If Monopoly is the most complex board game you’ve ever played, then you could be missing out on hours upon hours of quality entertainment.

Board games have seen a massive surge in popularity in the past decade, with well over 3000 board games published in 2014 alone. Casual observers may perceive board games to be either children’s toys or ice breakers for parties (like Trivial Pursuit), but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Gaming aficionados have been enjoying deep, captivating, and thought provoking tabletop games for years, and nothing’s stopping you from getting in on the fun.

The following five games have proven to be influential hits among fans, but they may have flown under your radar until now.

5: Pandemic


Ever wondered what would happen if the world tried to stop a deadly disease from annihilating the human race? Pandemic lets you experience what you would do if you were in charge.

Played cooperatively by two to four players, Pandemic has made great waves in the gaming world since its 2007 release. By mixing easy-to-learn rules with a concept that appeals to the mainstream, enthusiasts consider Pandemic to be a perfect entry point into the world of board games.

4: Ambush!


Board games are great fun with friends, but what happens if you don’t have at least one friend willing to sit down for an hour or more of gaming? Enter 1983’s Ambush!, the first successful board game to be specifically designed for a single player.

By referencing in-game literature and “paragraph books,” this wargame tasks players with accomplishing objectives on the playing field while countering obstacles triggered by the player’s actions. Ambush! received three expansions in the four years following its release, and its legacy still lives on today.

3: Cosmic Encounter


Cited as a major influence for Magic The Gathering, it takes only a single session with Cosmic Encounter to see why it earned its place in the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame in 1997.

This sci-fi game tasks each of its three to six players to manage a unique alien race, and the victor is declared when their respective otherworldly army takes over the entire universe. To do that, players will have to allocate their resources to attack, align with, and double-cross their competitors. If you’ve mastered the mind games that make for a compelling round of Poker, you’ll have a blast with Cosmic Encounter.

2: Arkham Horror


No, it’s not a Batman game. Arkham Horror is based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, specifically the Cthulhu Mythos that is synonymous with Lovecraft’s name.

Faced with the impending invasion of otherworldly monsters beyond human comprehension, 1 to 8 players must close portals to other universes scattered around the town of Arkham. However, as players search for clues and resources to achieve their objective, they also have to keep watch over their whittling sanity which threatens to undo all the progress they’ve achieved. Arkham Horror was originally published in 1987, but thanks to numerous expansions and a 2005 revision, this horror board game is as fresh today as ever.

1: HeroQuest


HeroQuest is a favorite even among those who aren’t board game enthusiasts, and only one look in the box explains why.

Published in 1989 by Milton Bradley, HeroQuest represented a bold leap for the fantasy genre. Though books like Lord of the Rings and tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons were considered “nerdy” niche products at the time, the Milton Bradley stamp brought HeroQuest to be sold alongside other mainstream board games. Furthermore, the game itself came to life with elegant miniatures, iconic artwork, and promises of endless adventure. An average session of HeroQuest is best described as a mix of tabletop role-playing games and conventional board gameswith up to four players controlling archetypal fantasy characters (like the Barbarian and the Wizard) as they fight the evil forces of Zargon, also controlled by a player. Along the way, the heroes will explore rooms, uncover treasure, and increase in power as they travel from one board to the next. BoardGame1-1Though some kids at the time were put off by the relatively complicated rules, HeroQuest is still considered by many to be a classic board game boldly and uniquely executed for its time. Even if you aren’t a fan of role-playing games, HeroQuest is still worth keeping an eye out for due to the fact that a complete 1989 edition set is worth hundreds of dollars today. Either to play or collect, HeroQuest captures a little bit of everything we love about board games.

Written by TimM
Tim is a video game aficionado who is fascinated by pop culture. He built his first collection in 1999 by catching all 151 monsters in Pokemon Red, and he hasn't stopped collecting since. His work has been featured multiple times on