Long before the first video game platforms, centuries before television, and eons before iPhones, people turned to creative board games for entertainment, mental challenge, teamwork, and downtime fun with friends and family. Today, some of the best legacy board games live on, including some decades old family-favorites that we played as children — and many that our parents and grandparents played before us to spend quality time together. Nothing brings back comforting memories of childhood more than the familiar, colorful game boards we grew up with. Who can resist a trip to Boardwalk while passing Go to collect $200, or finally landing at the Candy Castle after a few turns stuck in Molasses Swamp?
In the Game of Life, family game nights are what we go on to remember long after we’ve forgotten a viral TikTok video or the current popular binge-watch series. So pop some popcorn, put out a few dishes of M&M’s, and take a peek in the closet to pull out one of the best legacy board games for creating new memories that live on like the legacy games we love.
With the popularity of Stranger Things and other series and movies set in the 1980s, there’s no better time than today to buy one of the best legacy board games of all time in its nostalgically retro 1986 edition. Clue (Cluedo in some countries) has been turning board game fans into home sleuths since it was first introduced in 1949 as Cluedo in Leeds, England. Originally manufactured by Parker Brothers after its design and creation by Lawyer, Anthony E. Pratt, the game is now marketed by Hasbro and sold in over 70 countries.
In the retro, 1987 edition, Clue offers players a nostalgic look back to the most beloved version of the game with a vintage-style game board and original characters, clue cards, case files, detective notepad, wooden tokens, and tiny miniature “weapons” including candlesticks and rope. Roll the die and then pull a card to move on to the next clue in a race to be the first to solve a murder mystery in an old English mansion. Was it Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick, or Miss Scarlett in the lounge with a wrench?
Clue is one of the best legacy board games to pass on to a new generation, with its beloved quirky characters caught up in an epic game of whodunit murder mystery.
- Classic Clue board game in retro ’80s style
- Remade 1986 edition of the original beloved British board game
- Enjoy classic Clue gameplay to follow clues, collect evidence and identify the murderer
- Revisit the classic English country mansion, miniature weapons, three sets of cards, and detective note pad to become a super sleuth
- Type of Game: Mystery board game
- Age Recommendation: 8+
- Game Duration: 10 to 60 minutes
- Brand: Hasbro
- With the popularity of everything ’80s, revisit the fun decade with the 1986 edition of Clue
- Collectible packaging
- Includes reissued wooden tokens, retro weapons, and old-fashioned dice
- Mrs. Peacock’s space is the same color as Professor Plum
While it’s less than two decades old, the game of Catan is already one of the best legacy board games destined for the classic category. The millennial generation grew up with Catan, and it’s more popular now than ever before as millennials enjoy sharing it with a new generation or playing the game nostalgically with friends. While variant versions have also emerged, the classic Catan game of “Trade, Build, and Settle” remains a true, lasting favorite. The beloved strategy game accommodates 2 to 4 players of age 10 and up.
Every game of Catan not only offers a brand-new experience, but each game board itself is also unique since players construct the board through the tiles they place down in each game. Players build roadways, make use of natural resources, and enjoy harbors, fields, pastures, mountains, forests, and desert regions — all on the mythical island of Catan.
Called “The Board Game of Our Time,” by the Washington Post, the strategizing and development game of Catan is the winner of multiple awards and is now also available as a popular video game. Catan is the subject of the 2012 documentary film,“ Going Cardboard.”
Catan enjoyed another boost in popularity during the pandemic when more time at home had families turning away from screens and looking for wholesome at-home activities. Catan became a new favorite for many families and is definitely one of the best legacy games of all time, despite its relatively recent arrival on the board game scene.
- Ultimate strategy game for trading, building, and settling an island
- Beloved board game with an epic quest to develop an island community
- Includes 19 hexagon tiles, 6 coastal frames, 9 harbor pieces, 20 wooden settlements, 16 wooden cities, over 100 cards, and 18 tokens
- Use smart trading and development to settle an island and win the game
- Type of Game: Strategy Board Game
- Age Recommendation: 10+
- Game Duration: 60 minutes
- Brand: Catan Studio
- A favorite of millennials!
