adults and can buy what games we like, it could be the time to invest in a Scalextric kit of your very own.

The cars are miniature works of art, the track is streamlined and seamless, and nothing quite beats the thrill of holding the controller in your hands. Go on, you know you want to.

Twilight Imperium

Words aren’t really enough to explain the scope of this game, but we’ll give it our best shot. Looking for intergalactic politics, planetary invasions, or battles in space? Twilight Imperium has it all. You couldn’t really ask for a more challenging, complex game.


It’s a time consuming game, especially if you introduce the expansion packs and involve more players, but they’re hours well spent. You can build alliances with other players, but ultimately there can only be one winner.