- International family night favorite
- Enjoy a unique board experience with every game
- Comes packed with pieces
- Colonialist theme may be controversial
- Includes a lot of pieces to keep track of
Do you still remember being stuck in Molasses Swamp or making it to the chocolate-bar doorstep of the “Home Sweet Home” gingerbread house with its pink frosting roof only to draw a card sending you back to Peppermint Stick Forest? If your childhood memories include this sweet adventure, the best legacy board game to share with your own little ones is Candy Land, the retro-style 65th-anniversary game. This classic version of the game includes the original artwork with its sweet drawings of glistening gumdrops, colorful ice cream “floats,” and gleaming lollipops on the full-sized board. The beloved childhood classic includes the original game board, 4 plastic gingerbread men tokens, and a stack of 64 color cards.
Players race to reach the delicious safety of the gingerbread house with its peppermint stick fence, ice cream shrubs, and cupcake chimney by drawing a card and moving to the next square on the board with the same color. A card with two squares means the player can skip a square and move further to the next square of that color. But warning, pitfalls await, like the sticky molasses swamp where you might have to wait until a player draws a blue card to get free, or a candy card that sends you back to the square marked with that candy, even if you were far ahead. Kids and adults alike love the twist and turns along the way through a land of sweet treats!
Candy Land is one of the best legacy board games to play with young children, teaching them color identification and counting skills as they move tokens and count squares.
This is one of the best legacy board games to add to any collection or game shelf. It comes with a retro-style board that brings back pleasant childhood memories for many of us who enjoyed it during some of our sweetest childhood moments. Share it with your own children to continue the sugary fun with a new generation!
- Candy Land board game in the 65th anniversary edition
- Classic, candy-themed game of luck with cards, tokens, and colorful board
- Type of Game: Board game for kids
- Age Recommendation: 3+
- Game Duration: 15-20 minutes
- Brand: Winning Moves
- Requires no reading so very young children can play
- Fun illustrations with less “business” than the newer board
- Classic gingerbread-man shaped game tokens
- Inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame
- This classic edition does not include “Queen Frostine” that now-grown ’90s children might remember fondly
- Requires no reading or strategy, but it does require color recognition and counting
Whether you consider yourself a wordsmith or you just love board games, Scrabble is one of the best legacy board games to tease your brain while it satisfies the competitive nature in all of us. Score points by using your own stores of vocabulary and spelling knowledge to outwit opponents on the classic Scrabble board setup with tiles, tile holders, and a game board. Only with Scrabble Deluxe Edition, no player has to read the words upside down! The wheeled board spins to line up with each player during their turn.
Scrabble Deluxe Edition comes with a two-piece turning game board, 100 wooden tiles, 4 tile racks, a drawstring tile storage bag, and instructions for playing. Best of all, the game board has a non-slip feature that uses tiny raised ridges on each square to keep your tiles in place. No more realigning tiles during the game! Plus, it all comes in a heavy-duty storage box with a convenient carrying handle.
The classic game of Scrabble has been challenging minds while satisfying the senses with tiny wooden tiles that are delightful to handle, line up, and arrange into point-winning words. It’s one of the best legacy board games to play with friends and family. The crossword-style game has been a beloved feature of family game nights since 1948!
- Deluxe Scrabble game with spinning board
- Includes 100 wooden tiles, 4 tile racks, a drawstring tile bag, wheeled gameboard and instructions
- Heavy-duty storage box with carrying handle
- Classic Scrabble gameplay with a turning board and non-slip grid
- Type of Game: Word game
- Age Recommendation: 8+
- Game Duration: Approx 50 minutes
- Brand: Hasbro
- Enjoy the classic word game on a wheeled gameboard so no one has to read upside down
- Original-style wooden letter tiles and raised ridges to keep tiles in place
- The game box has a carrying handle
- We wish the board was a one-piece board since the two halves sometimes separate
Monopoly is inarguably one of the best legacy board games of all time, offering many hours of gameplay that’s perfect for holiday breaks, post-Thanksgiving dinner, family game nights, or passing the time during power outages and thunderstorms. This classic 1980s edition is the familiar favorite from our childhoods with the original artwork on the game board featuring iconic real estate locations like Boardwalk, Park Place, Vermont Avenue, and all the squares of property you once “owned,” developed with houses and hotels, and collected rents on during childhood games. It also has the original ‘80s silver game pieces including beloved favorites like the car, dog, hat, thimble, and horse. It also has the original red and green plastic houses and hotels, orange Community Chest and Chance cards, monopoly money, and a plastic “bank.”
You’ll love passing Go and collecting $200, avoiding jail, and adding to your bank account in a race to beat opponents to the best properties until you emerge the winner and real estate mogul of the day by driving your friends and family into bankruptcy.
Monopoly has been a family favorite pastime and one of the best legacy board games of all time, unrivaled in popularity since 1903 when it first launched as The Landlord’s Game. It was later rebranded as Monopoly by Parker Brothers in 1935.
Share the game you played as a child with your own children for a fun trip down memory lane … and Baltic Avenue, Park Place, and Marvin Gardens.
- Classic Monopoly game in the iconic 1980’s edition
- The beloved board you remember with the most popular classic artwork, colors, and design
- Includes the 9 familiar tokens of car, dog, hat, horse, shoe, thimble, wheelbarrow, cannon, and boat
- Enjoy classic gameplay and pieces including hotels, houses, tokens, title deeds, community chest cards, chance cards, banker’s tray, and monopoly money
- Type of Game: Economic-themed board game
- Age Recommendation: 8+
- Game Duration: 20 -90 minutes or more
- Brand: KToyoung
- Highly absorbing and competitive
- Inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998
- The most popular board and game piece style from the 1980s
- Teaches important economic lessons in a fun way
- Games can take a long time to play
- Cardstock seems slightly thinner than the originals but still pretty sturdy
Are you winning in the game of life? No board game mimics the twists, turns, and surprises of real life while adding fun and laughs like Hasbro’s The Game of Life. A family-friendly favorite board game since 1960, This is one of the best legacy board games to play with adults, children of age 8 and up, or a mix of child and adult players for family fun. Bring back memories from childhood while sharing this historically beloved family board game with a new generation of players.
The Game of Life comes with a familiar colorful board with paths through mountainous terrain. It includes 115 cards for career and education choices, adding to the family, going on vacations, and making life-changing decisions to keep the excitement going as each player makes their way through “life.” Spin the wheel, add people pegs to your car token, and adapt to whatever curves “Life” throws your way, whether it’s having twins, or experiencing a canceled flight for your ski vacation.
Mark milestones and make memories with The Game of Life, a family-pleaser that’s been simulating life from coming of age to retirement for generations. Now part of the Smithsonian’s American History Collection and the National Toy Hall of Fame, The Game of Life is easy to set up. Includes a colorful board, spinner, tokens, and play money. It’s one of the best legacy board games to add to any game closet or shelf, and makes a great family gift!
- Classic family board game taking players through a simulated life from start to retirement
- Find a career path, start a family, and take vacations, and win or lose at the game of life
- Includes full-sized game board, spinner, 115 cards, tokens, 4 cars, 24 people pegs, money pack, and instructions
- Plater with the most money at the end wins the game
- Type of Game: Family board game
- Age Recommendation: Age 8+
- Game Duration: Approximately 1 hour
- Brand: Hasbro
- Fun for the whole family
- Full of twists and turns, like having twins and choosing unexpected career paths
- A family favorite since 1960
- Inductee to the National Toy Hall of Fame and part of the Smithsonian’s National Museaum of American History
- Includes hints of sponsership by TripAdvisor on some vacation cards
- Spinner occasionally come loose
Do you collect random knowledge like which animal parts were once used to stiffen corsets or whether a hurdy-gurdy is a woodwind, brass, keyboard, or string instrument? If trivia is your superpower, the best legacy board game designed to show off your vast stores of knowledge is Trivial Pursuit, Classic Edition. Known as the game that started the American love for trivia, Trivial Pursuit enjoyed its initial release in 1981 with many themed versions following as well as an edition for younger players — but there’s nothing like the classic game for 2-6 players of age 16 and up. This edition works exactly like the original, but with the addition of up-to-date questions for today’s generation of players.
Trivial Pursuit includes 400 cards with 2,400 questions in six different categories. It also comes with a game board, a classic die, 36 wedge-shaped game pieces, and 6 wedge holders. Players roll the die to move along the board, landing on various game categories and then answer a question from that category. This classic edition includes the categories: Art and literature, history, entertainment, geography, science and nature, and sports and leisure, just like the original, beloved version. Players earn a corresponding color wedge if they answer the question correctly. The first player to collect all six wedges then wins when they’re able to answer a final question at their turn.
This is one of the best legacy board games in its nostalgic original style with the iconic blue box and color wheel game board. It’s the perfect way to learn a lot of trivia in a way that’s too much fun to feel like learning!
- Classic trivia game first released in 1981, now with updated questions
- Collect all six wedges by answering questions from six categories after landing on a board space to determine trivia subject category
- Show off your knowledge while playing against individuals or in teams
- With 2,400 trivia questions on 400 cards, with 6 wedge holders, 36 wedges, and 1 die
- Type of Game: Trivia
- Age Recommendation: 16+
- Game Duration: Up to 80 minutes
- Brand: Hasbro
- Classic addition with traditional gameplay and categories
- Accomodates 2-6 players or teams
- Fun party game for teens and adults
- Includes questions about art, history, geography, science and nature, literature, and sports and leisure
- Games can become lengthy
- American version includes sports and leisure questions that might be unfamiliar to UK users
Trivial Pursuit Classic Edition
No closet full of the best legacy board games is complete without the classic Pop-O-Matic game of Trouble. Perfect for kids playing with each other, but also fun for adults to join in on family game nights, Trouble has kept families popping since it first launched in 1965.
Up to 4 players move their colored pegs around the board in a race to the finish. Learn how many spaces to move by popping the plastic bubble in the center of the board to make the die jump, displaying the number. There’s nothing as satisfying as the Pop-O-Matic pop of the Trouble bubble — except maybe for landing a peg in an opponent’s spot and sending them back to the beginning while you move ahead in the race around the board!
Trouble is one of the best legacy board games to play with kids, not only because it’s a game of chance and counting, with no strategizing needed, but also because the game board comes fully assembled and they’ll never lose the die!
Rolling dice always comes with the thrilling feeling of luck and chance, but it’s even more satisfying when you pop the die instead. This classic edition is just like the game you remember playing as a child, with the same cheerful “pop!” and thimble-like plastic pegs. It’s certain to take you back to happy memories while you’re busy making new ones!
- Classic “Pop-o-Matic” Trouble board game for up to 4 players
- Plastic game board with a center bubble and popping die
- 16 pegs in 4 colors
- Race to move all your pegs to the the finish without the “trouble” of someone else landing in the same spot to send you back to the start
- Type of Game: Family board game
- Age Recommendation: 5 and up
- Game Duration: Less than an hour
- Brand: Hasbro Gaming
- Game comes fully assembled
- Addictive gameplay with popping fun
- Kids as young as 5 years old can play
- Very sturdy board just like the originals
- Game pieces come out of the holes easily
Do you ever imagine you could run the world much better than today’s leaders? You can try your hand at world domination in one of the best legacy board games of all time — Risk! The classic board game of war strategy makes you an instant General in charge of conquering whole continents in a game of conflict, battle planning, and diplomacy.
Risk has been a popular family pastime since 1957, as families and friends gather around the vintage-style map game board and form and break alliances through a roll of the dice, the luck of the draw, and a great deal of strategy and planning. With four ways to play, players can find the perfect niche to challenge their minds while they plan global domination and watch their opponents concede one at a time…
Games of Risk can last for many hours or even days. It’s one of the best legacy board games for extended play during holiday breaks, while camping, or for rainy weekends. Capture territories and intimidate opponents while steering your family away from screens and into a classic game of conquest, conflict, and occupied territories until someone comes out as ruler of the world!
- Classic Risk game of war strategy for 2-6 players
- Conquer entire continents as you practice the art of warfare, diplomacy, and political alliances in an attempt to occupy every territory on the map
- Defend your territory and strategize to rule the the world with your military might
- Includes the classic game board, mission cards 5 dice, and plastic soldiers with 12 cavalry, 4 infantry, and 8 artillary per player
- Type of Game: War strategizing board game
- Age Recommendation: 10+
- Game Duration: 2-8 hours
- Brand: Hasbro
- Game includes a dragon token for a special mission
- Updated mission cards
- Plan surprise attacks and balance strategy with luck of the draw
- 4-ways to play and entertainment that lasts for hours and hours
- Traditional Risk gameplay can take hours or even days for a player to win
- Rules can be complicated for beginners
Do board games have to be all fun and games? Not necessarily. One of the best legacy board games to take game night up a notch for adults and teenagers is a Ouija board. The Medium Classic Wooden Spirit Board by CM Originals is perfect for stormy game nights, Halloween, camping trips, or parties. This classic tool for communicating with spirits is guaranteed to cause thrills and chills whether you’re a believer or not.
Ouija boards have been a popular parlor game since 1901 when they were produced by the Kennard Novelty Company. The name “Ouija” is a combination of the French and German words for “yes,” and is meant to welcome wandering spirits with a note of positivity. Players place their hands lightly on a wheeled planchette and ask the board questions. Without (intentionally) guiding the planchette, it typically glides across the board and lands on either yes or no answers or on letters spelling out an answer, bringing spooky excitement to any gathering!
The Medium-Classic Wooden Spirit Board by CM Originals is a handmade natural birchwood board with beautiful craftsmanship and vintage-style letters and numbers. The wooden planchette features spiritual symbols and a jewel-like inlaid glass magnifier to make each chosen letter or number easy to read. The game also includes a drawstring bag for storage. Best of all, you’ll love all the thoughtful details like the vintage-looking instruction sheet with faux burned edges, yellowed paper, and cursive script. The beautiful set also makes a fun supernatural centerpiece for a Halloween party.
This is one of the best legacy board games of all time and is an excellent addition to any adult game night… but only if you dare to go there.
- Distinctive, handmade wooden spirit or “Ouiji” board game with vintage-style lettering
- Classic tool for communication with spirits or for party fun
- Real wooden planchette and authentic-appearing script instruction sheet
- Easy-moving planchette with inlaid glass “gem” for magnifying letters and numbers
- Type of Game: Spirit board
- Age Recommendation: 13+
- Game Duration: 20-30 minutes
- Brand: CM Originals
- Beautiful details
- Includes drawstring storage bag
- Also makes a beautiful Halloween party decoration
- Perfect for October game nights in stormy weather
- Beautifully crafted, but we wish the board was a little thicker
- Paranormal game may be too scary for children
Ouija Medium Classic Spirit Board
Did you know the history of board games goes back further than we can even look? That humans had board games before we had written language? From the Senet boards of Ancient Egypt to the carved knucklebones of Early Greece, it’s clear that games played an important role (of the dice!) in human history.
Today, some of the best legacy board games are those that we played with as children, and that our parents and grandparents played before us. These are the games that every family should have on a shelf in the closet to pull out for family game nights, rainy weather, and holiday breaks. These games aren’t fads, but family favorites that live on through generations.
No home is complete without a stack of board games to tempt kids and teens away from the screens. Surprisingly, in this day of video gaming and binge-watching, board games are back in a big way.
The best legacy board games have much to offer. More than just family fun, board games keep the brain stimulated while also offering a satisfying tactile experience that we don’t get from video games. There’s nothing more gratifying than the feel of drawing a smooth card from a deck, tossing dice across a game board, handling tiny tiles and tokens, or popping a Trouble bubble to watch the die jump.
Playing a board game stimulates cognition through strategizing at the same time that it enhances hand-eye coordination, counting skills, and memory. Plus, they’re just good, clean fun without the guilty feeling that comes from hours in front of a flickering screen.
A Long Legacy of Family Fun
Most of us learned how to play the best legacy board games from our parents. From that first trip out of the Peppermint Forest across to the Candy Castle, to hours of competing for the best real estate squares from Park Place to Marvin Gardens after Thanksgiving dinner, board games offer the perfect way to connect with family and friends and make lasting memories. These are the memorable moments we want to pass on to our own children because we know how much it means to recall scrabbling with a sibling over whether or not “Natter” is a real word or arguing about who betrayed their allies in an epic game of world dominion over a game board map of conquered continents.
No Power Needed
The best legacy board games are perfect to pull out during a power outage. Instead of feeling frightened by thunder and lightning, your kids will race to get out a board game while you find a flashlight and candles. Or ar your kids already asleep? Then take out a spirit board and enjoy some spooky thrills and chills by candlelight with a board game that might or might not actually communicate with the spirit world!
Whether you enjoy the luck of the draw or serious games of out-strategizing your friends and family, the best legacy board games deliver screen-free, family-focused fun.